Ragini Chawla’s paintings capture the small moments that punctuate life’s most meaningful occasions. In his latest solo exhibition, “Last Glass of Cola”, the artist focuses on banquets such as weddings and other ceremonies, with their inherent issues of class, work, politics and personal drama.

Each work in the exhibition was created over the past two years and shares the title of the exhibition, as if each were just a freeze frame from the day’s events. The paintings are bold and full of character. Some have been set up on freestanding panels, surrounded by clusters of chairs that invite onlookers to keep them company. Playfully and awkwardly, the layout gives the impression that you might be the first to arrive at a wedding party and have to navigate the room to determine the most appealing seat.

These almost cinematographic scenes of tablecloths, floral arrangements and unclaimed chairs contrast with more intimate portraits of women, disconnected from empty reception rooms. In these images, Chawla highlights the unseen work that facilitates the occasions evoked in the other paintings. A delicate drawing of a woman seen from behind, bent over in concentration, is annotated on one side with the inscription “cook with love, for oneself, for the food, for the people one feeds”. Other works zoom in on hands in a sudsy sink, the inevitable cleaning.

In “Last Glass of Cola”, we never see the event itself. Instead, Chawla gives us what comes before (the preparation and its intimacies, the host venue bristling with potential) and what comes after (the titular last sip, lights off, everyone home.) This what happens in between is left to the imagination. .

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