Ever wondered what goes through the artist’s mind while creating their paintings? We were thinking the exact same thing, so we asked. Sharmistha Ray recently held a solo exhibition of her paintings entitled “Hidden Geographies”, here is what she had to say… xoxo
Painting metascapes takes me into the realm of the imaginary, where I can pinpoint past experiences and turn them into metaphors. I spent a year working on the exhibition, hidden geographies, at my studio at Space 118 in Mazgaon.
The environs of the converted mill compound, its sand pit and mango trees with parakeets, kites and crows circling above or planted amongst leaves provided a haven away from the din of Mumbai to think, scheme and work.
In the distance, one can hear the rattle and horns of the cargo trains from the old docks and towards the evening, the sound of prayer from nearby mosques. My studio – an old shed with whitewashed walls with paintings leaning up against the walls, old wooden tables covered with paint tubes, buckets, palette knives and studies for new paintings – is the world I was ensconced in while working towards my solo debut in Mumbai.
The experience was almost monastic. In that solitary abode, paintings like Agni, The Golden Temple, Forbidden Pleasures and The Sublimation of Desire were conceptualized and created, all in 2011.
At the end of the making process there was the inevitable “moment of separation” when the paintings, fresh with thick layers of paint, left the studio to go to the gallery where they would be placed, hung, lit and labeled for the world to see. As each one was lifted, packed and heaved into the vehicle that was to transport them, I struggled with the notion that this was the end of this particular journey. I took some solace in the words of Joseph Conrad, from the introduction to one my favorite books The Gift by Lewis Hyde: “The artist appeals to that part of our being…which is a gift and not an acquisition – and, therefore, more permanently enduring.” That thought, drifting in and out of consciousness, allowed me to let go.