Mithu Sen, Ayisha Abraham, Chittrovanu Mazumdar, Chitra Ganesh, Waswo X. Waswo, Samit Das, Sunil Gupta & Abir Karmakar.
The exhibition titled My Sweet Lord is based on a track from the album All Things Must Pass by George Harrison.
An idea taken from the lines of the song which goes beyond the established notions of faith, sets a stage where belief / love / devotion go thru several stages of transgression to come to and become a space of personal conviction, idea and thought.
Desire - can it go beyond the subjective world to be in communion with something other, beyond the rational? To somewhere become another idea of the ephemeral.
The artists take this idea forward in their own very personal way, be it fiction, belief, facetious or stretched to a very extreme degree of a personal metaphor.
The shocking and the elegant come together in the subtly – aesthetically – provocative paintings of Abir Karmakar, in their spatial construction, mannerist perspective and their obsessive attention to detail.
I Saw a God Dance, is a short film on the dancer Ram Gopal, by the artist Ayisha Abraham. “In this film, I am caught between the documentary form and something more abstract and experimental,” offered Abraham. “The title reflects the angle I am exploring. I attempt to look at how both in his dance and his real life, Ram Gopal’s quest was to become and to represent God in all the manifestations that play out both on-stage and off-stage.” The film picks up on aspects of the dancer’s “debauched aesthete identity, his need to continue to dress as Indian Royalty through his life, to represent in his myriad dances, the pantheon of Indian Gods”, explained Abraham. “The context is the mid-20th century world of immense change, nationally and internationally.”
Chitra Ganesh is widely recognized for her experimental use of comic and large-scale narrative forms to communicate submerged histories and alternate articulations of femininity to a broader public. She draws from a broad range of material, including the iconography of Hindu, Greek and Buddhist mythology, 19th century European portraiture and fairytales, archival photography, and song lyrics, as well as contemporary visual culture such as Bollywood posters, anime, and comic books. Fragments of poetic language cohere with her visual iconography to produce nonlinear narratives of “unforseen desire and untimely loss, ” offering audiences untold tales from both collectively imagined pasts and distant futures.
By layering disparate materials and visual languages, Ganesh asks her viewers to “seek and consider new narratives of sensuality and power.” In this process the body becomes a site of transgression and transformation, both social and psychic, doubled, dismembered and continually exceeding its limits.
Chittrovanu Mazumdar’s multicultural upbringing in a family of artists and writers in Kolkata and Paris, and his own restlessly seeking temperament, have led to his developing a vocabulary of art which unselfconsciously draws on any manner of aesthetic, literary, and socio-cultural sources and influences.
Mazumdar takes the idea of the show forward to the adoration of the divine, how it can transgress from the devotional to the physical and beyond. The work titled My Sweet Lord talks about transgression and religious binds symbolically represented by dark glistening chains.
A question of existence due to its duality: one being their existence as divinity -which they have traversed, and then the present - a combination of the grotesque and death. The silence remains with me, my camera and the divested deities. It allows the pictures to stand alone, expressing their words for themselves. – Samit Das
As an artist, curator, writer, and cultural activist, Sunil Gupta has made a significant contribution to contemporary art practice and discourse around the globe. Through his work he challenges stereotypes and questions beliefs, by exploring issues of race, gender and related issues of access, place, and identity.
The Pre-Raphaelite group of painters in England were formed to contest the stifling norms of their world; especially assumptions around sensuality and gender. In this series of works Sunil Gupta has chosen to adapt their focus on camp and sensuality and the arrangement of the body and to update it all to visualise a modern Indian identity.
Waswo X. Waswo, New Myths (First Incarnation) – To look back at history and mythology via the lens of the contemporary is a difficult task. One asks questions like where are the beginnings of myths, where does history take primacy and how do religion / rituals function across centuries, in this case, in the Indian scenario. In many instances, like the legend of Krishna, folklore, myth, history and faith become intertwined in such a manner, that it becomes difficult to sift fact from fiction. These photographs are not just passive observations, but become discursive interpolations of multiple narratives/memories/story-telling rituals within and outside the photographic frame. With much humour, Waswo casts a critical eye on the proximate transmission of historical traditions, modern aspirations of liberated sensual mores and the alienating aspects of a hegemonic patriarchal masculinity, examining how stories evolve with time, and mutate with interpretation.
An artist and a Bengali poet, Mithu Sen’s oeuvre of visual art is a keen hybrid of self-reflection and playful expression, punctuated by a dark sense of humor. She nudges her spectators in playing a game of active voyeurism, in which she canvases eroticized images of herself and of others. She experiments with her gendered identity in a self-conscious post-feminist approach. The various recurring motifs in her works have a psychoanalytic reading to them that mobilize an exploration of the subconscious. The ease with which Sen negotiates the public and private realm, enables her works of deep-rooted Indian context to gain a universal significance. Her works satirizes various taboos associated with human existence and try to invert them by adding a dark humor to them.