In the solo show titled Dream Sequences, the art of Kadambari Mehta straddles two distinct genres - of woodcuts and mixed media. The coming two weeks will see about 25-30 large format works of woodcuts and mixed media on paper displayed in the atrium of the Alliance Francaise. Mehta, who is a trained painter and printmaker from Chitrakala Parishath, has focussed inwards, delving into her mind to capture her ideal dream sequences that revel in an abundance of nature.
Trained in both painting and printmaking, she still likes to keep the two separate. While her paintings are colourful abstract, her woodprints have more negative overtones, favouring black over the more ‘positive’ white. And it is in the prints that she carves out life, meticulously, be it self-portraits or other forms of life.
At first glance, a viewer can discern the childlike world that the artist inhabits, that she herself calls her ‘dream world’. The childish scrawls play on a more innocent world with flowing streams, grassy knolls, fishes in water, birds in the sky and in one work, a self portrait with a cat on her lap. “The scenes that you see in my work are the places I like to go to, in my imagination,” she said. “The depictions of my dreams are simple, yet the connections I have with these dreams are intense. Dreams are where the imagination is uncaged. My dreams are the reflections of my inner self in its purest and most honest form.” Ergo, even her cats make an appearance!
What made her choose woodcuts? “I find it easier to express myself pictorially through woodcuts although it is a very labour intensive process,” said the artist. Carving a self-portrait or for that matter, any image requires so much more work - and stress - but paradoxically, releases it. “In woodcuts, my emotions are visible.” Besides, as she points out, not many from her generation work with woodcuts. “In the 40s and 50s, woodcuts were used for illustrations in books. But until recently, woodcuts were not considered mainstream art. People relate more easily to paintings than these prints.”
She painstakingly carves the wood with her own patterns and then takes multiple prints before a perfect print is obtained. In this show there are four mixed media on paper, the result of using one of the waste prints to colour.
Mehta is both, self-taught as well as a trained artist. “Even as a child, I have been constantly working in different mediums,” she said. In her younger days, she received training in the techniques of Mysore painting from the renowned Neela Panch. After her MVA in printmaking, she has held two solo shows displaying her paintings. While she has received guidance from senior artist Milind Nayak, Mehta looks for inspiration in printmaking from the works of J M S Mani and Jyoti Bhat, although her “own day-to-day life and subconscious are my inspirations.” As she notes, the mark of an artist is to find their own style and remaining true to it. “It’s in being introspective, that an artist finds their own style.”
While nature is her favoured muse, Mehta’s frequent travels to hilly terrains and the imprints that they leave on her mind are filed away for future reference. Mehta “doesnt believe in taking pictures of the scenes.” Through her woodcuts, Mehta hopes that the viewers will be able to channel into the oases inside them. “I want to tell the viewers that their dream world exists. In their minds.”
What: Dream Sequences
When: Till May 22, 11am - 7pm
Where: Alliance Francaise