Sonabai at the APT: difference, indifference, formality

A rectangular board, hung on a pristine white wall, covered with shallow patterns in white clay; these patterns, their parallel furrows evidently tracing the movement of the artist's fingers, are more or less evenly distributed into more or less rectangular segments. As such, I can't imagine anyone thinking of this work at last year's Asia-Pacific Triennial as being out of place in the generic modernist space of the Queensland Art Gallery. Except, of course, this wasn't the whole work. To its right is another board of the same size with similar white clay patterns, but this time the patterns form the background to a tree with three mud­ coloured birds in it, all in clay relief The tree's vigorous, angular brown branches and pointy fresh green leaves are barely contained by the rectangular format.

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