alias Bela Tamuly


Review by Keshav Malik, Times of India, 16th. december 1987

Many artists can be admired for one order of excellence or another; but in our times, there are not many whose offerings irradiate a state of happiness. The Norwegian artist «Bela» Elisabeth Medbøe, with her contemporary miniatures (Triveni Gallery) is one of those lucky ones - temperamentally - who though placed right in the midst of the urban chaos of our denatured world, enjoins a joy which is but another word of high seriousness.

Such joy is not brought at the cost of ignoring the dark spots dancing around the eyes of the moderns, but by not letting go of one’s inner equanimity, despite grave provocation and instigation to pursue artistic extremism, or else evangelism. «Bela» is in the line with those Indian miniaturists of yore who never got hard-edged, or hard-hearted. The woman in her knows better than to confound means and ends.


If such is the spirit which informs her work, the analogies to her style, or the influences working on her sensibility are amazingly varied and seemingly contradictory. As for analogies, early European maps and charts of the world, prints, illuminated manuscripts, friezes on temples or cathedrals, graffiti, Ajanta frescoes, the madonnas done by Moghul artists all come to mind. The life influences are those from the arctic to the tropics; her point of departure being the indoor or outside scene - in Egypt or India. That she has done something, nearly so classic, with such a hopeless and confusing visual tangle is of import.

Cycles, rickshaws, handcarts - garish interiors, the cold passages between the cliffs of monstrous buildings, dingy trains and devalued humans (above all) are turned into a narrative art very different from what is enforced on the art scene by some Indian artists. «Bela» is not out to make a snide sermon ; she never loses touch with the spirit of delight, in what could well be a depressive-maniac state of disgust, or paranoia, against classes or masses. No, the artist is no reformer or revolutionist, but one working within the limitations of art - namely, to shower such generous affection till even concrete, rubber and steel find salvation by virtue of its warmth.

Review by Arnhild Skre, Dag og tid, Norway, 9th. February 1989

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