The image of fire, with its warmth, its light, its fury, its power has remained in all of us, intrinsically coded genetically and individually. It is therefore only natural that art should pay its tribute to it, fulfilling its own raison d’etre, that of mediating between Life and Death. For the area of interplay between these two is the place that all philosophy and all serious art finally occupy.
Ila Pal has for decades kept herself immersed in her art and continued to practice it her way, not disrespectful of the changing trends, but happily indifferent to them. She is doing what an artist should and must do, exploring her themes, the limits of art, and her own evolution. She has extended her studies into other mediums too, such as writing – biography, poetry, and now fiction. Such a movement from the canvas to the printed page, in itself, has been an admirable one, as few artists are able to straddle such diverse forms with any comfort.
The canvases of Ila Pal have captured the ever shifting vitality and colours of fire. As one enters the studio, one is confronted by the force of Agni, sometimes contained at a distance, sometimes overwhelmingly close. What comes across clearly from the canvases is that Pal has set herself to understand the imagery of Fire and its relationship to representation in the visual. With a theme so dynamic, so full of flux, fire, like art itself has to be understood in various renditional versions.
As the viewer’s eye moves from one canvas to another, the changing patterns of colours and moods themselves remind one of the endlessly fascinating convolutions and convulsions of flames themselves. And like the flames, Pal’s strokes evoke the ever shifting possibilities of fire – while one is at once confronted by what might seem at first glance a confusion in form and colour, the image falls into place showing how from this confusion emerges the cohesiveness of destruction and recreation. Like fire, the canvases have the ability to depict the evolving search for cohesiveness.
Her brilliant and experienced use of colours shows that neither is chaos without form, nor an absence of it, like flames, the colours of the brush coming on in their individual identities, mixing on the canvas, and dissolving together to recreate something more . . . It is the constant relation between the two that creates form, clearly a difficult experience to accomplish on canvas. Ila Pal’s masterly works manage to achieve this.
Like what art does to an artist who has practiced a medium for years, transforming her in ways beyond her immediate control, Agni does the same to the world, and to us, heating, consuming destroying, rejuvenating . . . For as the scriptures remind us, What Operates in the Macrocosm, also operates in the Microcosm, the Body, . . . Agni becomes the very power of Vision and the organ of Speech (vac). And while fire is concrete, its brightness is abstract.
Dr. Anurag Kanoria