Veena Merchant - 'Allusions'

Wednesday 20 April - Saturday 7 May 2022

Veena Merchant’s exhibition Allusions presents powerful exploratory works with both immediacy and subtly layered meaning. 

These large-scale watercolours on Yupo paper fascinate in their finesse and unique vision as this chosen medium breaks with centuries old traditions. Hers is the product of an adventurous expedition to push the boundaries of paint, paper and picture plane. Whilst the investigative process is the driving force, the images speak of the commonality of journeys, memory and connection. 

Merchant’s Indian heritage brings a richness of surface decoration, and her early works displayed a joyous sense of colour. The works in Allusions, however, embody a more subdued palette, often in complete monochrome with deep strong blacks. This lends an unusual gravity. As many are viewed from an aerial perspective, this gravity is not the expected, where objects are anchored to a central ground. Rather, it is a series of unseen forces that compel components together or thrust them apart. Contrary picture elements hover across the image space, reminding us that this is not a literal map. Merchant’s work is based more upon how we experience, know and remember something rather than on how it is viewed. She experiments freely with spatial memory whilst tracking the course of many preceding trails. In many ways, the remembered journey produces an umbilical tethering to places and times of the past, when family members were young and each location is touchstone to a story.

(Opening paragraphs of exhibition catalogue essay written by Kerrilee Ninnis)