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Baiju Parthan’s first solo exhibition in a decade set to enthral art lovers

mumbai Updated: Sep 10, 2016 00:33 IST
Riddhi Doshi
Riddhi Doshi
Hindustan Times
Jehangir art gallery

Baiju Parthan’s newest works explore the use of propaganda to distort perceptions and ‘distract populations.

One of India’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, Baiju Parthan, is set to exhibit 20 new works — digital paintings, in fact — at his first solo exhibition in Mumbai in 10 years.

The long gap is partly because Parthan is one of those rare artists who creates his art without the help of any assistants.

“I am absolutely content toiling away alone cooped up in my studio,” says the 60-year-old. “I think I am too possessive about the process of making art and am unwilling to share it as I see that as almost a violation of some undeclared pact.”

The show, titled Necessary Illusions, will open at the Jehangir art gallery on September 14 and then move, on the 21st, to Art Musings, where it will be on display for three weeks.

The title is inspired by American philosopher and public intellectual Noam Chomsky’s 1989 book of the same name, subtitled Thought Control in Democratic Societies.

Like the book, Parthan’s newest works explore the concepts of political power, and the use of propaganda to distort perceptions and ‘distract populations’.

Parthan first explored these themes in 1999, but discontinued the work after creating two paintings. “The subject stayed with me though,” he says. “I am now kind of readdressing it, but from a different perspective, to suggest that we live in a ‘post-fact’ world where we construct our reality from online virtual experiences and social media feeds.”

In the work titled Big Data, for instance, you see a set of animated prints created using 3D graphics software, representing a world submerged in invisible data clouds representing items that define personal identity and lives, along with items of commerce and war, warehoused across spreadsheets and on virtual servers invisible to the human eye but ever-present as an electromagnetic field “bathing and surrounding us all the time — whether we are asleep or awake,” as Parthan puts it.

WHAT: Necessary Illusions, an exhibition of digital paintings

WHERE: At Jehangir art gallery, Fort, from September 14 to 21; at Art Musings, Colaba, from Sept 22 to Oct 14

TIMINGS: 10.30am to 6 pm (Art Musings is closed on Sundays)