Talwar Gallery is delighted to present Tying down time, the second of the two-part exhibition series focusing on Singh’s formative period from 1973-1982. As in the first part exhibition last year, most works in this exhibition are being exhibited for the first time ever.
Tying down time examines a pivotal if little-known period of experimentation in Singh’s career – a moment of deep and fertile engagement with the elemental aspects of form and composition. Momentarily suspending her interest in narrative, the works in Tying down time – almost all intimately-scaled works on paper – present rare examples of pure abstraction within Singh’s oeuvre. Her signature inquisitiveness is given over entirely to the investigation of space and depth, plane and perspective – and, in an elemental yet vibrant way, to color. The bright hues and deeply saturated passages familiar from her later work appear first here as does the emergence of flattening and recombining of perspectives.
We witness the way they begin to limn space within the compositions: horizons emerge as space is divided into horizontal planes, bands of color forming carefully balanced frames at the works’ edges, which anchor and contain the movement within. Washes blend delicately into each other here, and hues gradually take on gravity – an accrual of weight and density that leads, as in the single oil-on-canvas work in the exhibition, Sunset at Kasauli, towards passages of intense visual potency. Even when form begins to reemerge in her work – a set of stairs indicated ever so subtly among the color passages in a work from 1981– the structural framework that this period engendered remains to date. Tracing the arc of this seminal period, Tying down time allows us to witness the creative birth of Singh’s oeuvre, acknowledged as one the most important living artist of India.
Arpita Singh was born in 1937 in West Bengal, India, and moved with her family to Delhi in 1946, where she has since lived and worked. She attended the School of Art, Delhi Polytechnic, and after graduating, she worked as a textile designer at the Weaver’s Service Centre, part of the Handloom Board of India. Her work has been featured in exhibitions around the world, including the Royal Academy of Arts, London; The Pompidou Centre, Paris; Museo Nacional de Centro Reina Sofia, Madrid; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA; Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, MA; Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), New Delhi; Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan; Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland; Asia Society, New York; Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Sydney; Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA; Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi; National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai & New Delhi.
“There’s nothing delicate or fragile in this series of poignant, quietly courageous work. Sometimes stained or slightly battered, the drawings show their age proudly. This is art, after all, that survived the intensity of its own turbulent making.”