The spiral form is a signature motif in Vishal Joshi’s artworks that are on view at Kalakriti Art Gallery, Hyderabad. The exhibition, titled Signs of Commitment, is a tribute to the late artist by his wife and artist, Trupti Joshi. Choosing paintings and installations done by her husband in the last decade, Trupti highlights Vishal’s unwavering interest in using spirals in large-format paintings as well as in smaller installations made using found objects.
Vishal was an abstract artist from Indore, whose oeuvre extended to paintings, sculptures, installations and photography. A few years ago, the artist had described his usage of the spiral form as a journey towards developing his language of communication and worship. Trupti remembers her husband as being spiritually inclined and wholly committed to art. “He would finish his morning prayers and work at the studio for hours, sometimes until late evening. During the first lockdown, when there was so much uncertainty around us, we focussed on our respective art practice. Unfortunately, we lost him during the second wave.”
One of Vishal’s paintings on display, titled Chandelier, shows how he incorporated spirals as abstractions and at the same time arrived at the figurative quality of a form that resembles a chandelier, with its golden glow standing out against the red and black background. In several paintings on view at Kalakriti, Vishal’s use of yellow and golden hues comes to the fore. “There are times when he used yellow and gave it a golden hue,” says Trupti. In another painting titled Fireflies of the Aravalli, Vishal depicts the night skies across the mountain ranges in deep hues of blue and black and offsets it with golden spirals akin to fireflies.
Punctuating the large paintings are smaller installations that repurpose found objects such as tree barks and surfaces of wooden handcarts. In Germination, Vishal uses three wooden barks, gives them distinct surface textures and embellishes them with a gold-coloured brass spiral to signify the essence of life. The metallic spirals are the prime elements in another installation that uses tiles of wood fused on the charred wooden surface of a handcart.
While elaborating on his fascination with spirals, Vishal had stated that the form is a significant aspect of Sufism and referred to the movement of dance in spiral forms as part of worship. He predominantly worked with red, green, yellow and blue with an addition of metallic hues of gold and silver and attributed this to the influence of the five elements of Nature and the energy these elements carry forward.
Trupti recalls Vishal telling her that his signature style of working with spirals had become so strong that he found it tough to draw a straight line. “We met in college as art students and I remember him drawing spirals since then.” Vishal saw spirals as a symbol of continuity in Nature and a metaphor for growth. He had noted that in art and meditation, spirals can serve as visual aids, reinforcing the commitment to higher senses.
(Signs of Commitment is on view at Kalakriti Art Gallery, Banjara Hills, till February 15)