Underwater vision: Exploring the growing environmental hazards

  • Arundhati Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 23, 2015 16:51 IST

Anybody who has dabbled in Greek mythology at any point in time will be familiar with Gaia, the creator and mother of Earth and the universe. With a befitting name, Gaia Reloaded, contemporary artist Preetha Kannan's latest exhibition is an extension of the Gaia series she started in 2010.

Rooted in the values of environmental conservation her works allow the audience to explore the underwater realm, and experience the havoc that is being caused by modern machines and their hazardous activities.

"Industries, automobiles, homes, modern agriculture, in fact, every facet of contemporary human activity pollutes the earth, air and water so much so that, today even the oceans are being negatively impacted," says Kannan.

Recollecting the incident from which the idea stemmed, Kannan notes, "I almost had an epiphany for this show when I happened to pass by Alang, the gigantic shipbreaking yard in Gujarat. It was as if the ocean had been taken over by machinery. It really shook me up."


Artworks at the exhibition

The show is part of a trilogy that the artist started to unearth the contemporary state of our primordial elements.

"The first one was earth; this one is water; the next will be sky. In this exhibition, the primal element, water, is depicted so as to show the violation of the Gaia principle, the principle of harmony in nature," says the artist.

On several levels, the exhibition can be termed as a sci-fi effort of sorts. The artist is trying to create an acute awareness of what humanity at large is inflicting on nature. "It is a warning that perhaps one day the destruction of our habitat will go so far that life will have to adapt and evolve to survive in the new environment," says Kannan.

From a distance, most of her work resembles a mishmash of colours, but there has been a lot of thought put into the selection of each shade. Also, take a closer look at her sculptures, and you will see industrial objects like electrical components and cycle chains.

"In my paintings (acrylic on canvas), the intricate layering of finely juxtaposed dots creates scores of unique hues and tints. For the sculptures, the material has been chosen keeping in mind the theme - industrial take-over of the oceans. This is symbolised in an entire fish being made of a synthetic material like clear resin, with industrial objects embedded inside the fish like PCBs,gadgets, electrical components and cycle chains," says Kannan, who is deeply inspired by the works of surrealist Salvador Dali, and French painters Oscar-Claude Monet and Georges Seurat.

Gaia Reloaded will be held from February 26 to March 26, at Gallery Beyond, Fort, from 11.30 am to 6.30 pm.

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