January 4, 2015

Art speak: Avinash Veeraraghavan and Pieter Schoolwerth's Fragmented Selves

It's been quite a while since I last spoke/wrote in the 'art' language and I got the opportunity to do so when I recently reviewed artists, Avinash Veeraghavan and Pieter Schoolwerth's works at Galleryske, New Delhi, which is tucked away in the capital's Connaught Place. I loved Avinash's intricate memory-maps and the idea of Pieter being inspired by a malfunctioning vacuum cleaner, of all objects. 

Now that I am in arguably India's museum and gallery epicenter, Delhi, I am looking forward this year to discovering new artists, engaging with stimulating art and of course, writing all about it:)

Read the review below...

Avinash's mind/memoryscapes

Currently showing at Galleryskye, New Delhi, Avinash Veeraraghavan and Pieter Schoolwerth's works, “We Don't See What Things Are, We See What We Are” and “Your Vacuum Sucks” interrogate the notion of multiple subjectivities and fragmented selves. 

Avinash's dense, intricate visual collages are mind/memoryscapes dotted with personal signifiers as well as documenting the explosion of signs and symbols one constantly encounters nowadays. They embody the essence of his work which Avinash says could be read as a celebration of the immensely hybrid and cross pollinated cultural times we live in. “It is a comment on our identities' heterogeneous nature today, which makes it more and more difficult to group people into singular categories of nationhood or culture,” he says referring to his fictional maps, Ithri Folami, Elorio, and N.E Dara. “On the other hand, it's also a forcing together of contradictions and opposites that is the nature of the world we live in,” he says. Erupting with profusion, texture, and image, when the works are seen from a sufficient distance though, there is an unity even to this fragmentation, everything seemingly connected to everything else. “My journey was an imagined glimpse into the connected nature of things,” he describes. 

Fragmented Selves

Avinash wrestles with the notion of a fragmented self through his masks, overlaid one another, which refer to the absence of the concrete, singular 'I'; rather, it is a collaging of parts, pattern, and habit. This jigsawing of multiple selves nevertheless contains the latent and omnipresent awareness of everything ultimately all falling apart. Decay razors through the works' visual and psychological fecundity. “There has been a kind of exhaustion at the end of my journey...both in terms of the body as well as psychologically in terms of structures one held dear and to be true. The decay in the narrative is the inevitable entropy of ageing and perhaps, even an acceptance of one's limitation,” he says. The artists mentions that this body of work is a part of a larger body and narrative that has been his practice in general. “My work has been generally rather autobiographic and often quite opaque to the outside reader. I have attempted with this show to open up the story a bit to make it a bit more universal and accessible,” he concludes. 

The Tangled Inspirations of a Vacuum Cleaner

A malfunctioning vaccum cleaner led American artist, Pieter Schoolwerth to remark, “This vaccum sucks'! “If it didn't suck it wouldn't be a vacuum. In other words, performing the function of 'sucking' is precisely what creates its identity, yet if it doesn't work properly it still possesses and maintains this same identity - it sucks. There is only one end result in the use of and experience of a vacuum. And the fact that this word can be used both to designate a everyday appliance as well as a larger model for the abstraction of social space (as in “I feel like I’m living in a vacuum”) made this linguistic conundrum intriguing,” he distils the genesis of his work. 

 His explorations of the terrain of vacuum resulted in a film, Your Vacuum Sucks (in collaboration with Alexandra Lerman) in which the lead character has been digitally erased from the image. Appearing as a hole, a shadow, or a mirror of his properly embodied friends and coworkers, he engages in a series of exchanges in which he attempts to negotiate the nature of his existence, whereby he is present to others entirely through his own visual absence. “I have long been interested in how the ever-changing forces of abstraction in the world effect the task of representing the human body. This ongoing investigation has caused me to think about how one forms an idea of another’s bodily presence, and how to represent the compression of space and time that is such a familiar part of day-to-day communication,” he says 

Collage of Thoughts

Schoolwerth presents the video in conjunction with paintings and collages, commenting that he has come to feel “that presenting a dialectic of still and moving images can do something different than painting can do by itself.” He also explores the idea that video might be able to open up a new space for painting, a newly destabilized space-less ground zero of sorts in which the body of paint itself could be liberated. 


This review originally appeared in ArtSlant over here

January 1, 2015

2015's First Sunrise...

As a child, I was always super excited about the first day of the new year. I loved collecting the newspaper in the morning and unrolling it to see the year's new digits emblazoned across the top. A new year. A new year. Cutting to the present, I have consistently been writing a year-gone-by-musing entry on 31st December in my journal for the last many years; however, I cannot remember the last time I wrote an ode to the first day though. That gleeful childish perception of new year = new beginnings and opportunities had long dissipated with time and I always found myself inclined to treat the day as any other mundane day (which is the way I am increasingly treating my birthdays as well!)


This year, though, I woke up early to go sunrise-glimpsing at one of my favorite beaches in Oman. When we arrived at the Corniche, there were only few people around; a couple of fishermen were standing by their boats, sorting through heaps of bright green and blue nets while others vigorously walked or jogged. Scrambling down to the beach, we observed sea-birds swimming in the sea or congregated by the waves, standing at the exact point where water meets earth, presumably to have breakfast. Whenever we approached them, they would swiftly rise up and fly in the air, en masse, sometimes in star-like constellations, other times, in a linear, pulsating line.

Hide and Seek
I am not a morning person - and so, watching the sun-rise is a hugely rare occasion for me. Today, as I alternately walked and paused along the shore, glimpsing the sun play hide and seek with the clouds, its light tinting the water in sherbet-colors, I found myself doubly admiring a sunrise's specific beauty -  and experiencing a surge of possibility that had eluded me for many a January 1st. I did not know what to attribute the change to - in any case, that was of little significance. What mattered was that sense of - potential.

Feather of Hope

I have lately developed a habit of summarising the years gone by in one-word descriptors; if 2013 was the year of 'play', then 2014 was subsequently 'lesson.' This morning, conversing with the sea and sky and the seemingly infinite spaces in solitude, a word suddenly and intensely sailed into my mind, like a meteor: 'creation.' It was not the time to ponder as to what or how exactly I would create; all I knew was that I had to create. And, so, with this message reverberating in my mind, like a tune of a song just heard and already become dearly loved, I have started my day and year.

 Here's wishing my readers a very happy, peaceful, healthy, and above all, fulfilling New Year!!