Art reviews


Human nests

Srinivasa Prasad, installation ''Sometime it all has to end''

Standing among Srinivasa Prasad’s sculptures in “Someday it all has to end” (Galleryske, September 3 to October 7), the viewer experiences being almost tangibly surrounded by a live city of bird nests. The see-through volumes are woven using slender twigs of wild bamboo held by wire, their delicacy contradicted by the sharpness of the thorns.

The subtle-rudimentary forms inspired by avian homes instantly generate a grave kind of tenderness. Enlarged enough to relate to the scale of the human frame, their immediacy is felt in a carnal manner and yet with the distance of disquiet and reflection.

The nests seem to have accommodated as well as abstracted the shape and repose or slow dynamism of the human body and of landscape, thus blending recognition of natural behaviour in the micro and macro plane. Throughout, an intuition of tightly soft protectiveness remains permeated by that of harshness, flimsiness, fragility and discomfort, as the empty cocoons, on the one hand, envelop and adjust to the absent body, and on the other, entrap it and suggest sinking.

Their simultaneously intimate and monumental plasticity is built with graphic qualities of twigs-lines whose surfaces conjure sensuous yet nearly immaterial volumes in an interaction with light and shadows that change somewhat with the spectator’s motion. Static objects resting on the floor, they nevertheless appear to be balancing suspension, as if about to roll over or fall.

Through sheer sensation, through rough and raw, exquisitely poetic, intangible-tactile properties, the works, indeed, create the intended metaphor for the temporariness and discomposure of our transitory homes that epitomise the desire for sheltering but turn into hollow shells in the reality of the post-modern nomad.

The embodied nests hesitate on the verge of transformation and movement as though they were performing objects enacting existential processes of shaping, dismantling and reshaping. This vital element is enhanced by the presence of Srinivasa in his installation artwork as performance artist in carpenter-like overalls with tools weaving new nests from a stack of bamboo branches. If conjuring tentative volumes in space from open, linear forms has been explored of late, locally by artists such as Sheela Gowda, Valsan Kolleri and Ranjani Shettar, Srinivasa Prasad’s is an original and authentic contribution here.

View from the edge

The “Moment, intercepted” title can be an evocative pointer to the paintings of M S Prakash Babu shown in the dual exhibition at Time & Space (September 17 to 26). The long break was beneficial to him brining now an unexpectedly different body of work characterised by maturity and genuineness, a direct but personal engagement in reality and aesthetic soundness that combines the raw with finesse.

The canvases offer an intimate insight into and a broader perception of the current world with its equations of political and economic power, the structure of its hold on society along with the beautiful spectacle it projects and the duress and cruelties it inflicts. The artist looks at it all as though inconspicuously appearing to absorb what is on official display.

He views it yet on his own, from a side or edge, even back vantage looking slowly, steadily and gently but with increasing intensity and acuteness. He focuses on seemingly unimportant fragments of the spectacle only to discover the embodiments and mechanisms of might. Many of his scenes refer to newspaper photographs with negotiating politicians and accompanying accoutrements from opulent furniture to seated first ladies. We see, however, only vast fragments of spaces and cropped figures without heads. The meaning is sensed all the stronger that it comes subtly from the arrangement of such backgrounds-stages and expressions of poses or gestures in close-up accentuated by sporadic sharp details. The pastel delicacy of this realism is filtered-blurred through memory without losing its bite. The experience of filmmaking and newsroom must have shaped this very genuine and original idiom.

   One cannot, though, accept Giridhar Khasnis’s curatorial claim, since the work of B Devaraj does not link here either by similarity or significant contrast in the subject and language.

In fact, Devaraj aims at the impact of endurance striving to imbue the essentialist figure of self-suggestiveness with contemplative qualities where the human condition aspires for anchoring in mortal, spiritual and aesthetic values in a landscape of disquietingly steady gravity not devoid of soaring, dotted by symbols-signs that blend the personal and artistic with the organic, archaic and iconic.

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