Artist Jayshree Savani in her recently concluded show ‘Soulful Symphony’ brings into focus the spirit of compassion in turbulent times, through her intense abstractions which aim to ‘keep it real’..writes Sushma Sabnis
If there is anything that the world wide pandemic has taught us all, it is that in the face of absolute, clueless vulnerability, the human being becomes even more alert, defiant and strong in combating it. The helpless expressions of the people and medical professionals all over the world in the first few months of the spread, gave way to resilient, determined gazes, even as the death toll kept on rising with reports of new spikes. Today, a year and few months later, we see people queuing up for the vaccines. There is a little apprehension about the partial efficacy of the vaccine, yet there is hope to defeat the virus. We can imagine people smiling behind their masks, their warmth reaching the eyes. Adversity of a massive level isolates people and yet, they only strive to come together, carefully, to reinstate a new living style. While the world survives in fragments, adjusting to new normals, some adamantly assert the survival of the positive human spirit. Some, like artist Jayshree Savani who in her recently held show ‘Soulful Symphony’ at the Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, reiterates the return to the ‘real’ in life.
The show focuses on the latest works in abstraction, holding the fine thread of a universal presence; that which pulsates through all things living. There are numerous reasons why things would go dangerously awry, and yet there are numerous reasons why things would recover and prosper through adversity. Jayshree’s works bring this time tested, simple, yet effective truth of the circle of life. The way situations, personal or public, go through upheavals and eventually reach a comfortable plateau only to be upturned by the next big wave of commotion is what Jayshree focuses on.
In her works, titled, ‘Community’, ‘Connection’, and ‘United by love’ one witnesses the thought process from which the artist derives inspiration. There is a strong sense of camaraderie with her surroundings, people, friends and family which are reflected in the works. Without adhering to figuration, the palette she chooses is of comfort and nurturing. The textures are deliberately kept soft, with gentle blending of the pastel hues. Another perspective is that these works become more relevant especially in times of conflict and the degeneration of social values as a whole. The works are gentle reminders of the number of times in the past year one has turned to friends, family or complete strangers for help and have actually received it. There is a ‘sweetness’ in the works which could seem as an overwhelming/presumable impossible response to humane-ness. It is in human nature to dismiss these gentler emotions like kindness as a weakness especially in a ‘survival of the fittest’ mental mode, yet the past year taught us humbling lessons in kindness from all across the globe, even as news reportage focused on juicy stories of human greed and hoarding! Adversity is to be overcome one step at a time, together, seems to be what she hints at through the works.
Jayshree is a self-taught painter and in some of the works, her actual art practice is articulated quite directly. The works ‘Frozen Thoughts’, ‘Passion’, ‘Spark’, ‘The Cutting Edge’ and ‘Flow’ all could be a story telling by the artist. There are moments in the life of artists, where the journey seems like a walking uphill, all alone. Theres moments probably give rise to intense revelations about one’s own art practice and for Jayshree these moments have helped articulate her own confusions and interpretations of the process of art making. These are valuable moments of work, which eventually do become the pillars upon which an art practice stabilises. In the case of these above mentioned works, the truth shines through quite disarmingly as she uses colours as mood markers. The orange in the ‘Spark’, the deep mauve of ‘Passion’, the sharp palette knife work in cerulean blue in ‘The Cutting Edge’, the sharp contrast between chaotic movement and stagnant passivity of spaces in ‘Frozen thoughts’, all appear to voice a struggle, an attempt and a triumph at achieving something significant in her own visual lexicon.
In the show there are two works which could go hand in hand, ‘Reflection’ and ‘Truth’. To begin with there is a subtle polarity in the titles itself, truth and a reflection, which is not truth. These works rendered in a similar palette are quite a interesting, when seen through the lens of which follows the other. In simpler times, ‘truth’ would follow ‘reflection’ as an affirmation and elucidation of it. But in complex times, ‘reflection’ could precede ‘truth’ and define its character; or, it could even turn it into ’post-truth’. In Jayshree’s work, ‘Reflection’ the strokes show confusion and a listlessness, a muddling of thoughts as the colours blend and bleed into one another aimlessly. In contrast, the work ’Truth’ displays a clear intent of form, colour and spacial demarcations. It could be the dilemmas the artist went through, or one could relate to either of these works depending solely on which crossroad of their lives they stand at. These could be the anchoring works in the show.
Were one to deliver a sedate critique, it would be that there are other works in the show which have their intrinsic presence, yet they stand aloof from the rest of the display, either because they were made earlier or simply incompatible in the vein of the show. This creates a visual imbalance in the entirety of the viewing experience. However, Jayshree Savani is known to take all happenings in her stride and smile through it, while becoming even more resilient in her art. If in doubt, look at her paintings once more.
(Images Courtesy: Artist Jayshree Savani)