Varsha by Ranjani Shettar

shettar varsha 2.jpg

Now come the days of changing beauty,
of summer’s parting as the monsoon comes,
when the eastern gales come driving in,
perfumed with blossoming arjuna and sal trees,
tossing the clouds as smooth and dark as sapphires:
days that are sweet with the smell of rain-soaked earth.
—Bhavabhūti, eighth century, translated from the Sanskrit by Daniel H. H. Ingalls

shettar varsha 1.jpg
shettar varsha 3.jpg
shettar varsha 4.jpg
Ranjani Shettar, Varsha. Essay by Anita Desai, poetry by Bhavabhūti and Rabindranath Tagore and the lyrics from a Kannada folk song (New York: Library Council of the Museum of Modern Art, 2012). 16 prints including etching, silkscreen, hand-carved woodcut, pigment printing, and laser cut.
Copy 97 of 150.
Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2013- in process

Ranjani Shettar’s Varsha (the rainy season in the Hindu calendar) evokes aspects of sixteen phases of the monsoon and the classical Indian astronomy used to predict them. In a recent interview, the artist said, “I wanted to take something that was inspired by my geographical location, so I borrowed from the concept of the panchang [local almanac based on solar and lunar movements] and tried to interpret the monsoon visually.”

Shettar conceived and prepared the artwork in Karnataka, India. The accordion-folding volume (11 x 15 inches closed, 40 feet open) is bound in a hand-worked zinc-alloy cover inlaid with silver. To make the covers, the artist collaborated with the craftsman M. A. Rauf and his son Mohammed Abdul Bari in Bidar, Karnataka. Rauf and his associates continue a centuries-old tradition of combining zinc and copper, which is brought to a rich black color when cooked in the unique soil of the Bidar Fort.

The prints are named after sixteen nakshatras (from a total of twenty-eight in a calendar year), each with its own astrological, mythopoetic, and religious significance:
1. Ashwini. Solar etching and laser cut
2. Bharani. Solar etching, silkscreen, and laser cut
3. Krittika. Solar etching and laser cut
4. Rohini. Solar etching and laser cut
5. Mrigashira. Woodcut and laser cut
6. Ardra. Laser cut
7. Punarvasu. Laser cut
8. Pushya. Woodcut and laser cut
9. Ashlesha. Spit-bite etching and laser cut
10. Makha. Woodcut and laser cut
11. Purva Phalguni. Woodcut and laser cut
12. Uttara Phalguni. Woodcut and laser cut
13. Hasta. Woodcut and laser cut
14. Chitta. Pigment print and laser cut
15. Swathi. Woodcut and laser cut
16. Vishaka. Solar etching and laser cut

Listen to the artist speak about a previous work: