V. Srinath’s assays in various media such as, painting, printmaking and photography are showcased in this exhibit. A predominant concern that encompasses all his works is about handling materials to create a highly textured visual harmony. The range he has worked with includes conventional surfaces for painting, such as, paper or canvas and the unconventional grounds of printing such as, on banana fiber paper, handmade/prepared/recycled paper etc. Srinath seems to interact with the materials to bring out possibilities and methods of working with them. What is important to him is the very process through which works emerge playfully.
Conceptually his works are about his responses, reactions to changing life styles, situations and predicaments. Such autobiographical works are, perhaps, like pages from a diary wherein the most intimate thoughts are narrated at times with the help of figures, letters and at times in a more kinesthetic, abstract manner.
On browsing through his recent series called the Windows Without Walls we find ourselves amidst the sites on the World Wide Web. The artist critically yet wittily interprets some effects of the new regime of electronic communications.
In a series of paintings titled Seasons, Srinath records the emotional impact of colours while trying to correlate them with different seasons in a year. The subtle nuances of pigments, the brisk rhythmic knife marks create a painting, which is erotic. However, it is also lyrical, like Zen poetry.
Srinath not only represents his self-reflections but also engages us with his views on inter- personal dialogue, particularly in the photographs. Very simple, downtrodden and rural people feature in these works. By way of masquerading through these characters, the artist recalls his own past and perhaps, also brings out his/ their aspirations with a tinge of humour, for instance, the work titled Main Shahrukh Khan Banna Chahata Hun.
- B.S.Rohini Iyengar, M.A., Ph.D, Art Historian/Critic
Reviews by British reporter, and a French journalist
V. Srinath challenges existing boundaries to demonstrate that everything is possible. Sculptures, paintings and installations represent bold experiments with textures, materials and ideas. A series of cardboard cartons, (Windows and Walls), transformed in a flicker of imagination into apartment windows, each window representing a glimpse into - or out of - different life.
A simple painting, on rough, recycled paper, presents an apple on a dish, seen from a perspective that might not exist. Everything is fluid, flexible and portable. Nothing is permanent.
His art can be derived from simple, unconventional objects - a piece of wood found in a forest, a plastic container rescued from a gutter, the colours of the desert. Inspiration comes from everywhere. Colour is primary. Vibrant, natural colours convey the beauty of everyday objects and extraordinary ideas.
A deep, rich yellow is derived from the spice, tumeric; a stunning red from the earth; and the cold, pure blue is extracted from the plant, indigo. The simplicity of images is enhanced by his own hand made paper, Its heavy texture serves as a fitting foundation for surprising second dimensions.
In one work, corrugated cardboard becomes a barred window, While Srinath's paintings may begin with a colour, sometimes they never end.
For Srinath, creating art is an ongoing process, adding layer upon layer, idea upon idea. "Each time I start a painting I do not know where I am going to stop," he says. "Sometimes I might leave it and work on other paintings and then I come back and maybe I will see something different in it. I go back and start again, as though I am starting a new painting. "I might then decide to scrape off the paint, or paint over my first layer with a white or coloured wash. As a result each painting might be multi-layered, with each layer representing a different idea. Sometimes the ideas remain, sometimes they are obliterated by the paint and sometimes they fade." Pencil outlines can be seen on top of the layers of paint. Defining the image on top of the existing colours - in a sense the first layer has come last. The image defined by the colour. Colour is also used to tell the story, as in much of Srinath's work, all may not be what it seems. There is always another dimension.
Caroline Macdonald .
“….In a recent show titled "Dimensions", the artist Srinath presents his new work with a special focus on material, texture, harmony, and three-dimensional forms. As in his previous exhibitions in Asmara, he continues to experiment with locally found products and recycled objects from everyday life. This indeed is a challenge, a challenge for us to identify in such beautiful art the point of departure, the moment of inspiration in such humble things as warping paper, cardboard boxes, local dyes or even unfolded matchboxes with photos of Eritrean cultural sites and artifacts,' 'Mezekertha Eritrea'.
Above all, what is striking is the artist’s ability to display enchanting colors while using only what is found locally. Large and small pieces frame fields of colors that alternate between the soft transparencies of watercolors and the rough contours of richly textured compositions. Looking across the room, one may find revealing correspondences and contrasts that are as vivid as the colors themselves, and yet the style remains the same throughout. ' Boxing Glove and Bird' is a sculpture in plaster where the huge glove is an approximate, rough rendering in primary colors (red outside, and yellow inside) coupled with an unpainted minuscule white bird as fragile as chalk. In such paintings as 'Composition with a Cat' the soft drawing and delicate wash contrast vividly with the roughness of heavy outlines and rich layers of paint in 'Akaht and Boats'.
This show is a wonderful illustration of the use and subversion of the principles of classical harmony and classical composition. In 'Exterior and Interior', light and dark establish two different perspectives in the same painting, depicting a landscape seen at once by night and by day, from within and from without. In 'Sans titre' (meaning "untitled" in French), the shapes are upside down, laying on a surface in the manner of a still life drawing, but the heavy forms with their dark colors manage to seem to float defying gravity. In many of the pieces, the colors used are not borrowed from their natural shapes but rather from a palette of harmonies and contrasts such as ' Landscape from Lowlands ' where trees are thick white forms and their corresponding shadows dark blue circles on the ground. 'Fish from Red Sea' offers the charming simplicity of a transparent fish and a sea as red as its name would have it.
Words are there only as titles, and sometimes there are no titles at all. Some paintings have a story of their own, the story of the artist or the one shaping them. There is a process where life is involved. Such is ‘Travelogue of a Donkey’ for which we learn that the title was given after the picture changed over time by letting the stories of others filter through and redefine the yet unfinished forms. Another painting of interest, ' Where is the Shepherd? ' was also left unfinished, and will remain so in its final stage. It is the simplest and yet the most inviting one. So simple at first glance: a range of soft colorful mountains create the background for a lonely tree shooting upwards and barely giving shade to the two donkeys featured at the centerpiece. The title refers to an absence that layers of paint have faded almost into invisibility, but not, interestingly enough, into oblivion. Without the artist telling the story, few of us could decipher the meaning from the title. Like experience, like time, layers upon layers of paint (or other material) may convey or hide the deepest meaning in the simplest manner.
A simple installation made of the large cardboard boxes used by wholesalers, opens up a series of windows into cutout shapes. Juxtaposed and mounted one upon the other, the black and white shapes form a possible language of life: a hand, a gesture; a face that we look at, or one that looks at us. There are no narratives of social contents, you may say. But who is there to tell that the playful compositions of light and shade, of emptiness and form are not the abstract mirroring of the lives unfolding around us?
While in Barentu, the artist was puzzled by the myth of Numey (Kunama divinity) and drew from it a painting titled 'Numey, do not interrupt the Teller, a Kunama belief '. Maybe that is what we want to do when we look at art: we want to follow the artist and make a narrative from what is only colors, lines, shapes and dimensions.
Tsigye H. Michael.