(Terracota sculptures and Drawings)
January 16-February 28, 2015
Gallery Espace, New Delhi.
Manjunath Kamath has been an artist who has made works in diverse material yet been able to bring out the essence of the work very clearly in his style. It was no surprise seeing him outdo himself at his solo exhibition at Gallery Espace this year. Looking through the works one is wrapped in the narrative of the sculptures and drawings, which take their root from the forms seen on temple walls and sculptural forms associated with deification. These are woven in his own language as new forms and figures with a very different identification and narrative to it. The works entice you with their wit and humour and keep you gripped till you move to the next visual. This is an experience which is rare.
As one enters the gallery one is welcomed into his world with a set of sculptures and drawings that are witty everyday observations. Titled ‘ ritual drawings’ his drawings are a childlike fascination with the everyday objects and their relation to him as a person or with others. The arrangement of the objects and people with their bodies and movement are, in their visual, absurd but at the same time humourous. This naturally ingeniuous strain which is Kamath’s strength in style carries through his entire body of work. The set of sculptures called’ God fearing sculptures ‘are a testimony to Kamath’s art and take their root from his personal thought trails.
In one of the sculptures he makes his own version of a God he imagines his would be where the many hands seem to be playing with each other. The feeling is that of a playful God one relates with. His thoughts seem to be reverberating and spilling out of the ‘ God fearing Sulptures’ and the caged remenants of disjointed body parts as of ancient deities that one is not sure of which part of the subcontinent one can associate them with, bring out that dialogue in a fascinating way where one feels in a transition of finding meaning yet not quite.
The comment is on man and his tendency to do actions which in fact are going ‘nowhere’. This connotation is felt in his paperwork titled ‘ No where’ and his sculptural installation made from the ground plans of his ancestral home whose walls were changed with time and ownership changed hands to such an extent that one wondered what the original was all about to which he had childhood associations and history attached with. This particular installation is titled ‘ Extended Nostalgia’
Each work has a title which not just infuses the witty sometimes sarcastic humour to human life, in addition, the play of text adds puns to the entire situation making the works move between humour and wit to the absurd and ridiculous without taking away from it the seriousness of comment which is key.
For most of us who frequent the exhibitions in hope of quenching our cerebral thirst and have a hard time enjoying it yet getting the high of a work of such standards, Kamath’s show was definitely a thirst quencher.
In this exhibit Manjunath has done credit to Indian Contemporary art in bringing a new language where heritage art is integrated in contemporary form so well that one cannot dismiss it and one feels this freshness of the new creative idiom directly.
A show to be seen carefully and taken in for all its blend of various metaphors and subtle plays with the life of the artist and his creative perspectives to the world we live in today, this exhibit is an absolute essential to watch.