Mahalakshmi Kannappan’s unique explorations with charcoal perpetually surprise and evolve. The bourgeoning artist has established her practice by diving deep into the material’s dynamic possibilities: allowing its raw, organic forms and textures emerge in her abstract, monochrome works. As she intimately engages with her material yet allows its unexpected qualities to take shape, the tension between controllable and uncontrollable forces in her process becomes the foundation of her work. Her charcoal pieces appear both solid and structured, yet are marked with cracks and ruptures that emphasise its inherent vulnerability.

Juxtaposing a rugged, bark-like triangular surface with a smooth rectangular plane, Grit and Mettle triggers a sense of unease, as the rough vertical strips that form the triangle appear as if they could fall at any moment. They are stacked to the left of the rectangle, forming an irregular pentagon that veers away from the stability of a typical triangle or rectangle. Yet, the longer one lingers, one is awed at the strength of the piece, remaining whole despite its myriad fragile parts. In its unfamiliar yet alluring shape, Grit and Mettle reveals Kannappan’s mastery in achieving balance and artistry amid her medium’s endless uncertainties.