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Shalini chases the sun

Published: 
Sunday, November 16, 2014

In the latest exhibition by Dr Shalini Singh, Solar, the artist made the sun the focal point of her creative pursuit.  Singh conveyed the subject matter not only as light rays, which she described with thread-like brushstrokes on canvas, but as energy and vibrations. These could manifest in diverse forms: as music in the painting Sunsong, as the vitality and life to be found in human breath as suggested in the piece Resplendent Conversationalist or the fire to be found in the soul as implied in The Sun Resides in the Recesses of the Heart.

In some instances, the sun was rendered by means of her deliberate use of circular or oval canvas shapes and her incorporation of such painted forms as eyes. The influence of visual approaches by Pat Bishop and Carlisle Harris were evident and there were strong echoes of the work of Pablo Picasso, particularly his images with musical instruments.  Singh maintained her engagement with a Cubist style. Some paintings felt like they belonged in her 2013 show Gems with their dense arrangement of small facets of colour and shapes, as though she were treating the sun as a precious stone. Yet, such paintings as The Sun Ushers In and Encounter: Solar and Lunar, demonstrated the artist’s understanding that the sun cannot be constrained.
 
Several paintings were constructed with generous, open spaces; large surface planes with porous edges so that they slid into each other. This technical move is new for Singh and it appropriately communicated a power and dynamism that are in keeping with the subject matter. A number of paintings, however, appeared overworked. Such pieces as Movements to the Realm of the Sun and Sweet Vibrations were overburdened by the artist’s excessive hand. In the painting Light Through the Cracks there was no sign of luminosity. The intensity of hues did not find its way through dark pigments. 

In contrast, several pieces showed Singh’s sensitive consideration of colour combinations. Blues, oranges, reds, purples and yellows pulsated in their interaction with each other and gave a degree of exuberance. In chasing the sun with her presentation of 32 acrylic and mixed media works, Singh sometimes could not catch up while the sunbeams raced ahead but there were visual moments where it was clear that she had grasped shafts of light.

Solar, an exhibition by Shalini Singh, November 4-15 at the Gallery at Fine Art, Woodbrook.

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