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Of popcorn and bananas

Mocking and disturbing images of a use-and-throw culture are on display at the Galerie Sara Arakkal

The artists have come up with a sensitive response to what's going on around us.

THE COLLABORATIVE show, titled Use/Throw currently on at the Galerie Sara Arakkal, brings together 10 artists — five each from Bangalore and Baroda. While the theme of the exhibition has provided a stimulating platform to explore a unique if disturbing aspect of our contemporary reality, it is to their credit that the artists have presented a refreshing and sensitive response to it through their works.

Some of them have looked at the physical aspect of the seemingly all-pervasive use-'n'-throw' phenomenon, even as others reflect upon the more complex psychological implications that often bear socio-political undertones. In a very simple but effective way, C.R. Nanaiah in his work, Untitled/ (Condemned To Choices) takes on the advertisement that proclaims `whichever you choose, you make a cool choice'.

Nanaiah's own choice is obviously anything but cool, as he plays around with different fonts of the same ad-line. Using the wall space of the gallery itself to fasten vinyl stickers, the artist's show of indignation at the assault being perpetrated by commercials is obvious.

S. Gopinath is a young sculptor who has already made a name through his varied and meticulously executed works. For the current exhibition, he takes the political path to wonder how power shifts take place in time and space.

101 Horse Power Chair for Saddam is an elaborate work incorporating several symbolic motifs like the black-and-white squares of the chess board, steps that lead to an emblematic seat of power and of course, the heads of horses themselves. The neatly accomplished and graceful work incorporates ceramic (stone ware), gold leaf, wood, paint, magnet and steel to effectively communicate its concern about the disposability (use / throw) of powerful individuals involved in political manoeuvres.

Suresh Kumar's Mock Memorial for a Machine is another wry commentary on our contemporary times using the symbol of a much used and abused road roller itself becoming a discarded monument. Biju Joze's Faith Incorporated, a skeletal image created using twisted cane and nylon cable ties, fashions hollow spaces within the meditating figure to create a haunting impact.

In his untitled work, Pradeep converts an old photo album into a contemplative piece of art by pasting old matchbox covers and interspersing the pages with his thoughts on swelling consumerism. "In an age of hype and hyper reality, simulation and appearance means more than substance and reality," he writes on one page, while in another he realises that "signs and images no longer bear any correspondence to the real world, but create their own hyper reality."

If the Bangalore artists are incisive and evocative, their Baroda counterparts are no less lively in their creative reflections and expressions. Vinod A. Patel focuses on the ordinary popcorn in his work, Love Cones. Made of paper pulp, the pieces are seen just strewn all around with only the empty box sitting pretty on a two-seater. The box is another lively but mocking symbol thanks to the slogan it bears: Love corn khao, love pe jaao! Soon the viewer also realises that the cone comes `free with two tickets for Murder'.

Alok Bal's work is untitled but makes an even starker commentary of the times when he uses newspapers and magazine cuttings he pastes along the paper cutouts bearing human genitalia and breasts. The repetitiveness of some of the images and deliberately sequenced structure enhances the disturbing ambiance.

Rajib Chowdhury's Body/ Soul/Container/Content is another comment on consumerism when he creates a coffin-like box that contains soft drink containers — some real and others phoney replicas. Birendra Pani's Fundamental Fulmination using serigraphy, printouts, disposable syringes and cotton, and Deepak Khatri's half-peeled banana, around which are strewn dollar disks, make their own piercing socio-political statements.

The exhibition concludes on January 18.


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