“My main practice consists of kinetic art and mechanical sculptures that challenge the idea of common rituals and customs and what drives worshipers to practice them across cultures. You know the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude Christo did drawings, collages and also took photos, but his first love was always the huge installations in which he covered monuments and buildings. towards bigger sculptures, which I love the most. It’s like dreaming on paper before you can achieve your bigger dreams,” laughs Shailesh BR, one of the talented young artists whose online exhibition “Shooting Stars” recently opened at the Vadehra Art Gallery.
The exhibition is a unique collection of collages, drawings, watercolors, paper cut-outs and landscapes, and advances Shailesh’s ongoing exploration of themes such as rituals, belief systems, blind faith, Sanskrit philosophy, mechanical and nature studies. Visually compelling, each of the works in “Shooting Stars” demonstrates what Roshini Vadehra of the Vadehra Art Gallery calls the “sculptural nature of Shailesh’s imagination”. Her visual language, she adds, “evokes connections between disparate observations, thoughts, moods, feelings (the inner world) and objects, places, animals, landscapes (the outer world). “
Begin with the striking collage that gives the exhibition its title – the artist saw his first shooting star during a visit to Himachal Pradesh in 2017. Back in his studio in Delhi, he combined the natural phenomenon that he had lived in the hills with visual cues from a European manuscript called sky flowers. Along with capturing comets and meteors in all their cosmic glory, Shailesh also writes their scientific dimensions onto the artwork, giving it an illustrative feel. No wonder he calls these drawings “a visual diary”, the source point that gives rise to his sculptural subjects. “This work Shooting Stars embodies uplifting and transient movements – something otherworldly making its way into our world, coming into existence and understanding, experience and pleasure,” says Shailesh, quoting Benode Behari Mukherjee and Henri Matisse (who described his own cut-out papers as “drawing with scissors”) as inspiration for the collages.