Zones of Convergence/ Divergence brings together five young art practitioners whose artistic explorations are located in different creative milieus. This exhibition is an attempt to build connections between their diverse bodies of work and initiate a dialogue through the probable points of convergence while also tapping into nodes of divergences.
Arshad Hakim works primarily with photographs, text-based pieces and videos building narratives that are fragmented, non-linear and structurally undo themselves. Mithra Kamalam builds fabled narratives using metaphors that stem from personal and collective history with a carefully employed medium and material. Puja Mondal’s paintings evoke personal experiences with the immediate social world by bringing in poetry, popular visual imagery and text. Sabyasachi Bhattacahrjee uses digital medium deploying the genre of motion pictures by playfully manipulating the static and moving in the complex collages of the urban landscapes. Umesh Singh’s practice revolves around biodegradable organic material and substances creating stark visuals which speak about the struggles of the communities, especially of the farmers. Zones of Convergence/ Divergence features some of the important works from each of these artists.
A significant trajectory these artworks demonstrate is the way they traverse between the present and the past. While doing so they seize the temporal and the mystical zones and create nuanced spaces for the viewers to wander within. Inspired by myths from various pictorial traditions, Mithra recreates a world that is a culmination of existent present and bygone past. Her paintings featured here portray the magical with autobiographical references. Puja adopts the traditional genre of portraiture from the pictorial traditions and recreates the portraits of the protagonists of the present times. The miniaturesque vocabulary becomes a conceptual tool that replaces the kings and queens from the past with the (extra) ordinary persons of our present. Umesh’s brush drawings document the despair, disturbance, and uncertainties brought down by the pandemic into the lives of the common people. The mob and their actions are arrested in his imagery while the struggle depicted here becomes eternal, resonating with the histories of such struggles. Sabyasachi’s digital videos playfully look at the cycle of transition the landscapes and structures undergo. The structures, be it monuments, shrines, huts, ruins, collage into a seemingly chaotic but at the same time an orderly world as the human or natural interventions in relation to these spaces presents as a mechanized process. Arshad digital videos weave narratives referencing ﬁlmic sources, mythology, political and philosophical frameworks. He forms connections between disparate visual elements form unrelated spaces/ sources creating a newer narrative and a timeless zone for the fragmented thoughts and sensations – setting a counter-narrative to the rest of the artworks in this exhibition.
The image of the self and other is another facet of exploration these artworks offer. Mithra depicts herself as the protagonists as she addresses the spiritual and corporeal body around her autobiographical self, exploring the body, gender and self. Puja sees self in the other and in the heroic acts that inspire her. By the act of paying tribute to her protagonists, she positions herself with the other. Umesh locates himself as the community/mass he portrays by becoming one among the innumerable. The struggles he captivates serve as a point of self-reflection. Sabyasachi visually situates himself within the urban geography through referencing self and self as other. He creates roles for himself in the plots and becomes a spectator/ viewer to his own self. Arshad employs his body to enact that bring out the sense of dislodged consciousness and connections.
The zone of the natural and material world of the human surroundings strongly comes across as a trajectory for reading in all these artworks. Sabyasachi creates a distant view of a dense world of human habitation that consists of trees, buildings, industries, machines or motorized vehicles, and bizarre imaginary mechanisms. Contrast to this, Arshad chooses to provide an intimate view of the carefully chosen elements like heat, flame, or food, producing sensorial effects in the way he makes the familiar into an abstract element. Mithra brings in an array of images – sun, moon, birds, fruits, clothes – creating an intersection between the scientific illustrations and her own narratives. The cut fruits are juxtaposed with the human body parts whereas some of these elements evolve into three-dimensional forms. In Puja’s painted folios, the botanical illustrations are subverted with hidden elements like weapons, providing a contrasting purpose to their otherwise presumed role of enhancing the beauty of the composition. Umesh’s indistinguishable figures embrace their belongings like baggage, barn, or tools. One of his prints featured here shows portraiture of a set of objects related to the farmers’ daily life alongside the skeletal labouring bodies.
These artworks are layered with several such intersecting zones that are open to a nuanced reading. This exhibition is an attempt to draw upon some such key connections between these divergent bodies of works and modes of the practices of these artists.
Text and photo: The Guild Art Gallery, Alibaug