Natvar Bhavsar: The Dimensions of Color

K-Etu by Natvar Bhavsar
Mar 11, 2007 - Jul 22, 2007
Voorhees Gallery

This exhibition presents about 50 paintings representing over 35 years of the career of Natvar Bhavsar (born 1934), one of the most prominent and respected artists of Indian heritage working in the United States. Bhavsar’s art is a fine example of how an artist can incorporate aspects of his traditional artistic culture and methods within modern western styles, modifying and adapting the earlier modes to create hybrid artistic forms. For Bhavsar, the cultural link is his use of brightly colored powdered pigments, similar to those used in the celebrations of the Holi festivals in India. By sprinkling, sifting, and scattering the dry pigments onto prepared canvas and paper surfaces, Bhavsar builds up expanses of intense, lush color. His technique and imagery associated him with the style known as Color Field painting, which emphasizes the visual and emotional potential of pure chromatic effects. 

Over the years, Bhavsar has created paintings in a remarkable range of sizes, from those less than a foot square to some extending more than twenty feet in width. This exhibition explores the varying effects achieved through this diversity of scale, demonstrating how the technical processes and abstract imagery are adapted to these shifts in dimensions. At times, similar compositional formats are presented in several sizes. In other works, extreme vertical or horizontal formats may evoke heightened responses or sensations from viewers.

In a monograph on the artist, Irving Sandler, a major historian of modern American painting, wrote that Bhavsar would “...consider a painting a boundless continuum of color. He wanted to evoke the Sublime as much as the older Abstract Expressionists had, but his Sublime was of an ecstatic and celebratory nature. In his works, viewers are enticed to lose themselves in luminous chromatic fields. The state of joy that Bhavsar aims to create is...calm, evoking the eternal, close to that of Nirvana.”

Natvar Bhavsar
K-Etu, 1974
Pigment on canvas
Collection Charles Peck and Leora Manne