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  Past-Present-Continuous

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
 

     
 

Rahul Dev
 

             

a drifting past in the paradigm that follows


It is an open-ended ground, which any spectator may deliberate on the prism of “paradigm shift”, coined in 1962 by Thomas Kuhn, a renowned philosopher of science. He employed a Gestalt shift model for paradigm shifts; that is, a model in which the old and new ways of seeing exist side by side, the outline of one figure defining the form of the other.

The section that follows grows out of appraisals, presenting the works of three male artists, conceptually quite distinct, reflecting diverse periods, but constituted together sequentially to stimulate their own paradigms.

It’s a visual treat for any viewer, which begins with the works of A. Ramachandran, an artist who abandoned political expressionism and devised mythical realism by abhorring the political images for gallery art practices. His works invite one to flexibly engage with the idioms of the eastern art tradition and abound with sundry leitmotifs linking melancholia, exquisiteness and splendour of nature.

K. Laxma Goud’s oeuvre is offering members of polite society as well as millennials of a digital world to reconnect with authentic tradition of folk-humour as it preserved the creative and various life of the people and was brought to fulfilment in many of his etchings, gouache and drawings. Whereas Riyas Komu’s sculptures desire stern contemplation, a massive amount of information that the spectator must process in order to arrive at a crucial nexus of meanings and allegories that connects one to the standpoints of contemporary politics.

Though “paradigm-shift” is the most overused term in contemporary discussion, it still helps fairly the viewers, in any case, to explore how artists tend to demonstrate a strong will to get out of old habits and create new things, with unique imagination? Or has ‘art’ turned out to be as a subject of existential aesthetic; where the value of art is placed more on the ‘attitude’ than on the artefact? Hence, it is absolutely amazing to learn about the selected artists and their temporal narratives by simply looking at what they painted or created.
 

Visage and Vista: Paranormal Encounters of
A. Ramachandran

Using Levinas’ idiom ‘visage’ in “The Alterity of the Other,” he writes in his book Totality and Infinity (1961), “is not ‘other’ like the bread I eat, the land in which I dwell, like, sometimes, myself for myself”.  A Ramachandran, in his magical paintings, offers a similar vision of self and visual discoveries absorbed by the sensation of colours, intriguing images and consummate figures.

The current body of Ramachandran’s work characterizes what Levinas calls the work of identification, that is, artist’s ability to absorb otherness, “into my identity as thinker or possessor” (Levinas). Starting his career as a rebel, his art practice has been marked by many milestones. When viewed from ‘encompassing distance’, we will find intermittent appearances and provocations in his body of works, if not necessarily, that turns out to be as ‘autobiographic’ conceptions, or just what we call only as ‘chance encounters’: Santiniketan Period 1958–64, Gandhi Darshan, New Delhi 1969, Yayati 1986–89, The Bhils - Baneshwar, Rajasthan 1989–90, Lotus Pond: Obeshwar and Ekalinji, Rajasthan 2000–10.

His sporadic experimentations give impetus to his innovation of visual puns and imaginings charged by sensual stirrings of idealized visceral forms, birds and Indian Nayikas (actresses), a gentle feminine presence such as Ragini, Ratni, and Uravashi, those blending with mesmerizing flora and fauna, the ensuing intimate motif of ‘Lotus Pond’. With each series of his paintings, he’s evolving his talent to be playful and lively, inscribing inexhaustible perspectives to enter into his visualizations. By doing so, he carves out new spaces teeming with discrete charm and blissful magic and, eventually, expanding the horizon for his viewers.

One can see many bold and bright colours aesthetically derived from Japanese prints and miniature traditions of India as some colours of his palette run as common measure in each painting which connects the entire composition together. The paintings are cropped intentionally to epitomize the viewer’s vantage point which is from above and positioned at a slight angle. This allows us to see scenes in their wholeness, whether to expand the vastness of foliage into new vistas or almost as if they are set on a theatrical stage and we are observing from the audience.
 

Erotica and Beyond: The Art of Kanal Laxma Goud

The current body of works would provide a snapshot to early career of the artist, when Goud began his career in the 1970s, a period when a concoction of rural/folklore ingredients with erotic obsession is quite apparent in his drawings, prints and gouache. But also, his numerous works stipulated the visual modules on social-issues feeding to generate awareness with the advent of Doordarshan in India (state-owned public broadcast services in the 1970s), providing sensibilities of the artist who honed his skills for two distinct audiences.

Erotic indulgence is often the highlight of the works of K. Laxma Goud. The essence of erotic coarseness is directly borrowed from his childhood memories, and youthful experiences of living in the rural milieu of Telangana. Despite the fact that he attained an urban education and inhabited the urban milieu for years. Goud’s images are not rendered for any titillation and arousal in a perversive sense rather his playfulness with eroticism is assenting to life.

His works carry ‘blistering physicality’; erect penises, stimulated genitals, triggered orgasm, and morphed trees from man’s torso. Nonetheless, Goud has no inhibitions in embodying the intermingling of male and female sexualities, vegetal and animal forms (mostly milch animals) posturing in a direct rural simplicity. A sense of decay and failure lays bare in early versions of his prints employing the dark lines, which devises bizarre creatures, part human, bird and beast to outrage the pompous urban (gallery) viewers, who confined his artistic virtuosity into a rural/urban binary.

Moreover, there is a distinctness in the images produced for Doordarshan in which erotic undertone is negligible. Goud joined Doordarshan team to produce issue-based programs on subjects integral to child and women awareness, hygiene and family planning, voter awareness programs, railway awareness, etc. Those primarily catered to the rural population, particularly backward regions of Telangana and Karnataka. In such works, he developed astounding skill to communicate with the masses wherein he devised ‘new iconography’ derived from folkloric elements to assemble the programs.  In a way, the artist is a mediator who supposedly devises issue-based popular imagery to a new kind of small-screen audience.

These were highly accessible images to facilitate information to enhance the idea of social development in a vast country like India.  There is no denying that this could be the historical source to analyze how Doordarshan, in the decade of 1970s–80s, mainly considered television as a tool of national development while keeping with earlier development models of communication.  The images speak of the marvelous interventions made by a regional artist belonging to the lower-middle-class family, portraying for non-Hindi speaking states, amidst the critical presence of Doordarshan, which is often engrossed in its rural-urban dichotomy, also probing its national-regional hierarchies.
 

Convulsive Turns, Contemporary Truths by Riyas Komu

Riyas Komu has produced two innovative works, although Komu’s works have a propensity to invoke history, certain pasts and dressing up new meanings through the emblematic inflections. Progressing to develop a new body of works in each subsequent exhibition, the artist is proficiently constructing new kinds of visual vocabularies as well, that detect the political tensions of contemporary times.

By evoking a mystery, this sculpture—titled as White - I—is repainted and repositioned as a model of an ‘Ashokan Pillar’, most probably a sort of replica of Sarnath, which bore special significance because it was believed that it was here that Buddha gave his first sermon and stated his famous ‘Four Noble Truths’.

Execution of these works is highly characterized by surrealist act, whereby artist is ‘transfixing’ a replica of an Ashokan Pillar into a symmetrically positioned legs of a discarded wooden table, nonetheless pillar is being encircled; or cast-off structure may go off until it’s not supported by/as the “Fourth Pillar”! 

Looking closely at wooden edifices, one may be bewildered by the intricate carvings that render into striking public symbols/models, which are legitimately adopted by the Indian state from Buddhism. Lions from Sanchi and Sarnath Lion Capital denote Sakyasimha, lion of the Sakya clan, with the voice of lion. Embedded ‘Ashokan Wheel’ of moral laws is superbly carved and painted in a blue colour as a determinant, an artist perhaps co-relating with the existence of Ambedkarite activism, where the wheel is rooted in an ideological symbolism of Navayana Buddhism, exemplified by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. As wheels turn, that which is high becomes low, while low becomes high. In this symbol, productive masses (labourers) envision the image of their blood, sweat, and labour. 

Appearing as a tendentious work, Midnight in Calcutta is a juxtaposition as well as conflation of two structures, a cyborg figure which looks like ‘futuristic Gandhi’ vowing to pragmatic considerations of non-violence, firmly resting its mechanical leg atop a wooden model of a Buddhist stupa, the uppermost part is accentuated by the colour blue; another signifier of Ambedkarite Buddhism. Already which, Komu has distinctly morphed these two iconic figures—Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Ambedkar—in the past, so there is trenchant criticism of a social structure in a meltdown, whereby both these icons have not only been contested in the public domain, but many of such specimens have been erroneously (mis)appropriated or tampered by power mongers, nevertheless distorted the message of ‘peace’.   

Overall, Komu preserves this idea to make “the ordinary look extraordinary” by using surrealist methods such as juxtaposition, dislocation, transformation and changing the scale of the objects, yet they appear ‘convulsive’ to the eyes of the beholder, giving the sense of its perplexity and allure. 

Rahul Dev 

© Author and The Guild

 

     

A. Ramachandran
 

                 
         

Untitled
, 2006, watercolour on paper,
30 x 22 inches
 
Untitled
, 2005, watercolour on paper,
29 x 21.5 inches
 
Untitled
, 2002, watercolour on paper,
15 x 11 inches

Untitled
, 2003, watercolour on paper,
14.5 x 10.5 inches
     
                   
               

Untitled
, 2004, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches
 
Untitled
, 2004, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches
             


 
                 
K. Laxma Goud                  
                   
           

Doordarshan Series, 1970's,
Gouache on paper, 8 x 12 inches
 
Doordarshan Series,
1970's,
Gouache on paper, 12 x 16 inches
 
Doordarshan Series,
1970's,
Gouache on paper, 9 x 12 inches
 
Doordarshan Series,
1970's,
Gouache on paper, 12 x 16 inches
     
                   
           

Doordarshan Series,
1970's,
Gouache on paper, 12 x 16 inches
 
Doordarshan Series,
1970's,
Gouache on paper, 12 x 16 inches
 
Doordarshan Series,
1970's,
Gouache on paper, 9 x 12 inches
 
Untitled,
1973,
Ink on paper, 4 x 5.5 inches
     
                   
             

Untitled,
1973,
Ink on paper, 4 x 5.5 inches
 
Untitled,
1972,
Ink on paper, 9.5 x 9 inches
 
Untitled,
1977,
Ink on paper, 7 x 5.5 inches
         


 
                 
Riyas Komu                  
                   
               

White 1, 2022
Recycled wood, metal and automotive paint, 116.5 (H) x 31 (L) x 31 (W) inches
 
Midnight in Calcutta, 2022
Recycled wood, metal and automotive paint, 93 (H) x 37.5 (L) x 33.5 (W) inches
 
 
     
                   
                   
                   
               
               
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                 
               
   

 

 

 

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