BAIJU PARTHAN            



































CODE'-Futurz, machine, Interactive digital installation, 2000-2004,
 backlit-print on polyester and computer technology, dimensions variable.

To be frank, my intention while producing this work was to phase-shift something that appears mundane into something that is intriguing and transcendental. The artwork's core idea is to show how computer code (Displayed on lightboxes as a handwritten passage) transforms into a simulation of intelligence and awareness within the innards of the machine. JavaScript code displayed on the lightboxes works as a random key generator within the computer to bring up and display predictions from a collection of I-Ching readings in response to questions from the viewer. The overall experience evokes the presence of a trustworthy 'ghost in the machine' that offers advice.



Aqua Regia, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 72 inches.

Shifting to an exploration of symbolism, Baiju Parthan’s Aqua Regia takes alchemy as its language, to contest rebirth through elemental transformation and attainment of perfection. Parthan’s considered space is the process of myth-making in the context of alchemy. Aqua Regia (royal/noble water), a mixture said to dissolve gold and platinum, resounds with the Philosopher's Stone. Denoted here by the rearing lion with the symbol of rebirth in the form of the sun and phases of the moon above its head, Parthan’s symbol for royalty also stands in for the ascension of man attaining supremacy over nature-based belief systems. The foundational myth of the enlightenment, the primacy of reason over belief, and the scientific organization of knowledge are here enconsed in the symbology of alchemy deftly linking the attainment of knowledge to a far older knowledge - in the need for mythmaking and symbolism.

Framed in the background against the latitudes and longitudes of our planet, Parthan perhaps suggests that myth-making continues to evolve in relation to the symbols of our primacy - those symbols, now quantified measurements. If rational knowledge is implicated by political machinations, Parthan thus begs the question: in the contested space of quantifiable knowledge and evolved politically-implicated symbolism, what are the possibilities for myth-making, when our primacy is constructed as nearly absolute in every sense?






Flos Potentia (Flower Power), 2016, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 96 inches (diptych).     Private Collection.

Obviously any painting is open to interpretation and to any number of readings depending on the inclination of the viewer. However here is what went into it from my side in the making of it. 
The painting 'Flos Potentia' is an amalgam of histories pertaining to Goa, and a certain amount of personal history. The metaphoric intertwining of histories and world-views is suggested by the background derived from the iconic map of Goa (A Ilha e Cidade de Goa Metropolitana da India) by Jan Hugen van Linschoten in 1596 which served as the template of almost all the other medieval maps of Goa. Overlapping and eclipsing the map is a poppy flower (Botanical name- Papaver Somniferum) the oldest known psychotropic plant to be cultivated as far back in 3400 BC in ancient Mesopotamia. 
The title of the painting is a reference to the 'Flower power' movement, a confluence of free-thinking, existential searching, and psychedelic exploration which played out its last act on the beaches of Goa before vanishing into thin air. The poppy flower as a metaphor becomes the threshold marking the entry point into the domain of the metaphysical with its perception shifting potential. The suggestion that psychedelic substances and their ritualistic usage has played a major role in the evolution of language, as well as art and culture in the form of an epigenetic agent, is much more than a mere hypothesis as presented by psychedelic researchers such as Terrance Mackenna, Ralph Metzner and others, though not endorsed by mainstream scientific community. The flock of birds differentiated into groups of black and white colour represent the binaries of light and darkness, and the in-between twilight zone as the doorway into the unknown. 
The title also alludes to the role of Portuguese base in Goa for introducing opium to China at the beginning of the 18th Century and the resulting opium trade (Later monopolised by the British East India Company). 
As for personal history, after spending a number of years studying Botany and a certain amount of time grappling with Civil engineering in Kerala, I ended up in Goa as a Visual Arts student at the Goa College of Art Panjim in 1976. I spent roughly six to seven years in Goa and those years reshaped my values and my approach towards life in general. From that position, the painting sums up my experience of Goa as a doorway into life-transforming experiences.




Post Conceptual Pear, 2019, animated 3D lenticular print, (four views),
41.5 x 41.5 inches

My work for the show is a 3D Lenticular print titled ' Post conceptual Pear - Four views'. This work is derived from virtual objects sculpted/modelled in three dimensions using software tools.
 I felt it is rather ironic that not long ago I was speaking about the erosion of 'tactility’ in our reality experience due to digitisation, through my 'soft graffiti’ paintings. And here I am making art with material that is virtual and devoid of tactility.  Interestingly, Some years ago while I was having a show of my soft graffiti paintings in New York, I met Robert C Morgan who is the de facto premier post-conceptual artist and theorist. He was intrigued by my theme- loss of tactility, as his work was about bringing back tactility into art. He had come for my show to see what I was referring to. That meeting was my introduction to Post Conceptual thinking and I found I could relate to his concerns.
 Having said that this particular work is made using open source 3d software disseminated exclusively through the internet, and makes use of material derived from the internet. I could probably place it within the framework and category of ‘Post-Internet’ art practice as it is a totally internet aware artwork.
 The imagery presented extends my continued engagement with the motif of 'Engineered Fruit'- a metaphor for all things that are engineered and made perfect solely for consumption. It also refers to the fruit borne by the archetypal/mythic Tree of Knowledge which transforms or re-wires perception once its fruits are imbibed. I have presented a 360-degree view of the fruit through 4 snapshots arranged as a cluster. The parallax effect of lenticular print creates the impression of the fruit skin sliding apart to reveal a fruit-body woven out of a 'word cloud'. ‘Tag clouds’ or ‘word-clouds’ are an essential user interface component of present-day blogs and content-rich web pages. The word cloud I have used was generated online from the text content found on the Wikipedia page 'Post Conceptual Art'.
















© 2020 The Guild | All rights reserved

Find us on