Vadehra Art Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Extra Ordinary, solo exhibition by Hema Upadhyay on 25 February at the Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University in Baroda. The exhibition will continue in Delhi at Vadehra Art Gallery, D-53 Defence Colony, New Delhi. The preview in Delhi will be on 17 March, 2012.
In this exhibition, Hema Upadhyay explores the subtexts of these two disparate words - the ordinariness of an ‘extra’ life that the metropolis offers its citizens. Unlike the overall decorative patterning of her earlier work (often used as a visual camouflage) within which the body/city conversed, fluid design appears at the edges of these paintings, framed within frames of overlapping narratives. Fixated at the centre in sombre dark hues of polluted grey and sleazy black, the decaying city emerges out of a bordered beauty. The actual and fictive, imagined and remembered city are evoked through personal and social worlds of the artist; she frames the canvases with the Bombay skyline that are seen in picture postcards and advertising lingua and zooms with imaginary binoculars onto real issues of environmental degradation and the apathy that governs our existence.
Plastic objects, toys, fruit-bowls, animals and vegetables lie half-submerged in black waters; flamingos feed on toxic marshes while the city planners shake hands on a land development deal, texts about urbanity sprout amidst imagined greenery whilst the artist’s dismembered hands try to hold the scattered imagery together. These texts are quotes from thinkers who have ruminated on modernity and development and the surface appearances of urban landscapes clash with its inner decay. Are the floating bodies living or dead, what are the markers of achievement in the money economy when human bodies pile on one another for space and breath?
The works are an amalgamation of painted surfaces and photographic cut-outs, shots of the Real City encounter imaginary worlds, the artifice of globalization creating a bizarre beauty that holds onto itself through delicate threads. The onslaught of metropolitan life and our struggles to preserve our subjectivities gives rise to an ontological insecurity; in the production of cities lies the hidden workings of desire and fear. Through the tropes of doubling and concealment Upadhyay beings together politics and poetics, urging us to understand the darkness of our lived moments, questioning the future of her city that lies threatened with the destruction of its own discovery.
About the artist:
Hema Upadhyay was born in 1972 in Baroda and shifted to Bombay in 1998 and her encounters with this maximum city and how the metropolitan identity is created has been her concern over the years. Issues such as migrations, dislocation, multi-cultural aspects of the city are very much part of her work. Her recent work conjures up an image of a world that exists literally below the surface, is mysterious, invisible and carries intimations about secrets and lies, about romance and violence. Hema brings forth her own artistic resolutions by repositioning the self-portrait in a larger social, cultural milieu. Hema’s works in gouache, acrylic, graphite and photographs on paper continue her creative engagement with the hopes and exigencies of urban living.
"I like to tell any stories, whether real or imaginative. These are even reflections of one's phobias, shortcomings. The recurring theme in my work is autobiographical. In addition, it is the cathartic factor that becomes the reason to take these objects and convert their ability. Yes…my work is cathartic in process," she explains.
Hema Upadhyay completed her M.F.A. (Printmaking) from Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda in 1997 and B.F.A. (Painting) from Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda in 1995. She lives and works in Mumbai.