Assertive, astute, aware and equally sensitive Indian womenfolk – both urban and rural - who belong to the new globalized world with an ever-expanding horizon, are keen to voice their views on issues pertinent to their status and progress in the contemporary society. Taking a cue from their pressing concerns, several talented female artists produce work that reflects the changed gender mindset, echoing subtle shades and nuances of the self, social and cultural, from a universal perspective. No surprise, they are leaving an indelible mark on the global art scene.
One among them is the highly talented Meetali Singh, an artist tuned to the changing times, who has charted her own course. She does not owe allegiance to any school of art, and does not want to make a statement, but amplifies the social-scape through an intense personal search, trying to fathom 'what or who I am as an individual'. Her work may not exude a specific socio-political context or her immediate milieu. Instead she looks to answer self-posed queries, leading to a larger discovery.
Born in 1978 in Kanpur in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the practice of this Vadodara-based artist is unique not only in terms of subject matter but also in terms of form. With a formal background in painting, she has honed her technical skills over time to enhance the creative pursuit. Architectural forms and elements of landscape along with the challenge posed by the rendering of figures and their mysterious reflection on glass prompted her to combine visual reality and its counterpart in form of the conjured/ created reflections.
First studying visual arts at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, she did her Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting) and later Masters (Graphic Arts) from Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda in 2002 and 2004 respectively. Her work has featured in several shows like 'Alternate Vision', Art Pilgrim, Delhi (2008); 'The Young Indian Contemporaries', Suchitrra Arts, Mumbai (2008); ‘Landscapes and Cityscapes’, Art Pilgrim; ‘Young Guns’, Institute of Contemporary Indian Art (ICIA), Mumbai; ‘Cynosure’, Red Earth Galleries Private Limited, Baroda (all in 2007); ‘Footprints’ a traveling show in 2006; ‘Sense N’ Blend, Kaleidoscope Gallery, Baroda (2005); and Visual Art Gallery, India Habitat Center, Delhi (2005).
Among her noteworthy participations are Bharat Bhavan International Biennial of Print-Art (2006); the National Exhibition Of Art, Bhopal (2006, 2004, 2003); Gujarat State LKA Exhibition (2003-05); AIFACS exhibition, Ahmedabad (2002-03); and annual show of Faculty of Visual Arts, Banaras Hindu University (2002, 1999). A recipient of INLAKS Fine Arts Awards from New Delhi’s INLAKS Foundation, she also received the National Cultural Scholarship (2004-06) Gujarat State LKA Award (2005), and a gold medal at M. S. University in 2004, among other honors and awards.
The passionate painter- printmaker blends the strengths of the respective mediums, often overlapping their finer aspects in her oeuvre. This reflects in the fact that her prints and paintings harbor basic similarities. In other words, her painting takes off at a point where the print ends and vice versa. At a more fundamental level, she is more concerned with the meticulous treatment of space. In essence, first launched as an exploration to fathom this element, the process has resulted in gradual evolution of her creative processes and simultaneous affirmation of her artistic philosophy. The printmaking technique crops up in her paintings or it can be other way round as well.
In the process, she tries to free herself an artist from the earlier bounds of linearity present in her work, now evident in the immaculate treatment of her intriguing images and space. This medium allows her to achieve a certain amount of softness, which was not possible in the process of graphics. The versatile and prolific artist spontaneously paints what she visualizes at a given point of time; something that captivates her mind at that moment. She lets the canvas chart its own course, and her composition is seldom planned, logically arranged or sequentially defined.
When she starts conceptualizing it, there’s only a faint idea as what she is going to paint, though its germ has taken its root in her mind, developed at a sub-conscious level. She reveals, “An artist has no control over the start, the end or even the intermittent pauses. I let a painting take its own course, and opt not to direct or divert its flow. I am involved in it, but still feel detached from it.” Portrayal of her emotions acquires a more mystical touch in her paintings that also gives shape to her desires in a surrealistic way, further enhanced by the lyrical feel of this medium, which she believes, ably accentuates the aspect of feminity. Realistic figures set in an unrealistic or imaginary realm set the tone for of phantasmagoric visuals. The need to demark the space on the visual surfaces for the real and the fantastic is evident.
Her work tends to embrace the viewer with several images emerging from the defining one to fill the entire surface, arousing a curiosity amidst the uncharted narrative that depicts journey of a restless mind, searching for complex answers to riddles posed by life. It strives to relate the conscious and the unconscious, building a continuous homogenous harmony. Meetali Singh’s oeuvre is essentially a reflection of an artist’s mindset and thought processes - treading a territory between sheer imagination and real-life emotions. Hence the images are mostly surreal and dreamy in nature – akin to capturing swings of a pendulum.
She tries to grasp the movement and the moods of the surreal zone between two extreme poles. The artist sums up her practice to say: “I try to paint my inner emotions. Taking up art was not an easy choice, but I was committed to art and was determined to overcome all barriers. It has been a long journey for me personally, from Benares to Baroda where I arrived to study. My paintings are a reflection of my desires, my aspirations and my feelings.”