Two young artists, Gautam Kansara and Akshay Rathore explore nostalgia in their creative quests.
The New York-based 32-year-old Gautam, who has been visiting India to see his grandparents in Delhi, has put up his first solo of photo-installations at Shrine Empire Art Gallery located at 7, Friends Colony (West). The collection is from his shoots of over six years. A 14-min video, “Grandma, Ghalib and Me” could be a scene from any poetically-inclined household in India in which ‘Dadima' is fondly translating Ghalib's ghazals like “Ye na thi hamari qismat”, “Guzri hui hai yar ki”, etc. sung by Begum Akhtar, Mohammad Rafi and Ghulam Ali, to a rapt, non-Hindi-speaking Gautam.
Another video, “Don't hurry, don't worry”, shot over six years, is about his family and grandparents who live together and about their daily routine — eating, cooking, concerns on illness, etc., using a combination of long-exposure and motion photography containing the remnants of domestic dramas and private traumas. The sound component is digitally collaged audio extracted from original conversations from around the dining table. In a video called “Health, wealth, fame and name”, accompanied by a photograph of grandmother with her brother, she tells Gautam about how her father participated in the Quit India Movement and raves about Jhansi ki Rani, joyfully singing in her fragile voice “Khoob ladi mardani…”.
In yet another video, Gautam goes to Rangpur, his grandparents' village in Gujarat, after their death, while in the backdrop they share memories of this village which is still the same. Two contrasting photographs of their ancestral house and Gautam's flat in London, complete the picture. Gautam bemoans the loss of culture, language, family bonding, identity and a sense of loneliness that comes with displacement. Says Gautam, “My works consider the void left within our family in the wake my grandparent's death in 2008, our family's subsequent pilgrimage to India to scatter their ashes, and the transformation of their flat in London to mostly vacant rooms, devoid of the bits and pieces of their lives.” Gallery owner Shefali says it is a “total sold out show by new media collectors for a handsome price.”
Akshay Rathore, whose show is mounted at Seven Art Gallery at Greater Kailash-II, laments the displacement caused to him by moving from a small town near Madhya Pradesh to Mumbai and Delhi. His show, “When she is away” addresses indirectly the issues of violence at the internal and societal level.
He uses non-conventional artistic mediums such as vector illustration, animated videos and glass sculpture.
While his “DLF Gurgaon” is a witty still of a store selling dog food and accessories, his “Hustle bustle” is a middle class urban kitchen inviting in its warmth.
The video “Will it snow on Christmas” is a statement of hope, in which he shows the fire from the gun turning into flowers.
His glass installation shows fragile glass guns stuck together to form a tree with blooms. And in his three-dimensional animated lenticular printing (a technology in which a multitude of plastic lenses are used to produce images with an illusion of depth and motion), the glass-structure is repeated with an absolutely different feel and look.
“I come from Chindwara, a small town in MP and lived with buffaloes and stray dogs. When I saw this store at DLF, I was compelled to think how even a dog's life is better in posh Gurgaon houses, while in the same Gurgaon, I have seen the land mafia forcing people to live a dog's life in makeshift cardboard houses.”
Akshay's “Morphosis”, a series of lightboxes, is sold to designer Gaurav Gupta. He plans to showcase it on the ramp at the WIFW this Friday.