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House stories

Artist Veer Munshi and curator Ranjit Hoskote invoke a historical, political and cultural consciousness through Shrapnel, Jigna Padhiar.

art and culture Updated: Mar 20, 2009 12:07 IST
Jigna Padhiar

Veer Munshi continues his engagement of translating socio-political, personal and cultural situations through painting, in his latest body of works displayed at the Tao Art Gallery.

Over the years, Munshi’s art has portrayed are his reactions to situations in Kashmir, where he was born and brought up and later, an exiled refugee.

In this show, the 51-year-old Delhi based artist shows a set of photographs on archival paper titled Pandit Houses and a painting installation, acrylic paint on handmade paper called The Chamber.

Songs from the valley
Being shown for the first time, the photographs are images of abandoned houses by the Pandit community in Kashmir. The photographic series began as research work for his paintings, but curator Ranjit Hoskote saw it as a body of work itself.

“Veer has an interesting manner of looking at, identifying and recording the structures, which in turn are related to the sinister side of globalisation. I am often interested in looking at the works of artists that never get exhibited. That’s a project in itself,” he explains.

The photographs easily generate a narrative intrigue.. that about history, heritage, political and cultural stories involved with the houses, which represent a minority community that suffered. “These are houses I visited as a kid. Today they stand broken, shut and without any human presence. Each of the photographs invokes reactions at different levels,” says Munshi.

The Chamber is a dimly lit room, all four sides of which are covered with Munshi’s wall-to-wall size paintings. The images are timely.

Civil disharmony
Images of broken machinery, animal and human figures emoting in pain, his self image and a number of objects spread on the surface, suggest turmoil, that within a person and that which has spread all over the world. “Veer’s works show what it means like to be in a conflict zone.

They begin from his personal experiences in Kashmir.. but takes the subject forward to the civil disharmony in today’s world,” explains Hoskote.

Munshi’s artistic career spans diverse mediums like painting, sculpture, installation, public art projects, video and now photography. “I am not a photographer, but I chose the medium that the subject demands. Every medium has its limitations and painting would not have done justice to these architectural structures,” explains Munshi.