For a painter with such a refined and meticulous control of her medium, printmaking has provided an opportunity for experimentation, chance and accident. Yes, we are talking about Seema Kohli. This journey in printmaking is now on display at the exhibition ‘The Alchemy of Process’
For this resourceful artist, working in a single medium could never satiate her generous and restless creative spirit. In addition to dazzlingly detailed large-scaled paintings for which she is so well known, the legacy of her long career has been one of broad exploration and experimentation in both traditional and avant-garde mediums – diverse printmaking processes through performance and video.
Seema’s work is inspired by and firmly grounded in her extensive knowledge of Indian spirituality, mythology and cosmology which is most often filtered through the lens of the sacred feminine. An overarching theme in her work has been the regeneration of life which can be seen in the extensive and evolving series, Golden Womb and Tree of Life.
The exhibition features many of her series. The series Unending Dance of Light shares dense compositions and rich tonality. In Power Games, which unfolds at a panoramic scale of 20×40”, a woman in a yogic position rests one foot on the back of a small nude male in a vulnerable position facing away from her.
Her series ‘Memoirs’, created in 2018, is strikingly different in tone and temperament. Rendered in a fine and sometimes fragile black etched line, the ample white of the page infuses the images with a sense of light.
Building on the panoramic scale of some of Seema’s intaglio prints is the exquisite penultimate zinc plate etching, Mahavira – The Enlightened One, unfolding at a spectacular 50×120”. Created in warm brown ink, selective use of gold can be seen in silhouetted figures of the Mahavira and Buddha. Floating among these sacred and familiar icons are reclining floating figures nearly camouflaged in a hypnotic density of wave-like patterns, shapes and bubbles.
For Seema and many artists of her ilk, printmaking not only opens up diverse techniques and effects that expand and transform their work but importantly allows for a more democratic distribution than is possible with a single painting or sculpture.
The exhibition is available on the website of India International Centre till 3 January