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PUNGENT thoughts

Sheera Betnag's works reflect her suffocation in the urban milieu


"THIS WORLD is owned by spurious people," says Sheera Betnag, who gave up her grooming as a computer science engineer to become an artist. She is currently holding her sixth solo exhibition of paintings at Alliance Francaise.

Vis--vis includes Betnag's 16 oil paintings on paper. The artist's restlessness, pain, and anguish find expression in these works and confirm her annoyance with a blasphemous, fluorescent-lit, pub culture where the individual "becomes more of a shadow". She also admits to a personal suffocation in the urban milieu and thirsts to be with nature, particularly on a beach, where the waves would soothe her senses.

Each of her paintings has a face — sometimes two — positioned against a starkly surreal setting. The expression on the face ranges from appeal to intrigue — laced with anger, irony, and sarcasm. It could be a face embedded in a triangular flying kite or one that stares from within the core of an onion. There are expanded amoebic faces floating in the air or rooted on the periphery of seemingly fragile table-ware. In one work, two faces are conjoined at their neck, the blazing colour in the background matching the flared-up expression.

Through these works, it is clear that the artist does not wish to create "beauty" in a conventional sense. On the other hand, she seems to use the medium of painting to give vent to an inherent frustration. The viewer can also perceive, and perhaps even empathise with the moods and predicament.

One, however, hopes that, as she moves along, her responses to unsavoury personal experiences or societal misconduct become more creatively tempered and delicately handled, rather than being mere emotional outpourings. The images would then become restrained, even while they preserve pungent thoughts and unsettling feelings within their core.

ATHREYA

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