Opening on 15 July 2023 at DAG New Delhi, Shanti Dave: Neither Earth, Nor Sky, dedicated to India’s first major abstractionist and curated by Jesal Thacker, features more than eighty works capturing the artist’s journey from figuration to abstraction, including larger than life abstract paintings—a style that matured over several decades, alongside a range of archival material on the artist.
Investigating the artist’s unparalleled style and technique, Neither Earth, Nor Sky studies his unique visual language and persistent exploration of the word or akshara, the theory of sound and the aesthetics of bhava—emotion arising from form and colour—instilling each composition with a rasa, as well as the incorporation of textures using gravel, wax and sand that evoke earthy topographies.
Dave’s abstract iconography, beginning in the early 1950s, adapted to modernism as he altered, rejected and improvised the images into resonant forms resembling an ancient script. Dave’s conscious redefining of the Devanagari script from Indian and Nepalese languages into a renewed aesthetic reflecting its archaic, acoustic and ornate characteristics, places him among the pioneers of calligraphic modernism prevalent in the South Asian subcontinent during the 1960s.
To find out more, visit the gallery website here