Review by Oiendrila Moitra
January 15, 2014


UKAI (Cormorant Fish Hunting)
L.N. Tallur
January 11 - February 8, 2014
Nature Morte, New Delhi

The exhibition of the new works by Tallur L.N. at Nature Morte showcases the artist’s visual rendering of the common objects transformed into art pieces by the physical and cerebral transformations brought into them. 

Karnataka born Tallur is an Indian artist who has rarely ventured outside India and grew up in the rural community. He is a conceptual artist who uses sculpture, wall pieces, interactive work, and site-specific installations to expose the absurdities of everyday life and the anxieties that characterize contemporary society. The ‘found objects’ are then combined and manipulated, confounding the established categorizations with which we usually interpret art: figuration and abstraction, traditional and contemporary, decorative and functional, creative and destructive, religious and secular. His striking sculptures blend traditional craftsmanship with high technology and humble social critique, combining the organic, the readymade, the industrial and the electronic in a fluent melding of traditional and contemporary Indian styles. The title of this show ironically situates the artist’s practice within the intersections of desire, value, pedigree and psychology. In order to control the cormorants, the fisherman ties a snare near the base of the bird’s throat which prevents it from swallowing fish larger than a certain size, enabling the fisherman to retrieve his catch by bringing the bird back to his boat. The works in his shows the extra effort put into the pieces that exaggerate themselves into objects of the unreal world yet grown form very known surroundings. The wood piece that is a found part of a trunk of a tree is a real piece, so are the coins fixed into it; but the blended cocktail that the both put together produces along with the industrial input of carving a Islamic design of Agarbatti (incandescent sticks) into the trunk piece transforms the overall visual into an unreal rather surreal one. The originality of the objects sustains, the character retains, only the idea emerges from a known diaspora to a melodramatic reality. Each piece of artwork is complex and physically diverse. His works have a metaphorical dialogue in transacting the theme to the viewers. The objects that he has used or the pieces that he has created have a middle-class approach in them. Neither of the objects, wood, coins, clay etc. have a cost issue; they are cheap and easily available. This notion of mediocrity addresses to the common mass of the society, giving birth to the idea of art created of the people, for the people and by the people. The works presumably has this socialistic tendency in them making it a place of playground for the general.

Somewhere his works have an anti-archival approach towards the viewers’ interactions. The works have a demand of interaction of the viewers where the viewers have to make the sculptures work. The works untags the idea of ‘do not touch’ and provokes the viewers to touch and play with the artworks. Not only the memory retains but the action that involves the activity of the viewers and the artworks create a new stigma of understanding between the two.

Tallur’s artworks have a decorative exuberance in them. Some may find it extra that could have been reduced by a bit. But overall the show is an experience itself, where the artist’s notion of the world around him transforms successfully to the viewers; the alienation of art diminishes into simple yet successful and fulfilling understanding.