Hemali Bhuta’s exploration of an intangible quality like time into a recalcitrantly present sculptural entities at the Singapore Biennale.
The journey of a visual artist often dapples between the dualities of scale and scope, meaning and medium, concept and construction, and ideology and impact. In the journey of balancing these simple but rather pressing terminologies, the end goal is what leaves the beholders in an absolute state of introspection. This engulfing experience, the contemporary art exhibition, thus plays a crucial role in adding visual punctuations to the everyday mundane. Hemali Bhuta’s recent showcase at the Singapore Biennale titled ‘Natasha’ is truly an encapsulating experience as she spans the journey of ‘everyday objects’ – from its creation to its decay. She integrates the final disintegration over time!
As you enter Bhuta’s curated white cube, you may find some familiar objects mysteriously lying on the floor. In retrospect, she gives a contemporary twist to the very common idea of a ‘flooring’ titled Fold. To me, it almost feels like a mummification of an object. Bhuta repurposed an early 2012 artwork into parquet flooring. Hemali comments, “Fold speaks of acts of folding, storing, stacking, preserving, and ultimately, caring. I am indeed a witness to the ever-evolving nature of the work, the material over time and in places and spaces it has been. I learnt in the process to not resist but rather embrace this transformation, this transmutation, this transition.”
While the Fold left deeper meanings on the impermanence of an object, this very idea also seeded to the showstopper of Bhuta’s collection titled My pulse is beating and my veins throbbing and in wonder, my song bursts forth. The title is a line borrowed from a song Akash bhora surjo tara by Rabindranath Tagore in Ritwik Ghatak’s film Komal Gandhar. The artwork explores the notions of time and decay. The work plays with scale and scope in dimensionality as it is placed at a right angle, partly vertical and partly horizontal, lying on the floor. Here the gesture of wax throwing using patli patra or metal plates used by construction workers, witnessed in Jharkhand, India at the lac extraction facility, has been repeated. Consequently, there is a carpet studded with soft and solid blobs of wax with hues ranging from white and beige to purple, adding to the geology of the work. “I wanted a default dropping of stuff on the floor that has come to seem like a pile of debris. This was meant to be without much intervention by us and a more natural process of the fall of the heavy material”, Hemali adds. The work conveys a sense of fragility layered beneath the political and the mystic.
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