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‘Darkness is transparent, you can see through’

“In the evening, when you looked down the well, there were innumerable fireflies hanging there. How does one describe that?,”



Darkness is transparent

New Delhi, Jan 22 : We talk about soil and clay. She says that working with them heals — emotionally and physically. There is talk of childhood memories. She says all the dust had vanished and her memory is now crystal clear. She recounts the watermill back in her village in Bihar. A composition of water, sound, light, the splash on the iron sheets – the entire musicality of it. “In the evening, when you looked down the well, there were innumerable fireflies hanging there. How does one describe that?,” smiles Shambhavi.

It’s a hectic day for the painter, printmaker, and installation artist whose non-figurative work has always dwelled upon the condition of the farming community. As she takes a break from guiding her staff for the upcoming solo exhibition Burukuwa Dwan which will be shown at Shrine Empire in the capital, as a collateral event of the India Art Fair 2020 from January 25 to February 24, the artist, whose work Cosmic Seeds Light/Beej Brahmaand Ek was acquired by the prestigious Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, says, “You’ll see the mud-and-hay textured walls of their houses, the grey mist that rises from the field on winter mornings explores various facets of interplay between man, nature and art.”

In fact, “Bhoomi”, another solo show by her will be running simultaneously at Gallery Espace, which will have her iron sculptures and installations.

Interestingly, the conversation with Shambhavi is not linear, her striking work at 2018 Kochi Biennale “Maati Ma”, featuring four of her works – “Lullaby”, “Water Garland”, “Rippers Melody” and “Brail” takes the conversation forward and what the viewers will experience in her forthcoming exhibitions as she exhibits in the capital after a gap of six years.

The artist, whose poetic work forever carries social undertones says, “Burukuwa is the last star. The moment villagers see it, they know it’s 4 am and time to start the day. It is a magical hour. When you’re half asleep, the kind of sound that comes with their activities of getting ready for the day is reminiscent of musicians on the stage getting ready for a performance. The sound, the light, the last musings of the night, and the farmer’s first glance at the fields early morning – these are the connections I have grown up with as I would frequently go to my grandparents’ place in the village. But these are also the relationships people are increasingly refusing to see — that’s where my work Braille comes in.”

In many ways, when Shambhavi takes the farmers’ tools from their world and makes sculptures out of them, she is in fact pleading for them. This Patna College of Arts and Crafts pass-out adds, “But remember, my education is mostly from experience rather than reading.”

For someone who now lives in Delhi’s urban landscape, there is no dichotomy.

“I am clear that I don’t see here. I want to say something here, about them. And maybe my art can make a bridge.”

Talking about her association with Takshila Foundation’s programme in Bihar’s countryside, the artist says, “We run long-term residencies for international and national artists and students at Siwan, so that they actually get to connect to rural landscape at all levels and understand the multiple dimensions of living that life.”

Back in the late 80’s when she was a scholar at Lalit Kala Akademi Regional Centre in Luck now and painted huge canvasses, most people called them abstracts.

“Believe me, at that time, I didn’t even know the eA’ of abstract. I painted the riverbank and my village engulfed in darkness – when there was no electricity. The drawings were realistic, but they were covered with dark, and everyone read it as abstract art. Yes, I painted very clear dark because let’s not forget, darkness is transparent, you can see through.”

Travelling abroad extensively for residencies and shows, and the consequent edistance’ from home allowed her to so things here more clearly.

“When you travel you read your homeland much better, perceptions change. When I am in Bihar, I am not Bihari, when I am out, I am. The moment I leave India, I am more Indian. Out there, you’re questioned about India and not regions. When such questions are posed, you embrace the whole country. And I cherish the fact that I got such experiences from a very young age — a time when I was not very politically or intellectually charged. You know, I made it a point to travel to most countries without reading about them. When I came back, then read. It has always been the other way round for me. This way, it becomes a fresh experience with the land – travelling to the unknown.”

Insisting that art and music makes one understand a country much more effectively, she adds, “It was a huge experience to see people going to the museum as if it was a temple — something completely absent here. That gives you a kick to keep working. In India, we may have a very small art world, but the world we live in is amazing. Connection with creativity is so well presented there which inspires you. Here we are still distant.”

As the conversation veers towards the need for an overhaul in art school curriculums, she asserts, “It is in such a run down state. We haven’t come out of the British system yet. It’s shocking to see that they don’t even understand the difference between art and decoration. And not just art schools, the entire school curriculum needs to be looked at. We all study math in school and realise that everyone doesn’t become a mathematician. But at least when a mathematician is sitting with me, I understand who is he. Then why is it that when an artist or musician is around, we tend to think that what he does is some kind of an eextra-curricular’ activity?”

The countryside may have always inspired Shambhavi, but she also sees how it has metamorphosed over the years.

“Now when I go, I can experience the emptiness there. The warmth has faded, of course my grandparent’s generation is no longer there, cousins have scatterede. There is a strong isolation, a feeling of being left out. The pressure and crisis of currency is now very visible.”

(Sukant Deepak can be contacted at [email protected])

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China develops nanomaterial to combat coronavirus: Report

“Nanotechnology can be used to design pharmaceuticals that can target specific organs or cells in the body such as cancer cells, and enhance the effectiveness of therapy,” said NIH.




corona tests laboratory

Beijing, March 29 : A team of Chinese scientists has reportedly developed a novel way to combat the new coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 disease which has killed over 32,000 people globally.

According to Global Times, the new weapon is not a drug or a compound but some nanomaterial.

“Chinese scientists have developed a new weapon to combat the #coronavirus,” the news portal tweeted on Sunday.

“They say they have found a nanomaterial that can absorb and deactivate the virus with 96.5-99.9 per cent efficiency,” it added.

Nanomaterials are used in a variety of manufacturing processes, products and healthcare including paints, filters, insulation and lubricant additives.

In healthcare, Nanozymes are nanomaterials with enzyme-like characteristics.

According to the US NIH, scientists have not unanimously settled on a precise definition of nanomaterials, but agree that they are partially characterized by their tiny size, measured in nanometers.

“Nanotechnology can be used to design pharmaceuticals that can target specific organs or cells in the body such as cancer cells, and enhance the effectiveness of therapy,” said NIH.

However, while engineered nanomaterials provide great benefits, “we know very little about the potential effects on human health and the environment. Even well-known materials, such as silver for example, may pose a hazard when engineered to nano size,” according to NIH.

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Covid-19 cases cross 700,000 mark; toll over 33,500

The COVID-19 is affecting 132 countries and territories around the world.



Patients infected with the novel coronavirus

New Delhi, March 30 : The number of coronavirus cases around the world crossed the 700,000 mark near midnight on Monday, with the US comprising over a seventh of them, while the death toll crossed the 33,500 mark, with Italy (10,779) and Spain (6,606) accounting for over half of them, as the Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.

Of the 704,095 total cases, the US led with 132,637 and was followed by Italy with 97, 689 cases, China with 82,122, Spain with 78,799, Germany with 60,659 and Iran with

As far the death toll was concerned, China’s Hubei was third with 3,182 deaths, followed by Iran with 2,640, France with 2,606, and the UK with 1,228. US had also reported over 2,000 deaths across the country, the maximum of them in New York City (678).

Meanwhile, 148,824 Covid-19 patients have recovered, with over half (75,582) of them from China, followed by 14,709 in Spain, 13,030 in Italy, 12,391 in Iran and 9,211 in Germany.

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Global pandemic warning was given last year: WHO ex-Chief




World Health Organisation

London, March 29: World Health Organisation’s (WHO) former Director General Gro Harlem Brundtland has expressed concern over the global lack of “preparedness” for a worldwide pandemic despite a warning being made in September last year, reports said on Sunday.

“….Disease thrives in disorder and has taken advantage–outbreaks have been on the rise for the past several decades and the spectre of a global health emergency looms large. If it is true to say ‘what’s past is prologue”, then there is a very real threat of a rapidly moving, highly lethal pandemic of a respiratory pathogen killing 50 to 80 million people and wiping out nearly 5 per cent of the world’s economy. A global pandemic on that scale would be catastrophic, creating widespread havoc, instability and insecurity. The world is not prepared….,” Brundtland, the first-ever woman Norwegian Prime Minister, said in the foreword of the September 2019 report of the WHO and World Bank’s Global Preparedness Monitoring Board.

“For its first report, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) reviewed recommendations from previous high-level panels and commissions following the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and the 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak, along with its own commissioned reports and other data. The result is a snapshot of where the world stands in its ability to prevent and contain a global health threat. Many of the recommendations reviewed were poorly implemented, or not implemented at all, and serious gaps persist. For too long, we have allowed a cycle of panic and neglect when it comes to pandemics: we ramp up efforts when there is a serious threat, then quickly forget about them when the threat subsides. It is well past time to act…,” it said.

Brundtland is co-chair of the GPMB along with Alhadj Es Sy, the Co-Chair Secretary-General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Speaking to BBC’s Radio 4, she said: “What we have now is a warned catastrophe.

“We saw big alarming gaps in the preparedness of the world and found compelling evidence of a very real threat.”

“It’s not too late but we have to deal with the fact we are already in this now, which means putting emphasis on mobilising funding and (placing) attention on getting the equipment that is needed,” she added.

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