I am a multidisciplinary artist from Bangalore, studied in MS University. Currently practicing in Bangalore, Karnaraka. My work has developed in number of ways over the years yet from the very beginning of my art practice, I have workded in Painting, Printmaking, Installation, Video Art and Live/ Performance art. My intention is to blend these mediums into an interdisciplinary language.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A CITY OF FLEX - Review by Marta Jakimowicz

Re-flex, the latest project at Bar1 (February 11 to 25), furthered its understated yet quite extraordinary engagement with the city, its character reflecting the approach of Christoph Storz, or Estee Oarsed, whose European and Indian sides seemed to complement each other here as, within his stressing the collaborative process, the curator and theoretician of the event and a participant. 

Remaining an unobtrusive yet vital stimulant, more than a guide, for younger artists in a largely collective effort, he drew their attention once again to the humble qualities of an ordinary, if oppressive, aspect of urban reality for it to reveal some of the nature of this society, on the one hand, and, on the other, actual or subversive connections between the language of art and life. 

The focus was on the omnipresence of flex, the cheap, crudely slick and quick-decaying material for short-span, large-scale advertising which recycled as makeshift protection from the elements ignores the original messages. The artists were asked to refer to the normal practice and either print something on flex or re-use already printed sheets in their own ways in the expectation of appropriating or commenting on popular culture, its imagery, content and aesthetics and possibly interpreting the physicality and sculptural potential of two-dimensional flex to perhaps reflect on it as a novel art medium. 

Of the over twenty artists only a few directly addressed the physical condition of flex, the prime being Storz’s sagging wigwam, an older work now transformed in collaboration with hole-making rats, the fragility of his art bound to that of patterns of living. Whereas Shivaprasad S. with friends somewhat literally used flex to announce his documentary project and Sheela Gowda printed on it the raw innards of smashed advertising light boxes as evidence of socio-political vengeance, Oarsed again diverted the dominant iconography and hierarchy of political posters with their rows of heads and enlarged leader figures to bring out the underlying violent hypocrisy, all the more convincing against a collection of regular banners. 

Socio-political response prevailed elsewhere too, Alaka Rau P effectively turning recycled sheet-raincoats into emblems of humanity under advertisement deluge, and Mangala A M’s briefs paid sarcastic homage to the inert might of the bureaucrat. Spectacular as three-dimensional forms plying with surface flatness, the works of Biju Joze, V G Venugopal and Aishwaryan K were not immediately clear speaking about confiscation of flex by authorities, loudness of advertisements and politicians’ sham gestures. 

Suresh Kumar Gopalareddy and Dimple B Shah built complex, architectural environments evoking the position of farming metamorphosing and disappearing amid urbanisation and shabbiness of slums, while Prakash L and Anjana Kothamachu alluded to advertising images and words to denounce their environmental conscience and seductive power. Others took a more positive attitude to re-use the ugly material converting it into things of expressiveness, utility and beauty. 

If Charitha made umbrellas with her parents’ faces in half-shade, Suresh Kumar Gopalareddy embellished it with traditional beads, Smitha Cariappa, Archana Prasad and Meghana Rao had handbags and an apron stitched - elegant, poetically flimsy or mischievously juxtaposing existent figures, Mohammad Yunees and Ameer conjured a big scarecrow and tiny wind wheels, while Shiva Prasad K T, Mohan Kumar T and Urmila V G threaded bits of flex into alluring serpentine beings and a chandelier. 

Re-shaping aesthetic sides and fragments of printed flex for decorative and painterly abstract qualities, Chaitra Puthran, M G Kulkarni and Rakesh Kallur created unassumingly light works, whilst Ravi Shah took a simple, direct action painting and sculpting with the rough, flexible surface for tangible, valid discoveries. 

Display being inherently important to the collaborative endeavour, one appreciated the instances when original banners linked with the works referring to them, even though the expected dominance of vast faces as in the city space did not come through, its sporadic examples locating mutual enhancement beside the large equivalent by Shivaprasad S or opposite the glamorous female in Biju Joze’s piece. The much crowded, even invasive whole indeed captured and refigured some of the street reality while often connecting and contrasting individual works. 

Although the roughness and rawness of some pieces were adequate to the source of inspiration, one wondered why not so many of the participants wished to adopt and react to the overwhelming crudeness of the reality that holds its own expressiveness, preferring instead interpretations either dictated by distanced and frequently not evident commentary or by an aesthetised re-structuring that sometimes tended to depart too much from the inherent properties of the material. Such reservations notwithstanding, the exhibition was an exceptional eye opener.

Marta Jakimowicz, Feb 26, 2012

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