EXHIBITION - ARTiculate 2012 (Oct 02-05, 2012) :

Alice:”I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle! ”

Eaglet: “Speak English! I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and I don't believe you do either!”

Alice: “I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, Sir, because I'm not myself you see.”

We all know about Lewis Carroll’s book ‘Alice in wonderland’. It isn’t just a children’s book but to many it’s a philosophical questioning tool set in Alice’s dreams or for many her alter ego’s reality. As a piece of art in literary writing, it makes the reader question themselves about reality and identity while experiencing a surreal fantasy. Using the conundrum Alice faces lost in wonderland, the show intends to engage viewers in a similar philosophical dialogue with visual art where the language is non-verbal yet each artwork creates its own surreal fantasy for each individual that engages to question.

While putting together the collection of art works for this show, the main focus was to assemble a series of works which are diverse and intense; diverse to allow the viewer to experience a variety of languages in Indian art today and intense enough to bring forth the questions revolving around ‘Identity’. This collection is an invitation to all viewers to go beyond mere reflection and “step into the looking glass” to experience the questions of identity through the non-verbal vocabulary of an artist.

When an artist makes the first mark on the canvas, he/she starts the process of defining themselves through a language of signs and symbols. It becomes a visual object with a series of markings, which are non-verbal, sometimes conscious or sub-conscious, pattern or structure which lends identity to the canvas mirroring the intent of the creator i.e. the artist. Along with defining the identity of the artist through the thought, the canvas acts as a mirror for the viewer to experience this non-verbal language through their own cultural understandings and experiences. The intent of the collection is to ask each viewer to experience art through their own understanding forming their own interpretations, leaving out the connotations attached to the artists themselves as known through textual references or media. Every time we view a canvas, it reminds us of a sign or a symbol we have seen, or maybe a personal experience or a color that we like or maybe dislike, each reminder is part of our cultural understanding and our subconscious, and each of these a parts of our identity. Using art to dwell within ourselves, to question or gauge how we feel brings us closer to ourselves and the artist as an individual.

The collection of works requires the viewer to put aside chronology and significance in time for the individual artworks, explore the stylistic readings of each individual artist through pure visual aesthetic language i.e. not only tactile medium but a medium which is synonymous to communication, and to look for references/idioms which will help them come closer to understanding the artist behind the canvas and in turn their own identity.

At a parallel level, the intention is also to introduce to the viewer a large cross section of artists from India ranging from the very familiar to the new generation of young creators of the new language and syntax of Indian art. From Syed Haider Raza, Manu Parekh, Krishen Khanna and Ram Kumar, a few of the masters featured in this show, who are now recognized for their structured creations which define them through experiences of their lifetimes, to artists like Anindita Bhattacharya, Ketna Patel and Pratul Dash who define themselves through experimentation with their cultural surroundings, the show presents an opportunity for the onlooker to gauge what is shown and what they see. Stylistically each artwork holds a small nuance of the creator’s identity giving insight into the person behind the canvas. Whether it is the influence of Mughal architecture or of the pop culture prevalent in media today, the grass roots which pull together an aesthetic hold the keys to the identity of each artist.

I urge each viewer to use this collection to understand the person behind the canvas while synonymously through personal interpretations; ponder over the notion of ‘I’ using intuitive aesthetic judgments.

New Delhi, 2012