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The Asian Age

"My ideas are better repre­sented in my works than they can ever be in my words," Alwar Balasubramaniam cautions before he begins to talk about his ongoing exhibition, "Layers of Wind, Lines of Time", presently on view at Talwar Gallery in the capital. As you pon­ der over each of his artworks that line the gallery's walls, you begin to grasp the edge of another statement he has previously made, that each work is "the trace of a thought." Manifesting in forms that recede into the wall, seem to grow out of it or otherwise, each of his creations seems simultaneous­ly to be an approximation of the natural world and a signifier of something beyond it.

"However one tries to express themselves or share one's creations with others, there are always as many interpretations as there are viewers," the artist points out in response to a question about how he goes about blending unrecognizable natural forms with symbolic abstractions in his works such that neither loses itself to the other. He goes on, "I like my works to be recognizable as well as abstract, like the clouds, dunes, or waves. Some works are symbolic like 'In-Conversation' and others are not meant to be symbolic at all, simply meant to quite literally denote what they approximate in form." 

Exploring the processes of the natural world as they occur over time to shape the latter's components, many of Bala's creations employ movements effected by natural forces such as the wind and gravity. His "Wind" works, created over months, specifically explore the movement of air: terrains of deposited dust and pigment become representatives of imperceptible natural processes. Talking about these, the artist shares, "These works were created over a few years, so you can see the different directions in the pieces shaped by the direction of my thoughts while I went about creating them. However, they are still an extension of my early body of work that revolves around that which isn't visible to the human eye. The most recent works look at how energies transform form - like wind and dunes, magnetic fields and rust, water and stone." 

For almost all the works showcased, Bala has taken to combining wood, stone, and metal as his artistic media: an amalgamation of the natural and the man-made to create forms that explore the imperceptible facets of nature. "The word 'medium' itself makes it clear that the materials I use are simply a vehicle for my expression. I select them in accordance with the subject, idea, or concept I'm working with. If I know how to work with any given medium well enough, my creations take less time but if I don't, I ensure that I take the time to learn the process of working with it and then move on to giving tangible form to my idea," he affirms. 

Talking about a few specific works from the exhibition, he avers, "Some of the works in this show were made after my reloca­tion to a small village in southern India. 'Bloom', for example, is one of those works and was inspired by the  process of transformation in nature, which led me to wonder about the blooming of flowers, the visual effect of wind on sand and dunes, and forms created on rocks by waves lashing against them on the seaside." 

-Nandini D. Tripathy