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An assemblage of shadows

The works of Milind Nayak have a timeless quality and a serene aura, making viewing a pleasant experience



All about light and shadow: a Milind Nayak creation

THE SETTING of the artist's studio is picturesque with a small garden, landscaped to contain a pond with lotuses and surrounded by bamboo clusters. This juxtaposition creates a play of light as the quiet breeze rustling through the bamboo foliage choreographs shadows, which gently dance upon canvases that are stretched for painting. This was the moment of reckoning for Bangalore-based artist Milind Nayak, who created works with light and shadows as the centrality of his oeuvre. Milind Nayak who is showcasing his works which he calls "Conversation with shadows" at Ashvita Art Gallery, off Radhakrishnan Salai. Mesmerising effect

The paintings inthis series are powerful, making an impact on the viewer's sensibility, since they invite with their darkness and entrancingly lead towards silvery light that bursts forth from the painting. Mediating with strokes that weave interesting patterns, construction through subtle gradation of greys orchestrated to reach silvery whites and juxtaposed with stark naked blacks that interlock to create myriad constellations, drowning the viewer to effects that are at once mesmerising and enthralling. Each frame of Milind has different built up assemblage of shadows, manipulating them to produce a wide gamut. This gamut interestingly ranges from the complex to the minimalist with just one stroke in what Milind describes as `Enough'. This work is the most powerful representation, since through the white abstraction of space he pins the gaze to the strategically placed stroke of black. The imagery gains in strength and powerthrough the absolute contrast with the white space.

In this body of works, the artist has used his medium and tools, namely paper or canvas and palette knife or brushes, to construct and generate shadows that he produced and directed at will, allowing a free play of it on the walls, floors or on the canvas. This interface of shadows established his point of reference to further explore and negotiate his strokes that are manipulated to evoke the imagery of Nature particularly the wind tossed grass or the staid bamboo plants within which the gentle shadows play hide and seek. The gaze of Milind has consumed this lila configured with its innuendos and diminuendos to evoke a mystical and enigmatic world of blacks, white and greys. Romantic, sublime and awe-inspiring, each of his frames has a luminescence emanating from within to be almost numinous and mysterious. The denial of colours in this series when compared with his earlier landscapes imminently allowed for a vision that conjured nature as on a catwalk.Says Milind, "These works are done in a period of utter denial over a stretch of eight months, when nothing mattered but the interaction between me and the canvases".

Interesting technique

The technique employed by the artist is equally interesting in the way he scrapes away layers of pigment to evoke forms. Binding these disparate strokes and subtracted pigments are the dancing black lines that tautly hold the composition together. With confidence, Milind binds every element within his work.

Though majority of the works are in black and whites, included are also paintings executed earlier. These are marked by freshness and spontaneity. The skill with which the naturescapes have been evolved displays his sensitivity to the world of Nature. The colours are enthusiastic, since Milind has not allowed his forms to dissolve in a welter of brush strokes. An attention-grabbing title `One thousand and one thoughts flying all over' has provoking and indulgent reds, oranges, yellows and browns. Attractive titles with echoes of Pollock as `My pond', `Wild forest pool', and `Liquid light' are fascinating in terms of their strokes and colours. The works have a timeless quality and a serene aura , making viewing a pleasant experience. The works are in various sizes from very large to very small. The exhibition is on till January 3.

ASHRAFI S. BHAGAT

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