Critics’ Picks

New Delhi

Tanya Goel

The Dhan Mill, 100 Feet Rd Chhatarpur Hills
November 26, 2017–January 13, 2018

In her first solo exhibition in New Delhi, “This, the Sublime and its Double,” Tanya Goel investigates surfaces through the language of abstraction. Goel’s practice is invested in exploring the deep histories of painterly technologies and melding them to a minimalist vocabulary based on mathematics.

Works such as carbon (x, y) (all works cited, 2017) and semitone on multiples, made of coal, mica, aluminum, and concrete, and resembling pixelated bitmaps, pronounce tensions between form and content that are at the heart of radical abstraction. Multiple squares bring to mind sleek computer windows, even as a human hand’s deft maneuvers are revealed on closer viewing. Though Josef Albers’s bright cuboid geometries and Donald Judd’s and Dan Flavin’s spare play with dimension and color all seem to be influences, Goel also directly inherits the legacy of Indian artists such as Nasreen Mohamedi.

Troubling categories of labor, Goel makes her own pigments from materials belonging to construction sites more than ateliers, the oils underscoring her works’ engagement with questions of materiality—paint’s texture and reaction to light, for example. Her curiosity regarding the “screen” as a flat ground central to painterly traditions emerges in these pieces, because of the effects achieved by the works’ two-dimensional constructions. For instance, depending on the distance from which they are viewed, the suggestively titled Diatonic Scales, Phosphate Values, and Triode II can evoke Venetian blinds, bamboo curtains, and tapestries respectively. The Cartesian coordinate system looms large over the exhibition, indicating Goel’s long-standing interest in anchoring her interpretations in a numerical grid, converting the empirical into the abstract—or the virtual.