Sunday, August 26, 2012

Works by Sudhir Patwardhan and K. P. Reji at The Guild

An interesting group show, entitled ‘A Floating Object’, as part of the Guild Collection – Series I – 2012 includes works by several talented artists like  Gieve Patel, Gulammohammed Sheikh, K. P. Reji, Prajakta Potnis, Sudhir Patwardhan, Sumedh Rajendran, Tushar Joag, and Zakkir Hussain.

Sudhir Patwardhan’s 1976 oil on canvas work ‘Couple’ seems to refer to the teeming albeit constrictive nature of the Mumbai people, as an accompanying note by Renuka Sawhney elaborates. In it a man and a woman sit side by side, the woman’s torso faces forward while her head faces right, away from the man. The man sits with one hand in his lap and one on the woman’s thigh.

Set within the brooding dark background, which offsets the skin of the couple, the portrait of an intimate space, a dark brooding alienating space, echoing repressive sexuality mingled with discontent and stoic acceptance. The skin of the couple is glowing in some parts of the upper torso, the color of golden beetroots in the sun, while in the lower half, deeper yellow ochre.

A few sections of the skin ranging from vivid green to bruised and darkened browns and rust, suggests decay, and fear. The work is both evocative and deeply disturbing and presents the couple as figures that speak of isolation and familiarity echoing the nature of the human, as an individual and as a part of a whole, constantly negotiating between the sense of the incomplete and the inevitable.

On the other hand, K. P. Reji works usually work as tableaus, with several figures performing acts on/within the same visual plane. The removal of hierarchies, of planes of action effectively removes comparisons of inside and outside. Yet again there is a conflict between the acts of being and the transient nature of being.  More importantly there is subtle friction between the two that also extends to the telling of disjointed narratives, occurring simultaneously on the same plane.

In his works on canvas the line between private and public is deliberately blurred; as such a frame is removed. Just as the walls in his constructions of houses are removed and stripped of their protective measures, so are the protagonists of their garb, essayist Renuka Sawhney points out.

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