June 15 – July 15, 2021
Confluence presents 25 paintings/collages created by Purvai Rai through the past year of the pandemic. For the 26-year-old artist, the last year marked a period of grief and anxiety; as the pandemic ripped through the city sparing none, her constant nightmare was – what if she carried the infection with her within the safety of her home where her parents lived? The works reflect upon the day-to-day life around her as much as the abstract encounters that haunt her, evoking the memories of tragedies she has witnessed through news reports and photographs.
Confluence is divided into five groups, titled ‘Anatomize’, ‘Threshold’, ‘Reclamation’, ‘Coalesce’ and ‘Final Dispositions’, each containing five art works. In black and white, the works are starkly beautiful and delicately layered, reminding one of floating feathers, and sometimes of debris washed up on ocean beds. The use of paint varies from heavy blobs of black acrylic to a more gentle shading of grey-black that hints at bruising.
All the works in this oeuvre are framed within a rectangular border that could mean a boundary, the walls of a house, a courtyard, or a room, maybe, offering shelter. Why would the householders be seeking shelter, you wonder. And then she speaks and the images begin to tell a story that is partly elegiac and partly fairytale.
“Morality is the extraordinary reasoning capacity that has made civilization possible. Our intimate and collective identities are an evolutionary adaptation of morality that binds and divides us. That definition is where my practice begins.”
– Purvai Rai
The drama of space and spatial variance is an integral part of Purvai’s abstraction; the interface of light and dark creating a landscape that is intimate and turbulent in turns. The designer in her keeps asymmetry and irregularity at bay and she laughingly admits that she uses a scale to create lines, because precision is so important. Yet beyond the lines, there are forms that are more pliable, the sense of chaos, conflict and the solitariness of man.
Torn pieces of paper, partly destroyed, form landscapes of loss and longing, speaking of imaginary homelands. Where life and faith are at stake, her art seems to echo the words of Yehuda Amichai: ‘What I will never see again I must love forever’.