Almost every canvas drawn by abstractionist Murli Dhar Rai in the past seven years has featured at least one broad-brimmed circle. It’s become the 39-year-old artist’s signature. “It’s not that there haven’t been other motifs in my works — but circles can talk about a lot of things,” says Rai, a gold medallist from the Faculty of Visual Arts at Banaras Hindu University. Indeed, doors and windows have been among his earlier frames. The bolts from those doors often come back to his frames.
The other shift in his career has been from the figurative (ones that depict figures naturalistically) to the abstract. Rai says he still goes out often to do “research” — indulging in photography, or drawing landscapes and figurative illustrations — in the middle of his oils. But abstraction, he says, allows “a huge space for expression — full freedom”. To use this freedom as he chooses, Rai uses unique tools. He rarely uses paint brushes. Instead, he deploys knives, spatulas, scraping brushes and rollers picked up from steel shops or the kabadiwala. It lets the layers of stark colours leave a sense of motion. It lets his circles roll from light to dark and back.
The exhibition is on at Gallerie Ganesha, E-557 Greater Kailash 2, till March 31.