Prints that connect past to present

Veteran artist Gulammohammed Sheikh's portfolio titled 'past present' is being presented by "Galerie M'ller & Plate" based in Munich. It is one of the few galleries that specialize in Indian contemporary art in Germany.

As an artist Gulammohammed Sheikh has drawn his inspiration largely from rich, diverse cultural traditions of India. 'Living in India means living simultaneously in several cultures and times. Traditional and modern, private and public, the inside and outside continually telescope and reunite, he has been quoted as saying.

'Like the many-eyed and many-armed archetype of an Indian child, I draw energy from the source. Traversing historical and mythical spaces of paintings long admired and bringing these into my experiential arena has been an old habit. The routes through these trajectories open the terrain of discovery: of maps, charts and a host of paintings that invite negotiations, mediations and appropriations,' he elaborates.

As the works on view testify, delving into the past and connecting it to the contemporary has been the core of his creation. Sheikh has used computer graphics to recreate and reclaim history by quoting images and forming a new narrative. 'That is where the challenge and fun lies,'' quips the artist, whose love for history dates back to his days as an art student.

He has been painting close to five decades, and history continues to fascinate him. Drawing from ancient Buddhist, Judeo-Christian and medieval Sufi traditions among a vast array of eclectic sources over millennia, and using digital technology, Sheikh traverses cultures and time zones to recreate a fascinating tapestry of images.

His work is a blend of the traditional and the modern. The artist has worked in various media, most of the time in oils and gouache on canvas, wood and paper besides etching and ceramics. The multi-faceted artist paints on formats ranging from hand-held paper to architectural scale, to bring alive the world he knows to illumine it in its complexities and contradictions, and to reinvent art history through his work.

He has dug up a treasure trove of historical and archeological images, and has recast them in an intriguing way like a seated figure of Sufi poet Kabir, Renaissance painter Giotto's image of Mary Magdaline reaching out to touch Christ. He has also lectured widely on Indian art, and has been responsible for imparting a synthetic and empowering understanding of tradition to several generations of students. The Vadodara-based artist has been instrumental in initiating and theorizing the Narrative-Figurative tendency in contemporary art.

The idea of a dialogue has been a very central one in his work and this idea imparts a dynamic quality to his works. The impressions, especially of the early years of life, the tales he heard and the myths he grew up with, found expression as images in poetry first, and later, in painting.

He has been experimenting with digital collage over the last few years. While injecting technology into art and taking up a new media in form of digital collaging, he has also been contemplating over the artistic issues that emerge in this process. He has painted over every inkjet print that might have contributed to his new series to neutralize the hyper-reproductive capacity of digital art.

The artists mentions: "Learning techniques of digital collaging at an interactive workshop organized by Artunderground (a digital art gallery in Baroda) facilitated the process of inventing new maps by implanting sites of my choice into the circuits laid out in the Ebstorf Mappamundi.

'Past present', an exhibition of prints by Gulammohammed Sheikh's continues at "Galerie M'ller & Plate" till March 25, 2006

View Gulammohammed Sheikh's works in Saffronart catalogue

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