Anyone familiar with the art scene in Oman will be aware of the work of self-taught artist Radhika Hamlai, but might be surprised to know that The Invention of Letters is only Radhika’s second solo show. Well known for her abstract and colourful work that reflects her deep love of people and all things philosophical, Radhika’s new exhibition that runs from March 5 to April 4 at Bait Muzna Gallery, shows off a different side to her creativity.
In the two years following her first solo exhibition - Human Connections - Radhika has been working on the pieces for this new show and made the decision to include Japanese papers. When it came to using this new and delicate material, Radhika said, “I’m used to being able to use stronger strokes in my work, but if I did that with these papers they would break so I think this has created a very varied exhibition. There are still some strong statement pieces and I feel the papers are a statement in themselves.”
Aside from working on the artworks for this show, Radhika found time to take part in an online exhibition in India, which she described as being very exciting and something she had never done before, but would look at doing again in the future. Radhika also participated in and won a competition at the Omani Society of Fine Arts with a piece that is known as the Blue Series and features 108 small paintings displayed together. This series will be shown as part of The Invention of Letters exhibition.
As for the theme of the show, Radhika said, “The theme picked me really because it was something that I had thought of doing before. I had to think what I wan-ted my work to say and whether the final product would match that.” Known as being a signature colour in Radhika’s work, black does feature again, but on the decision to not make it as obvious in this collection, she said, “I’m still in love with the colour black, but I realised that I didn’t have to stick with it so have included more colour in this exhibition.”
The letters aspect of the exhibition has to do with creating something with a message that you share with others and instead of completely moving away from her usual style of work, Radhika has included the figures that she has become so well known for once again. When asked about these figures that often took the shape of women and children in her previous pieces, Radhika said that she has come to realise the importance of these figures as a part of her style and feels they will always remain an important part of her getting a message across to the audience.
Prior to the opening of the show, Radhika said she was feeling nervous of what people would think. She does however have her favourite pieces, including the Blue Series and a large black/white canvas that Radhika said she loves as they are her favourite colours to work with. “The black, I think, is such a statement while the white reflects space. I think the statement pieces are different to what I have done before, but I hope people will like them.”