Of totem and taboo: Exploring painter-sculptor NN Rimzon’s oeuvre | art and culture | Hindustan Times
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Of totem and taboo: Exploring painter-sculptor NN Rimzon’s oeuvre

In his first solo show in the capital in 23 years, NN Rimzon presents recent works that explore the themes of creation and annihilation and confirm his status as one of India’s most deeply intellectual artists.

art and culture Updated: Apr 02, 2016 16:27 IST
Poulomi Banerjee
Devotee (bronze and mild steel, 2015). While the figure measures 10 inches X 5 inches X 4 inches, the base on which he sits, measures 30 inches in diameter X 0.3 inches. The look of inner peace reflected on the face of the figure, the little smile on his lips, makes the viewer feel that the Devotee has reached some kind of communion with higher powers.
Devotee (bronze and mild steel, 2015). While the figure measures 10 inches X 5 inches X 4 inches, the base on which he sits, measures 30 inches in diameter X 0.3 inches. The look of inner peace reflected on the face of the figure, the little smile on his lips, makes the viewer feel that the Devotee has reached some kind of communion with higher powers. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

In a newspaper article published last year, Thiruvananthapuram-based artist NN Rimzon spoke of the need to have a creative space that suits one’s purpose. The painter-sculptor had restructured a defunct bread factory and set up his studio there. “It is important to have a space dedicated to your work, with the equipment you need, and nothing holding you back,” he said. Wandering through the rooms of Talwar Gallery, where Rimzon’s works are on display, you get the feeling the artist approves of this space as the backdrop to his works. There are no sprawling rooms here, so characteristic of conventional art galleries. Rather small rooms, each holding a few pieces of the artist’s works, are spread across multiple levels, giving you the feeling of exploring Rimzon’s oeuvre. It’s almost like slowly turning the pages of a catalogue.

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Titled Forest of The Living Divine, the exhibition is the artist’s first solo show in the national capital in 23 years. Most of the works on display are recent — the collection of 20 works consists of sculptures, paintings and installations done between 2007 and the present. “Most of my works have a connection to the agricultural world, fertility and festivities. There are references to the mother goddess,” says Rimzon. You see it in works like The Star of Forest or Tree Shrine, or Mother at the Forest where Rimzon creates what looks like a symbol of motherhood. The fruit-bearing trees on the edge, suggest a verdant forest and by extension, Creation itself. The same theme of creation or union is suggested in Big Maa, where Rimzon creates a penis-like totem, anchored in a spherical vessel and adds to it symbols of fertility.

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“Broadly, my approach to the creation is conceptual rather than dividing it into categories like figurative and non-figurative,” says the artist. There is a sense of peace in those of Rimzon’s works that have no human characters. The presence of humans is often accompanied by skulls and bones, suggestive of death and destruction, either physical or, as in Death of an author, as an end of ideas. There are exceptions such as in the Devotee where there is a sense of inner peace.

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The range of Rimzon’s work finds an echo in the varied sensibilities and ideas that he provokes in the viewer, thus confirming his status as one of India’s most deeply intellectual artists.

ART OF THE MATTER

What: Forest of the Living Divine

When:11am to 7pm, till May 28, closed on Sundays

Where: Talwar Gallery, C-84, Neeti Bagh

Call: 46050307

Mother at the Forest (acrylic on fibreglass and marble dust, 2009). Dimension: 60 inches diameter X 10.25 inches. The artist creates what looks like a symbol of motherhood. The fruit-bearing trees on the edge also symbolise creation. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)
Tree Shrine (acrylic on canvas, 2012) measures 40 inches X 39.75 inches. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)
Star of Forest (charcoal and acrylic on paper, 2013) measures 17.5 inches X 14 inches. There is a sense of peace in the paintings that have no human characters. The presence of humans is often accompanied by skulls and bones suggestive of death and destruction. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)
Death of an author (charcoal and acrylic on paper, 2015) measures 16.25 inches X 13 inches. While the pages of the book remain blank, the communication process seems reversed with the ‘author’ internalising his experiences without expressing them. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)
Big Maa (in fibre glass, resin and granite dust, 2015). Dimesion: 95 inches X 49 inches X49 inches. Rimzon creates a penis-like totem, anchored in a spherical vessel and adds to it symbols of fertility. The work may be interpreted as a symbol of creation. (NN Rimzon/Talwar Gallery)
Dancer with four arms (stone, fiberglass, marble dust and aluminum, 2007) measures 140 inches X 43 inches X 73 inches. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)