This warm and elusive show can be befuddling. Its reach is far and subtle, and embraces many modalities while its expression is quiet and minimal. It is what it isn’t. Titled and the epic did not happen!, Hemali Bhuta’s two-room installation, curated by Anne Couillaud, renders the COVID shutdown concrete in its physical investigation of time and place and color, but its effects are fleeting.
In the main room hangs a huge sheet of fabric, colored in reddish-stained squares sewn unevenly together with pronounced seams. The fabric extends to the ground where it meets a strip of white, perhaps unbleached cloth, and falls into a large swath of blue on the floor. In back of this curtain of fabric, but in front of the two windows behind it, are two faded green cyanotypes on cotton with images of plants and flowers that continually develop as the sun bleaches them.
The fabric attracts, retains, and loses color as the dyes fade over time, transformed by light, atmospheric conditions, and use, tracking in the process the passage of time and place. Bhuta has used lac, a kind of resin deposited by the female lac insect on twigs in South Asia. The substance can act as a varnish or sealant and imparts a reddish hue.
Like a stage set as well as a dreamscape, the installation embraces the viewer who may perceive shades of memory, experiencing a subliminal effect. The work is, in essence, a fabric of memory and is very much art that makes itself, telling a continually unpredictable story of its evolution—an unending epic. The title of each work is that of a verse from Akash Bhora Surjo Tara, a song by Rabindranath Tagore from the film Komal Gandhar, by Bengali director Ritwik Ghatak, suggesting a narrative text embedded in the textile.
Read the entire article here: https://brooklynrail.org/2021/10/artseen/Hemali-Bhuta-and-the-epic-did-not-happen