Common versus wealth? Not quite. Artists seldom see things in black and white. Shades of grey, chiaroscuros and playing with colour are part of their oeuvre. At a time when the shoddy handling of the Games is coming out of everybody’s ears, shows centred on the theme manage to discover a few new hues.
If Pratul Das’s Landscape near CW City delivers a stark message on how the Games messed up the Yamuna, S. Ayesha cuts out the negativity out of headlines in a collage-like work that takes pride in the fiasco.
Atul Dodiya’s kitschy The Titanic Days falls somewhere in between. The 50-year-old artist combines popular culture, symbolism and art history. “I’ve used a photo of actor Aamir Khan and his wife Kiran watching a baseball match in Mumbai, with iconic works of Rene Magritte and Barbara Kruger, a Ravinder Reddy head and an MGR poster that oozes swagger. The underlying message: Your body is a battleground.”
Sujith S.N calls the Games an architectural monstrosity. “Can India have a truly urban modern city? I doubt it. The change in Delhi’s cityscape due to the Games has created just anxiety. My paintings reflect this despair.”
Dash has put together a montage of more than 1,200 images of East Delhi neighbourhoods Patparganj, Laxmi Nagar and Shakarpur that he has been clicking ever since the village was put on stream near the Yamuna bed. “I perceive the Games as a farce,” he says.
Ayesha doesn’t agree. “As a Delhiite I feel that the entire city can’t turn negative about the Games.”
In the same show, with School of Losing Virginity, stalwart G. R. Iranna paints the Commonwealth influence as the loss of innocence. Sharing space with him is Aanchal Vazir, born a year after Asiad 82, whose Da Vinci’s Dead and Capitalism Sucks mourns postmodernity. “There’s a schizophrenia gripping us. As history and culture get dissolved, we want to go forward while clinging on to everything Retro.”
Former ad-man Prasad Raghvan, 41, mocks at the confluence of sporting powers with a tangential work which depicts heads of nuclear states sticking their tongue out a la Einstein. “Sacrifice may not directly relate to the theme, but the Commonwealth has impacted us all, whether we like it or not. We are conversing in English aren’t we?” he asks. Now, this is one Raj legacy which is here to stay.