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Natarajaa

A springboard into the unknown: the abstract work of Natarajaa

By Mónica Álvarez Careaga

(Translated from Spanish)



(…) Nothing happens. The eyes do not see,

they know. The world is well made.

Blessed armchair. Jorge Guillén


The surface of a painting is a dramatic space, a facilitator where events happen, a springboard into the unknown, for Natarajaa (1975),  a visual artist born in Kerala, India, educated in Dubai,U.A.E and based in Germany. He practices a work whose radical abstraction aims to preserve its critical and significant potential, its power of resistance against a certain, commercialized decor devoid of content, that threatens contemporary art.


Through the use of unusual materials like fire and rain in his drawings and pictorial works, the artist aims to eliminate any sign or trace of the human hand. He plays the role of a medium, placing the natural elements at the center of his creative process. This is evident in his drawings made of soot, the material residue of fire. They  are conceived through a confrontation of energies bordering  between creation and destruction.


Its forms, voluntarily suggestive, are at the border of the natural and the artificial. The rings, the orbits, the twisting forms, the labyrinths, the reverberations and lightning are signs that are either placed at the center of the work or occupy the whole pictorial space. This  allows us to speak of motive and background. However, a feeling of fluidity of movement that expands towards the edges of the paper invites us to think of biomorphic, atmospheric or cosmic references.


Natarajaa shares these ideas of explosion with another great fire artist, Chinese artist Cai Guo-Quian and confirm that matter and light are the main components of his works,  in many ways modest, restrained  and voluntarily accurate.


An admirer of the early pigment sculptures of Anish Kapoor, Natarajaa has been working with soot since 2003, after passing through the Kala Bhavana (Institute of Fine Arts) of Visva-Bharati University in Shantiniketan, India, where he completed his artistic training .


The surface of the work, very often paper, is covered with soot, at first, configuring the creative space on which the artist acts quickly, without possibility of alteration. Like with other artists who work with unusual materials, the processes of their works, their “cuisine”, are the subject of our curiosity, but they are not, by far, the most relevant of this artistic practice. We can relate it with the tradition of the gestural abstraction of the second half of the twentieth century. Painting is understood as the manifestation of an inexhaustible reserve of titanic force about to be released, a self-affirmation of the author and a deferred assertion of the autonomy of an art that does not need to be a spokesman for any content, mirror, or window of any reality alien to itself.


Moreover, the light can not be dissociated from the importance of the black color in the work of Natarajaa. The blackness present in the hypersensitive and ultra sensual surface of his pictures initally contain a morbid significance. It relates to death, it reminds us of Shiva, whose body appears covered with the ashes of the dead. But if we contemplate these black images with calmness, we see a luminous mystical revelation. They are images that seek the light that dwells in the darkness, the moment of revelation, the redemptive revelation of light.


The black color is never completely impenetrable, manifested in more or less controlled structures, designs, geometric, ordered, transparent and finally flooded with a light that informs the planes and constitutes the lines. The blackness that seeks the absence, the invisibility, the anguish in the end, becomes, as it happens in the art of other black painters like Ad Reinhardt or Pierre Soulages, an incarnation of a definitive non-representative purity. We are facing the definitive function of art as negation, as absence, inexpressive, untranslatable, exciting, radical. An art that returns us to ourselves, with its unnegotiable purpose of leading us into the unknown.