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Abstracting: constructing: Sheila Makhijani and Pooja Iranna.

IN HIS SEMINAL ESSAY, "WALKING IN THE CITY", MICHEL DE CERTEAU DIFFERENTIATES between the act of looking at the city and walking in it. He writes, "Walking has its own logic, where the walker individuates and makes ambiguous the legible order, somewhat like waking life displaced by ambiguated dreaming. In urban experiences of the 20th century (and of now), walking is a secondary form of locomotion, usually a kind of drifting by the leisured observer or the flaneur." (1)

Sheila Makhijani (b. 1962) and Pooja Iranna (b. 1969), both born and raised in Delhi, draw their artistic inspiration and imagery from urban experiences. Through their sustained relationship with the metropolis, they are perhaps more grounded than several of us who experience the city primarily via passive modes, looking out at flashing views of the city from within the comfort of cars, or from a migrant position as the other or the outsider.

Walking the city developed into a habit for both Pooja and Sheila, though for quite different reasons. Sheila believes walking is essential for physical and mental agility. She can walk endlessly, without the fear of exhaustion or boredom, often without a definite plan. To her, an orderly chaos marks the spatiality of the rapidly changing city, its details and excesses entering her consciousness. Movement, sound, light, shadows, wind and temperature alert her sensorial experiences and get internalized. For Sheila, lines are hard to miss as the arteries of a modern city, routing connections between spaces, bridging distances and, through a rising verticality as a circuitry of flyovers and metro stations raised from the ground, allowing views of the city from above and below.

On the other hand, for Pooja walking was a young girl's subtle but sustained form of rebellion against an overprotective family. (2) Women still belong to private spaces and the anonymous roaming in the streets at different hours all by herself meant more than just freedom. It meant being close to her inner being, hearing her own voice. In Pooja's words, "The first thing that I became aware of in my strolling was the presence of fascinating buildings everywhere that entered my visual consciousness quite naturally. Before I knew it, I was responding to the heterogeneous forms of architecture and its compelling structures. For me, they manifested human emotions." (3)

She realized that for her, there were too few ways to document the city phenomena she was drawn to, and revisiting certain places became a necessity. In the hubbub of the city, when in public spaces, even a portable sketchbook seemed inadequate; walking alone expanded the psychic space for holding each thought, pushing it into memory-folds, only to be retrieved later. (4)

Both urban explorers, Pooja and Sheila gather transient experiences, being in the middle of the chaos, observing random and regular paths and patterns, an assembly of glass and concrete facades, ruins of heritage sites and under-construction buildings; formal and structural disparities contained in the promiscuous architecture of the city. And yet their art appears independent of overt imagery and similitude. Human bodies have never sparked either of the artists' visual imaginations. But their presence in traces, lived spaces, graffiti and markings draws their attention.

Sheila and Pooja underwent formal training at the College of Art, New Delhi and completed their Masters in Painting in 1990 and 1995, respectively. Besides the requirements of the academic formal curriculum that still remained aligned to the programme of art education initiated by the British in their setting up of art schools in the big cities, Sheila recalls there was scope for experimentation. Her teacher for drawing, Rajesh Mehra, emphasized innovative ways of composition. Pooja remembers an emphasis on figuration as the dominant expression in college, while some of their teachers were also artists working in an abstract or quasi-abstract language, such as O.P. Sharma, Jagmohan Chopra and Vijay Mohan.

As early as 1959, artist Ambadas had participated in an exhibition titled Non-Representational Paintings that created a stir in Bombay. In India, quite like in the West, abstract art was assigned to be a male prerogative. V.S. Gaitonde, S.H. Raza, Viswanadhan, K.C.S. Paniker, G.R. Santosh, Biren De--all exponents of this genre--painted on a heroic scale. There were other modes of abstraction that developed; K.C.S. Paniker in south India focused on signs, symbols and abstract ritual memory while G.R. Santosh in the north evolved a neo-tantric imagery based on symbols of cosmic creation with male and female energies in sexual union. The few women artists, exceptions amidst this male-driven genre, were certainly not drawn to the prevalent neo-tantric or ritual forms. Instead, Devayani Krishna, Nasreen Mohamedi, Zarina and later Shobha Broota, created modest works using an economy of expression, preferring the use of paper instead of canvas. (5)

Perhaps the manifesto of Group 1890 written by the Mexican poet Octavio Paz (along with ideologue J. Swaminathan) in 1963 in New Delhi, resonated with their need--"expression beyond the realm of intellection, unfettered, uninhibited unfolding of personality in its incessant becoming, against all forms of conformism, against all mannerism and all facile attempts at establishing identity in the name of tradition, realism or contemporaneity".

They were more inclined to respond to and address their private worlds and lived experiences. Hence, it was natural that the objects that surrounded them, the tactility of textiles and the surfaces that they touched, all became metaphors to work with. Nasreen and Zarina remained invested in a frugal form of abstraction, where line became their tool of expression, intimate and economical, as they worked in smaller formats, shunning polychromatic oils and the easel for the austerity of black-and-white works. Subsequently, Sheela Gowda, Anita Dube and others turned to anti-aesthetic media, found objects and unusual materials, where the medium became integral to the message. One may argue that the abstract is not always a gesture in void. The absence of a legible narrative does not imply an evacuation of content or emotion, or even context to arrive at pure expression, seeking newer forms of knowledge.

Against this backdrop, Sheila Makhijani and Pooja Iranna's works push the envelope further, to distil abstraction through their own experiences and circumstances that cannot be brushed aside in the development of their subjectivity. In doing so, they were equally inspired by male artists such as Henri Matisse, Jean Dubuffet, Jeram Patel and Himmat Shah.

SHEILA MAKHIJANI

"Is it? Is it? Of course not. It never is you see that's why is it." (6)

Sheila Makhijani's large paintings could be perceived as imaginative mappings of a decentred world, or an unfinished spatial plan of a bursting city, or simply an urban conundrum. But for her, they mean nothing except "the very gesture of laying paint". (7)

Sheila remains convinced that she paints because of her interest in the "act of painting/drawing" as something that suits her temperament and keeps her occupied. When I first visited her studio in the 1990s, which was a loft in her parents' house, I was stunned by the output from her obsessive activity, with hundreds of works lying rolled up, unseen and unknown to anyone, hidden in corners of her studio. During the course of several conversations that we have had over the years, I realized from the little she verbalizes about her work that it has stayed rooted within the domain of "pure painting". In that sense, Sheila is a devoted exponent of abstraction, and the virtues of this genre. As if performing a ruse, the titles of her works are almost always in the form of questions that she throws at viewers: Is it, is it not? What is it? or Is it this or is it this?, thus obfuscating any singular or easy reading of her work.

In the 1990s, her early experiments using ink or oil involved placing a single blob of sumi ink on wet paper to watch it quiver or expand in size (figure 3). This gentle spread of ink seemed to suggest movement. The titles of these small works, though always an afterthought, are all action words such as Move, Swell and Dance that act as clues for the viewer. (8) A step ahead from there, Sheila started painting a single shape on a blank paper or juxtaposing two small painted shapes, one darker and the other lighter in colour, that in turn suggested a sense of volume. Often, she positioned a single shape obliquely or on one side of the paper to assess its impact on the space around. Or she would make unfamiliar a detail from a familiar form, abstracting it and pictorially transforming it--for instance, a set of clenched teeth humorously titled What a smile (figure 2). Bordering between representation and abstraction, there is a repetition of motifs that make indirect references to railway tracks, ladders, flights of stairs, a swinging door or a hanging clothesline.

In large works done around 2005-06, responding to material was of primary importance to Sheila; these paintings in oil or acrylic reveal indulgent play where a loaded flat hog-hair brush is moved swiftly across the canvas, leaving behind painted tracks in which she revels. The obsessive layering densities the painted image, making it impossible to deconstruct the work formally. Superimposed and interposed, Sheila's proliferating lines are neither stiff nor tensile, not load-bearing in themselves or in relation to the overall composition. Even when the networks of lines get denser, they are devoid of any structural or corporeal weight, as if freed from their material presence in the external environment. Their materiality in terms of textures, volume, size or colour is abstracted so that the image we encounter is built purely "by paint and through paint".

Closer scrutiny of the encrusted surface of Sheila's oil/acrylic paintings reveals that for her each painting is a prolonged instinctive play between chaos and order, between unburdened solids and evaporating voids, as strokes pile upon strokes, adding to the existing disorderliness, waiting to be ordered perhaps through another layer, and then, yet another. Unlike what happens in the social environment, here within the pictorial frame, both the mess and its resolution are created by the same person.

What we encounter then in the most evolved works of this period is a webbing of free-flowing, crisscrossing linearity that results in tangled perspectives and long winding routes (figures l and 4). The gestural mark-making of the brush and the evolving image on the two-dimensional surface are enough to transact Sheila's urban experiences into an imaginary and non-representational space.

Sheila underlines the joy of mobility intrinsic to the act of walking. The vulnerability and transience of a moving body (accidental encounters, random pauses, losing one's way, dead ends) are expressed by the locus of her own body as it navigates and assimilates spaces, and this flows into her process of working. Importantly, this mobile vision disrupts spatial encounters, pushing things out of focus while simultaneously sharpening a certain detail or magnifying an elusive fragment. Like a fly on the wall, Sheila is alert to minute vibrations, flutters caused by gentle breeze or a sudden registering of noise.

Similarly, Sheila's practice has remained entrenched within the "act of drawing". The kinesthetic action of the hand is most important as she gestures a mark on the surface. She enters the blank canvas or paper with an intuitive leap, never tied to a premeditated plan. Uncertainty and doubt heighten the drama as anonymous lines and shapes record moments of discovery or even nameless impulses while traversing the pictorial space.

Unlike her paintings that are saturated with paint from edge to edge, with the canvas made totally invisible, her gouaches are intimate, with the image airy and floating. She prefers to refer to her watercolours and gouaches as drawings, where line is the primal force that along with colour takes on self-acting gestures, charmed by the mystery of the unknown, arriving at unpredictable stopovers and precarious crossroads. Close observations reveal Sheila's penchant for drawing lines within lines; her inclination to keep going smaller by miniaturizing linear stroking takes an obsessive turn. Lines fly, fall, detour and run over each other, the vantage point altering as she moves along, taking us in and out of an ambiguous space. The pictorial frame is not so much a framing device active in calibrating the composition within its physical limits but can be perceived as a vulnerable edge. The emergence of the final painted image in Sheila is "incidental" and never "intentional". Not surprisingly, a large diptych painted by her is titled Unintentionally Intended (figure 5). (9)

Since her schooldays, Sheila was conscious that she could never draw a straight line. She felt that its formal demeanour demanded tools to be precisely delivered, and, wanting to minimize her tools, her preference was for the free-hand drawing against the precisely measured one. The immediacy and extemporaneous nature of the free-hand drawing suited her instant meanderings. In her recent experiments, Sheila did away with her anxiety about straight lines by using folded paper, creating planes with sharp edges without using a tool. On these folded paper sheets, her drawings appear and disappear, partly visible and partly hidden to add a mysterious dimension. Like maps that fold, showing parts but hiding the entire plan, she enjoys making these structures using coloured uncut sheets of paper, folding them and inserting them into one another, building intrigue into these works with an interplay of space, surface and structure (figure 6).

This is not the first time that Sheila's practice has transited towards three-dimensional forms. In 2005-07, she built miniature structures by hand, using an assembly of intricate custom-made watch dials, flexible steel wires and glass beads to create strange forms that often resemble insect or automobile forms (figure 8). When hung on the wall, they appear as drawings in space, casting shadows that are integral to the work. The tiniest bits of utilitarian objects like paper pins, cotton balls, buttons and beads excite Sheila to create small-scale hand-held structures, where line continues to be the backbone of these open constructions as well.

Sheila's very recent graphite drawings (figure 7), 2014 onwards, are unusual for their precision; they almost defy being drawn freehand. Besides their sharp edges and angles, they have a steely industrial feel about them with their laser-cut sharpness. Sheila moved to drawing in pencil instead of pen in 2010, favouring the softness and tones as well as the crispness accorded by graphite. The drawings in this series combine a form of planar construction with a sharper angularity.

For Sheila, the adventure intrinsic to the act of creating precedes every other consideration in the practice of art. She continues to paint from a self-professed non-intellectual, non-ideological and non-political position.

POOJA IRANNA

"I walk to find my own way, and discover my spaces as I walk, trying to find myself" (10)

Pooja Iranna was never inspired to draw a straight line. She is in fact averse to drawing a perfect ruled line, though the geometry and clean edges of modern urban architecture have continuously fascinated her. The experiences of metropolitan living, the construction of newly built forms and changing urban spatiality have been instrumental in shaping her sensibilities. And yet her work is not about buildings as much as about emotive states and relationships that are realized and comprehended through them.

Born to artist-parents, Rameshwar and Shobha Broota, Pooja admits that the exposure to art in her childhood sometimes felt excessive. But, seeing her parents paint for long uninterrupted hours in their studios, she was subconsciously drawn to the smell of linseed oil and turpentine. She was attracted by the play of intense light and shadow present in the monochromatic paintings of her father and imbibed a rare colour sensibility from her mother, who developed a compelling understanding of abstraction in her art practice. However Pooja did not want to paint like either of them, and she was also a misfit within the figurative trends in her batch of college students.

While in college, students were encouraged to stick to the purity of a chosen medium. Pooja thought it important to try out a range of media--oil, acrylic, watercolour and pastels--to explore what suited her temperament as well as to develop her own understanding and experience of using different materials. She also resisted conforming to conventional techniques associated with a particular medium. For instance, in one of her earliest works done in watercolour, she worked against its known attribute of transparency by drawing dense scribbles to fill in the geometry of a built environment. She was also drawn to mixed media, and inexpensive and fragile materials that came from everyday utilitarian objects from her surroundings--threads, matchsticks, paper strips, thermocol and staple pins.

In Pooja's oeuvre of the last 20 years, the "complexity of the constructed image" (11) stands at the core of her practice. In a series titled Over the Old One done in 1995-96, thin layers of acrylic were painted onto thick handmade paper, the superimposed pigment revealing layers from underneath that behaved like architectural remnants from the past. Finally, the surface was overlaid with a basic grid drawn in white acrylic, akin to a hand-drawn plan placed over an old one. The dual existence of the old and the new conveys a sense of loss but also the hope of renewal.

Architecture, a discipline known to combine design and functionality, invoked overpowering emotions in Pooja, even when structures were devoid of human presence. As early as 1993, aspects of architecture repeatedly appeared in her paintings; walls and windows, symbolizing enclosures, stood for both shelter and confinement, and on the other hand, the possibility of opening up to the world.

Pooja's response to architectural forms is not an exercise of technical draughtsmanship, flawlessly rendered through the use of special precision tools. For her, every work must bear the touch of the artist's hand. She invents intimate ways of building on the flat base of paper, even eschewing the use of the brush. Instead, she shreds paper into tiny bits (like fish scales) and sticks them piece by piece on the surface to simulate effects of animated brush strokes and arrive at some formal pattern in the work. The rawness and little imperfections that come through working with one's hands are a necessary part of Pooja's process. This gets more obsessive when she starts scratching out bits from the painted and stuck paper, knowing exactly what and how much needs to be effaced to get close to the mental image she has of the final form. For instance, in an untitled work from 1996, she creates an unusual composition of an imaginary facade with multiple window frames; some fully open, others shut or partially open, creating an irregular pattern. All the sparkling little white star-like marks that we encounter in the painting result from a careful scratching of the paper. The rest of the painted surface is covered with tirelessly drawn short lines in watercolour, with an amazing regularity and rhythm of the hand. Scale is also an important consideration for Pooja; the moment the size changes, a whole set of new considerations must follow.

She transforms the two-dimensional surface in order to simulate architecture by starting to build the image partly in relief. Thin sheets of tracing paper are dipped into a mixture of coloured water and glue, after which she squeezes the papers to remove all extra water and spreads them onto thick handmade paper. Several such layers build up the depth into which she embeds matchsticks or paper bands. She then covers the flesh of the prepared paper body yet again to hold the ephemera in its place. Some parts of the composition acquire more relief and protrude outward. For instance in the work titled somewhere, sometime (1996), the viewer's eye is drawn instantly to the only window with blinding light in the entire dark building. This window is built in relief, with a patch of thick paper dipped in colour, squeezed and stuck onto the base. She even inserts into its built flesh, thin strips of paper that emulate the broken grill of the balcony. Thin threads or paper bands dipped in coloured glue run across the sections in relief, both horizontally and vertically, creating a sense of varying depth, with secret nooks and corners and amplified shadows that add mystery to the built form. Heavily process-based, Pooja's practice demands prolonged hours of working, sometimes for months together, to complete a single work. (12) While working with polystyrene foam (thermocol) sheets, she enjoys the pliability of the material. In an ambitious work titled Core, she attempts a perfect symmetry of the jali (screen) which for her expresses an ordered maze, neatly slicing parts to cover them with layers of handmade paper to attain precise edges of the flawless geometry. An apple (yes, a real one) placed inside unsettles the purity of the form and structure.

The poetics of labour and a process of layering are central to Pooja's art practice. A hands-on method, this has its own challenges where rejecting certain parts and redoing them is inevitable. The intimate act of tending to the organic paper, processing it to make it resilient, takes time. Inserting strings, matchsticks and threads draws our attention to the fragility of human feelings and unspoken angst.

Pooja develops a deep connection with her materials, and it is important for her to relate to them, and understand their potential and limitations to be able to reformulate and reiterate her ideas through them. She is acutely aware that she cannot keep working in any one medium or any single method for very long, especially once she has exhausted its potential. Her pictorial language has evolved in a radical way with the numerous possibilities that the digital camera allows as a tool for visual retention, instantly documenting what she wants to record while exploring the city. She says, "I am not a trained photographer, but I found the medium exciting in what it could do for me." (13)

From 2000 onwards, Pooja started conceptualizing large works using digital photographs of architectural spaces. After careful selection and manipulation using Photoshop, she would piece together imagery from various shots, tweaking them by combining several prints. The resultant work often bears little resemblance to the photograph. The digital print also became for her, a new canvas on which she painted, at times extensively, or at others with minimal intervention. In just another game for you (2005) she combines three digital photographs to intensify the repetition of abstracted patterns of a building. Quite subtly, she amplifies the curvature of straight lines to transform the nondescript image into a symbolic one, with long darts of silver foil piercing the digital print, leaving it invaded and violated, as it were.

Pooja periodically reverts to drawing but explores different surfaces to varied effect each time. Once she took to working on tracing film that architects use. Its transparency provoked her to place it over a readymade grid board, and then trace straight lines in silver-white ink, with the shorter lines inside the shapes drawn freehand. The works in the series titled Drawing 1, 2, 3-4 (2011) in graphite and silver ink on paper, are composed by overlapping four or five tracing sheets, each bearing a certain part of the drawn image (figures 9a and 9b). Perhaps this was done to disrupt the banal immediacy of the image when drawn directly on the same level. Here, the viewer sees the drawing appearing and disappearing, clear in places and blurry elsewhere. The vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines drawn with the precise pressure of the hand, are terrific in their elemental form, composing building blocks, reminding us of Lego that nurtures the play of new arrangements and rearrangements through design.

By 2006-07, Pooja started experimenting with staple pins as a medium for her work. It took about a year and a half for her to be sure of the material's attributes and abilities and arrive at precise calculations necessary in its working. This commonplace functional material offered her the means to create neat edges and straight lines, besides evoking the steely feel of new age buildings. Compared to the malleability of the organic material used by her in the past, these mass-produced, standardized staples could change only in size, not shape. Pooja was excited about this material that had never been used before for its aesthetic properties and artistic expression. The inherent constraints also gave direction to her conceptual thinking. Initially she combined two identical units of staples as brick or building blocks, and then repeated the process to ready hundreds of staple-bricks, which became her new building/construction material. She first made small maquettes of the forms that she wanted to build. With growing confidence, her forms became more ambitious, monumental in scale and execution.

These sculptures belie the size, fragility and lack of malleability of their constituent units, taking on pyramidal, spiral and even curved forms (figures 10 and 11). The slightest aberration or clumsy handling would be difficult to conceal in these built forms. Pooja explored the use of different-sized staple pins only to realize that the very big staples were too heavy and possibly unsuitable for use in making portable sculptures. She experimented endlessly, the process entailing detailed calculation of the number of pins to be used in each unit and a further calculation of the angle at which they needed to be stuck together to achieve a desired curvature. (14) The challenge in these staple-pin architecture-inspired structures is precision and exact proportions and it is precisely this that results in the impeccable beauty of these works. They are the result of tireless working, wherein calculation, measure and mathematical ratios all become indispensable to achieve the elegance, purity and gravity of the form.

In a series from 2014, Pooja has gone back to drawing. She has come full circle to confront and deal with straight lines that she so enjoys in architecture, but could never bring herself to draw. In creating this series, Pooja has made innumerable sketches of buildings, from memory, in order to comprehend their shape, structure and the growing density (figure 12). These imaginary grids and armatures of buildings are not drawn directly on paper. Where, earlier her method involved layering multiple sheets of paper on top of one another to assemble the final image, she now layers fragments of images to cohere a final image. Each work from this series is orchestrated, the image built up using several drawings pieced together. She first draws lines in smaller sections on a tracing paper, the back of which is then rubbed with thick layers of crayon. This sheet is then placed on a drawing paper laid out flat on a board; she draws lines onto the tracing paper, varying the pressure of her hand. Coloured crayon lines are thus transferred onto the drawing paper, each only slightly smudged and similar in character to a directly drawn line. The final image sometimes comprises as many as 40 smaller prints that have been used to layer lines upon lines, grid upon grid, diagonals over verticals. Pooja says; "The irony here is that through straight clear lines, I am trying to express chaos instead of rhythm." (15)

What perhaps is revealed consistently through her practice and is critical to Pooja's working is the "birthing of the image", which undergoes a slow-drawn process of gestation before arriving at the final outcome--the created form. (16) The angst and ecstasy of nurturing a new life comes through in whatever she creates.

Sheila Makhijani and Pooja Iranna revel in a practice of art-making which involves tremendous energy, acute mental concentration and endurance, especially in the slow repetitive processes that involve detailed acts of drawing lines, sticking staples or making beads; cutting, pasting and layering pieces. When one thinks about them working in their secluded personal space, processing ideas through their hands, one is left wondering about the therapeutic effects of such art-making. For Pooja, these little recurring acts of drawing lines or sticking staples are meditative. "They take you away from the mundaneness of life. These obsessive ways of working may be seen as a productive means of creating positive energy out of negative emotions." (17) Sheila often says that she could keep drawing endlessly if she were not reminded of sleep by her family. Art here takes on a role and function outside of domestic space, intensifying the subjectivity of the artist's being.

Self-empowering, the practice of art for the two artists is a movement towards self-actualization as well as an expression of their world. For them, the joy of creating overrides the uncertainty of how their highly personal and idiosyncratic works will be received by the audience. One recalls Griselda Pollock's observation (in the context of an exhibition on six female abstract artists that holds true for this practice as well): "The essence was not to represent the world, but to be a world in itself and for itself." (18)

NOTES

(1) Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), chapter vn, p. 102.

(2) Author interview with Pooja Iranna, May 2016. Reticent and shy, it has taken several interviews over the years for Pooja to verbalize experiences that have shaped her persona.

(3) Author interview with Pooja, June 2016.

(4) Pooja never emulates architectural forms but draws from memory-images and her own emotional association with details/fragments that she magnifies.

(5) Devyani and Zarina adopted the less popular medium of printmaking, comprehending the potential of abstraction through its indirect technique. Zarina made etchings using elemental vocabulary, a simple geometry of line and shapes, arriving at a monochrome image. Nasreen Mohamedi, early on, developed a distinct language, discarding all that was unnecessary to arrive at an austere form of abstraction, working on paper in graphite and ink, drawing intricate lines and more lines, to embrace a nothingness. Shobha Broota was a competent portrait painter in oil who gravitated towards a luminous abstraction, immaterializing the definiteness of form in the subtle dispersion/emanation of light through colour. In her pursuit of pure form, she airbrushes paint, sprinkling it from a distance onto the canvas, discarding the marks made by touching brush, spending hours using her thumb against the brush to control the gentle throw of the paint. Each one of them has practised self-discipline and restraint through their art-making.

(6) Sheila Makhijani, "Is It", catalogue note for her solo exhibition, Anant Art, New Delhi, 2007.

(7) Roobina Karode, "On Track", catalogue essay on Sheila Makhijani for her solo exhibition, Anant Art, New Delhi, 2007.

(8) Interestingly, some of the titles of Sheila's works also capture the sound of the action: Whups!, tuktuk!, TAK TAKTAK!.

(9) During her conversations with the author, Sheila emphasized the unplanned nature of her work. For her any premeditation or mental processing takes away from her the thrill of painting and mars her creative process. She enjoys the works of Jean Dubuffet and paper cutouts of Henri Matisse.

(10) Author interviews with Pooja, June-July 2016. For Pooja, walking evokes metaphors of self-discovery and "walking with oneself".

(11) The painted or assembled image in Pooja's work is always constructed; it is never randomly arrived at, nor worked upon without a conscious superimposition of thought.

(12) Author interview with Pooja, June 2016.

(13) The instantaneity of the digital camera to capture evanescent and elusive moments in architecture, through zoomed-in and panoramic shots, has radically altered the scope and breadth of her work and its conceptual possibilities.

(14) Author interview with Pooja, July 2016.

(15) Pooja admires the works of Nasreen Mohamedi and considers the repeated drawing of straight lines as a challenging undertaking which is exhausting and truly draining. While straight lines are considered clean and assertive, Pooja was interested in the opposite--chaos through ordered lines.

(16) Author's reading/conclusive statement with regard to Pooja's art practice.

(17) Author interview with Pooja, July 2016. The artist talks about art-making as a process tuned to the release of pent-up feelings, energy and lacking that balances and brings a resolve in a woman's life.

(18) Griselda Pollock, "How much does gender influence the art world?", review in The Telegraph, of the exhibition titled The Nature of Women showcasing works by six female abstract artists at Mayor Gallery, London, July 2013.

Caption: 1. Sheila Makhijani, Nothing Really, 2009. Ink on paper; 24.13 x 30.48 cm. Courtesy Talwar Gallery.

Caption: 2. Sheila Makhijani, What a smile, 1993. Ink on paper; 30.48 x 40.64 cm. Courtesy Talwar Gallery.

Caption: 3. Sheila Makhijani, Yes I am moving so what, 1996. Sumi; 12.7 x 17.78 cm. Courtesy Talwar Gallery.

Caption: 4. Sheila Makhijani, Down..Down..Down we go!, 2002. Gouache on paper; 40 x 49.5 cm. Courtesy Talwar Gallery.

Caption: 5. Sheila Makhijani, Unintentionally Intended (diptych), 2012. Oil on canvas; 121.92 x 426.72 cm each. Courtesy Talwar Gallery.

Caption: 6. Sheila Makhijani, Up Town, 2011. Gouache on paper; 23 x 17.6 cm. Courtesy Talwar Gallery.

Caption: 7. Sheila Makhijani, Graphite Drawing 2, 2015. 29.84 x 41.91 cm. Courtesy Talwar Gallery.

Caption: 8. Sheila Makhijani, Watch Out!, 2007. Steel wire, aluminium and glass beads; 238.76 x 261.62 cm (variable). Courtesy Talwar Gallery.

Caption: 9a and 9b. Pooja Iranna, Drawing / and 3, 2011. Graphite and silver ink on paper; 30.48 x 40.64 cm each. Courtesy the artist.

Caption: 10. Pooja Iranna, Confluence 11, 2008. Staple pins; 75 x 52 x 37 cm. Courtesy the artist.

Caption: 11. Pooja Iranna, A Twist in the Tale 11, 2008. Staple pins; 113.03 x 21.59 x 13.97 cm. Courtesy the artist.

Caption: 12. Pooja Iranna, Juxtaposed Expansions (8), 2014. Watercolour pencil on acid-free paper; 62 x 46 cm. Courtesy the artist.

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Author:Karode, Roobina
Publication:Marg, A Magazine of the Arts
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Sep 1, 2016
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