Madhuri’s success lies in capturing the water’s surface – now calm, now restless – whether by village stream or city pond. So might the sea be, so a fishbowl left carelessly out on a terrace, transforming it into a netherworld of possibility. What might these reflections be? Of this, the artist provides no hint, for her interest is not in the lived reality of our mundane lives but in the alternate probabilities they offer us. She returns to them almost obsessively, hoarding them in her recollections, a wave of her brush sprinkling fairy dust across the surface like tiny jeweled notes that dissolve in the water.
Like an enchantress, Madhuri gathers up a dominant tone for each separate painting. Nature drapes herself lightly in the colors of her painter, no one similar to the other. These impossible iterations are like tools in Madhuri’s hands – lyrical blues, placid aquamarines, flaming oranges, jungle greens, inky cyan’s and charcoal blacks – each bursting with the familiarity of life. They stretch over her entire canvas, seemingly spilling beyond them, a world that cannot be contained in the mere surface of a canvas. Beyond its confines, they float then, like the water they imagine, casting their dappled shadows in a reflection of her imagination – and yours. Fleeting seconds frozen into a tableau of infinite possibilities, forever.
These, then, are the artist’s notes to herself. For, once upon a time, there was bliss in the pitter-patter of rain, and in its footsteps followed mirth and gaiety. In the parched subcontinent, the monsoon turns into a celebration. Madhuri is less concerned with the sowing and harvesting, the tumescent rivers and gurgling streams, the floods and breached embankments. Hers is a gentle contentment, a nourishing of the soul that reflects not the rain but its passing, when the gloam on external surfaces is but a passing too, a transition that will be marked when the damp has gone and dryness returns, causing a loss of magic, when enchantment will be no more, and memory will cease again.
Hers is not the romantic painting of the rain itself but the savoring of its aftermath. Her brush draws upon the theatre of nature’s many transgressions. It looks to lakes and ponds where the lengthening shadows deepen into mysteries. Are there magical habitations here? Or – delicious thought! – are they not reflections at all but the glimpse of underwater worlds, their surface scarred by a rippled murmur, revealing a glimpse of that below which is hidden? That mysterious, magical underwater holds no terrors. The colors are bright. Orbs of light dance lightly over the surface, creating ripples of movement. Tree branches form a camouflage on the surface through which streaks of color peep through. Somewhere in the distance, the sun is setting in a streak of crimson, a flight of birds has created a pergola, tree stumps break surface, lily pads float past like giant trays, leaving a clear stream down which the moon traipses. The stars twinkle too – not in the sky but in a parallel world somewhere beneath our feet – real, unreal.