BEING ‘HER’ She sits, crouched, pensive and lost in her thoughts or talks in hushed whispers to her companions, almost inaudible, cocooned in her space. Swati Sabale’s present body of paintings revolve around womanhood, a theme which the artist has been preoccupied for a while now. In solitude or in groups, the women appear in varied situations, offering a slice of their feminine world filled with its dichotomies of strengths and insecurities, highs and lows, pleasures and pain, deference and insinuations.
Swati fleshes out her characters from her surroundings, women on board the Mumbai local train, or a remote hamlet near Pune, her relatives and friends, her own journey into adulthood, encounters with the feminine gender across multiple strata of Indian society, and even recent social and political events that have made headlines. The voluminous figures and heads are always encased in a painterly grid, which the artist believes to play both formal and metaphorical role, providing for a structure and representing the boundaries of the feminine domain. The woman is constantly warned not to overstep these limits, though, in changing times, the woman of today is ‘given’ more freedom. Drawn with an assured hand which reflects Swati’s predilection for portraiture, the women with half closed eyes, and drooping shoulders seem hesitant to share their very private world. She has the fortitude to seek sustenance and joy within the limits of the demarcations, balancing her multifarious roles as a wife, mother, daughter in a male chauvinist society.
The artist prepares the canvas surfaces by dripping, dabbing, smearing and even flinging analogues colour hues. The flow of acrylic colours, applied in diaphanous overlays, augments in building up a sense of mystery and ambiguity. Questions are raised in the viewer’s mind- Are these women happy? Are they content? What exactly bothers them? For Swati, life is an enormous canvas of experiences which are intertwined complicatedly, unpredictable and absurd, yet purposeful and alluring and her paintings reflect these perspectives.
Dr. Manisha Patil
December 2017 Artist and Art Historian Professor,
Art history Sir. J.J. School of Art, Mumbai