The title of Sardul Gill’s exhibition refers to the unknown material whose presence physicists deduce from gravitational data. Like much contemporary science, it’s complex, heady stuff that is beyond me. Fortunately, the exhibition is not about theoretical physics, though that is one of its starting points. Sardul’s paintings respond to experience, particularly of the physical nature of earth and landscape. As he says, in talking about his reading of physics:
I use all this metaphorically, as an equivalent visual language, when painting: artists and scientists both use metaphor to understand complex situations.
Sardul is one of the artists whose stories are told in Bread and Salt. Born near Amritsar, in India, he moved to Kenya in his teens and then to Newcastle, where he studied art, which had fascinated him since childhood. He was for many years a teacher in Further Education, nurturing young artists on foundation courses, while developing his own practice. The exhibition that opened last week at New Art Exchange in Nottingham is a wonderful body of new paintings, by an artist drawing on a lifetime’s thought and practice.
We worked together on a text about this work, which is included in the NAE Exhibition Guide. It was a pleasure to sit with Sardul in his studio this summer, looking at the work and listening to his thoughtful responses to my very simple questions. At the opening, we repeated that more formally in a Q&A session, illustrated with images drawn from 30 years of Sardul’s work. Although we’d talked about it at different times in the past, I was struck by how consistent his ideas and visual language had been over the years, despite the surface differences.
Dark Matter is a beautiful, rich and serious exhibition that rewards the viewer willing to take a little time. It is on until 2 November 2014, at NAE in Nottingham, and Sardul will be doing a mono print workshop on 11 October; do go if you can. If not, you can see the exhibition guide by clicking on this link.
I hope viewers get the sense of what I’m trying to do, so I have some things in it, like the horizon lines, which they can find for themselves and relate to. … There is also the behaviour of the material they see, such as the way the fluid runs down, the way it spreads, and the way it is thrown in. They’re all traces of human gestures, which a viewer can relate to. As long as they can connect with just one thing, out of all these, I’m quite happy.