Often listed as an Indian/British artist, Angeli Sowani was born in 1960 in New Delhi to an English mother and an Indian father and trained as an illustrator and graphic designer at the prestigious National Institute of Design (N.I.D) in Ahmedabad, India.
After leaving India in 1988, Angeli travelled extensively, living and working in Nepal, Thailand, Hong Kong and finally in England, each place presenting her with new sources of inspiration, whether it was the blood sacrifices to Hindu idols in Kathmandu; the Buddhist imagery and use of gold leaf in Thailand; the votive papers burnt in offering to the Gods in Hong Kong or the play of warm autumn sunlight pouring down through the stained glass windows on the flagstones of the venerable cathedral in Winchester offering areas of abstract colour which subsequently found space in her paintings. Angeli describes those sights of the Winchester/Western world as filtering softly into “what was until then a totally Indian/Oriental palate and sensitivity”, the repetitive use of the flagstone colours forming the backdrop to Western/Oriental symbols invoking the meditative qualities of a mantra. A keen sensitivity to current affairs is also consistently apparent in works that make reference to the Boxing Day Tsunami, the Bombings in London and the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, highlighting human reactions to these tragic events.
This multitude of influences and inspiration imbibed from her upbringing and her exposure to ritual and religion in different cultures and countries are pulled together in her works into a harmonious construct of expression and meaning. This harmony runs like a scarlet thread through the body of works in Seraphim (2012) and Vaahan (2010) tying it together through the medium of fire. The repetitive use of symbols, char marks and patterns becoming a meditative and thoughtful exploration of impermanence, change and fragility, and its mystical ability to transform earthly materials into the immaterial … in that sense, it is a continuation of her earlier show Inner Weaves (2007) in which she explored the complex interplay of thought and emotion, and the desire to keep in touch with your roots in the context of constant displacement.
Angeli’s work avoids giving easy closure on the many options it opens up to the imaginative viewer and for the artist herself. Her work seems to comment on the uncertain nature of the creative process, suggesting different states of mind and giving glimpses of the transition occurring between these.
Click link Grosvenor Gallery to see Angeli’s work at the Grosvenor Gallery, St. James, London.