Performative Textures

Apparao Galleries, 7, Wallace Gardens, Madras-600006, India

“A successful work of art is not one which resolves contradictions in a spurious harmony, but one which expresses the idea of harmony negatively by embodying the contradictions, pure and uncompromised, in its innermost structure.” – Theodore Adorno

What is texture? Textures add to and enhance a work of art. Textures invite further investigation. Texture may be illusionary, it may be thickly layered, it may be hinted at or implied, it may be impossible to over look. Whatever its incarnation, whatever its role, texture has served to heighten art. From Van Gogh and Monet to Pollock artists have employed texture to express emotion, to create layering and to achieve a pinnacle in abstraction.

Texture…”the visual or tactile surface characteristics and appearance of something.” Qualifiers such as “rough”, “smooth”, “coarse”, “silken”, “thin” and “thick” most often accompany the term. “Texture”, in art, describes two areas of artistic phenomena: congruous and harmonic relationships and the density of the simultaneous layering of different artistic components. The simplest and most traditional use of the term “texture” describes the “construction” of a work of art. Defined by the number and variety of media, techniques and materials used in performance, as well as to the number of parts working together to produce the overall visual web.

Used as surface embellishments, as language, they are aspects, which are an element of the work of art. This show attempts to question and explore the language of textures. Your work has articulated a preoccupation and indeed a fascination with texture and the materiality of surfaces and it would be wonderful if you would contribute towards the show by submitting four works by 2003. Significant questions that the show will attempt to explore include:

As a visual artist what would you say is your fascination with texture?

What part does texture play in your art practice?

Does texture play a deciding role or it is more in the nature of an embellishment?


‘Reclaiming the Lotus’

 In the center of the castle of Brahman, our own body, There is a small shrine in the form of a lotus flowerand within can be found a small space.

We should find who dwells there and we should want to know him. And if anyone asks, “Who is he who lives in a small shrinein the form of a lotus flower in the center of the castle of Brahman?”

We can answer:
“The little space within the heart is as great as the universe. The heaven and the earth are there; the sun, the moon, the stars; fire and lightening and winds …
For the whole universe is in Him and He dwells within our hearts.”

– Chandogya Upanishad Excerpt

The lotus has been the leitmotif of beauty, of sensuality, of knowledge in the Indian art and cultural tradition. As a cultural construct the iconography of the lotus is varied and the dhvani’s remarkable. From the Kamalanayan to Padmashri to Padmini to MuKula, the lotus is believed to have grown out of Brahma’s navel. The lotus is also seen as the pedestal within the goddess Lakshmi’s iconography. In Buddhist iconography it is the jewel in the crown.

From ancient manuscripts to architectural and sculptural iconographies, philosophies and abstract principles across the length and breadth of the subcontinent have been coupled with the lotus. It is a symbol of gods and goddesses, constantly portrayed as standing in or sitting upon a red or white lotus and carrying lotuses in their hands. Yogis sit in the in the Padmasana or the lotus posture and Buddhist and Jain deities are portrayed as sitting in repose with lotuses in their hands. Possessed of ethereal splendour, grace and the symbol of ultimate beauty, the lotus is the sacred flower of India. To its people it signifies purity and peace, a manifestation of god. Rising pure and flawless from stagnant, muddy waters radiating a divine peace, this flower is held to be worthy of emulation, gently counselling detachment from material preoccupations, greed, anger, lust, passion, jealousy and ego

The many petals of the lotus also symbolise the layers of the human personality. The slowly opening petals are thus representative of the individual’s gradual attainment of self-realization. The core of the lotus therefore stands for release from earthly bondage and eternal life. In Indian literature, the lotus has many names. Because of its name PadmaLakshmi is called Padma or Padmaj meaning ‘born of a lotus’. Because it is called Kamal, Vishnu is called, Kamalnayan or the ‘lotus eyed’ God. The image of a lotus and bee is constantly repeated in devotional literature, a metaphor for the relationship between god and the devotee. Abundant in many colours and shapes the lotus, which blooms during the day, is called Nalin, Aravind or Utpala and that which blooms at night is known as Kumuda.

While the artwork should look at the idea and the ideology of the lotus, it is the reactions and personal resonances of the artists to the theme that will be particularly significant. Questions that should be explored include:

What does the lotus mean to you personally?

What images, literal or otherwise, does is conjure in your mind?

How do you perceive the idea of the lotus?

How do you translate your ideas into a visual metaphor?

Great Arc Show,Atlantis Gallery, London
The Tree From The Seed, Contemporary Art from India, co-curated with Gavin Jantjes Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (Oslo), Norway