Sharmistha Ray’s poster for the Mahindra Blues Festival is a synthesis of art and design concept inspired by Mumbai, music and city. Using the visual of the ocean dotted with colored fishing boats- a unique signature of Mumbai’s urban landscape- Ray has created a dynamic visual adapted from an original painting to complement the spirit of a Blues festival in Mumbai. Painting in the abstract, for Ray, also has close links with music. The painter’s palette knife is akin to a conductor’s baton: color, temperature, gesture, mood, texture and myriad layers crescendo towards a total music. The semi -transparent font, which was created with an urban stencil style and a gritty texture to reflect Mumbai’s urban grit, was superimposed on the visual to mimic a contemporary light projection upon the water.
“La Mer” is a detail of one of my abstract paintings in perspective, which takes the subject of the sea around Bombay with colored fishing boats. The font/text is also inspired by the city with its opposite gritty element of development, buildings and high rises. If you look closely at the bottom of the font, it has a city skyline stenciled out. The final design is a synthesis of art and design ideas about Bombay city.
The Mahindra Blues Festival is a wonderful musical addition to Mumbai’s cultural landscape, all the more so because it’s so unexpected to have the Blues in Mumbai. I have always loved the Blues and regularly frequented small clubs in Brooklyn in my student days, where amazing Blues musicians would come and play. There’s a sense of urban grit and melancholy to the music which perfectly suits the backdrop of the city in which I live and work, Mumbai. As an artist, the challenge for me was to synthesize cultural cross flows of art and design concepts into a poster that is emblematic of a time and place. After all, the poster goes beyond a topical event and enters an archive to become part of our visual history. It’s been a special privilege to create a limited edition poster this year for the Mahindra Blues Festival, which is now in its fifth year.