Monday, July 4, 2011

Depicting common human experiences in uncommon settings

The artworks, which form part of an interesting group show at Jakarta’s National Gallery, depict common and obvious human experiences that take place in uncommon settings and unusual scenarios.

Among those on display is Arabinda Aich’s ‘Tsunami’ that portrays a group of ubiquitous women who are caught at the cusp of impending disaster, trying to flee and protest from a giant wave. In spite of the subjects’ extraordinary circumstances, viewers cannot help but only sympathize with them, as they exude a binding thread of humanity.

Another work by artist Mahendra Padte prompts viewers to gently empathize with perhaps an unusual subject; it’s the Marvel Comics superhero, Spider-Man or ‘Confused Spiderman’ that portrays this web-suited crime-fighter curiously crouched who is caught brooding on a rock, wings sprouting from his back.

One can see a chameleon above him, clearly standing out from its immediate environ, apparently not in a position to do its usual trick of blending in. An unusual and perplexing pairing this, the duo seems to seek reflection on our part on the universal human concerns of fighting a battle of identity and truth.

The grand heroes of Hindu mythological sagas also surface in some of the works featured in the exhibition. These include ‘Life Story of Lord Krishna’ by Prakasha Sharma. Set in concentric layers, it’s a depiction of the young god’s life narrated in a series of captivating, colorful images that culminate in a portrait of the blue-skinned, bewildering deity.

Another contrasting blend of tradition with a contemporary touch is evident in religious or mythology-inspired art by Anjali Gawali. Her work is entitled ‘Kundalini Yoga’. The title denotes a Sikh-derived spiritual discipline that is based on an amalgamation of meditation and yoga with an aim to awaken in an individual a sense of infinity.

Vivacious visual representations of the different chakras (wheels of energy) are depicted blossoming, ascending and asserting themselves in symmetrical patterns. They are all painted in soothing soft, pastel hues.

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