One of Muscat’s prominent artists, Radhika Hamlai’s debut solo exhibition, Human Connections recently opened at Shangri La Barr al Jissa Resort and Spa’s The Art Gallery.

Having extensively exhibited in Oman and abroad and involved in organising artistic events such as the Indo-Oman artists workshop at Al Nahda Resort, Barka, last year, Hamlai spent two years preparing for this exhibition.

At the exhibition, the visitors received a little black book documenting what virtually amounted to a retrospective of Hamlai’s work since she began painting full-time in 2000. Leafing through the pages of her paintings’ prints gave a valuable insight into the way the artist’s approach has evolved over time. The book thus provided a great introduction to Hamlai’s artistic voice, familiarizing the viewer with her technique and prevalent themes and assisting in perceiving Human Connections in context to her previous body of work.

The raw, unbridled spontaneity and color of the initial series, Spirituality eventually turned into textured, layered, and marked abstracts, in which the relatively subdued color-palette gave precedence to a hectic energy of brush-strokes and engagement with the surface.

Hamlai’s subsequent works then began to feature humanoid figures emerging from the canvas, which can be considered to be amongst her signature aspects; their presence animated the works, inserting narratives into them and the colors became further unadulterated and intense.

Her participation in last year’s 4×1: Female Interpretation exhibition literally showed the figures in a new, more direct light and Human Connections clearly establishes the artist’s most complex interrogation of and meditation upon the figures till date.

“The figures are visual depictions of the spirit of bonding that occurs between us humans,” elucidates Hamlai. Indeed, several works denoting the mother-child relationship communicate to the viewer through the collusion of form, shape, and color a mother’s protective gaze enfolding the child in a visual embrace or the simple yet hugely poignant depiction of a mother and child walking together, the child holding the mother’s hand.

In Human Connections, Hamlai explores the chemistry of relationships through her representations of spiritual bonds connecting people with each other in works of varying sizes. The enjoyable, spontaneous forays into color in the larger oil works is complemented by more contemplative, thoughtful works in pen, oil, and charcoal: the different families of color-palettes and detailing thus symbolizing the wide spectrum of human relationships.

Human Connections is open at The Art Gallery, Al Bandar Hotel, Shangri La Barr al Jissa and Resort Spa, Muscat until 11th May, 2011.

–    Priyanka Sacheti

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