Sometimes, unfavourable circumstances push one to take a plunge – something that is not necessarily detrimental in the creative process, and certainly not for Dipali Gupta. Her latest poignant series of newspaper-themed works emerge from the shadow of the pandemic and venture out of her previous comfort zone of abstract art and floral pieces.
Dipali did her fair share of exploring before reaching this point. She was first an interior design student, and then a fashion designer complete with her own boutique in her hometown, New Delhi. Travelling helped her find her footing, picking up various aesthetics from Hong Kong and Europe after her marriage, and dabbling with painting mediums such as oil and acrylics upon her arrival in Singapore. She describes the latter as a 'turning point' in her journey, and now delights in mixed media with the techniques she has learnt.
Comprising mostly of collages and painting, Love in the Pandemic is one such example. Inspired by artists such as Banksy, stencilled silhouettes of people are similarly spray-painted over headlines pertaining to the pandemic which “spoke to her” in this troubling time. Where he offers scathing criticism of a difficult scenario, however, Dipali offers comfort through her art. Separated from her family during the lockdown in Singapore, this series is both her vent and her peace of mind. She juxtaposes the cold and grim external reality of black-and-white newsprint and machinal QR codes with the tenderness of her organic human figures. They intertwine and embrace over this endless slew of bad news, even partially obscuring it, as if proving their connection overcomes all calamities. Their identities, too, are vague, encouraging the viewers from all walks of life who need some hope in this bleak scenario to identify or connect with them as they deem fit. The result is a visual of humanity that transcends crises regardless of demographic and location, in both the space of her works, and the one between the art and viewer.
In our interview, Dipali draws our attention to the piece featuring a man and woman gazing into each other's eyes as they hold onto each other. Their connection, she says, serves as a reminder to support our loved ones, particularly, our partners through thick and thin, and never to take them for granted in such an uncertain climate. But it also speaks of the aforementioned triumph, that by supporting each other, whatever calamity blazes around us becomes background noise.
This is, however, not her first flirtation with newspaper collages - her 2016 solo exhibition, The Journey Within, also featured similar pieces, albeit with still life, offering introspection from the contrasting mediums and subject matter. To her, the newspaper reflects a turbulent world where sensation and tragedy coexist. It is thus only apt she utilises the same techniques to tackle this troubling topic so close to all of us. Having allowed her to unleash her emotions through creativity, art is and has always been her happy place. Needless to say, creating has thus given her much solace through this storm, and this series her silver lining. To her, gratitude is a choice, and she hopes her works will bring the same consolation to the rest of us who are, too, weathered by the pandemic.
From here, we are unsure of how the circumstances will evolve, just as how we are unsure what Dipali will be moving on to next in her artistic projects, but, unlike the dreary situation, we sure do look forward to what she will deliver.
Keep up with the latest news on Dipali Gupta's art through her Instagram page ( @dipaliguptaart ).