Emerging Artist Tanya Goel’s Breathtaking Abstract Canvases
Now showing at the 21st Biennale of Sydney, the New Delhi native conjures monumental gridlike abstractions that evoke Joseph Albers and Agnes Martin
Dilapidated modernist buildings and architectural ruins are the source material, literally, for Indian artist Tanya Goel’s monumental abstract paintings. Inspired by the disorientingly rapid modernization of New Delhi, her hometown, the rising star collects bits of limestone, glass, ceramics, and other materials from neglected corners of the city. A self-described “color chemist,” she pulverizes her finds and extracts pigments to use for her luminous gridlike canvases. “I think art is always a reaction to your immediate environment,” she says from her sunny, laboratory-like studio.
After receiving an MFA from Yale in 2010, Goel spent time working with master miniature painters across India and studying the history of pigments. “I became fascinated with the pure properties of color and finding new interpretations of it,” she explains. Her work, best viewed in natural light to appreciate the lustrous tonal variations, calls to mind scientific charts while also evoking abstract painters such as Josef Albers and Agnes Martin. “In so many cultures abstraction is everywhere—on the borders around traditional Moghul paintings, in Islamic architecture and tiles, in silk weavings,” says Goel, whose parents worked in the textile business.
After recent well-received solo shows at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke in Mumbai and Nature Morte in New Delhi, Goel is heading to the Biennale of Sydney (opening March 16), where she’s installing paintings and a site-specific wall drawing. Biennale artistic director Mami Kataoka, who is also chief curator of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, says she was “intrigued by Tanya’s minimal aesthetic and her sensitivity to the world around her—how she observes the change and flow of time and the surface of cities.” For her part, Goel says she wants viewers of her work to slow down and really look, “especially with so many screens and moving images around us. Painting has the ability to hold time still.” galeriems.com