Fire in the Greenhouse and Other Stories is an online exhibition of new works by Shrimanti Saha. With this digital presentation – FRESH by VAG – we wish to support our younger artists in these grievous times of a global pandemic as well as pay it forward to communities experiencing hardship and suffering from disorientation and a lack of resources. Part of the proceeds from this exhibition will serve as a contribution to the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR), as they specifically undertake relief initiatives against COVID-19 to fight hunger and deprivation for marginalized and underprivileged individuals and families.
A combination of expressive dreams, literary narratives and visceral characters blend to create dystopian landscapes in Shrimanti Saha’s paintings, which tread the fine line between myth and reality as told through a variety of contexts and inspirations. Ranging from personal experiences of memory and conversation to a plethora of external sources – film, literature, miniatures, Company school paintings, history, mythology, architecture, news reports, science fiction, comic books, natural history and encyclopaedia illustrations – together as inspiration offer Saha a poetic license to explore themes of truth using her imagination. Saha importantly visits contemporary dialogues, constructing dialogical macro-narratives through a coding and accommodation of various micro-references, rendering her drawings with these smaller, anecdotal narratives that in-turn inform and enlarge the bigger picture.
Her unique approach leads to the creation of multi-faceted and layered story structures or narrative assemblages, which can also be read as a personal mythology, alternative history or as a collection of untold stories. The textuality of Saha’s paintings are at once evocative and instructional, often feeling reminiscent of a frontispiece. Saha also works like a writer, focusing on theme, symbolism and storytelling, using drawing as a language and discovering the meaning of the work as it unfolds. Like any work of literature, she welcomes an ambiguity of interpretations surrounding the reception of her work.
In this latest body of work, Saha explores a common thread of evident references to ecology, feminism and human–animal relationships with the intention to create a set of stories, leading to the timely creation of dystopian landscapes or a fictional civilization and an analysis of the Anthropocene, or a geological period in which human action and influence has been dominant on the climate and environment.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in 1987 in West Bengal, Shrimanti Saha completed a BVA in painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, 2009, and an MVA in painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University, Baroda 2011.
In 2018–19, she received the Amol Vadehra Art Grant by the Foundation of Indian Contemporary Art. She also received the Inlaks Fine Arts Award in 2015 and was a runner-up for the Glenfiddich Emerging Artist Award in 2014. She received the Krishnakriti Scholarship, Hyderabad, in 2008–11 and has participated in residencies such as the Taj Residency and Ske Project, Bangalore, 2015 and Kalakriti Artist-in-Residence, Hyderabad, 2015. She has been part of group shows at Nature Morte, Gurgaon; Gallerie 88, Kolkata; Barter Collection, Mumbai Art Room, Mumbai; Baroda Redux, Art Konsult, New Delhi; Alliance Francaise de Delhi; Art city project at StudioX, Mumbai; Residency Show, Kalakriti Gallery, Hyderabad; Back to College, Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University, Baroda; Knots, Baroda; and Ashwita Gallery, Chennai. She has worked as a freelance illustrator and storyboard artist for advertisement agencies and has also interned in wooden toy making from Channapatna, Karnataka.
The artist lives and works in Baroda.