Body and Landscape Become One in Works by Celebrated Indian Artist Avinash Chandra
Chandra’s paintings, for the most part, are named “Untitled,” save for a few that deliver basic factual information (Woman (1963); Landscape (ca. 1950)) and take poetic leaps (Moon in the Pink (1960); Stars Above, Stars Below (1962)). Though Chandra’s art is not overtly political, it is often formally complex in its perspectives. Sun in Srinagar (ca. 1950), for example, feels poignantly relevant. The work is named for the capital of Kashmir, the territory at the heart of a conflict between India and Pakistan, whose borders had been drawn three years earlier by the British. An expressive, golden
The space in which violence and ebullience merge permeates his infamous trove of paintings of women. In works like Untitled (1967) and Untitled (ca. 1970), which show his
In Untitled (1978), the artist used dark waterproof ink to draw the outlines of a party of nude ladies in fluid, wave-like forms, soaking into handmade paper. Though the outlines are bold and graphic, the figures soften into each other until the lines between bodies is indiscernible. A pastel palette of blues, purples, and pinks evokes a sky where the bodies become clouds amid an infinite sunset. The piece reveals an otherworldly, ethereal facet of Chandra’s oeuvre, in which figure and landscape merge as one.
—Himali Singh Soin
“Humanscapes, Avinash Chandra: A Retrospective” is on view at DAG Modern, Mumbai, December 14, 2015–March 10, 2016.