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India is one big meme: Raghava KK

Artist Raghava KK returns to the city with a solo show that juxtaposes cartoons with historical scenes.

art and culture Updated: Sep 07, 2013 14:25 IST
Shweta Mehta
Shweta Mehta
Hindustan Times

Two years after a successful solo show in the city, Raghava KK is back with a new one. Ask the artist what kept him busy all this while and he says, “I believe you have to live before creating art. I’ve been doing plenty of things, and art is my way of chronicling my thoughts. This show has taken me two years to put together.” In this interview, he discusses the show, That’s All Folks, which has six big acrylic on canvas paintings and a few sketches.

Where did the theme emerge from?
I’m interested in history as an imaging tool — how you choose your facts and biases and imagine your own story of divinity for a nation. I realised that the Indian history that I learned in school was very flat; it had an objective and a clear bias — whether in favour of Gandhi or anyone else. Strategically, some things were left out to paint a certain picture of India. Later, I learned about multiple perspectives, and I could separate facts from biases. I wanted to create my own version of history and portray the conflicts within every Indian. I call this country the impossible democracy.

Where do the cartoons come in?
Caricatures exaggerate characters. If you look at history as a caricature of reality, it’s an easier way of reading it, because you know inherently that there’s a bias. Cartoons and memes are very powerful and, for me, India is one big meme of plurality. Winston Churchill once said that India is as much a nation as the Equator is one.

Is there a message you’re trying to give out?
Yes. We are diverse people and we celebrate it. We’re storytellers and the stories are like caricatures. Here, I’m celebrating history through my emotional response to it. It’s my emotional mapping of history through its characters- fictional, real and nostalgic- from Suppandi to Tom and Jerry. The condition of being Indian is that we are a big knot of stories. We should be aware of this and celebrate it.

First Published: Sep 07, 2013 13:44 IST