LANDSCAPE: IN COMMON

Review by Oiendrila Moitra
February 15, 2014

 

Dust

Gigi Scaria
Curated by Bala Starr
January 31-March 15, 2014
Palette Art Gallery, New Delhi
 

Gigi Scaria’s new exhibition at Palette Art gallery comprises of a series of video works, photographs and painting demonstrating the parallels between Indian and Australian landscapes. Gigi’s creative repertoire includes painting, photography, installation and sculpture. His earlier works dealt with memories of people who he had met or seen like Mahatma Gandhi and Mao Zedong. 

 
DUST, a museum show brought in India during the Indian Art Fair which is already showcasing simultaneously in Ian Potter Museum, Melbourne, Australia. The new body of work reflects Scaria’s response to Australia’s vast landscapes and the inspiration to explore the geographic diversity within his own country. It reflects his thoughts about the rapid growth of India’s cities and the social conditions that have been affected by this change.
 
The artist went to be a part of residency in Melbourne and wanted to come up with something that brings out the common elements between the two countries.  He found the landscapes of the two countries similar—the vastness and emptiness of the deserts reminded him of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, and the tranquility of the salt lakes took him back to Kutch, Gujarat. “At first I thought I will do something in Australia but later decided that I should work on a new body of work that would reflect my response to Australia’s vast landscapes. I wanted to present something from my own country to describe how landscapes can connect people. When you will look at the pictures you will not identify which part of the world it is,” says the artist. On the title Dust, he adds, “There are two reasons for it. First, I have captured the desert and when you think of desert you think of dust and sand dunes. Another message I want to convey through the exhibition is that no matter which part of the globe you belong to, everyone ultimately will be a part of dust.” 
 
The 18 images being exhibited are devoid of human presence—the clear blue skies, the white of the salt and grainy sand dominate. “The presence of people would have made it easier to recognize the place. Besides, I have used metaphors in terms of broken wires or shoes to ‘humanize’ the photos,” he says.
 
In Scaria’s six video installations of the places he photographed, one can feel him walking but can’t see his shadow or presence. “It’s just to give a message that any place is approachable, be it in Australia, or India, or any other country”. 
Scaria, who has worked primarily with themes of modernity and urbanization, insists that in this work he has tried to break away from these. “It was more of a connection and the beauty of the natural landscapes for me,” he says.
 
Scaria’s vision to ensemble the ideology of acceptance of both the vast and distant places as a unity gets expressed through the show. He works in building connections that the normal minds cannot locate and by his wonderful process of documentation and presentation he makes the viewers feel aware of the fact of identifying the similarities between the known and the unknown.