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Digital art fuses past with present

Veteran artist Jaideep Mehrotra works with layers of paint and print, displays new collection in city.

art and culture Updated: Dec 03, 2011 16:30 IST

Veteran artist Jaideep Mehrotra works with layers of paint and print, displays new collection in city.



Jaideep Mehrotra’s first solo show in the city in four years is a clear testimony to his status as the pioneer of digital art in India.The past meets the future and online meets offline as viewers shuffle between layers of paint and print,combining them to gather the full effect of Metonymical Subtext, a show of 30 odd works large and small. Binary and ASCII codes are painstakingly inscribed on digital overlays that transform conventional paintings.



“The premise is that we’re moving into the digital age, where all of us are offloading our alter egos onto the virtual world,” explains the veteran artist. “Working from something in the past and moving towards something in the future is my attempt to show how both are inseparable.”



Mehrotra’s subjects are varied: Politicians making hollow promises; concretisation of jungles; and the obsolescence of typewriters. There’s a tribute to Mehrotra’s recently deceased friend too, actor Shammi Kapoor via a glittering work that quotes the Bhagvad Gita: “Never the spirit was born. The spirit shall cease to be never. Never was time it was not, end and beginning are dreams.”



Metonymical Subtext is an exemplary display of the artist’s technical genius, and he’s rightfully proud of the effort that’s gone into each of his Digital works: “When I started many years ago, a lot of people had pooh-poohed the concept saying it wouldn’t work. Now, artists are adapting it in every aspect. It’s become an essential part of our work. It’s the future. We’re at the inception of the digital age, and there’s a long way to go from here.”



For Mehrotra, the biggest challenge was the radical nature of everything at hand, including from the approach to the materials: “It’s technically very difficult. In India, we don’t have machines to create varied textures or diverse surfaces to paint on, or even pigmented inks that last longer. In one of my works, I used white ink, for which I had to leave the machines on 24/7.”



But that hasn’t hindered the artist, whose plans for future works are even more ambitious: “I have some ideas, but I’m yet to research them. From modern pigments to colour shifts, it’s all quite fascinating.”