Review by Amrita Varma
August 10, 2014


Gipin Varghese
July 25-September 6, 2014
Vadehra Art Gallery, D-53, Defence Colony, New Delhi

On entering the gallery one is taken into a labyrinth of associations and images, which seem to emerge out of the walls talking of the issues of violation on women and land. These are very much intended with their historical and other contexts.

Gipin’s works are simple, subtle depictions and if I can say, descriptive accounts on events and situations surrounding violence against individuals which includes the state of women. The figures are simple, the associations one has to each image, are direct, as if viewing the accounts of each through a spyglass – near yet removed. In that sense, even though the works do not make a loud statement, they do have a narrative, a crystal clear steady voice, which can be felt and is his greatest contribution through this show.

Walking through the show is like unfolding lives of these various people mostly connected to their land in an agrarian way and understanding their plight. The images do not invoke pity or empathy. They make one see the people in a whole new perspective and also break the social constructs through which we usually view the world. There is anger and violence one feels within even though the works have a certain oxymoronic silence and serenity to it. The woman kneeling nude in front of half a dozen men, some clothed some in their natural state with sticks talk of an inherent violence and oppression that is very real, very raw. The foliage around, in miniature style, adds to this mix showing the contrast in which nature and man are working and the complex relation between femininity, freedom and stricture. The game of power and destruction is reflected in the stances. Each work shows the darker side of humanity in a very heavy manner even though the renderings are almost illustrative and childlike in their element.

The works titled ‘Commonly Caught Species’ are pregnant with the chaos of humanity and the unthinking and futile manner in which it propagates and is trying to make meaning to its existence. There is no sense to the action.

In one image, there is this beautiful scene with trees and bushes in miniature style, which seem almost playful. One step closer and notices the insects on those trees. As one looks closely one can see a man and woman hung on two adjoining trees while the villagers watch them from between the bushes. These people are unaffected and seem as if it is an everyday scene for them. The oppression of an ignorant but collective populous bearing down hard on a few is hard to take. The serenity of nature instantly looses its charm and one can see the bare fangs of human atrocities loud and clear. One questions the world we live in and who we really are as humans.

There are muffled voices silent as if in a cocoon, strapped back by yards of cloth [their mouths are not covered] through the images of the people almost mummified with the linen they are wrapped around with. Each image unleashes a certain unsaid truth and one is as the other is no longer the other- It is a part of a larger human consciousness of which one is an integral element. As a whole the show is interesting to watch and is important in the latent connotations it carries and its exploration of a conformed silence, latent fear, aggression and larger effects of it on humanity.

A Work About Resistance