K. P. Reji            







Dinner (With A Pinch of Salt),  2009, oil on canvas,
60 x 84 inches

Dinner (With A Pinch of Salt) is a starking portrayal of the marginalised lives of the displaced. The couple’s theatrical gesture of preparing and protecting the food being cooked in their temporary shelter in the woods, away from the cityscape, imprints a stunning image on the viewer. Dr. Santhosh Sadanandan in his catalogue essay on Reji’s paintings has pointed out how ‘The figures acquire gravity not through their bodily weights alone but more through their orientations in the earthly practices.’ (2009, The Guild). Child as a character in this plot, performs a seemingly violent act of crushing a roach with her toy car against the cat moving her kitten to a safe place - all reference to the brutality and fear instilled by the system in the lives of the common people. These elements playfully recur in several of his paintings.


Untitled, 2008, oil on canvas, 60 x 83 inches

Part of the extension of the series of paintings titled, 
To move the mountain, this untitled painting renders a carriage (among many carriages) transporting an enormous body of tools. While which direction the vehicle is moving remains ambiguous, the tools, each of them related to various occupations of farmers, labourers and artisans stand upright highlighted with an aureole against the yellow sky. The bunker-like vehicle symbolically represents the state and power. The dug earth in the backdrop only further establishes the exploitation of the land within the developmental schema of the state.  The painting resonates with the crisis the working community and professions have been facing over several decades.


Fishes under the broken bridge, 2013, oil on canvas,
68 x 96  inches (diptych)

“This work in many ways marks a continuation of my longstanding engagement with the politics and poetics of the everyday. At the same time, in this particular work my attempt is to engage with the ‘hidden’ dynamics of ‘human’ action'.” 
 (K. P. Reji, excerpt from the artist’s statement, 2013)
 The work is notable for the peace which prevails - deceptively so. The petty cruelties enacted by the children - the frog in the tin box, the descent of the cockroach, the slightly smug, buddha-like smile on the boy in the trees whose face is almost hidden by leaves - all suggest the politics of intimacy, or daily routine, lived out in open spaces. In the distance, the people on the bridge seem benign by comparison, but gathered along with the seagulls make a private wait for a bait to bite, a dramatic experience. It is not just the seemingly mundane activities of people that animates the work, rather it is the intimacy of lived-in space that is so occupied, and filled with micro aggressions, which makes public space the site of contestation. This is Reji’s language: intimate actions and interactions, informed by the private narratives of its occupants, enacted in public space. - 
Renuka Sawhney in her essay Negotiation in Contested Space – Part I, 2017.



Making of Mahatma Gandhi/ Migratory Birds, 2011,
oil on canvas, 60 x 84 inches

Making of Mahatma Gandhi/ Migratory Birds unfolds a spectacle at a tourist site. Citing Reji’s cinematic fascination with Gandhi, it dramatically recreates the moments from the historic Salt Satyagraha on the beaches of Gujarat’s Dandi village. This famous moment is relocated to a crowded beach being enacted for the shooting of a film that twists the viewer’s approach to the event that is etched in the public memory through images such as this. The vast blue sky presents another sequence of the flock of migratory birds, each with a flaming, blasting head. Reji positions every actor in this plot in a visually strategic manner. The figure of Gandhi is superimposed with layers of people gazing at the spectacle. The policeman in the forefront looks straight into the viewer’s eye, unsettling and reminding of the surveillance and command of the state. The prominent use of stock-images from mass media forms a collage of unrelated events coming together.


Untitled drawings, 2016-2019, Ink on paper, 9 x 12 inches each (approx)

This set of brush drawings of watercolour on paper derives inspiration from Reji’s involvement in making a movie with a friend. They explore sexuality and gender relations addressing eroticism, sensual and intimate moments. The fluid animated movements that the medium allows are strongly visible.

Untitled drawings, 2019, Ink on paper, 9 x 12 inches each (approx)

This set of most recent brush drawings of watercolour on paper demonstrate the newer visual trajectory Reji is investigating presently. The tonalities break the binaries of the opposing colours of black and white. Reji revisits some of the images from his earlier repertoire. One can see the horizontal and vertical lines and planes becoming more porous in these attempts.









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