The recent show at Harrington Mill Studios gave one the rare opportunity to see work by two of the region’s more influential and talented artists, both practicing locally since at least the 1980’s but less often featuring in exhibitions outside Nottingham itself. In this show Gurminder Sikand focussed exclusively on black and white drawings that, although markedly different in content and style, rather effectively played out against the more experimental approach that Sardul Gill adopted in his selection of mixed media works.
To my eye it was the deliberation in Gurminder’s drawing technique that often complements as well as contrasts with the more organic marks that are very much the basis of Sardul’s pieces. That his work is also predominantly in black and white, occasionally augments by naturally occurring pigments, further adds to the resonances between their two bodies of work. Sardul talks of ‘a form of self-discovery’ whilst Gurminder suggests her process is ‘a journey’ – what is certain is that both artists are on a thoughtful, intelligent and ultimately rewarding voyage, both for themselves and the audience.
Sikand’s work is focussed on “the social conditioning that forces women, especially, to look and behave in certain ways’ and this is effected through the use of the house as what she describes as a ‘carapace’ that whilst protecting and comforting is also a burden and a restriction. The juxtaposition of the building against the figures produces strong and powerful images that convey the metaphors most effectively. The stylistic manners put emphases on some elements and line is used simply elsewhere to offset the narratives.
In Gill’s work nature itself is forced into action as both subject and method, although his subtle and thoughtful interventions steer the viewer throughout. His interests include cosmology and scientific theories with the resulting works revealing their structure slowly and exquisitely. The printmaker in him (he has many years experience in the medium) allows the lightest of touches in the methods deployed that include exposure to natural elemental processes that further assist in the revealing of the image. The painter Sean Scully has talked of painting as having “something of the nature of nature” and that is very evident in these works.
Sadly this show is now in the past but I’d advise anyone to seek out further exhibitions by these two in the future.