Designated March by a ‘Petrol Angel’ by Riyas Komu

Riyas Komu, one of India's noteworthy young artists, focuses on burning socio-political issues that disturb him not only as a painter but also as an individual. These acquire a universal connotation, as the concerns are common across the globe. So, viewers tend to identify with his work. Within a short span of time, the talented artist has left an indelible mark on the art scene.

Riyas Komu has received accolades for his series of works at The 52nd Venice Biennale, a prestigious event on the international art calendar. According to the artist, he looks to share the contemporary society's concerns, cutting across boundaries. Localized they might appear, his works stand for concerns that are the same across globe.

The Biennale that continues till November 12 showcases several thought-provoking works by artists all over the world. Designated March by a 'Petrol Angel' (Oil on canvas 6 panels, 180 x 180 cm each) by Riyas Komu is one of them. It has received critical applause, and has been a subject of curiosity for art lovers.

It's one among the nearly 100 works of art for the Arsenale section of the Biennale that is held in a long strip of interconnected spaces which once served as the main shipyard when Venice was at the apex of its naval power.

Designated March by a 'Petrol Angel' is a series of six dramatic renditions of an Iranian-looking woman gazing in different directions by Riyas Komu. It's a work of art that makes the audience pause and ponder. It makes them think and stimulates their senses, and even leaves them perplexed.

The portrait heads of a woman wearing in a head scarf are poignant and enigmatic just as the title of the series. Riyas Komu's work is a tribute to the spirit of those who survive against all odds, and carry on with life despite innumerable hurdles and thrives despite biggest of disasters. It bring out the paradoxes of the urban situation where on one hand, there is the glamour and on the other, abject poverty. The artist paints with compassion and cynicism. There is some amount of dejection and anguish, yet his work reflects hope.

The Iranian woman whom he has portrayed is a character that stands for extraordinary fighting and survival spirit of ordinary people. Elaborating on the background of the series, the artist mentions: 'I watch quite a bit of Iranian cinema. I happened to watch one Iranian film about chauvinistic tendencies existing there that inflict pain and misery on females.'

The haunting feeling of fear and suppression depicted in the film impacted me deeply, and the new series emerged. The tendencies again are not restricted to a particular country or a region, and can be witnessed in any part of the globe is the point that the artists wants to make. According to him, war, terror, chauvinism, suppression and exploitation knows no boundaries, and cuts across boundaries. He informs: 'When I paint such works, I am sharing these things at a universal level.'

The series is also in keeping with the theme of the Venice Biennale; Think with the Senses-Feel with the Mind; Art in the Present Tense'. According to the exhibit theme, the curator has focused on the interchange between thought and feeling by reconsidering obvious opposites such as the reason versus unreason, mind versus body, thought versus feeling, and the intellect versus the senses. With the inter-relation of thought and feeling in mind, Robert Storr has chosen the harmonic collision between intellect and intuition as the central topic.

The 52nd Exhibition constitutes the synthesis of a survey that extends beyond the frontiers of world art: not only towards rapidly evolving artistic languages, but also towards figures, countries, and trends emerging in lesser-known areas of the globe, which otherwise remain marginal to the more consolidated art world.

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