Bharathi Sagar was always fascinated by human behaviour - as an artist, she excelled in portraits, studying the nuances of emotion through her work. After years of this, however, she believed it was time for change.
"I gave up painting for a year," she recalls, shortly before her solo show, Intelligent Field, a series of mixed media paintings opens at Gallery Time and Space. Some years previously, however, at a show at the Birla Institute in Kolkata, she found herself attending the end of a workshop. "I liked the process they were teaching but there was only one person around - everybody else had packed up and left. She told me what materials were used, however." The process involved using lime juice and metal dust, one that she promised herself she would try. These plans lay forgotten until the start of her artistic crisis, when she began her experiments in earnest. Intelligent Field, a highly conceptual, philosophically-rooted show, is a product of this too.
"I have liberated my art from the parameters of the known, to the paradigms of the intangible," she writes in her artist's note. Her inspiration came from her husband, Surendra Kumar Sagar and his book, Intelligent Field, a culmination of his attempts to bridge the gap between science and art. "The idea had always fascinated him and one day, during a visit to the British Library, he found that it had been done before," she says. In 1955, the Russell-Einstein Manifesto called for a conference of scientists to contemplate the dangers of nuclear war. The conference was funded by Cyrus Eaton, an industrialist and philanthropist, who hosted the conference in his birth place, Pugwash, giving the conference its name. Surendra Sagar tracked down its members, only to find that the President, Professor Swaminathan, lived in Chennai. "That set the ball rolling," she says. The couple have immersed themselves in Oriental philosophy, poring over the Vedantas to better understand the idea of a collective consciousness.
The learnings from the Pugwash Conferences, feels Sagar, are more relevant now than ever before. "The geopolitical situation is precarious," she remarks. Dealing with a world poised on the brink of chaos became the essence of her show, which is an attempt to understand macro concerns at a micro level.
"It's a dangerous period, anything can happen at any time. But there is the promise of a better future," she says. Her works are infused with hope in the midst of this chaos, as are ideas of life, death and eternity.
What: Intelligent Field by Bharati Sagar
When: Nov. 11 to Nov. 17
Where: Gallery Time an Space, No 55, The Guild, 1st Floor, Lavelle Road