Mekhala Bahl trained at the Rhode Island School of Design, after which she returned to India in 2003 to pursue her individual art practice.
Mekhala has never restricted herself to single techniques or media. She has worked with materials as diverse as glass, wood, silk, paper, plastic and quilting. Her technical oeuvre extends from block -printing, etching and lithography, to drawing, painting or simply marks scratched on to the matrix. Mekhala creates endless possibilities; blurring and divesting watertight categories of their legitimacy in her art making. The scale of her work too, ranges from small intimate images to vast canvases, neither, adhering to a practiced formulae.
Truthfulness to life is sometimes understood as a restricting imitation of surface appearances. Mekhala's work echoes life in all its layers- moving beyond optical illusionism to the perceived, subjective and felt. Unbounded worlds of possibilities are open to her as an artist and to the viewers of her work. An avid traveller, she has worked, and exhibited in countries and cultures as diverse as Italy, France and Japan. She recalls the solid and saturated colours of Rome in the summer and Japan, which, in her work translates into fragile lines, reflecting the careful decorum of a traditional society.
Her images read like journals- daily happenings, memories, recollections of dreams find place in her art. Intuition navigates the direction of Mekhala's hand as she scribbles, doodles and makes marks, creating layers both visual and emotive. A reading of Mekhala's work raises essential questions about the definitions that are accorded to categories such as 'Abstract', 'Representational' or 'Non-representational' art. As viewers, we need to discard the insistent need to read familiarity into an image. We are taught to assign meanings to sounds, to visuals, turning each into a symbol with a fixed meaning, recognising only that which can be optically verified, forgetting perhaps to trust our mind's eye, our memory and instinct. Mekhala's works are representational- they map the places, people and experiences that the artist has encountered. She purges each of their recognizable forms, but each mark and even the titles of her works are rooted in actuality.
The beauty of Mekhala's work lies in the fact that there are no fixed, static meanings- marks transform before our eyes with every viewing; multiple meanings are created in every moment. For a viewer, what may initially appear as visual cacophony soon morphs into a remarkable symphony. Moving closer, we revel in the intricate details; the subtle wash of ink overlaying the matrix, the serrated edges that mark the borders of a metal plate, understated differences in the hues of a colour, or tiny pock marks created by a burin.
Mekhala's art moves beyond the skin of consciousness, beyond what is taught and into the realm of the felt, the experienced. It is this, which is then moulded into an artistic language that is not shackled within the world of optically recognisable imagery. Just as individual perceptions and subjectivities come together to weave life's rich tapestry, here, each colour, mark and line contains the potential to resonate differently for every onlooker.