FROM BEI­JING, WITH LOVE

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Life -

Ru­bina A Khan talks to Janavi Mahim­tura Folms­bee, whose ‘Re­flect to Re­fract’ se­ries, in­spired by her fas­ci­na­tion for life forms un­der wa­ter, opened last year at the Artist Vil­lage Gallery in Bei­jing, China. The young artist’s work is re­al­is­tic, but not a photo rep­re­sen­ta­tion of an im­age, nor does it bor­der on vis­ual ab­strac­tion. It’s con­cep­tual re­al­ism, as she de­scribes it. Her con­tem­po­rary vi­su­als ad­dress di­verse so­cial and hu­man be­hav­iour, with a satir­i­cal sense of hu­mour lend­ing an edge to her artis­tic brush strokes. Your works are best de­scribed as oils on can­vas with con­tem­po­rary re­flec­tions. Do you agree with that de­scrip­tion? Each paint­ing I make is an ob­ser­va­tion of some so­cial is­sue or so­ci­etal be­hav­ior. I paint peo­ple in var­i­ous sit­u­a­tions un­der wa­ter and use dis­torted im­agery to cre­ate re­flec­tions. The works are meant to be in­ter­ac­tive, most of the is­sues are global and seem to be un­der­stood by dif­fer­ent peo­ple and cul­tures. How did the show in Bei­jing come about? Sally Liu at the Artist Vil­lage Gallery in Bei­jing and her hus­band,Yan Yu, a con­tem­po­rary Chi­nese artist, whose works are about use of cig­a­rettes in Chi­nese cul­ture, seemed in­ter­ested in my work and we have been in touch since last year. Since my work is not con­ven­tion­ally In­dian, they thought it would be a good idea to show in Bei­jing at their gallery. The art scene in Bei­jing is very en­cour­ag­ing. It is def­i­nitely ad­vanc­ing ex­po­nen­tially. The num­ber of gal­leries com­ing up in China has in­creased re­cently and the Bei­jing art scene has been more wel­com­ing to art from across the world and not just Chi­nese artists. Whose works are you in­flu­enced by? I am most in­flu­enced by Jac­ques-Louis David, a French Rev­o­lu­tion­ary artist. He’s bril­liant in his tech­nique and I feel he was ahead of his time. He painted per­tain­ing to the his­tory of French pol­i­tics, in­di­rectly though, and was even­tu­ally sent to prison for it. He cre­ated works about French so­ci­ety and is­sues that peo­ple were fac­ing at the time. It wasn’t my in­ten­tion to em­ploy his meth­ods but some­how it has crept up in my work. Some of my favourites are ‘Belis­ar­ius’, ‘The Death of Marat’, and ‘Oath of the Ho­ratii’.

The Fin­gers Are Com­ing Down, oil on linen can­vas, 91.44cm x 182.88cm, 2012, Janavi Mahim­tura Folms­bee

Janavi Mahim­tura Folms­bee

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