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25 Years of The Guild


A. Ramachandran I Akbar Padamsee I Altaf I Amit Ambalal I Anupam Sud I Baiju Parthan I
Dilip Ranade I G. R. Iranna I Gieve Patel I Gigi Scaria I Gulammohammed Sheikh I
Jyoti Bhatt I K. G. Subramanyan I K. Laxma Goud I K. P. Reji I Krishen Khanna I
N. N. Rimzon I Nagji Patel I Navjot Altaf I Pooja Iranna I Prajakta Potnis I Rajkumar I
Rakhi Peswani I Ram Rahman I Rashmimala I Ravi Agarwal I Riyas Komu I
Sathyanand Mohan I Shadi Ghadirian I Shantibai I Shibu Natesan I Sudhir Patwardhan I
Sumedh Rajendran I T. V. Santhosh I Vidya Kamat I Vivan Sundaram I Zakkir Hussain

Preview: 19 August 2022

On view until 25 August 2022

at
CCA Galleries
Bikaner House
Pandara Road, New Delhi
 

     
 

Najrin Islam
 

             

Ecologies in Motion

A tool of motion, measurement, and (re)organisation, the body is a site imbued with politics even before it actualises in flesh. The body creates cartographies, interiorities, and establishes boundaries, only to render them unstable through accidents in permeability and slippages of control. In the works on display, topography is perused in its thicknesses, as layers of storytelling accumulate to create temporal palimpsests. The impenetrability of the wall is questioned and provoked, causing it to crumble under the sensorial pressures of percolation. Opposed aesthetic registers collapse into each other. Performative vocabularies stage the skin as a site for intimate dialogues between the body and the body politic. Ordinary objects carry lacerations as transfers from the skin. Ecology is mobilised as a surface to explore meditations on the cyclicality of life and death, the toxic entanglements of matter, and attendant histories of erasures and reclamations against institutional omissions. Situated in this lens is an urgency to archive the transient, including inward alienations. 

The works are imbued with a poetics of rupture, and the impulse to interrupt the ordinary, as disruptive interventions ascribe the routine a revised ontology in violence. Our anthropogenic environments are toxic, the poison running through our veins and affecting our cognitive perceptions. We are intimately enmeshed with this toxicity, perhaps even desiring its subversive need to inscribe and persist against time and its workings. Plural perspectives are adopted to understand, address, criticise, and confront anxieties around the Anthropocene, and the legacy of the human against their own annihilation.

Deep time.
Wounds.
Traces.

Ecologies in Motion
presents the works of artists who reflect on this notion of place-making through distinct vocabularies—playing with movement, stillness, flatness, and depth to dissect the body as material, medium, and spectre.

 

GR Iranna 

The paintings foreground the tree as a witness to time, which appears in variegated forms, shapes, and permutations. The elements in the work are all metaphors materialised—as reflections on power, the ambiguities of appearance, and as concentrated tableaux of poems by Sufi authors. The artist re-imagines their poetry, and depicts the stories as loose forms and kernels, without definitive arcs or resolutions. He thus creates altered perceptions about familiar narratives, as the lines between fiction and its retellings blur.

Set on canvas as well as tarpaulin, Iranna uses earthy tones that are acquired from mud, ash, brick powder and charcoal. The artist’s use of ash as a medium, especially, is deliberate, as it harks back to a formative, tactile connection with it as a holy mark on the forehead in his aashram/school. With respect to Hindu funeral rites that necessitate burning the body of the deceased, the ash also has a reductive quality as it levels all human flesh to the bare minimum, irrespective of their living credits. The cyclical materiality embedded in Iranna’s paintings informs his outlook—that humans live, perish and regenerate, in tandem with all natural elements. As a bearer and signifier of deep time, the tree becomes a spectator to this rhythm. The ingredients are also elements that can re-moulded to create new shapes, thus attesting to the recalcitrance of material against time.


Navjot Altaf
 

How to Imagine a Multispecies World
Conceived and executed during the Covid-19 lockdowns, the series is a collage of newspaper visuals, snippets of television news, the internet, the artist’s personal archive, and other screen media that impressed themselves on her mind in a state of enforced confinement. Just as images overlapped in Altaf’s visual register, so they cohabit common frames in these photomontages. Based on real incidents of disease, food, deprivation, death, and civil resistance, the artist draws on the incomprehensible weight of their cumulative vocabulary to create work that is intended to reflect this chaos.

The pandemic had exposed the deep inadequacies of institutions, asymmetries of power, and rising concerns around citizenship and identity. Located in the interstices between urban and rural, singular and plural, and human and non-human, Altaf’s subjects exist in these montages in intricate entanglements, and emerge from her interest in ecological democracy. Such a kin-centric democracy is participatory, critical of unsustainable endeavours, and insists on the rights of all species, based on egalitarian principles. Pulling seemingly disparate elements to a single frame, Altaf pushes one to rethink what it may mean to be part of a world premised on multispecies equity—one that not only dissolves hierarchies, but also absorbs its subjects into a realm of intersectional habitation.
 

Prajakta Potnis 

Zone
In this series, the artist appropriates the interiors of a vintage frost-lined freezer in a domestic refrigerator to stage a foreboding environment for her photographs. She projects a series of film slides (found in an old market in Berlin in 2014) on hyperobjects*, such as a blue net and an egg carton. The stagings of these hyperobjects—in simulation of or assimilation with the projected landscapes—point to their toxic persistence in deep time through the domestic conduit. The projection of the images (seemingly taken by a tourist in the 1970s) spill over on the cold surface of the freezer as well, mimicking a state of museification. The photographs created through the overlap establish the freezer as a site of dialogue across temporal registers. Orchestrating multiple interiorities, the resultant lightboxes create additive, unattainable topographies premised on memory and porosity.

*
Timothy Morton’s terminology
 

Still Lives
Potnis’ practice involves a preoccupation with the kitchen space and appliances, which are imbued with semiotic qualities through a photographic lens. The artist’s engagement with the gastronomical is tied with her abiding interest in the Second World War—specifically, the ubiquitous image of the mushroom cloud (invoked by the explosion of atomic bombs), which reflects in the whorls of a staged cauliflower. The technologies of war have also historically informed inventions in the kitchen; a troubling intimacy is thus established between ingestion and annihilation. The magnification of the small, cavernous space of the freezing chamber also generates unfamiliarity, turning the ordinary apparatus into a monumental landscape with its own architectural specificities.  

Porous Walls
The series emerged from the artist’s cogitations on an incident of suicide in a domestic room. Potnis’ visit to the site and her ensuing reflections materialise in these paintings, as she re-imagines the seemingly impenetrable concrete as curtains. Thus lent a quality of permeability, the strict binary between the inside and the outside dissipates. Walls both demarcate and join spaces, while carrying the traces of temporal passage on their surface. Alongside the material remnant on the ceiling, one wonders: do the cracks and crevices in the room carry the memories and desires of the person that once inhabited its perimeters? In these perceptual transitions, the wall becomes a membrane—one that flakes, punctures, creases and folds, and registers as more a threshold than a fixture.


Ravi Agarwal
 

Ecology of Desire
An early experiment in looking at the entanglements of nature, body and technology, Ecology of Desire attests to the artist’s implication of his own biography within the environment—as an inextricable component of it. The tableau becomes a tussle for agency, as the artist’s body claims the proportions of a tower in the play of scale allowed by photographic juxtaposition. Agarwal also introduces sculptural elements in his photographs of natural landscapes in an attempt to capture a sense of formal alienation. Taken in the 1990s at Sanjay Van on the Delhi Ridge (that he had helped save and turn into a reserve forest in the capacity of an activist), the texture of the image is ruptured by the presence of a metal sheet. Suspended in a seemingly one-dimensional disposition, the sheet both responds to and challenges the logic of ecological cohabitation as a complex material system. 

Immersion.Emergence
A series of images taken against a naturally mutating landscape, Immersion.Emergence acts as a performative register of the event where State authorities displaced thousands of shantytown-dwellers from the banks of the Yamuna river in Delhi. Expelled in a “cleansing” and “beautification” drive ahead of the-then forthcoming Commonwealth Games (with the intention of a developer lobby acquiring the land after), the takeover of the river disrupted the ecological balance of the area, including its harbouring a local population. The artist’s frames register a protest, as a standing shroud on the cremation ghats of the Yamuna points to a case of institutionally orchestrated ecocide. The shroud also enacts the Hindu belief in reincarnation, as the remains of the dead body are immersed in the river to achieve salvation—this imbues the work with a sense of cosmic time. Agarwal’s images are not a cartographic reflection of the banks, but a personal document of how the artist saw the river in the light of the mass erasure.  

A Feast of Sorts
A quadtriptych of videos, A Feast of Sorts loosely draws its discursive form from Levi-Strauss’ theory of the Culinary Triangle (1966) to depict gastronomy in relation to the human body as it is embedded in the matrix of nature and culture. The installation consists of 4 screens interacting through the ritual of eating, with the dining table positioned as an anchor to the exercise. A monitor shows Agarwal sipping soup and observing; titled A Bare Act, it draws from Girogio Agamben’s theory of the “bare self” (i.e. to remain at the animal level of necessity) to look at food as form, and the body as an object of survival. In conversation are: Prof. Rukmini Bhaya on the intertwined worlds of cognition, language, taste and power; Sikander Ali Baba on the position of practices such as fasting, abstinence, and consequent suffering in the quest for a higher self; and Mona Gandhi on raw food, and its repositioning in the secular logic of politics and health. Shaping our geopolitics and cultural norms, food is looked at in this work through the lens of desire and its deprivation, immersion and cognisance, evolution and sustainability. 

Ambient Seas
The artist’s experiences in a local fishery in Pondicherry took the shape of the diary, Ambient Seas, which is produced out of (as well as published in the format of) handwritten notes. Private ruminations are thus presented to the public, as the artist’s engagement with the sea takes the form of meandering notes, thought exercises, and research photographs as routes to the constitutive images. Perusing the interconnections of nature, industry, and history, Agarwal draws from Tamil Sangam poetry to reflect on landscapes internal and external—including stories of desire, loss, survival, trade, and disenfranchisement. Ecology is looked at in its material components in this scripto-visual archive of the sea.



Vivan Sundaram

Sculptures
Iron and Wood, 1997
 
In the 1990s, Vivan Sundaram veered towards exploring the materiality of substances of both industrial and artisanal provenance, which manifested in his interest in found objects, such as stools. The formal constitution of the stool is ruptured (with agents such as a saw, a hammer, and nails), and is thus ascribed a non-functionality. The tactility of the ruptures registers as a lacerating wound. During this period, the artist was inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s use of the ‘readymade’, and resorted to using everyday objects himself to frame interventions.  With no premeditated designs, the ordinary stool is used as a support to create relief sculptures, and is invested with new semiotic value. The objects attest to Sundaram’s poetics of bricolage, which has been an important formal component of his process. 

Tracing paper and string
Vivan Sundaram’s use of tracing paper in an earlier series, Bad Drawings for Dost, came from his fond remembrance of friend and contemporary, Bhupen Khakhar. He had mechanically traced the latter’s drawings to create interpretive sutures with marks and string. In the current works on display, the figurative elements recede, and the tracing paper is used as a base for string and collage work, including permutations of lines across the surface. Their entanglements are abstract, and premised on gestalt perceptions; the intersecting trajectories create various shapes and cartographies. They also reveal elements of the city and its attendant architectures on perusal, engaging in a formal play of contours.

© Author and The Guild

 

     

G. R. Iranna
 

                 
       

Mud landscape had a story
, 2022
Bricks powder charcoal on paper,
55 x 95 inches
 
Written stories
, 2022, acrylic ash on tarpaulin, 48 x 56 inches
 
Ethereal stories
, 2021, acrylic on tarpaulin,
54 x 132 inches (diptych)

 
     


 
                 
Navjot Altaf                  
                   
           

Cognitive Processes, How to Imagine
a Multispecies World
, 2020-2021
Digital print, 32 x 22.5 inches
 
Cognitive Processes, How to Imagine
a Multispecies World
, 2020-2021
Digital print, 32 x 22.5 inches

 
 
Cognitive Processes,
How to Imagine a Multispecies World
, 2020-2021, Digital print, 32 x 22.5 inches
 
Cognitive Processes, How to Imagine
a Multispecies World
, 2020-2021
Digital print, 32 x 22.5 inches
     
                   
                 

Cognitive Processes, How to Imagine
a Multispecies World
, 2020-2021
Digital print, 32 x 22.5 inches
                 
                   

 
                 
Prajakta Potnis                  
                   

       

Porour Walls - III,
acrylic and dry pastel on paper,
30 x 40 inches
 
Porous Walls - II, 2008,
acrylic and dry pastel on paper,
30 x 40 inches
 
Still Life
, 2009
Digital print on archival paper,
34.5 x 54 inches, ed. 1/5+1AP
     
                   
               

Zone, 0.05
, 2019, acrylic print. Led light box, 9.5 x 14 x 2 inches, ed. 1/3+2AP
 
Zone, 11:12
, 2019, acrylic print. Led light box, 9.5 x 14 x 2 inches,
ed. 1/3+2AP
             


 
                 
Ravi Agarwal                  
                   
           

A Feast of Sorts, 2014,
Installation with Wooden Table with text,
3 Stools, 3 Digital Tablets, Headphones
with HD videos, and LCD Monitor, ed.2/3
 
Immersion. Emergence, 2006
Archival Photographic Inkjet Prints Series of 24 images, 10 x 12 inches each, installation variable, ed.2/7
 
Ecology of Desire I
, 2008
Archival Photographic Inkjet Print,
27 x 48 inches, ed. 3/7
 
Ecology of Desire IV, 2008
Archival Photographic Inkjet Print,
27 x 48 inches, ed. 1/7
     


 
                 
Vivan Sundaram
 
                 
           

Fork, 1997, Iron and wood,
15 x 20 x 15 inches
 
Hammer, 1997, Iron and wood,
12 x 12 x 12 inches
 
Nail, 1997, Iron and wood,
15 x 14.5 x 15 inches
 
Saw, 1997, Iron and wood,
12 x 15 x 12 inches
     
                   
           

Tracing paper and string, 2007,
Collage, charcoal threads,
16 x 21.6 inches
 
Tracing paper and string, 2007,
Collage, charcoal threads,
16 x 21.6 inches
 
Tracing paper and string, 2007,
Collage, charcoal threads,
16 x 21.6 inches
 
Tracing paper and string, 2007,
Collage, charcoal threads,
16 x 21.6 inches
     
                   
                 

Tracing paper and string, 2007,
Collage, charcoal threads,
16 x 21.6 inches
                 
 


 

                 
                   
                   
               
               
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                 
               
   

 

 

 

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