India Art Fair, 2018


At the heart of Chittrovanu Mazumdar’s work sits the inevitable tension between dark and light. Darkness forms a first impression. Swelling and pervasive, it evokes vulnerability and desire. In the dark, we experience blindness and our surroundings are illegible. His work is the story of this long night.

The emergence of light is subdued and revelatory. It is a light that is precious, only allowed to flicker and dim for fear it will be lost. This is not the light of Kolkata, the artist’s home, a sprawling, electrified city in Eastern India. Mazumdar evokes the light of Jharkhand, a small, impoverished state. He returns to Jharkhand again and again, to the land passed down from his father, experiencing the endless darkness of this alien place. There, light is an experience beyond commodity. In Jharkhand, light is deified.

The land is barren and empty for the most part, except for a small house and a temple. Many of the photographs Mazumdar embeds in his works are composed of this place, its inherent voids and constant decay.

Mazumdar's work parcels out access in starts and pauses – like memories, they are not always available in their entirety. Photographs and objects are fragments of a missing whole. Desire forms the spinal column of his work, connecting one flicker, one image to another – a desire that is unanswered and unrealizable – focusing on that which cannot be met, cannot be retrieved.

Jagannath Panda’s works continue with his characteristic collage technique, in which the surface of the canvas or sculpture is built up with the addition of brocade fabrics, blended together to create the skins of beasts and feathers of birds, to mimic foliage or approximate man-made surfaces. This hybridized surface treatment corresponds with many of the artist’s themes, which focus on moments, locations and icons that are in a state of flux, caught between oppositions that are being reconciled only with both anxiety and confusion. Panda’s portraits of the burgeoning new city of Gurgaon (where he lives and works) illustrate the tensions to be found there, as over-development threatens natural habitats and infrastructures prove to be inadequate even before they are completed. Likewise, Panda’s mix of the mythological and the realistic points to the disorienting nature of Indian identity today, as it hopes to synthesize the traditional and the contemporary, the indigenous and the international, the imaginary and the actual.

Mithu Sen's practice stems from a strong drawing background that has extended into video, sculpture, installations, and sound works that further draw the viewer into her psyche. In addition to popular images that she turns into puns, many of the recurring motifs in her dreamlike works, such as teeth, birds, and spinal columns, have deeper psychoanalytic readings that tie into our subconscious thoughts about sexuality.  These diverse materials are used as metaphors in her works, where the simple game of life in performance becomes a poetic evocation of human existence. 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 satirize various taboos associated with human existence and try to invert them by adding a dark humor to them.

M Pravat’s work has a long ongoing engagement with the fluctuating optics and fluid materiality’s of architectural forms and built environments of today. His practice over the years has been an unceasing curiosity and experimentation with the very elements that constitute our experience of architecture. Space, enclosures, material densities, different kinds of opacities and porosities, circulations and flows, the wear and tear of things, and multiple kinds of accumulation have been some of the most recurring preoccupations in Pravat's work. Given how society’s relationship with space, environment and built structures changes from place to place, his practice has been a constant process of testing, adapting and reworking objects, images, and spaces of his immediate surroundings ranging from his own studio, to abandoned buildings, to museums, and outdoor spaces.               

In Pravat’s latest series of works, he brings together a condensed experience of a world where geometries are inverted and the solid, liquid and gaseous become interchangeable states.

Sachin W Bonde contextualizes the inherent dichotomies that connect two forms of Power together- one being political power and the other energy. His work questions the relationship between electric grids that traverse our earth and grids of political alliances.

He extends oil politics into realms of personal space and conceptual questions of materiality.  He mimics industrial materials and techniques to create an assemblage of prints, sculptures and installations to criticise the relationship oil, metals and natural resources have to common quotidian lives such as of his own.

Says Bonde, “The ears are like the ears of the earth, where the earth imagines our desires and is constantly supplying us with our needs but we, humans are actually creating an imbalance between the earth and the world. Sounds Good also symbolizes Gross Domestic Product.  Every country has their own GDP and the value of the currency in every country depends on its GDP, especially in India where the cost of goods or material gets higher and higher each day.”

Shibu Natesan is a painter, engaged in unique forms of realism, paired with an inclination for fantasy as well as political consciousness. He draws equally from the legacies of magic realism, as well as from social documentary. While his canvases carry lightness in their symbolic use and a rich color palette, there is always an ironic sentiment that alludes to the artist’s upbringing in Kerala in the 1980s and its underlying context of class consciousness, left politics, and feudal history. There is something more profound to be drawn from these artworks, that don't always meet the eye at a surface reading. The gap between what is seen and that, which remains unseen, yet expressed, is a precise suggestion on the mass consumption of images in our contemporary world.

Known to be a constant innovator, Sunil Gawde works on ambitious, large-scale sculptures and dynamic installations. His work, often metaphysical and metaphorical, takes shape as he mutates complex philosophy with ubiquitous objects from day-to-day life to which he gives a new interpretation. He dramatically increases their scale so their function or utility turns immaterial and the viewer is presented with a radically new perspective.

Says Gawde about Still Alive III, "The elephant is an embodiment of great mass and strength, while the egg is of fragility and a bearer of new life. The egg balances this emblem of unimaginative practicality upon its end with a superb disregard for logic and feasibility without getting crushed. This work is a surrealistic metaphor of the might to withstand the mighty.  The world is turning currently towards an illogical direction. Our will to withstand with dignity, honour, and faith in oneself is our strength."

India Art Fair, 2018