Baiju Parthan interprets ‘Source Code'

Baiju Parthan's new series of works as part of an exhibition titled 'Source Code', at Art Musings is a re-visitation of the artist's earlier works on a larger scale. In fact, this one is the artist's largest solo exhibition. His oil and acrylic canvasses (16ft x 6ft to 6ft x 12 ft) explore themes of the computerized world that engulfs our lives.

The artist has always drawn attention for his unusual and unconventional themes. At the Saffronart Contemporary Online Autumn auction in September 2006, his work Last Supper Qua Still Life (3); Oil on canvas (72 x 72 in; 182.9 x 182.9 cm), fetched a winning value (inclusive of Buyers Premium 10%) $50,722 (Rs.2,282,495). Winning Value for his Mixed media on paper work, titled Empathy ' II; 30 x 22 in (76.2 x 55.9 cm) was $31,075 (Rs.1,398,375). One of his untitled Acrylic on canvas pasted on board works; 11 x 18 in (27.9 x 45.7 cm) went for $18,884 (Rs.849,767).

Baiju Parthan boasts of a diverse portfolio. The artist from Kerala acquired a degree in botany; then engaged himself in a civil engineering degree course, and simultaneously started studying art history. He enrolled in a post-graduate diploma in comparative mythology; worked as an illustrator. He read up on proto-historic art, balancing that with an exposure to post-modern theory; thus have resulted his spectacular canvases that occupy the viewer's entire field of vision. His latest works is an indication of his fascination for both archaic and post-modern thought.

Elaborating on the title and the theme of his latest show at Museum Gallery, Mumbai, the artist states that the term is borrowed from the software industry. He states, 'source code' actually refers to raw computer code before it is compiled into a usable application.' According to the artist, the exhibition makes an attempt to derive metaphors from the world of computers and IT that has 'virtually' become synonymous with modern existence.

Obviously, a fair amount of computer code is used in his new set of paintings to convey the message. Along with human figures and other easy to recognize motifs, they have been used as calligraphic or abstract markings of certain aesthetic value. Drawing from the raw code that makes up a software application, the solo exhibit raises philosophical and fundamental issues about the apparent and hidden implications of the software economy that drives modern India.

The show also marked the unveiling of the launch of a publication, 'Baiju Parthan-A User's Manual'. The book explores over a decade and a half of the artist's work. Renowned art critic, poet and author Ranjit Hoskote has penned this book delving into Baiju Parthan's work. It seeks to understand his artistic philosophy and his work that is known for its profuse use of symbols and myths.

It mentions: 'Myths and symbols do bring in a sense of mystery and added significance to the world experience. Strip away all the myth and symbols and we will be left with raw existence punctuated by painful birthing and a sudden meaningless death. I think some amount of mythologizing is necessary to experience the world in a more wholesome manner,' he explains.

It's a major solo show for Baiju Parthan after a prolonged period, which does not concern the artist himself since he is concerned more about quality than quantum of work he exhibits. His latest body of work took almost a year-and-a-half to complete. Each of his diptychs and triptychs presents the hex code as an alter image. According to the artist, he has painted the hex code, which is revealed when each of his portraits is translated through a hex editor, a hacking program. For Sangeeta Chopra of Art Musings Gallery, hosting the show, Baiju Parthan's unique vocabulary makes him an artist with a difference.

Summing up significance of the show, the artist mentions that Source code is significant since he is re-interpreting some of his early works. It's almost like recompiling a code to produce a new version of an application,' he quipped on eve of the show that will travel to London, Singapore and other Indian cities.

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