Online Magazine
Artist Profile3
Simrin Mehra-Agarwal’s surreal phantasmagoria
Simrin Mehra-Agarwal’s work incorporates surreal phantasmagorias wherein the human form tends to take on unlikely existences. The body gets transformed into the world of expression as the human form is thoroughly probed, exaggerated, and even satirized.

A strange and haunting touch marks her beautiful pictures that reveal the absurdity and self-loathing elements of complex human existence. Her oeuvre largely tends to engage itself with a rather jarring theme of discomforting urban anonymity as the artist tries to capture the inconvenient claustrophobia of the rapidly changing and ever-dynamic and frantic, albeit frightening city life. It’s a riveting reflection of the confused mindscapes intermingled with vast cityscape through an engaging array imagery depicted on her canvases.

Simrin Mehra-Agarwal’s paintings are largely built around curious human figures and intriguing images of ubiquitous people. These are characters that tend to leave a lasting impression, and she emphasizes that the aim is to transpose or dislocate these individuals from their routine life, to relocate in her imaginary realm. According to her, the collision of the imaginative and real gradually gives shape to a new image. She adds, “I make a conscious effort in my works to investigate the individual, the hidden personality and the dynamic development of the self.”

Interestingly enough, delightful moments drawn from her childhood memories stand out in her work. These usually get faded as the growing weight of concerns overshadow adult life. However, they appear as some of the strongest imageries in her work. By deftly exploring the relationship that exists between the biomorphic and the urban, the artist builds a rather complex maze of a truly fascinating imagery. In the process, she displays the complexities, disparities and similarities within the biomorphic and the urban - one being curvilinear and the other being linear. There’s that contrast between the chaotic and the organized that the artist tries to capture. This quality of her work was evident in a series that formed part of a group show ‘Spy’ (2007) at Mumbai’s Guild Art curated by established artist Bose Krishnamachari.

Simrin Mehra-Agarwal studied art at the Delhi College of Art. She had the privilege to meet her idol S.H. Raza, during her visit to France and a year-long residency program on a French government scholarship. She has received the National Scholarship for painting apart from the BFA Gold Medal as the university topper. Among her other accomplishments is the Nokia Arts Award.

Elaborating on her art process and motivation, she has stated, “Exploring new places not only adds newer elements to my creations, but also allows me to make it more diverse. The process itself is as vital to her as the creation itself to her. She loves to experiment and has dabbled into digital and video art, photography, printmaking and mural painting.

Lauding her work, noted art consultant art scholar and curator Alka Pande has stated, “The versatile artist is crossing boundaries and constantly pushing the envelope of the medium. She looks to experiment with herself and the environment around with her sensitive drawing quality. She is special in the archaeology of her images, in the way she excavates those images.”

At the heart of her artistic vision is a fragile tenderness. The realm is emphatically tragic, occasionally exuberantly joyful and relentlessly bizarre. It brings out the evocative power of her powerful figures and ideas. Her powerful idiom coupled with a bold vision look to challenge gender identities and existing hierarchies. The works are often metaphoric condemnation of today’s society, taking the viewers on an erotic odyssey they perhaps might be inhibited to embrace.

Simrin Mehra-Agarwal’s compositions appeal not merely at the sensory level, but also strike a chord at the intersection of reality and mystery, to create a mystical surface pregnant with suggestion. The search launched from it is metaphysical in nature, traversing what can be outwardly perceived.