Looking is not Seeing
  September  9 - October 3 ,  2011


Balaji Ponna

Looking is not Seeing


September 8 – October 3, 2011

The Guild Art Gallery is pleased to present Looking is not Seeing a solo exhibition of recent works of Balaji Ponna, previewing on Thursday, the September 8, 2011.

“Responding to the socio-political and cultural realities of the time is one of the modes in which artists engage thematically through work. Within this engagement there are several trajectories of expressions that had emerged corroborating the subjective experiences of the artist in relation to the objective existence in society….

Balaji’s works comprise a crucial relation between the painted text-phrases and the images. In fact this text, composed in two phrases, frames the meanings and the subtext of the visual images. Written in a simple typography, this text does not intervene in the picture format but stays on the surface, by virtue of its flat, two-dimensional nature. In one sense this text is equal to the status of parergon, as theorised by Derrida – Parergon is “neither work (ergon) nor outside the work, neither inside or outside, neither above nor below, it disconcerts any opposition but does not remain indeterminate and it gives rise to the work” (Truth in Painting, 1978). The textual phrase belongs to the work (painting) as well as stays unrelated pictorially to the painting. When a viewer approaches these paintings, the sight is drawn towards deftly manoeuvred images, but quickly, the verbal text catches the eye, as if intervening between the pictorial image and the sight of the onlooker. This moment of rupture is also the moment of introduction of specific meanings to the work. The phenomenological and aesthetic experience of the viewer, in this context, is guided by the text-phrase, written in English. And in this moment of quick shifts between the textual phrase and the image, signification gets complicated and acquires a double signification which correlates each other – the text and the image. At one level the text-phrase puts forward a literal or direct meaning of it. When the signified or the meaning interacts with the image, this signified becomes empty and acquires a second level signification, whose signified belongs to the social and political realms.”   (Excerpt from an essay by Santosh Kumar Sakhinala)

Born in 1980, Balaji Ponna received his B.F.A in Graphics from Andhra University with Gold medal and M.F.A in Graphics from Visva - Bharati University, Santiniketan. He has been recipient of H.R.D. National Scholarship for young Artists (2004–05). His recent solo exhibitions include Monuments at India Art Summit 2011 with The Guild, Mumbai; The Things I Say, at Studio La Citta, Verona and Black Smoke, at Bose Pacia, Kolkata, in collaboration with The Guild. Ponna has participated in various group shows over the last couple of years including Art Celebrates 2010: Sports and the Cityan Exhibition of Indian Contemporary Art curated by  Rupika Chawla; Contemporary Exoticism curated by Marco Meneguzzo at Studio La Citta, Verona; Art Basel by Studio la Citta, 2009;  A New Vanguard: Trends in Contemporary Indian Art, Saffronart, New York and The Guild, New York; The July Show at The Guild and Are We Like This Only? Curated by Vidya Shivadas  at Vadehra Art Gallery , Delhi . His works were also exhibited at the France Print Biennial in 2009.


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