N.N. Rimzon, Alwar Balasubramaniam, Ranjani Shettar: From Three, Two

September 15, 2022 – November 19, 2022
Talwar Gallery New York

108 East 16 Street
New York, NY

Ranjani Shettar | Song Book VI | 2015 | Monotype on muslin (Detail). Courtesy of Talwar Gallery.

Ranjani Shettar | Song Book VI | 2015 | Monotype on muslin (Detail). Courtesy of Talwar Gallery.

From Three, Two presents works on paper and canvas by three artists who have built international reputations for their innovative sculptural and installation practices—revealing how work in two-dimensions expands, rather than minimises, their engagement with space, volume and three-dimensional form. The works in the exhibition span formats—from painting to drawing, from silkscreen to woodblock printing, but each testifies to the continuity of its maker’s unique line of inquiry across divisions of media or genre. Collectively, the works insist on the vital, generative role of two-dimensional work within each artists’ practice—no less effectual in meaning than their work in three-dimensions.

Rimzon’s works in From Three, Two engage the same questions of plenitude and fecundity as his sculptural works, deploying motifs familiar from the formal vocabulary the artist has developed over the course of his decades-long career—the vessel, the forest, the dwelling-place. The human figure that is often central to Rimzon’s sculptural works, however, does not play the same role in these works; yet even in scenes bereft of the figure, the paintings convey a sense of amplitude—a fullness that implies without describing presence, just as the paintings’ simplified forms create a sense of space  – physical and more-than-physical with the sparest of means. Meeting the challenge of the two-dimensional plane with innovations specific to it, Rimzon’s paintings nevertheless animate questions at the heart of his practice in all dimensions—the mystery and the agency of the unseen with the natural and the cosmic threads linking humanity to a greater beyond.

For Bala, the works on view mark a return to the painting and printmaking practices of his early career. Prompted, like much of his recent work, the works mark an evolution in the artist’s deepening relationship with the environment—a sustained and expansive investigation of the natural world in which artmaking is both tool and record. In both the silkscreen earth prints and paintings on canvas in the exhibition, Bala utilizes pigments that he created himself, extracted from soil / earth; the resulting works not only describe the landscape or reflect its palette, but are substantively of it, determining not just the form, but its content at an elemental level. Like the silkscreened forms of L.S. I-XIII, whose apparent flatness belies a subtle depth, the two works on canvas—of the land and from the land enfold dimensions far beyond the two that they appear to inhabit.

Printmaking has always occupied a significant place in Shettar’s multifaceted practice—especially important to her sustained, ever-expanding investigation of materiality. The various printmaking processes she has studied over the course of her career have enabled her to deepen her relationship with each material she uses—revealing not only its texture or tactility, but its unique, expressive personality. Less a receptacle for her own ideas or impressions, paper for Shettar instead acts as a kind of sensitized surface, capable of recording its contact with the vital interior of each material it encounters—the gauzy weave of muslin preserved in henna in her Song Book series, for example, or the countenance-like pattern created by a woodblock’s unique grain. If these processes allow Shettar to deepen her relationship with the wood, wax, textiles, and natural matter that she uses in her sculpture and immersive installation works, it is equally critical for the ways it allows her to draw out the individuality of the materials themselves—the gentle reciprocity of the mirrored grains in Catching Up, leaning towards each other like old friends, or the elegance with which a vine unfurls itself across the sixteen-foot stretch of Liana’s lullaby scroll.