Updated: Aug 25

As an artist, I have been used to spending a lot of my time with myself and my thoughts and so when the lockdowns began, it did not feel like much of a lifestyle change. However, as some exhibitions got cancelled and uncertainties grew, my process of creation of art slowed down. Organically, a pause came into being and I started spending more and more time watching art documentaries, observing my older paintings and gradually questioning the elements of my work. And, my search gravitated towards colour.

I ended up discovering and rediscovering philosophies of master artists that plunged into the very core of what colour is. Many of these kindled explorative processes within and some quotes left a profound impact on my thoughts. 

I read that colour is a raw material indispensable to life and this moved me. Above all, Prabhakar Kolte’s quote “To understand black, become black” left me pondering deeply. The whole learning experience was powerful and took me back to the basis of questioning who I was and what art meant to me. And, I started to look for answers.

I first actively tried to imbibe these philosophies. How do I become colour? I focussed my energies consciously and thought to myself that I am black, I am black. But, something did not just sit right.  I then went back to colour theory and plunged into research. That did not work either. As I tried to make sense of all this on the canvas, my work did not speak to me. It was then that I decided to let go.

I just let myself be and somewhere in those moments, I became. I was sitting in a corner at my studio with my eyes closed. One day, awake but dreaming, I was listening to a cuckoo singing from a tree and the pitter patter of the rain played with the silence. And, just as I was dissolving into the moment, a picture of myself came to my mind. I was at an airport, looking at the departure chart for hours. I was a rust colour, all my features clearly defined but all rust. As I kept staring at the screen, I suddenly melted into a puddle of that same beautiful rust colour. I saw me in that visualisation and I saw me as colour.

This became the inspiration for my work and I brought out the exact same shade of rust on my canvas with lighter and darker accents showing the effects of light. I see myself spread out on the canvas in a sense. This inquiry about the existence of correlation between myself and colour has changed me as an artist, it has changed my process at a technical and structural level. It has changed me as a person. 

As I went in search of colour, I realised that it had turned into a rigorous inner search for self. This search is as abstract as life itself but leaves me with a profound sense of awareness that when change beckons, there is something very beautiful about shedding your past self and evolving into what you are meant to.  This journey of exploration has been cathartic. It has left me with a new perspective and has shown me the power of sheer intrigue and the liberating freedom of embracing change. I am excited about my upcoming work as I take on a new approach and look forward to what it becomes and invokes! Until next time, I leave you with these beautiful lines to mull over - Colours are not always symbolic and do not always carry a message. Colours have their own universal existence. Colours do not represent human concepts and thoughts like words do. Every colour has its own light as well as an identity as a result of the visual perception (this is true in case of sound as well) Red is red first; it Is the human mind based on its limited rational thinking that makes a symbol of something. In fact red does not symbolise anything. It acquires a new form when one observes how it is placed next to a dot yellow in the ensemble of a painting. Trying to force any other meaning on it other that this would simply be wrong. They make us aware of the existence of colours and their qualities that come to light when they are freely used on the canvas. - V. S Gaitonde. 

In search of blue

Mixed Medium on Linen Canvas

Size : 48.75" by 38"

  • Abhigna Kedia

The most beautiful yet terrifying thing about art is that there is nothing constant about it, no set path. In truly every sense, it is like life itself. Art has always been a medium for self-exploration and seeking for me. It has and keeps pushing me to rethink the rules that shape my art from time to time. It almost seems as if the art in me has a life of its own and is on a journey of finding the most honest form of expression through me.

I started off with forms and objects in my work and found myself gravitating towards abstract art over time. To me, abstract art is synonymous with freedom. Once the strict boundaries of form broke, I saw a whole new world come alive and immortalise the stark nakedness of my feelings, thoughts, explorations and emotions. I rethink even the very basic rules that I have learnt at art school and I often mull about what rules mean.

In one of my class at Art school, my teacher had once quoted a Picasso ‘to break the rules you have to know them & know them like a pro’ and this has stayed with me. Playing with boundaries, testing them is an intrinsic part of being an artist. In my experience, rules are often like training wheels. They help when you are beginning to explore a certain kind of art but later the art itself takes over and urges one to go beyond. This is often a deeply personal journey for an artist.

When exploring the deepest parts of ourselves through art, rules can sometimes be the only guiding star and losing sight of that to dive deeper can be nerve-wrecking. But, the adventure has always been worth it. Every time I stand in front of the canvas I discover something new. The growth, freedom and discoveries are scary yet cathartic. In the whole process, I see myself and art starting out as two different entities, dimensions of the same spirit coming closer and closer to becoming a single inseparable entity.

Mark Rothko said, “My painting surfaces are expansive and push outward in all directions or their surfaces contract and rush inwards in all directions.

Between these two poles, you can find everything I want to say”

To bring such pure honesty to the canvas and let it become life itself instead of just reflecting life, transcendence of rules becomes a mandate. It does require courage and an unwavering sense of commitment to the truth. But, look at what it creates!

  • Abhigna Kedia

The work that we do is really an extension of ourselves, isn’t it? I have been thinking about evolution and how our work can push us to go beyond who we are. Whether we do it consciously or not, every single action of ours is trying to get us somewhere, a better place.  Being an artist, I am able to see myself in my work more profoundly. The evolution is more noticeable, the explorations are more literal. The urge to transcend what is and explore what lies further drives my work. Every input I get from around me is shaping me and my art at every moment. 

However, the downside is that there are times when it all becomes overwhelming and I need to find constant sources of inspirations to go on. I usually turn to music, books or philosophy. But, during the lockdown, one of the interesting turn of events for me as an artist has been the access that I gained to many other forms of inspiration online.

For example, Art Basel’s online viewing room, Mumbai Gallery Weekend on Instagram, Foundation of Art & Culture hosting conversations about art, etc have all been made available virtually. The horizons have widened and the implications are beautiful. These sessions and experiences online are like sanctuaries amidst all the uncertainties of this time.

There is one particular quote from these sessions that I want to tell you about. Prabhakar Kolte said this one line that goes “To understand black, become black”. It has stayed with me and changed the way I look at my work.  It is such a powerful thought and my mind is exploring all the layers of it. I look at black now and I see acceptance, I see a reflection of myself. It is a point of evolution for my work.

With access to so much more inspiration through the internet, most of us have crossed paths with ideas, inputs and experiences that we couldn’t earlier. What among all this has moved you the most and how has it changed you? I leave you to reflect on this until we meet next :)

 © Abhigna Kedia | Artist | Abstract Art

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