"Illegal" by Anita Dube is a compelling and persuasive body of work

Artist Anita Dube has over a period of time evolved an aesthetic language that incorporates everyday objects derived from commercial, craft and vernacular sources. She employs everyday materials, images, and objects in such a way that meanings resonate far beyond local and prosaic associations.

Her new solo show 'Illegal' at Gallery Ske, Bangalore, features a compelling and persuasive body of work. She uses light boxes, architectural forms and contemporary stained glass to examine images of the conflicts that appear to define our contemporary times.

Through her work, the artist explores a divergent range of subjects, which address a profound concern for loss and regeneration - both autobiographical and societal. Her work is determinedly individualized yet provocatively informed by its cultural context. In many of her creations, Anita Dube has worked on geography as a determinant of an extended cultural identity.

Employing a variety of found objects drawn from the realms of the industrial (foam, plastic, wire), craft (thread, beads, velvet), the body (dentures, bone), and the readymade (ceramic eyes), Dube investigates a very human concern with both personal and societal loss and regeneration. This use of the sculptural fragment to subtly invoke a humanist critical agenda is an expression of her artistic agenda to tangentially address the social through metaphorical means. Her sculpture, by fabricating mass-produced ceramic eyes fabricated, was part of the Venice Biennale's first ever exhibition of Indian artists .She was one of the six artists chosen to showcase her work as part of the show to represent the vital discourse of contemporary art practices in India.

Born in 1958, she is trained as an art historian and critic. Her work has been featured in several prestigious group exhibitions internationally, including 'Alchemy' at the Stephen Lawrence Gallery, University of Greenwich, U.K. (2002); 'ARS 01' at Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki and 'How Lattitudes Become Forms' at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The artist has developed her sculptural practice through her involvement with the Indian Radical Painters and Sculptors Association, a group of young artists formed in the 1980s in Baroda, known for its self-styled critical social and political consciousness.

The singular focal piece in her new solo show is basically a large installation of fretwork, which mimics a familiar architectural device - Islamic inlaid with stained glass. In this case images from the Iraq war serve like multiple points of illumination. The artist engages directly with the mediatic or received image, newspaper and television imprint of the war, of scenes of loss and degradation.

The artist refers to the fact that stained glass belongs to both the Islamic and the Christian faiths, carrying within it the idea of the precious, the sacred and the decorative. She makes for other profanations in this usage - the fretwork itself is industrial thermocole made to resemble terracotta, thus impaling the image of the people within a cultural marker of an ancient and once proud civilization.

Elsewhere in this complex body of work she creates sculptural pieces that mark the trajectory of her work and thought processes. The found object, in this case a piece of thermocole with its uncanny resemblance to a bombed out building, gets a perfectly applied skin of bandage and a spill of red illumination. These structures then turn sentinels to the violence like the museum of Iraq, the swimming pool with a huge crater in its centre, a hospital.

It is not so obvious but significant the way in which she has shifted from her immaculately covered velvet pieces in works like 'Silence Blood Wedding' or 'Oedipus Rex', to a new set of materials, new skins and overlays that incorporate their own contradictions and symbology.

Anita Dube's solo show titled 'Illegal' continues at Galleryske, Bangalore, till April 09, 2006.

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