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Untitled, 1976

Ink and pastel on paper

18 3/4" x 24 3/4"

My roundup of memorable exhibitions from the past year includes one that opened in 2016 but closed in 2017, and one that I did not write about.  The list is not arranged hierarchically so that readers should not project anything into the order in which I put them. It had to do with memory rather than preference. What guided my choices was simple: I wanted to call additional attention to exhibitions that showed me something I had not seen before, and, in some cases, might not even been aware of not having seen it.

12. Arpita Singh: Tying down time at Talwar Gallery

An admired artist in India, Arpita Singh, who is best known for her figurative paintings of woman, often floating in an elusive space, rarely shows in America and that is our loss. These drawings will likely surprise those who know Singh’s figurative work. Done between 1973 and ’82, these abstract drawings confirm the restless, experimental current running through her art. During this time, working with a pen or brush to apply ink and/or poster paint to paper, which often has a rough tooth, Singh never settles into a mode or style. Paradoxically, the works are circumscribed and remarkably open. The drawings are stark and sensuous, bleak and overflowing. They evoke joy and tragedy, purpose and purposelessness. I found them deeply moving, even if I could not give a name to what I was feeling.

-John Yau