Artists

Published in Lalit Kala Contemporary, no. 33, December 1985, pp. 42

When I went to Gogi’s Garhi studio I found her working on a huge canvas of a reclining woman - a woman neither beautiful not voluptuous but, apparently, representing the quintessence of suffering womanhood. ‘Suffering’ in fact has been the main theme of Gogi’s works throughout her career - career spanning a period of nearly two decades.

Alienation seems to be the mood of her earlier woks as can be seen from the lonely people, caught in a twilight world of grey and an atmosphere of silence, a suggestion of bleak emptiness, of desolate landscapes and zombie like figures.

There is a constant problem she seems to be struggling with, that of trying to resolve her subjects with the visual pictorial media and seems to end up only provoking it instead of solving it. She is totally involved with her subject as a human being. But at the same time she gets detached when it comes to the act of painting, just like the restrained tension her figures convey, where all conflict is subdued an friction toned down.

The stylish faces in her drawings, etchings, lithos and paintings, with their death like paleness, the haunted look of empty eye sockets in deep shadow, the suggestion of lifelessness in the limbs and the deliberate austerity of colors all show Gogi’s preoccupation with the emptiness of the individual who is alienated because of knowledge and understanding.

The same theme pervades her recent canvasses too, but she seems to have overcome her earlier restraint and inhibition. There are no longer that feeling of hesitation and withdrawal can be seen from the life-like nudes, revealed in nauseating detail reflecting the artist’s self-image as a woman in today’s world, where she is exploited - her body and soul are used.

We find a woman in repose surrounded by voyeuristic faces leering at her. The earlier austerity of her greys toned down greens, browns and ochres giveaway to more dazzling reds, orange and scarlet. The scarlet forehead of the women in this canvas makes it clear as to who is the sacrificial goat offered at the after of lust.

Then too, we find another woman on the verge of having her child taken away from her by religious fanatics.

In yet another, we find a woman surrounded by monks obviously discussing, assessing, haggling and bargaining over her. These paintings form a group “being a woman”, where the figures show no love and no security, the major metaphor is suffering of a woman, a woman faced with a man’s greed, hunger and lust. This, Gogi paints with suggestive eyes and delicate mouth - a timeless environment, the characters “harmonize the sorrows of the world” and at the same time they together create a sense of intimacy and become part if us.

Published in Lalit Kala Contemporary, no. 33, December 1985, pp. 42
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