Critics’ Picks

Prabhavathi Meppayil, d sixty three, 2017, gesso on wood, 36 x 36 x 1".

Prabhavathi Meppayil, d sixty three, 2017, gesso on wood, 36 x 36 x 1".

New Delhi

Prabhavathi Meppayil

A-4 Green Avenue Street, Church/Mall Road, Vasant Kunj (Off Green Avenue)
January 20–March 2, 2017

Prabhavathi Meppayil’s second solo exhibition in New Delhi reflects her curiosity about spatial logics and her interest in using intensive and vernacular processes. A descendant of goldsmiths, Meppayil uses the tools and techniques of the craft to trouble the boundary between artist and artisan. Her stark white gesso panels in d sixty one, d sixty, d fifty seven, d sixty two, d fifty six, and d fifty eight (all 2016) almost blend into the walls––the incisions and embedded wires are revealed only as one nears the works. The lines of the delicate metal contrast sharply with the thick mass of substratum through which they are glimpsed, and this creates a songful effect.

One of the works on view here, d fifty five, 2016, is a five-part piece featuring intricate etchings of patterns on gesso—made with a goldsmith's tool, a thinnam—and each unit features a different design. Her engagement with Minimalism is shared with artists such as Nasreen Mohamedi and Agnes Martin, but it is also informed by traditional practices, which prompts the viewer to reflect on the intersection between individual imagination and inherited methods of artmaking.

In d sixty four, 2016, Meppayil coated 144 molds used for making traditional earrings (called jhumkas) with gesso and mounted them on the wall in the form of a grid. From afar, the spherical dip in the middle of the cubes mimics the surficial interventions in the other works, drawing out the artist’s preoccupation with planes and dimensionality. Her attentiveness to geometries, particularly in how depth is interpreted in the gap between painting and sculpture, is also apparent in d sixty three, 2017, a series of 225 gesso blocks arranged as a grid, the cubes uneven and imprecise like the handmade markings on the flat works.