Gunjan Shrivastava’s new collection of cyanotypes is call to action for environmental change

Gunjan Shrivastava’s new collection of cyanotypes is call to action for environmental change

Artist Dr Gunjan Shrivastava, through her new collection The Natural Resurrection takes a critical look at the happenings of 2020 through the context of mother nature. Using old-style mid-nineteenth century methods, these narratives in blue are a call to action for change. Through deep tones and intuitive forms, Gunjan explores our ecosystems and co-evolutionary processes. We speak to the artist about the collection and more.

What materials have you used in this collection?
My collections of works explore cyanotype, a camera-less photography of mid-nineteenth century, to capture leaves in their distinctive essence. It is a meditative moment, making use of fragments, light, shadows and process. Broken leaves are printed onto the paper, and are completed with embroidery using red fine string. The colour red here symbolises blood veins, metaphorically giving life. My engagement with issues relating to sustainability drives me to explore cyanotypes which itself is a natural phenomenon. It is meditative using the sun as the source of energy, which magically translates my subjects into profoundly soulful works of art.

What is it that drew you to the colour blue for this collection?
The colour blue comes out naturally in the process of cyanotype, and I work around what nature offers me. Although, for me the blue emphasis on the calm and healing effect it enwraps my concept for the collection.

You’ve said this collection is a call to action. Could you expand how?
This past year is undeniably going to go down as one of the most eventful years in history. While COVID-19 brought pandemonium in our lives like never before, it also brought vivacity to long-overlooked Mother Nature. Conceptualised during the pandemic, this collection explores the healing process of the environment and its consequent resurrection. By restoring degraded ecosystems and engaging in co-evolutionary processes, humankind can coexist, and even thriveby developing nature’s wealth. This is our chance to identify it not as a plague, but as a cure. The message through this body of works aim to establish our responsibility towards the environmentwe live in and nurture it with care.

Who are some of your artistic inspirations?
While doing my research on contemporary art, Progressive artist group(PAG) had a great influence on me. The masters who introduced modern art in India, especially SH Raza. His minimalistic approach in is composition and use of colours are ever inspiring.

The artist, Gunjan Shrivastava

Tell us about some of your earlier works.

Experimentation is a major part of my work and I enjoy working intuitively, giving myself the freedom to change my subjects time to time. Taking inspiration from the vivid world around me, I have earlier created my works on urbanscapes and seascapes. The beautiful ever-changing skies, the sunsets and the organic natural forms are my favourite muse. Like all trained artists, I started with traditional methods and mediums of painting but years later I have allowed myself to move to more fluid and experimental forms of art. My previous solo exhibition Adviata was my interpretation for the five elements of nature. Adviata accentuates the philosophy of oneness of an individual soul, God and the universe which I have attempted to show in my paintings. The artworks in the exhibition tends towards abstract as opposed to literal artworks to make it an individual experience for each viewer.

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