Sathyanand Mohan





Born in Kerala, 1975, he has done his BFA in Painting from The Government College of Fine Arts, Trivandrum, 1994-1998. MFA in Printmaking from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Ms University Baroda, 1998-2000. He has been a part of  India Art Summit 2011, Art Stage Singapore 2011, Art Dubai 2011, KIAF 09, India Art Summit 09, 'Armory Show' 09, New York and  ART HK 09, Hongkong  represented by The Guild, Mumbai. His first solo was ‘Reliquary’, held at The Guild, Mumbai in 2009. Some of his group exhibitions include Alternate to Another, The Guild Art USA Inc., New York; A New Vanguard: Trends in Contemporary Indian Art, Saffronart, New York; The Guild, New York; Through a Glass Darkly: Reflections on the Self-Portrait, The Guild, Mumbai.

“My education at the two centers of the ‘narrative – figurative’ revival in contemporary Indian art, - Trivandrum, where I did my graduation, and Baroda, where I did my Masters, - can be said to have impacted my work decisively, each bringing with it its own specificities to my conceptions of art and its practice. The influence of the ‘Radical” movement (a far-left artists collective), although on the decline, was still keenly felt during my time at Trivandrum. They foregrounded an interventionist praxis which drew in equal measure from the European avant-garde as well as the various revolutionary political movements happening in Kerala at the time. My relocation to Baroda for my post-graduation tossed me into the midst of a waning cultural ferment that had been (for a decade or more) engaged in the task of articulating, through a narrative language that drew upon a variety of sources, a type of Indian Modernism that had the conceptual and visual apparatus to address both local and global concerns without, at the same time, becoming yet another exotic commodity in the world-market of ideas. From these encounters with different trajectories and approaches to art making, I have tried to evolve a visual language that is marked by the critical dialogue with tradition that constitutes a historically grounded practice. I am interested in the way that history operates through the minutiae of everyday life and of the ways in which it permeates its spaces. I have also been intrigued by Jurgen Habermas’ well-known formulation about the “incomplete project of Modernity”, which seems to me to particularly apt with regard to nations such as ours, - poised to become an economic superpower, yet more often than not unable to provide for the vast majority of its citizenry the social, economic and political stabilities that the passage through Modernity is supposed to guarantee.  These contradictions that exist and constitute the fault lines of our society are a further consideration that insinuates itself into my works.

The particular set of works that are featured in my first solo show titled “Reliquary” at The Guild have been loosely grouped together around the twin (and interrelated) themes of Solitude and Death.  It is, at one level, a stock-taking, and a look back at the components of my linguistic and aesthetic choices as an artist, trying to set them out more clearly in order to locate their own limits. Reliquary also refers in part to the presence of Death as a unifying thematic which here doubles as a metaphor for a loss of selfhood, thereby extending further my continuing attempts at exploring (in my work) alienation as one of the central components of the experience of Modernity. Thus the works also have an existential slant in the sense that they engage with and foreground the presence of what has been philosophically described as 'the abyss' or 'the void', in speaking about the moral and spiritual vacuum that is said to lie at the heart of the Modern experience.  The paintings are also grouped according to a typology of sorts, featuring a set of figures that resemble characters from a novel/ play (or a tarot stack) which allows me to examine this central thematic from various angles and thereby delineate different aspects of the same, setting it in context to our tangled relationships with knowledge, sexuality, history, nature and so on.” - Sathyanand Mohan

“Sathyanand belongs to the generation of young artists who over a decade of being  in Baroda, first as a student at the Faculty of Fine Arts and later as a practicing artist, has witnessed shifts in art trends from the Narrative style to post-abstraction/ minimalism. Trained as a printmaker and a painter, he has worked with etching, dry point, lithographs and oil painting. Seeing no contradiction between his avid interest in books and painting, Sathyanand freely draws from a wide ranging art historical references; he, however, carries his scholarly baggage both in thrall and with criticality. Witness to various cataclysmic events in the life of the institution, be it the emergence of the “Kerala Radical group” who intensely raised the issue of the political in art in the mid 1980s or the imprisonment of Chandramohan in 2007 over a display of his print, Sathyanand has mulled over the role of an artist in public sphere without resorting to sloganeering and propagating a manifesto. He intervenes through his practice which is not solipsistic but social in its imagination.” – Excerpt from catalogue essay by Parul Dave Mukherji, teaching at School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.





        © 2002 The Guild. All rights reserved.