Persistence Of Memory

10 May - 09 June, 2018

An intrinsic relationship exists between a painted image and human memory - remembering and forgetting occur simultaneously in the very act of painting. In a large way, what distinguishes this process from many other image making methods is the arc of time in which it is made and changed by the process of re thinking, re working and re doing – a transformation always beside and beyond the first idea and sketch of it.
The artists in this exhibition frequent this process in their own ways – often creating works carrying multiple meanings through their varied approach to the process of painting. Their works in the exhibition portray a range of subjects from autobiographical accounts to observed notes on the everyday life and from critiques to hope in times of the changing landscape around them. They strive to keep the hand drawn and hand painted techniques alive, often as an act of remembering, through their individually expressive and nuanced vocabularies.

Anil Thambai revisits the process of building a monument/piece of architecture. In his drawings of different kinds of buildings, he is evoking a nostalgia for lost time through which a piece of architecture emerges. He investigates the relationship between space in its physicality and in its temporality. According to him, ‘collective labor’, is forgotten after a building is made or when it stands dilapidated. Though none of his drawings refer to a specific building that we can identify, he is able to instill an image of buildings from a shared historical past, that are perhaps fictional and/or no longer exist.  

Sujith SN’s current body of work takes from two processes as references – he took photos along with his studies in water color as the two methods of documentation of Dahisar river in the suburbs of Mumbai. In his painting about the river, he traces its decay over the seven years that he has lived in the city. The decadence of the river poses an ethical question and he constantly engages with it in his current body of work. What constitutes the idea of a river especially after a tumultuous change has occurred in the landscape around/because of it? What happens to the creatures inside the river and the ones around it when it becomes stagnant and is no longer a source of life? He reflects on the idea of the changing river but still keeps room for the painting to lend its own voice and interpretation. He leaves the viewer with an expression poetic in its rendering and accidental in its meaning.

Evidently, the painting of a landscape conceals more meanings than it reveals under the garb of its obvious beauty. One can see this in the recent body of work by Prasad KP, an artist from rural Kerala. Prasad has a love for nature and depicting the landscape, and within that dwells a longing for and a belief in a utopic view of the world. He choses to work with the medium of watercolor, rendering his paintings in an intimate and meditative manner. The everyday life in the village is a source of inspiration for Prasad and he is fascinated by the inter relationship between humans, animals, insects, plants, birds and even rocks, mountains in this context. His work provides a carefully meditated outlook to this world view where landscape and beauty are intertwined to portray what is essential about life. 

Within this similarity and an interest in the exploration of the day-to-day, it is interesting to see, Kerala born artist, Sajeev Visweswaran’s practice and the dialogue his works in the exhibition seek to create. In linocut print and an ectching, Sajeev touches upon the aspect of food in the context of a familial and social gathering and focuses on Kerala specific eating habits and preferences. On one hand, is jackfruit (chakka in Malayalam), a giant fruit that is shared and enjoyed together in a gathering, since it is simply too big to be eaten alone. On the other hand, the artist refers to the image of beef, which is also a traditional food item in Kerala cuisine. Through a carefully thought metaphor, which seeks to note a physical and tactile resemblance between the two very popular food items, he is critiquing in his own words, ‘the potentially disruptive and destructive social repercussions that come when food is restricted or made taboo’.

Ekta Singha’s practice is informed by recounting events and imageries from her personal life and family history. She combines photographs, texts, maps, prints from newspapers and found images, with drawings and paintings, taking them outside of their earlier or familiar context. Her recent body of work, ‘You are the most sensible definition of love’, a set of ten watercolors, features foliage studies and have ornamental framing reminiscent of Mughal and Rajput miniatures. The style of these two schools of miniatures often inform her work and first took her fancy when she decided to recall and reclaim a royal lineage in her own family. The juxtapositions are a nod to layered images on the painted surface of paper as well as to the many underlying meanings, waiting to be seen and discovered.

Anupama Alias, an artist trained at Hyderabad, works with a distinct autobiographical and textural vocabulary. Her portraits reflect a desire to unravel her identity as a woman and places the self at the center of her work. Biblical references to the human body for instance the story of Eve and Adam, where it is said that Eve was made from the ribcage of Adam, sparked her curiosity to explore the different aspects of human anatomy and body metaphorically. During this process, she has referred to the spine, skin, heart, brain, lungs and blood cells and has incorporated painted textures which give her work another layer. Along with these drawings, she has been interested in chronicling accounts from her own life and stories of other women like her mother. While she has worked with themes of childhood and adolescence in the past, her recent work looks at the role of a woman on the cusp of transition within the family structure. And though the self remains a strong presence in her work, she connects it with the universal questions of what constitutes womanhood and identity.

Kaushik Saha, an artist hailing from Kolkata, makes a case for the tactile nature of a painted surface. His practice makes use of different techniques and materials to create a body of work that treads the line between a narrative exploration and a deeply expressive sense of style. Kaushik makes references to several works and artists in his works and quotes the works of different artists, from the likes of Abanindranath Tagore to Barbara Kruger. The works displayed in this exhibition make an inspired use of sculptural materials such as copper wire, nails and thick coatings of enamel paint and reveal his skill in creating tangible painted objects. The layers of sculptural materials have their own visual significance in the scheme of a larger story that he is telling.

The exhibition will display works by Anil Thambai, Anupama Alias, Ekta Singha, Kaushik Saha, Prasad KP, Sajeev Visweswaran, Sujith SN.