War, life and colours in a visual canvas (Weekly Art Column, Rainbow Palette, With Images)

March 6th, 2009 - 12:24 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) Contemporary artist Praneet Soi’s figure studies are inspired by the horrors of the 9/11 terrorist attack, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, fundamentalism, and the problems of immigration in the US and Europe. His works are now on display in the national capital in a solo show “Still, Life”.

Soi, who works out of Amsterdam and Kolkata, is displaying his works comprising archival images spread in four frames of 30 photographs, cutouts, line drawings, large-format canvases and sculptures at the Vadehra Art Gallery here. The show closes March 21.

This is the first time Soi is exhibiting his archival images - many of which are repeats in different formats. They are mostly self-portraits and those of friends like artist Carlos Amorales, shot in a makeshift podium inside his studio.

The most powerful images are those of Soi in the nude - recreating iconic poses of torture victims at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the falling figures from the twin towers in New York when they were bombed.

The works are in series like Disasters of War, Juggernaut, Birds and Angelus Nevus.

“Disasters of War comments on the torture of Iraq war - images of the beheading and abuse that came out of the country,” explained Soi, who arrived in Europe when fundamentalism was being linked to immigration.

Juggernaut - which recurs in both sculptures and canvases - is the burden of a fallen man, Soi himself, who is hauled piggyback by friend Amorales.

Angelus Nevus is a play between sculpture and painting, while Birds is a collaborative series on ravens in psychedelic colours.

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Urban Cowboy

Artist Manoj Upadhyay, a graduate of the Delhi College of Art, likes to play with monochrome colours and snatches of urban life.

Twenty of his works - titled “The Silent Viewer” - are on display at the Visual Arts Gallery in the India Habitat Centre. The show of figurative studies based on the everyday life of people in the metropolis is presented by Gallery Pioneer and will close March 27.

From the street vendor, the gardener with his hose, the young rag picker and the lone girl hiding behind bushes to young lovers, gay couples and the lonesome individual - all struggle for identity in Manoj’s canvases.

His works are in dull shades of ochre, blue, green and brick-red, while his lines are thick and fluid - like curvy patterns. And silent. Each frame is marked by an element of self-introspection.

“In the last two years, I have seen art flow with the world. But the still sector - an internal quality which makes art lasting - has disappeared. Artists are more concerned about the market. Art also shows a tendency towards abstraction,” said filmmaker and art critic K. Vikram Singh.

“But I see a new maturity in Manoj because his new works are similar to that of Sudhir Patwardhan. Manoj has been concentrating on figurative art - with more emphasis on drawing.”

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Raw Strokes

Rahul Sikri loves to play with raw colours and textures, which sometimes appear three-dimensional on the surface.

A self-taught artist, Sikri, born in 1970, fills his monochromatic (single colour) canvases with shadowy human shapes. They are inhabited either by demons or by fairies and sometimes speak of conflicts as the raw colours collide to merge into a violent mosaic.

Three of his still lives - studies of flowers - are culled from European modernism of the late 19th century and the early 20th century, but are heavily layered with paints.

“They are open to interpretations,” says Manu Dosaj, the owner of Gallery Alternatives, which has put together the exhibition at the Experimental Art Gallery in the India Habitat Centre. The show closes March 27.

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