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High Tide for a Blue Moon

Review of Ranjini Shettar's first Indian Solo 'High Tide for a Blue Moon' at Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum Mumbai

From Sat Dec 1, 2012  -  to Sun Feb 17 , 2013Tunes for a Winter Morning, 2012, Steel Wires, Muslin, Tamarind Kernel Paste

The first time we watched time freeze on celluloid, our hearts stopped - water arrested mid-spill, pieces of crockery frozen mid-shatter and explosions suspended mid-air.

This fortnight, prepare to revisit that zen moment with High Tide for a Blue Moon, Ranjani Shettar's first Indian solo show at Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum.

Working with craftsmen from her studio at Malnad, Karnataka, Ranjani is the mistress of material metamorphoses. Her creations look like they will disappear any time into the elements, leaving behind light trails and whiffs of forest smell.

But make no mistake, they are made of not just imagination, but solid structure and strange matter. Matter that only give themselves away in the name labels.
For example, Tunes for a Winter Morning (2012) above is made of steel wires, wrapped in muslin cloth and tamarind kernel paste.

The title piece above, that not only deceives your sense of touch but also of vision, is made of coffee plant stems painted with blue automobile paint.

Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, director of the museum and curator of the show adds that Shettar’s creations “recall the interface of art and science which was one of the founding ideas of the museum.” Having a training in sculpture and an engineer father seem to have made her equally ambitious about unlocking the poetry, physics and chemistry of matters. Lagoon, below, made of lacquered wooden beads by Channapatna toy makers, will make any structural engineer proud.

Just like her materials, her art practice seems to evolve from unlikely origins. Frustrated by the limitation of her sculpture training which kept her tied to plinths, pedestals and the usual suspects like bronze and marble, she found her release via Dada poetry. Even though the titles of her works like ‘Remanence from last night’s dream’, ‘Flame of the forest’ or ‘Scent of a sound’ seem like purple prose to the poetically discerning, they are, in fact, the Dada spawns of her creations. Then like an ecosystem they grow into a sketch, attract tools, people and matters around them and turn into beings that make museum directors all over the world go weak in their knees.

On my way out, I noticed how Lagoon has transformed even the cold halogen light into an work of art and had to stop and capture the moment.

 Like nature, it just made its point, not with a bang, but with a whisper.

Posted by Sourav Roy on 3/2/13 | tags: Mumbai Bhau Daji Lad Ranjini Shettar mixed-media installation abstract

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