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Presented by Gallery Sree Arts, the exhibition 'Varanasi through my eyes: Vibha Arya Chaurasia' will be curated by Jitendra Padam Jain. It will be going to held at Galerie Romain Rolland, Alliance Française De Delhi, Indo-French Cultural Centre, New Delhi. Starting from 6th October (6 pm) it will end on 10th October 2018 (11 am to 7 pm daily for rest days).
Eclecticism is the virtue of artists who are not limited by staunch ideological dogmas. They could fly in the heavens of imagination and cull the visuals that they see around, above and below and infuse them into their creative works. Delhi based artist Vibha Chaurasiya has these qualities of being an eclectic artist whose imagination is limitless, expressive faculties mature and sensitivity abundant. As ideological dogmas do not come to restrict her ability to choose from the vast repertoire of ideas and visuals, she glides through life with commendable creative agility. Familiar subjects thrive in her canvases while she adds a tinge of unfamiliarity, leading the viewers to the realm of thinking. The kind of thoughtful absorption that Vibha demands or expects from the viewers is of a special kind in which they are expected to negotiate between the ideal and the apparent. Goaded by eclectic tendencies Vibha oscillates between the ideal and the apparent, imparting the glimpses of both to the viewers, sending them to the joyful realm of aesthetic appreciation.
Trained variously in art at the JJ Sanskriti School of Visual Arts, Gurugram and also at the illustrious London Fine Arts Studios, Vibha brings the experiences of both the occidental and the oriental learning into her creative renderings. She could create an international modernist feel in many a canvas while a different set of canvases could enthrall the viewers with their oriental feel. In some of the paintings, she takes the position of a detached and objective observer and an impartial chronicler of events and in some other paintings, she deliberately chooses to be an impassioned participant. She could adore and admire an ideal human body positioned against the backdrop of a hazy night, expressing her desire for the ideal and the ultimate and vivifying her yearning to reach out to the soul mate, and at the same time she could typify the person of her own gender in various locales involved in the acts of worship. However, Vibha does not make women as simple worshippers but pure subjects who are on their way to their soul’s fulfillment. In a different body of works, Vibha could simply go for secular subjects having emblematic meanings and resisting narratives to a greater extent.
Curator, Jitendra Padam Jain has selected a fresh body of works from Vibha’s oeuvre till date where the viewers could witness the unending passion of the artist for Banaras, one of the holy cities in India. Banaras has been not only a focal point of the pilgrims, renouncers and the seekers of salvation but also it has been the magnet for all the creative people irrespective of their genre of discipline or creative pursuits. Artists from India, as well as farther shores, have portrayed the varying and varied facets of Banaras from different angles and ideological positioning, ranging from the religious to secular, and from the sacred to profane. Banaras is a book read by many in many ways and each reading has brought out a new text. Vibha approaches Banaras the way a curious onlooker would; initially with the wide-eyed enthusiasm. She has also looked at Banaras with some kind of certainty and resolution. But she has not presented Banaras the way a shopper/consumer would. Being a regular in Banaras, Vibha has kept her strange gaze under check and has grown a gaze that is of familiarity and love. Banaras, in her works at once appears as a place to visit and also a place to dwell.
The dweller in the paintings of Vibha, in fact, is an invisible pair of eyes that always stand outside the frame. In this sense, Vibha becomes a witness to all goings on in and around the holy city. She wouldn’t accept the critical reading that the eyes make but let them to take the form of a godly eye, of Kashi Viswanatha, the manifestation of Lord Shiva in Banaras and becomes a detached witness and also rejoices in the sights and sounds created in order to worship the overlord of the city. There is no juxtaposition of gazes though the viewers could see how the renderings of the Banaras sights and scenes in Vibha’s canvases become a creative chronicling which defies the rules of documentation and yields to the demands of dispassionate witnessing. It is important to notice that whenever Vibha paints a Banaras scene she chooses certain color to dominate the pictorial format so that the mood of the painting could be established without any doubt. For example, when she paints the ghats, she uses sanguine colors so that the power and immensity of the sunset and the onset of the lamp worship could be explained without words.
This deliberation in the choices of hues makes Vibha’s paintings stand out from an array of paintings done on the same theme by various artists in various times. Here she almost becomes and Impressionist of sorts who gives more attention to the mood of the image than the image itself. The ghats and the marooned boats are isolated from the crowds and are portrayed as if they were the extracts from a larger event. She gives a lot of attention to the color almost turning the surface like a burnishing varnish. The same approach could be seen in the paintings where Vibha sees the temple city from the perspective of a witness at the ghats. The perspective is from a lower angle so that the visual could tower over the viewer but the general saffron hue is controlled to a level where one could see she brings in a mix of brick red and orange, which despite its deliberation looks aptly capturing the general feel of the temple facades.
In the Banaras series, "The images of the religious mendicants (sadhus) and their portrayal near the Banyan trees cannot go unnoticed. Vibha takes special care to make them look ethereal and real at once. Their up-close and frontal portrayal though looks eerie from close observation one understands the detached nature of those human beings. They are the beings walking on the earth but their burdens and ties are severed and they have gravitated towards the ideal of nirvana, the redemption. They wander and at other times they remain immobile. They are abundant in a city like Banaras but in Vibha’s eyes they are powerful human beings with powerful features and she finds a lot of artistic possibility in depicting their complex facial features. Like the masters have done in their works, Vibha too creates the gravity of the painted image not with the heaviness attributed to them but with the colors that she uses in general to build the pictorial image."
In this Banaras series, "Vibha has successfully portrayed the women in Banaras. Generally, in Banaras women are seen or depicted as leftover women or the objects of desire. In many a celebrated image we have seen how the partial nakedness of women in Banaras becomes the point of attraction. In Vibha’s paintings, we do not see women’s desirable bodies. Instead, Vibha has given them the freedom to move towards a destination; a destination that does not lead to home or hearth but elsewhere. They are not worshippers simply led to the shrine; or rather move towards the shrine willingly. In Vibha’s eyes they are women who seek their destiny. There are huge doors that depict a no-woman’s land, a threshold or a liminal space, to which these women are heading to. They are in the liminal space and once the door is opened for them or is forced opened by themselves, they enter a different world altogether; a world where women are given equal rights and justice not only in texts but also in daily lives that include the religious lives of women. There may not be any hagiographic detailing done by the artist but she makes a very bold step in seeing in them the possibility to transcend their present positions in life. This is the optimism that pervades in most of the paintings by Vibha Chaurasiya. And that optimism makes the viewing of these works a pleasant experience."