About My Work - Ms. Megha Upadhyay

Ms. Megha Upadhyay

A canvas where the physical laws do not apply and a mutation of miniscule images and shapes into geometrically identifiable entities Shridhar Iyer is a master of visual imagery. His work is a fusion of two invocations in lightness where heavy and troubling images and illusion are morphed into precise and durable symbols with a minimum of means. He weaves a complicated web using truncated lines, dots and symbols to paint a vibrant and thought provoking reaction. All his life's work is a quest to etch the shape of the limitless being. What the eye perceives in his work changes in a fraction of seconds - one minute you could be seeing a colour and the other the invisible flash of a line.

With a masterful use of colour, lines and shapes he paints his central theme of the flow of energy through the universe. He sees this energy in the images of the Brahma, the stars, a motionless saint, the chanting of mantras, the colour of dusk and dawn, the laughter of children, the iconic images of Vishnu and his Indralok, the yawn of an ancient Bargad tree, the Rasa Leela of Krishna and Radha ... through myriad images and themes he creates a unique visual image with several patterns of contradictions and complexities all woven into one new entity. In one canvas created by him its easy to see the random and planned, the pale with the vibrant, he vector with the scalar, the yin and the yang, the dark and the light, the fundamental duality of order and chaos.

He often describes his own work as lines and forms dancing like gypsies, swinging and oscillating and taking flight like birds; lines melting into nothing, past remembrances changing into present experiences. His work is a medium moving effortlessly between the cosmic and the worldly, trying to derive a meaning out of the silent limitless being. His meditative form of pure abstraction creates a space where the language of germination and gestation transforms lines and shapes into sounds and echoes. His canvas opens in a series of surprises for the eyes - vibrant flows of energy stemming from seeming minute nuclei, bursts of purples dissolving into a milieu of shells and waves. The viewer sense the culmination of the artists' journey to the borderlands of the imagination where, ironically, in the midst of chaos and apparent confusion, the art seems to stand on solid ground, on the infinite and ultimate star in the vastness of the universe.

Shridhar Iyer is one of the finest artistes to come form the Bharat Bhawan, Bhopal. His work has regular showings in the art hubs across India and the globe both in solo events and group shows. Unlike any other non-figurative artist of our time the integrity and bold individuality of his brush strokes has won him the acclaim and accolades from critics and collectors alike. With his distinct individualistic style he represents the resurgence of all meaningful contemporary Indian art. Born in Tamil Nadu his artistic journey began taking form in the 1980s.

There is no burning need for communicating a message or bhaashan today. There are consultants for everything – they can take care of the messaging. I create my works of art to celebrate all that is divine and pure in life. And purity can have any moral fabric – the intensely ugly is as pure for me as the worldly beautiful.

They are no definitive in life and certainly not in my art” – Shridhar Iyer.

These words are a very minute window into the artistic genius and intensity of shridhar Iyer. Intensely shy and naturally reticent about his persona and art, he is not easily coaxed in to talking about his art. But when he begins to share his view of the world, the real persona of his art and philosophy begins to emerge. There is one clear facet of his works – a love for the abstract; in work after work he paints the art of finding meaning from the meaningless, a whole world of figures and forms from nothing but colours and lines. In his words nothing is really abstract – the only way to describe the abstract is something that moves a few inches away from the figurative. It is this love and passion for discovering meaning and form within criss-crossing lines and a brush stroke that makes his art visually spell bounding. Many viewers and critics alike have been mesmerized by his varying works – each one seeing a different object or meaning in his canvas.

It is not an easy skill to define the indefinable. But Shridhar Iyer has made it his life’s work to do just that. And to a discerning eye it is clear that his work is inspired by the divine, if not infused with it completely. Says Iyer, “My art is not simply to discover the spiritual and the divine, but is completely inspired by it. Everything for me in the creative process begins with a puja; the smell of the puja flowers and incense burning, the holy water that I throw on the canvas, the colour palette and the brushes, these rituals give me a sense of purpose and purification. “His respect and reverence for the divine is a rare reflection of his artistic humility wherein he yearns for spiritual guidance to find the right strokes to translate his thoughts on to canvas.

And his canvas is as complicated and intense as his persona. Blending a poised and unconscious technique with a myriad of lines, partially geometric shapes and broad strokes of the brush, his focus is on creating a balance and universally understood harmony in a huge and open space. What makes his work genius is that his heart and mind seem to speak a language of their own at supersonic speed, translating his innermost dreams and thoughts onto the canvas. His paintings and video installations are instilled with a distinct kinetic energy, where each line and form and colour is in constant motion. "There is no starting point and no tail ... everything is alive and vibrant with energy. A tiny drop on the canvas could signify the beginning of a downpour of rain; a single line flowing in one direction could signify the speed of thoughts. Everything depends on one's perspective. I find it strangely comforting to see form and movement even in the most static of objects”, says Iyer about his work.

In November 2005 he will be showcasing a collection named Jatra (a.k.a. yatra) or journey dedicated to celebrating the journey of creative discovery. In this Iyer continues his quest of creating ethereal energy and harmony in open spaces with an integrity and individual style like no other. Many critics have defined his work as an art form that breathes life into any 2 – dimensional line, blob, shape or colour - high praise in an art world where the abstract form competes with the easily identifiable and hence understood figurative art.

For Shridhar Iyer his life is an endless fascination with the mystery of time, space and life. His work aesthetic and sensibilities of thought and mind reflect an almost child-like innocence and honesty, qualities that reflect in the integrity of his work. "No painting is ever complete. Everything keeps changing all the time; I just create a canvas and then at some point decide to break away from it - not signifying its end but a change in thought or desire in my own mind and heart. As one thought ends, so does one canvas. And then the quest continues ... " says Shridhar about the nature of art. With a heart open to all that is alive and throbbing with the energy of this universe, Shridhar Iyer is poised to take the abstract artistic form into a future that is true, pure and proud of its individuality.

Ms. Megha Upadhyay