By DAVID CAVE
Enigmatic, whimsical and kaleidoscopic, the Art in Shalini Singh’s most recent exhibition, Dreamspace, invites sheer surrender. Such notions as the quest for precise meaning and correlation are simply not the required response here where the artist is at play, with both form and colour.
Dreamspace, which was launched on 27th September at the Fine Art Gallery in Woodbrook, is abstract Expressionism- but she is definitely pushing the envelope of the genre. The art is rhythmic, but not overly pretentious and haphazard. To use the analogy of written work, Singh’s paintings are not senseless rambling. Under the playfulness lie order, structure and visual harmony through the repetition of form. Until this exhibition, I had seen only individual pieces by this artist, so to encounter an entire exhibition of this work was a visual treat.
The thirty-two pieces in Dreamscape offer a glimpse into Shalini Singh’s raison d’etre as an artist. There’s a bold sense of independence here, a rejection of boxes, pigeon holes and commitment to style and genre. Even so, she succeeds in meeting the viewer half-way; in terms of style and colour treatment, this is her work. But there’s enough here to also engage the observer within the colour and geometry.
The floral forms in a piece such as Pattern: Gold Leaf also create perspective and movement that draw the eye into the painting. Dreaming of the Right Words creatively presents a contradictory sense of dynamism and order, as conflicting shapes, resembling various individuals in profile appear engaged in some form of silent dialogue. Such hints of conflict is, however, muted by the analogous and soothing blue, turquoise and green of this particular piece.
Forever dedicated to the valid multiplicity presented through the medium of abstract art, Singh stresses that the search for meaning in her work is ultimately left up to the viewer. She wants the experience of her art to be a personal one for the individual who takes the time to experience her work. “I want people to find their own meaning in the work that I do…My mentor the late Dr. Patricia Bishop said it quite eloquently… ‘We interpret a work of art based on our baggage of experiences.’”
Like all artists, Shalini Singh begins her work at the well-spring of Art- deep inside her.
“I am working on a very personal level, depicting my own dreams the things that affect me. It may be positive or negative… the things that may just remain fantasy… but I dream of them anyway….It’s about me trying to get a sense of myself and trying to visually depict what I feel through my art.”
While the reference to her dreams may invoke the surrealism of artists such as the Spaniard, Joan Miro and the distorted and colourful anthropomorphism of the French Painter, Marc Chagall, Singh’s work is of an artist working to the beat of her own drum. That thread of individualism runs even through her own work. Take, for example, Intoxicated (Lost in Dreams): The Drummer. It depicts a human form with a drum and globular shapes in movement which is a deviation from the pure abstraction of some of the other pieces in this show.
Although it may not be self-evident in this Dreamspace series, Singh’s art is deeply influenced by her journey to India. The abstraction is also inspired by spirituality and this artist’s personal quest for a unique form of visual representation. On the artistic journey ahead, Singh said, “I plan to continue painting and teaching. I am currently working on paintings based on imagery that I absorbed in India. My plans are to carry this body of work to India, exhibit it there and return to my homeland to have it displayed.”
Dreamspace continues at the Fine Art Gallery until October 8th 2011.