From being an individual artist to being an organizer-curator, coordinator and even a publisher of a fortnightly e-magazine for arts for Mukhotey Arts Groups, Neelu Patel has been lately playing these varied roles consistently and successfully.
A pass out of Sheth CN College of Fine Arts 1993 batch, Neelu was recently involved in organizing two group shows at Amdavad ni Gufa Galleries – both Indoor and Outdoor ones, where one of these shows was dedicated to the 611th Foundation Anniversary of Ahmedabad on Feb 26. This one accordingly was focused on the Heritage theme, for which even she had created and showcased her works depicting Sarkhez Roza and other such structures.
Close on the heels of accomplishing these two shows, Neelu has just returned with a three-day solo show of her papar collages at the Gujarat Lalit Kala Academy’s S S Art Gallery located in Ravi-Shankar Rawal Kala Bhawan in Law Garden Area. The show has been sponsored by the Academy under its Scheme for Assistance to artists practicing visual and fine arts. The show was inaugurated on Tuesday March 15.
While Neelu has been working on realistic forms of paintings ever since her passing out which is almost three long decades now, and showing her works in group shows or otherwise, her signature style work is supposed to be paper collages created out of newsprint rolled and made into long sticks, or cut as shorter cylindrical sticks or triangles or sheafs of side-cuts of magazines’ bind-side portions.
This dimension of her creativity started with her training at a local rural projects institute aimed at empowerment of women through creativity.
This has blossomed over years into a passion for Neelu and signature style with long hours invested into it. Her creativity with this eco-friendly material lies in weaving these paper ‘elements’ into various arrangements, permutations, combinations of forms and finishing with application of colours in some cases, as dictated by the nature of work under creation, thereby finally creating artistic patterns in overarching geometrical or scenic forms.
These creations could eventually end up as aesthetically decorative artifacts in the first look; or artworks with a message embedded therein for a discerning eye in a closer look as the arrangement of paper sticks, triangles or cylindrical rolls etc may lend themselves to looking like chakras, mandals, hats, quadrants or in some cases as sea scapes or a few other things even unwittingly, depending upon how one approaches these different works.
For instance one of Neelu’s works at the show features shapes like the star fish and other marine life; another looks like sea-waves hitting a shore and receding while forming visually enchanting bubbles of froth. One more work features in the Centre and atop, a small Indian tricolor; whereas the entire round body of the work is an assemblage of colourful paper cuts representing the rich Indian diversity of many forms in languages, literatures, cultures, religions, performance and social traditions, festivals, chequered political spectrum, and so on.
While this show is featuring about thirty five of these creations of moderate sizes ranging from 12” to 24”, Neelu has created hundreds of such signature works cumulatively over the years and that includes a substantial segment of sizes going up to 48 inches or thereabouts.
And while on sizes, Neelu recalls having created giant works too on the asking of a certain Record Book Company’s Management; which was a seventeen-foot high flower vase also created out of newspaper rolls only. Interestingly, this woven work was created without any supporting frame inside! This particular work was later donated by her to the Ahmedabad City Museum as a permanent exhibit. The City Museum incidentally is located at the Sanskar Kendra in Paldi area.
Neelu’s paper collages were also featured by a London based Gallery in an international art show in 2019 where her inclusion was decided by public vote of commendation. This show meant her works on display in a separately allocated room on view and impressive pickup of her art by appreciative visitors. About one hundred of laboriously created works were transported by Neelu to London for this show and this part of her repertoire is now stored there for future shows.
It’s noteworthy that Neelu’s creativity goes beyond up-cycling the newsprint into working with paper-machie also. A substantial side of her creativity with this medium results in sculptures of Gods and Goddesses and a range of exotic looking masks that are inspired by dance forms, folk art and even theatre. Neelu informs that she has created masks on asking by the theatre workers of Ahmedabad in the past.
Coming back to the present show, besides the paper collages the artist has also showcased three works created in paper machie. Finished in exotic Golden, Blue and such colours, these works feature adorable studies of the female form mounted on board with frames.
A good show of a different medium and material, this one is available till Thursday March 17.
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