On view are recent works where Shettar extracts the possibilities of wood. Dominating in the front gallery is Meandering lines, searching rivers – in which graceful lines in wood gently rise, bend, converge and turn creating a sculptural drawing on the wall. In another work, two vertical and angular forms in wood appear to be dancing with their feet barely touching the ground. Tendu hugs a corner in the gallery where hundreds of strips of bent walnut wood join in as if coming together to push the walls aside and not caving in. In the other major work, How long is a mile on two wings, organic forms in burnished red created from steel and muslin hover like flowers freed by wind gusts floating in midair. Inhabiting the space, it invites the viewer to come in closer – immersed in it, one becomes part of a larger, dynamic whole, a totality whose rhythms and cadences can be felt viscerally.
It becomes clear, upon first encountering and then later experiencing Ranjani’s works, that they speak with their own unique and elegant language. Refusing to be placed in any preexisting category or a singular viewpoint they seem to emanate a latent force, transforming any place they occupy. Given the scale and magnitude of their effect, Ranjani’s works often begin in small and surprisingly simple ways — emerging most often from her interest in her materials. Discovering and challenging the potential and the limits of each material she espouses, what ensues is a process of deep research, the kind that is measured less in days than in months and years. Shettar forges a relationship with her materials through sustained contact and proximity. Wood is carved entirely by hand, aided by the simplest tools, allowing for the slow revelation of its hidden possibilities. Motivated by processes that allow this kind of close involvement, her engagement exposes the permeability of the often-distinct thresholds between craft and art, tradition and modernity, the physical and the spiritual, while transforming the simple and mundane into the magical.
Ranjani’s approach establishes the kind of revaluation of the relationship between humanity and “nature,” the consideration of the earth as more than an extractable resource or a surface for construction. The deep respect and even affection for the natural world so evident in Ranjani’s work is not, however, a nostalgia for a bucolic idyll. Her work may be whimsical, entrancing, beautiful—but they are not Romantic in their conceptions of nature. Hers is an ethical as much as an aesthetic commitment to the natural world, a philosophical framework as well as a way of life.