Magazine article Artforum International

Julie Evans and Ajay Sharma

Magazine article Artforum International

Julie Evans and Ajay Sharma

Article excerpt

The title of this exhibition, "Cowdust," comes from the Hindi word godhuli, or "cowdust hour," a term for the indistinct twilight hour between day and night when the herds return from pasture and a fine dust rises up from the road. This liminal time, characterized by flickering landscapes and blurring views, epitomizes the cross-cultural exchange central to the collaboration between Julie Evans and Ajay Sharma. It also describes the paintings themselves, resting as they do on the boundary between dreaming and wakefulness. The images blend the traditional and the contemporary, straddling eras and cultures.

Evans and Sharma met in Jaipur in 2003, while Evans was in India on a Fulbright scholarship studying miniature painting; the two have been collaborating artistically since 2009, creating exquisite works on paper that combine their individual techniques and artistic cultures--miniature painting for Sharma, primarily abstract painting for Evans. The eight works on view here--rendered in, among other materials, acrylic, gouache, and pencil--hover on the indefinite edge between abstraction and ornamentation, depicting minute iconographic forms on bulbous backgrounds of fluid and frayed color. GreenMisstep (all works 2010), for instance, delineates cloudy sky in the upper portion of a dark green oval with blurred edges; at the lower right of the oval, a sitting deck and little red women's slippers suggest human presence, while a configuration of small circles in the foreground lends the composition the rhythm of a nocturnal raga for hidden lovers.

The works include multiple references to Indian culture, as well as to the country's ecology. Peacocks, herons, tigers, and lotus flowers--feeting elements' of representation--insinuate themselves into compositions that remain predominantly nonnarrative, while small phallic and vaginal details suggest sensuality. …

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