A solo show of works by artist Satish Wavare titled, ‘Echoes in Black’ was held at the Jehangir art gallery this August. A review of the show of black and white contrasting abstractions on paper by Sushma Sabnis.
Swish moves the brush holding tightly the hand of imagination. The dips and the soars match the running and pausing lines, seeds germinate, trees walk, submarines fly and people stand still. But the brush moves on, heavily laden with black ink, decimating the spotless white of paper, with its inconsistent yet purposeful movements. The thick line, like an adamant child at some places, refuses to budge and at times thin like the veins on a butterfly wing, forks, glides, walks, drips, splotches and trots mockingly distressing the paper’s egotistic white.
When words are embellished upon this paper, the dance of the brush like a ballerina on her toes delicate and strong, speak volumes of the artist’s aspirations and inspirations. Satish Wavare is not just an artist working with the Indian Navy, he is a commander of the line, the brush and the ink with the precise dexterity of a samurai. His lines mark the surface of paper like skating marks left on the frozen face of a lake by a figure skater.
Nature in all its abundance, inspires this artist and when one visits his solo show titled, ‘Echoes in Black’ at the Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, one becomes aware of the tension of an age old balance of the YinYang-esque black and white. This intense Chi (life force) flows through all the works on display. The show displays large, medium and small scale ink on paper works deliberately left untitled by the artist. It is his way of evoking a response from the viewers and further making them engage with the energy of his works. The viewer initially is latched on to the deceptive simplicity of the works. Then on further observation, curiosity takes over and one would find it difficult to ‘breeze’ past each of these works. The works evoke a question, which the viewer could answer or leave it to the artist to answer, either way, the engagement happens. No two works, even from the same series, evoke the same response, making this collection quite unique.
The artist reveals that each of his works are essentially nature inspired. It would be safe to say that Wavare’s works revel as nature abstractions. His approach to nature and his surroundings, coupled with what he responds to and imbibes as essences and experiences contribute to the depth in his works.
Wavare works for the Indian Navy as an artist and he explains that the kind of work related drawings and calligraphy projects which he executes are a world apart from the kind of art that he likes to do. One is reminded of the Sumi-e painting style of Japan or Shui-mo-hua paintings in China. Essentially they are ink wash paintings, initially thought to be a privilege of the scholarly persons of society, hence they also were called the literati paintings. Wavare’s works are akin to that style of rendition, albeit as an abstract language. When asked about the inspiration for his works, the artist talks about nature, not just the cliched kind one would glean as a green cover on earth or seascapes.
Wavare has the ability to extract meaning out of various natural or nature-weathered objects. In his series based on submarines/ war ships, he depicts with quick and rough lines the basic shape of the object of interest, while capturing in this shape, the essence of an object which has remained submerged/ floating in sea water for long durations of time. Hence, the barnacles and shell textures on the metal body of the object, the figures that hoist themselves on the deck once a submarine surfaces, the odd and mundane activities these figures perform of anchoring, scouting or just plain gazing at the horizon or the sky, gets translated in lines, broken and continuous, drips, blotches and drops of ink, deliberately placed dotted lines, on the pictorial surface. This creates a sublime movement which arrests the viewer’s attention. A stationary object suddenly bobs up and down on the water surface with moving figures on it. Movement is thus created with lines merely suggestive of it.
One such interesting concept is that of germination, growth from seeds to the thriving fruiting tree and the effects of this silent process on a keen observer such as the artist. In one work from the series, the artist reveals that he has tried to capture the wave effect of a breeze which is felt on the corporeal body after having passed through numerous leaves in a tree. In the show there are certain paintings which appear like patterns or designs; when asked about them, the artist reveals that it is his interpretation of rust / algal/ sea weed / shells and barnacle patterns on a ship’s stern when docked or on the heavy iron chains attached to the anchor. These motifs from real life often can be seen as metaphors of existence, anchors as stability, sea weed and algal growths on metal as survival instincts, the vessels on sea as the human entity in pursuit of its eternal goal.
Artist Satish Wavare’s imagination dives deep into the vast ocean of inspiration and brings up fresh pearls of purity, making the viewer’s heart fall hook, line and sinker to such rare ephemeral beauty. One sets out on a maiden voyage into the unknown oceans of their own imagination.
The show was on till 24th August.