Natural Bodies, Subverted Canons
This exhibition of artworks from the Vadehra Art Gallery collection brings together a
number of artists across generations including A Ramachandran, Adiverkar, Anandajit Ray,
Anju Dodiya, Arup Das, Ashim Purkayastha, FN Souza, Faiza Butt, George Martin, Juul
Kraijer, Krishen Khanna, Krishna Reddy, Mrinalini Mukherjee, Prabhavathi Meppayil,
Rameshwar Broota, Sheila Makhijani and so on.
The study of nature, and of the human body as the measure of all that surrounds us, might
be as old as art itself. Throughout history, humans have conceived their environments based
on the proportions in which we are made. In these works the artistic explorations of natural
bodies through drawings, watercolors, engravings and even bronzes have followed an
academic tradition. However transformation and change are the only constants in nature,
and this is true even for artistic creation. The concept of metamorphosis is prevalent in
many of the works; the artists transform our perception of nature using shapes and ideas
that represent the natural body and its changes in various forms and stages. The
incommensurable nature that surrounds us, the mysteries it encloses, the monsters it
creates in our imagination, are the inspiration for this selection of works.
The social body, as a body in itself, is also subject to measurement and change, as it is to
distortion of its parts. Essentially, the application of man-made measurement creates the
norms of society, and the deliberate inclination towards distortion or abnormality becomes
a means for subversion, for it is a refusal to follow the canon.
The intention of putting together such a show is to analyze the extent to which the natural
body and its surroundings have inspired artists throughout generations. The idea of
transformation, the movement created by it and the abnormality that results are some of
the artists’ favorite themes.
Many of the works depict realistic bodies in paradisiacal surroundings, humans in complete
connection with nature. Others have a more abstract focus, natural forms emerging to
evoke plants or animals or even body parts. The combination of heteroclite elements offers
the viewer glimpses of new creatures as well as new structures.