Wandering in Wilderness

Wandering in Wilderness

November 12th, 2022 - December 17th, 2022

“For the small creature Such as we The vastness is bearable Only through love” - Carl Sagan

Vast horizontal expanse of the earth meeting the immense expanse of the sky at the distant horizon is the recurrent motif that remain with you much after you have seen the recent body of works by Sarika Mehta. The sparse vegetation, the scattered floatsam, the stumps of long-dead trees, the pebbly beach are the markers that highlight the immense space.

In a large work the land, water and the sky troika play tricks with the eye – is it water or a mirage shimmering in the afternoon heat? so typical of the expansive flatlands of Kutch. One cannot miss the tiny hut, the only human intervention, that serves to indicate the tininess of our existence. In another immersive large work the cracked and baked earth of a dried out water body stretches all the way to the horizon. The cracks creating their own geometric patterns, without respite, all the way to the horizon, mimicking the water that is only a memory now. In yet another large work the cut/truncated branch of a flowering tree is lying on the beach. The flowers still on its branches and some scattered on the sand mimics the stars in the fading twilight in the sky above- emerging one by one. You are bound to feel the time slowing down and the sound of the enveloping silence.

It is easy to spot Sarika’s ancestry in the Romantic landscape tradition of the 19th century. Her unwavering interest in delving into the concept of the sublime – what are we but insignificant tiny specs in the landscape that hints at the immeasurable expanse of the cosmos. A vast thrilling world of nature unfolding outside of human time. Sarika is found contemplating, finding solace and celebrating. She has found an equilibrium, a counterpoint to our otherwise busy and crowded existence. She is letting us in on a vision away from the demands of our cluttered and noisy day to day living.

You don ’t get to see the artist but is aware of her presence, her gaze that provides a window into her mind. Technically, more often than not, these works play with overwhelming horizontality and tries to do away with the vertical accent that is so much part of our civilizational consciousness. It is easy to imagine the space expanding well beyond the edges of her canvas and enveloping us. There is no postmodern angst or irony at play here, just the sincere human desire to feel one with the natural world – observing, recording and sharing it in a manner that manages to hit home with minimal tropes. A testimony to the healing power of nature and how essential it is to rejuvenate the weary soul in the era of the Anthropocene.

Indrapramit Roy

September 2022, Baroda