Labyrinths – The Urban And The Organic

Sonia Mehra Chawla, Minal Damani Nandi, Leon K L, Ajay Dhandre and Avishek Sen

Stand at the highest point in a big Indian city and look down. More than any other urban architecture, the Subcontinent’s cities appear like seething, organ-like masses. The sprawl of bustees – India’s slum shanty towns – appear like twitching capillaries from above. Lights flicker on and off between the tin roofs, movement is almost perceptible in the gloom.

This vision seems to have fed into the work of the artists that 1x1 brought together for this new group show. Sonia Mehra Chawla, Minal Damani Nandi, Leon KL, Ajay Dhandre and Avishek Sen have all been assembled for their work on the metropolis, and their reflections on how cityscapes have become like an organic mass. In the work of so many of these artists, the city is not just organic for its growth and its oozing spread – it’s also a violent and aggressive organism. It rejects, it finds weakness, it consumes. As we enter a city, we become as much a part of its organic nature as the tubes, networks, breathing lines of its layout.

While the pre-release statement flummoxed us a bit (‘spatiotemporal experience reflected as disconnected and fragmented imageries’) from what we’ve seen, the show does look rather good. We’re quite taken by Leon K L’s pieces. Working in pastels he has softened muscles and ventricles – melding together a heart and a fruit in one – into something that shimmers as we look over it. It reflects on the complexity that all these artists are engaging with and marvelling at in their work.

1x1 Art Gallery (04 348 3873) Villa 1023, Al Wasl Road. Until May 19.

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