EXPERIMENTS - five postmodern expressions from Bengal


Postmodern is an expansive term, which is used for art, literature, architecture and philosophy among others. It is essentially a reaction to the idea that reality can be explained objectively – for instance – scientific. In Postmodern, the individual constructs ‘reality’ as it tries to understand its own personal experience of reality.

Postmodernism is skeptical of explanations, which claim to be valid for all groups, communities, traditions, and races. Instead it emphasizes the relative truths of each person. Postmodernism is “post” because it denies the existence of a scientific, philosophical or religious truth which can be applied to everything for everybody. The idea of merging distinctions between high and low art, particularly with the inclusion of aspects of popular, consumerist culture, is also an important element in postmodernism.

In general, movements such as intermedia, installation art, conceptual art, multimedia particularly involving video and digital artwork are described as postmodern.

In this exhibition of five artists, the exploration of the idea of postmodern in the context of present day India, both urban and ‘becoming’ urban will be shown. The artist were not selected on the basis of any theme but looking at their artworks together, reveals a few common threads. The subliminal is a portentous beauty. There is fragility, violence and impermanence in these artists’ work. Viewing them, one may even feel a strange sense of peril. It is this, which makes the exhibition a remarkable and significant art event. You will walk through this show with the words of two postmodern, music heroes, Freddie Mercury and David Bowie going round in your head:

Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you
No man to ask for
Under pressure
That brings a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets
It’s the terror of knowing
What the world is about
Watching some good friends screaming
‘Let me out’
Pray tomorrow gets me higher
Pressure on people, people on streets

The five artists are:

SUMITRO BASAK: His paintings and works of collected assemblages depict or suggests an image of India which is plural, perversely contrary, noisy, packed, tumbling and breaking up but somehow, whole. His art brings to mind, the popular, Bollywood song, Yeh duniya, ek dulhan, dulhan ke maathe ki bindiya, yeh mera India! His work traverses between Desire and Reality, bringing to it a sense of endangerment and fragility.

SHREYASI CHATTERJEE: Chatterjee’s works recall the words of John Szarkowski, who was the Director of the department of photography at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1962. In a speech he gave, Szarkowski had said that: the best teachers of photography, are those who are committed to an openness that leads their students out of and ultimately beyond, photography. Chatterjee’s earlier stitched paintings were imbued with this tension of push (outwardly) and pull (inward). Her most recent works seem to show that the interplay has ended with a crash and what we see are abstract smithereens, of objects flattened by an invisible pressure.

PITAMBAR KHAN: The highways of India and the trucks which ply them, are Khan’s sources of art. He appropriates the language of Truck art, almost now a traditional art form, which is specific to each region of India. For the Truck artists, ‘India is Great’; ‘Ok-Tata’ are not only aesthetic symbols, they reflect the religions, regional and emotional attachments of the painters and are in these homogenous times, the few remaining distinctions. He borrows their messages uses them on modern urban materials like retro-reflective high intensity prismatic sheets, and tarpaulin and in so doing, shows us how the meaning of the message on the truck is converted into visual art symbols with different, more urban interpretations.

SANGITA MAITY: Her imagery is a visual reflection of how the Barbil iron mines of Keonjhar, Odisha have impacted the landscape and lives of the indigenous tribes. Maity’s use of iron sheets as the base of her work, is a point of the art medium co-opting into the message. The photo-etching are another way, Maity suggests fragility and fraught-ness – the old look of the photographs and the process of etching makes the imagery visceral. Her work is filled with a sense of peril.

KINGSHUK SARKAR: Violence isn’t alien to Sarkar. He grew up in Assam amidst its tumultuous period. Allowing tones and colours to shade gradually into each other and making hazy forms create his evocative imagery of softened outlines. It is as if the images were taken surreptitiously with a moving camera. Sarkar has unearthed an ancient paint medium called tempera grassa and natural pigments; It suits his temperament and art practice.

Dates : Mar 18, 2016 - Apr 16, 2016

For enquiries : Animesh Dey [cimagallery@dataone.in]

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