Art Dubai Contemporary 2017: Olivia Fraser: Anahat

14 - 18 March 2017

"Anahat is a Sanskrit word meaning unstruck, a sound which is unstruck. It is so subtle it comes from nowhere and yet from everywhere. The subtlety of it, of that sound, and the fact that only a few people are entitled to hear it is something which hovers in the background of Olivia's paintings


'If one looks at Olivia's work cursorily, one might think her work is decorative, you might think it is repetitive, but once you spend some time looking at each work, you discover the layers of meaning behind them. Even before talking to Oliva about her work, I was aware of the thought that has gone into the making of these images. Everything means something to her and should mean something to us.


'In a certain sense the subtlety of her work reminds me of a wonderful word that is used in Persian and Urdu poetry - Chatak. In Punjabi or Hindi we often think it means a bright colour, but Chatak is a sound, a poetic sound, an unheard sound, a notional sound which a bud makes when it opens it petals. That magical moment when a bud turns into a flower and the sound is produced.


'The subtlety of it all, of the sound and of the thoughts which lie behind works like Olivia's have to be savoured, felt.  


'Olivia says, rightly so, that she is touched by Indian miniatures. Johdpur work, Nathdwara work, Pahari work is everywhere. However her work has something in common with the totality of Indian miniature tradition. In this tradition the works of art converse with you, and you with them. When one holds a miniature in one's hands a dialogue is set up. It is if you are talking to the painting, and the painting talks back to you, so to speak.


'Olivia's paintings have this quality, as I see it, of Indian miniatures in general.  That is that they invite you in, they are seductive. They not only invite you, they command you to look, a first, a second and perhaps a third look. So from all the time we spend on other things in life, a little time spent looking at one particular painting and trying to understand what lies beneath it is what makes her work come to life.


'These eyes, these lotus petals, are easy enough to dismiss as simply eyes and petals, however when you see the manner in which they have been used and explored, they are a revelation.


'These works are an invitation, and I am happy to accept that invitation."


Professor B.N. Goswami, December 2016