In folk tales and fairy tales, a forest of enchantments is called so for the curiosity it envelops and the mysteries it holds. For artist Paramjit Singh all of nature abounds in such liminality, whether apprehended from a book, a window, a midday walk or travels to cities abroad. ‘Nature teaches you to be a very free person,’ Singh says of his pastoral experiments. To distill the essence of his experiences Singh draws his compositions from memory, after entirely processing his observations and feelings to offer us a representational view of nature, replete with emotion, tactility, texture and most significantly, colour.
Featuring eighteen works rendered in oil on canvas, Touched by the Sun is a solo presentation that runs the gamut of Singh’s quintessential explorations of nature but importantly moves his impressionist vocabulary into the realm of abstraction. Singh studies the colours of fall in New York City over two years, the behaviour of flora and fauna in bloom on his walks in Delhi’s Sunder Nursery, and also the personality of water as it punctuates foliage as a life-giving force strongly yielding to its own existence. Through abstraction, he departs from using nature as a stage or scene. Instead, using pigments as language, Singh captures the cyclical movements, instincts and persistence of nature to overwhelm and pacify the seeker or observer. His compositions eschew concept for colour, his dominant visual language, as he takes to handling pigments as material much like a sculptor handles their clay.
Posited in conversation with each other, Singh’s canvases comprise of skeletal views of bountiful tree tops along with bashful rivers, untrodden forest paths, a phantom breeze and effervescent pond scum. He maneuvers through elemental colours, applying them in three to five layers to achieve a drama of textures and deep shadows. He weaves strokes in a vibrant palette, including both an unexpected white and a saturated pink borrowed from his wife and fellow artist, to articulate nature’s own ecstasis – how it reacts to the atmosphere, to weather and light, to a human touch that remains present even through its absence. These large-scale works persuade us of the grandeur as well as the intimacy of nature, and become reminiscent of the spiritual encounters propelled by such interactive parlances. These harmonious composites argue the nature of nature as vast yet personable, asymmetrical yet balanced, returning us to Singh’s fundamental belief in the human spirit’s natural quest for freedom.
Touched by the Sun is a nostalgic yet hopeful new body of work by Paramjit Singh that brilliantly articulates the eternalness of nature in time as endurance, as memory and as visual storytelling.