Critics’ Picks

Nikhil Chopra, Lands, Waters & Skies: Ashwem 3, 2013, mixed media on paper, 42 x 92".

Nikhil Chopra, Lands, Waters & Skies: Ashwem 3, 2013, mixed media on paper, 42 x 92".


Nikhil Chopra

Chatterjee & Lal
Arthur Bunder Road, 1/18 Floor 1, Kamal Mansion
November 16, 2018–January 5, 2019

The air is thin in Nikhil Chopra’s drawings. They take us to high altitudes: In Sundersar, 2018, we are at a lake 3,900 meters above sea level in Kashmir, where the water stretches across the scene like a transparent sheet. The “Lands, Waters & Skies” of the show’s title are smudged together in oil pastel, turpentine, and charcoal on paper. In Jadsar, 2018, Chopra chases sunlight over ragged mountains, through the center of which slips a small mercury-silver stream. A number of works in the series correspond to Chopra’s seventy-five-mile walk across Kashmir’s Liddar Valley, where he travelled up to the Kolahoi Glacier, one of the fastest-melting glaciers of the Himalayan range (it has shrunk by 2.3 km in the past fifteen years). Kalahoi Glacier, 2018, shows where this body of ice meets a cloud-padded sky.

Each vista is cinematic, as is the premise of Chopra’s journey: He walks the very same sites that served as subjects for his grandfather, landscape painter Yog Raj Chopra. There is a marked difference, however, in each artist’s approach. What were ancient and immovable mountains to Yog Raj are scenes of extreme fragility to Nikhil. Nikhil’s work attempts to make a record of what we are close to losing, from the Himalayas all the way to the Arabian Sea: Ashwem 3, 2013, shows the sunset ritual of a creek joining the sea at high tide, in candy flip colors shrouded by a darkening sky.