Press Reviews  


Two things stand out from this magniloquent verse in Dakshinamoorti Stotram (Hymns to Shiva, the guru), beginning with: Chitram vata tarur mooley vriddha shishya gurur yuva…". The first is the preface to the scenario, with the use of the word "chitram" – drawing or painting, to describe how the guru is seated. The second is when the verse proceeds to say "Gurostu maunam vyakhyanam shishyastu chinnasamsayah" – the guru explains everything through the medium of unrelieved silence, and lo and behold, all the doubts in the minds of the venerable old rishis gathered around him stand dispelled. The first is testimony to the intrinsic place of art in the Indian way of life; the second is evocative of the right choice of medium to convey the truth, or looked at differently, the rasa, as it were.Shuchi Khanna's confection of canvases and watercolours are a reflection of her innate perception of art, and her instrument of communication is not only her vision distilled into at once 'Feeling' and 'Passionate' but also provide a resplendent display of the most fascinating concoctions of colours, medium and her techniques. I shall deal, briefly, with what strikes me in her works. Of course, in a context where even artists, creators of their own works, choose to call many of them 'Untied', it would be presumptuous on my part to try to pontify, but one can certainly write about what one's eye sees and one's mind perceives – I hope the artists will forgive me for the minor plagiarism!

The canvases are a delicious mix of landscapes and figurative works. The woman in profile looking askance at a glass of pink champagne, with thee man with a smouldering cigarette resting his fingers lightly on her nape could almost be Burning Passion or again, Woman Unbound. Or it could be P3P duo - in the same mood as the woman whose harlequin-like garishly painted open lips could be the height of ecstasy or the pit of despair. Highly touching is the back-to-back full length figures of two women gazing away from architectonically juxtaposed cluster of homes behind them - they are looking away, are they forlorn or in despair because they are homeless or are they day dreaming for a home of their own one day? Recurring images of faces with dark patches for eyes, geometrically stylized representations of women with graceful, slim, distinctive long noses, with a flower in the hand and the moon gloating at them, another gazing at a crescent moon, with tiny white elephants before and behind her – could it be the conception of Siddhartha, and groups of women in twos and threes and clusters, dancing about, seated, surrounded by fauna and flora, all these, to my mind, seem to be focus on The Woman, her situation, her plight, her joys and her longings. And then there are the landscapes – on soft, dulcet colours, delicate blue, green and turquoise, flaming red and orange…
The Woman recurs in Shuchi's watercolours too. "I am proud to be a Woman", in which a tree with its tentacled roots seemingly growing out of her womb, with copious foliage in the crown and tiny dancing women wreathed about, seems to me to be the very statement of the Prithvi Sookta – "Mata bhoomihi putro aham pritivyah" – Earth is the Mother (Erse mader of the Saxons), the world is her progeny! The tiny dancers seem to be revelling at this joyous explosion of life. Another one which appealed to me was the Medusa-like head of a woman on whom a curious bird is perched, giving a sidelong glance at another – with only one eye of each being shown, half Janusian… could it be a portrayal of what a woman really is and what the callous world perceives her to be? In all these too, there is not only a splendid array of hues but also realistic portrayal of the classically beautiful woman (as in the one with the Tota Vaikuntam signature of the big red bindi) as in the stylized versions, suggestive, partially revealed yet conveying all that she feels… Well, the eye can go on seeing, and the mind perceiving… I am sure the viewer will have his fill of pleasure at this arresting collection of Shuchi's works.

(Formerly Secretary Culture, Government of India
December 14, 2007 Member, National Minorities Commission & Chairman, National Museum Expert Committee)

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