The Dark Edge of Green Arunima Choudhury Works from 1995-2022, Curated by Nancy Adajania
18th June - 20th August, 2022

Curatorial Note by Nancy Adajania

‘The Dark Edge of Green’ embraces almost three decades of Arunima Choudhury’s practice from 1995 to the present. This retrospective-like vista allows for an expansive engagement with her restless experimentation across various mediums including watercolour, acrylic, enamel painting, ceramics, as well as eco-prints on cotton and rice paper.

The earliest work in this exhibition dates back to 1995. I saw ‘The Death of a Poet’ for the first time on Arunima-di’s terrace as she and her husband Gautam-da valiantly fought the wind gods to hold this 8-foot-long painting up. The raktakarabi red from the painting rent the air even as a golden glow suffused the sky, filling my heart with melancholic what-ifs. The subjunctive tense has often haunted my curatorial practice, compelling me to retrieve moments of art history that have been lost, suppressed or left unacknowledged.

Arunima-di and I speak of the loss of love and belief, of planetary erosion. In her mind, darkness is associated with childhood trauma, having seen her mother endure the constraints of patriarchy. But equally, the darker forces of the subconscious have propelled her vision, freeing it of social and sexual inhibitions. I would argue that it is this dark edge that cuts through the simplistic reading that her works revolve around women and nature, too often seen as uncomplicated synonyms. Yes, it is true that Arunima-di privileges the nurturing, generative female principle in her work, greening her women protagonists and all creatures great and small. But, to adapt the American poet Forrest Gander’s insight for this occasion, hers is an ecopoetics that does not merely deploy nature as subject matter. Rather, it is an expression – artisanal and ethical – of a deep human entanglement with the natural world. In this, Arunima-di is a true legatee of the Santiniketan philosophy, which encouraged the practice of eco-art avant la lettre and rejected the colonial hierarchy that set art above craft.



I have structured this exhibition around two stories – an artist memoir written in 1999 and a recent family anecdote. To re-animate Arunima-di’s childhood memory of finding her classmate Bina Das’ body in the mora-kata-ghor or autopsy cell in Siliguri, we have specially created a cell-like installation that breaks into sharp angles at strategic points. While the memoir invokes fear and forbidden desire, among other turbulent emotions, it also proposes a cathartic means of overcoming fear, which is weaponized by the patriarchy to ‘show women their place’ in society. The accompanying selection of watercolours, ‘Beastly Games and Other Love Stories’ (2008-2010), does not illustrate the memoir. Instead, it functions as a testament to Arunima-di’s irrepressible subconscious and her transgressive energy, which re-wilds women, trees and tigers in equal measure.

The second story is an exchange between the artist and her granddaughter about the ethics of mending and repairing the planet by living in a mindful manner. It is nestled in a series of eco-prints on cotton and on rice paper. Luminous but no less edgy, these sombre impressions of leaves – guava, neem, lotus and rose – are as much psychological portraiture achieved through Rorschach twinning, as they are a meditation on slow time and interspecies hospitality.

Exhibition dates: 19th June - 20th August 2022
Ground floor | Emami Art

Ground floor | Emami Art
777 Anandapur | E.M. Bypass
Kolkata 700107 | 033 6623 2300
contact@emamiart.com


Artists


Girl Lying
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Landscape in Red
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

The Lady and the Bird II
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Blue Girl with Red Hibiscus
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Death of a Poet
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Untitled I
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Untitled III
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Untitled IV
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Untitled V
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Untitled VI
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Untitled XVI
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Untitled XVII
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Untitled XXI
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Untitled XXV
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Her Companion
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Nest
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Daydream
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Flowers
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Onlooker
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Prayer
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Diba ar Nisha
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Landscape II
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Waiting
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

The Forest I
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

The Forest II
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

The Forest III
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

The Forest IV
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Girls
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Landscape III
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

A Girl
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Cosmic Dancer
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Shakti
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Drawing IV
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Drawing V
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Drawing VIII
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Egg Seller
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Fish Seller
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

The Gardener
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Where there is Love, there is a Bird
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Beastly Games and Other Love Stories II
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Beastly Games and Other Love Stories III
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Beastly Games and Other Love Stories V
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Beastly Games and Other Love Stories VI
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Beastly Games and Other Love Stories VII
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Beastly Games and Other Love Stories VIII
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Beastly Games and Other Love Stories IX
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Beastly Games and Other Love Stories X
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Beastly Games and Other Love Stories XI
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE

Beastly Games and Other Love Stories XII
Arunima Choudhury

KNOW MORE