Critics’ Picks: Kaveri Raina

May 30, 2020 / by Sarah M. Estrela / Artforum

Kaveri Raina, Somber Partings, Swaying to the Moon, 2019, acrylic, oil pastel, burlap, 40” x 70”

Kaveri Raina’s quiet triumph of six paintings and three drawings shows what it means to persist, hover, and remain responsive to a process. Pushing paint through burlap and swirling graphite into portals, Raina asks: What might emerge on the other side of this “thing”? What are the consequences of collective movement?

A life-size burgundy silhouette emerges from white burlap in the magnificent opening work, Wish It Was Otherwise; Lack Of, 2020. Disintegration or enmeshment of the self is clearly the theme here, but the painting’s titular it and what exactly it lacks remain a mystery. A green foxing effect between the figure’s arm and torso reveals that the consistencies of Raina’s paints vary. A stream of blue meanders through phantom and fleshy limbs before bursting through a dense neon-orange field. Paintings on burlap look even better than you might think: coagulated in the fabric’s porous weave, acrylic and oil pastel merge into landscapes of texture.

To the left of this hovering subject, DR – Will I Ever Be Missed, 2019, evokes the feeling of being in a huddle, seeping into another. Bold blue stripes pierce fading blood-red bodies, while blackish-blue burlap binds them together again. Across the gallery, Somber Partings, Swaying to the Moon, 2019, defends an argument for looking slowly and on one’s own terms. The tide of its pigments and transparency of its weave compelled me to sway before its intricate surface. Several feet away, the considerably smaller Le Mon to Hover, 2019, steals the show. Agleam through the eye of a graphite vortex, a juicy lemon floats through the reverse of what is mostly a drawing. A tidy patch of blue on the left and a green stem on the right seem to suspend the fruit from above; like “le monde” conjured by its title, it threatens to teeter off balance.