Art review

Art review

Experience in synaesthesia

From the tangible immediacy of slow, direct observation of apparently simple things and from the body-eye-and-soul attuning there arise poetic intuitions about the nature of our reality and its duration in the present condition as immersed in a timeless past.

The highly visual character of the works carries in it a synaesthetic integration of light
and movement, of touch and sound, while the sheer beauty of the images not only stems from the palpable roughness of the actual but encompasses an empathetic look at humanity on the grass-roots level and a quietly pained one at socio-political and religious turbulence.

In the finesse of the minimalist imagery sourced from sights close-by there is dormant a conscious, complex reflection of how art of different kinds perceives and represents impressions of and thoughts about reality.

The almost hour-long video “Song for an ancient land”, part I may be demanding, but if one tunes in to its pace, the experience becomes unforgettably enchanting, profound and uplifting.

In sequences of with day-time traffic, fruit and watch vendors, nocturnal fireworks, landscapes and people at twilight and dawn, close-ups and panoramic shots, there comes a feel of life’s being going on now as a continuation of epochs immemorial, of human existence as part of the fluid lasting of the elements.

When the camera registers the views in real time, one can sense the motion of one’s perception along with the process of the artist’s bodily approaching and observing-absorbing things and their auras as those unfold at their own tempo, natural illumination, colours and darkness cooperating with almost merging with the behaviour of the film.

The frequent blurring of the view allows the spectator to deeper feel its tangible optical essence along with its link to sound rhythms. Voices, indistinct car and life noises are layered by sounds of wind and water as well as the steady tanpura music, which brings another dimension to the pulse of the whole – both fleeting and eternal over a space which remains concrete and endless. Part II of the video brings into focus a motif latent in Part I – a tentative as desired, though based in reality, resolution of opposite or clashing existential situations and formal qualities.

Like before, the wonderful property of the work is the lyrical, conscious and subtle, whilst often raw, suggestiveness which through sensation bears on drastic social issues. The role and place of memory is conjured by the artist registering his acts of shooting photographic documents of the post Ayodhya riots in Mumbai, when his camera creates his own very aesthetic but also disturbingly honest images from the original images, the angles of approaching and the shine on the surface inducing the gap of time and stand.

Against that inconceivable violence, normal scenes and activities at present appear upside-down, although Mohanty encloses a symbiotic blend of the directly visible which holds tactility in its textures and the aesthetically sublimated by art, as he alludes to painting composition and still-life.

A yearning for reconciliation of human enmity enters in the alluringly lyrical shots from around a Sufi shrine. Symbolic as well as purely evocative, they combine misty, shimmering images and clear actual and metaphorical ones. Those are followed by an instinctive reconciliation of different races and religions mingling in an American street and in the ordinary presence of Indian Muslims including a musician.

Whereas the film can only parallel touch, Mohanty’s installation “In Memory” complements the video grounding the other sensorial experiences in the physicality of touch.

The visitor is walking barefoot on the grass with dry leaves and regions of different smooth pebbles and rough rocks, and sets off recordings of the wind and sea waves mixing with urban sounds which overlap with the clinking of stones under one’s skin.

An utterly immediate, compact and carnal sensation slowly gains a meditative quality while opening out onto the elemental pulsation in time and expanse which seems to hold the potential of music.
 
Sensitive intimacy

The mostly smallish etchings by Bhaskar Vadla (Mahua, May 5o to 20) had a roughly sensitive intimacy in their evocation of the strange – disturbing and yet positively embedded relationship between earth-mover machinery and the soil they excavate.

Using repetition in variants, the artist connected both these elements through complex, grainy textures and contours that assimilate some of their qualities, while enhancing the sense of motion and interaction by introducing multiple frontal grid frames.

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