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Medium is message

art-and-culture Updated: Sep 10, 2010 22:54 IST
Amitava Sanyal
Amitava Sanyal
Hindustan Times
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Sandip Pisalkar is quite clear why most of his artistic ideas are born when an object from the past marries a modern-day functionality. The Baroda-based artist attributes it to his journey from being the son of a cotton farmer in Yavatmal near Nagpur, where "18th century implements are still used"; to being a starry-eyed student in Mumbai, where "everything changes fast"; to being a feted artist in Baroda, where "more conversations happen".

Some eight artworks of Pisalkar that resulted from such "remixes" are now showing in Delhi. The solo show is part of the emerging artist award given out last year by Vadehra Gallery's Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (Fica), which aims to promote the practice and appreciation of innovative art.

In the show there's a politician's khadi-wearing, bejewelled arm mechanically turning a spice-grinder, saintly padukas cycling over prostrate skins, and a cotton parser twanging ad nauseam.

The immediacy of what the artist calls his "negative metaphors" is as refreshingly unaffected as it is darkly humourous.

Another part of the Fica award — a two-month residency at California's Montalvo Arts Center — resulted in 'Greedy tongue', a video collage of the artist licking different objects of his liking.

Each stop on the 31-year-old artist's journey has informed his art. In Nagpur came draftsmanship.

At Mumbai's J J School came an abiding love for sculptures. And the Baroda Faculty of Arts is where, Pisalkar says, "Concept aya (came)… Where I felt I shouldn't be rigid about the medium."

Pisalkar isn't the only Baroda artist feeling so.

Bhavna Kakar, director of Latitude 28 gallery and an MA in Art History from Baroda, says 'new media' is what every student in Baroda wants to work on. It has as much to do with a worldwide trend as with an acceptance of such works by buyers.

Pisalkar, whose work for a show Kakar curated two years ago didn't sell, isn't sure whether there's a ready market yet for his 'remixes'. But they're sure winning him awards — and a few hearty chuckles.

Aaj ka Hero is on till Sept 25 at Vadehra Art Gallery. Get a preview of the 'Greedy Tongue' video at tinyurl.com/32qytwh. For more, call 65474005