Rendering Consciousness Comprehensible

Truth is the promise of art and therefore, the artist. But of course, just because the artist chose to reflect the world with perceptual truth doesn’t mean it is proof of what spontaneously transpires. But gradations of truth are measured in the circumstances that led up to the moment the art is conceived. Alfred Leslie said, "To most people, reality is a confirmation of their expectation. Art can present an alternative to what people think they see or to what they expect to see", and if art can reflect oppressive cultural and moral rules and convictions then the purpose is to negotiate them intellectually, to dismantle them devastatingly and to present them seriously.

Art and artist are a single entity. It is impossible to understand art without peering into the artist. I met Upendranath a few years back, when I was still oblivious to the promise of art. As an artist, Upendranath T R came up the hard way. Working from his small room and between odd jobs, his visceral exploration and the need for visual representation of those ideas made him an “unwilling” artist. His choice of materials is as much a part of practicality as that of a simple philosophical stance. Self-taught, free of conventional teachings and guided interpretations, his work reflects a tormented response to humanity’s plight in the tightening grip of modernity while refusing to conform to the culture of reduced aspirations. And yet, the embodiment of modernity is never absent, in his medium or in his concepts.

And so it is with Upendranath T R’s recent exhibition aptly titled “90 – 09”, the collective effect of which is a feverish blend of hope and despair. At first glance it may appear ironical to see shapes made from pieces of glossy magazines, the very materials of modern indulgence, capture the disparity and earnestness of human consciousness at or with-regard to a fussy moment of recognition. What was immaterial as fragments of nothing became material as an idea. A more complex interpretation engaged them as self-consciously appropriated ideas representing a world saturated beyond measure. It is, as if, a result of invasive cultural pretenses and mundane existential justifications.

Upendranath’s portrayal of the human form is interesting for the realization of the failure of human utopia; and that failure in retrospect was inevitable given the human affinity to err. The forms look bleak without much individual personality, anger or humor, maybe suggesting an inherence of nihilism. He envisages deceptively familiar forms intertwined in sequential, spatial and experiential peculiarities as he relies on seductive lines, persuasive curves and an almost insincere perversion of truth to distinguish images and ideas with moral complexity and personal indulgence. The shapes live in the world imagined and play out along the senses. Texts are treated as being more or less straight origins of the social perspective that bind them. Virtue is biased, sheltered and imperfect with irregular pieces of paper animating the fragmentation of the underlying shapes as often; obsessively repeated words belie any sense of clear-cut abstraction. The intense depiction of divergent forces and attempts to offer a sense of belonging and healing in the midst of surrounding hostility and confusion reveals a multi-layered thought process and offers genuine revelation and imaginative engagement some even bordering on moral callousness.

Like with Upendranath’s work, we make sense of the world by isolating it into thoughtful and controlled zones of comfort and understanding to make it more in-tune with our perceptions. While the art itself implies the heights to which an acutely informal kind of imagination can rise, the ideas and implementation betray spiritual anxiety masked by representational imagery. The entire viewing process is presented as a form of perpetual seeking by plunging into meaningful chaos and social muddles, not by alienating them or leaving them behind. And these works challenge my emotional reflexes and my capacities of response. It reminds me of the sheer propagation of metaphors that makes it impossible to not care for the present and past anew and maybe, that the pretense of realism depends on it being perpetually in the past as much as it draws enduring presence from desires still unfulfilled. Or maybe, these are images simply put together to render consciousness comprehensible.

(Few selected works of Upendranath T R from his exhibition "90-09")
(Click on the image for a larger preview)









23 comments:

Callie said...

Wow is all I can say.....
both for the art and your writing

Vinu Thammanath said...

So, finally you caught up with Upa and his work...Its the not the spoken but the unspoken that speakth more...

Karin Bartimole said...

"Art and artist are a single entity. It is impossible to understand art without peering into the artist." As an artist, I couldn't agree with you more!!
I appreciate the way you have presented a thoughtful window into Upendranath's world and art process as well as sharing your response to his beautiful and haunting collages. I am impressed by what he is able to achieve with pages from a magazine! I wish I could see them close up and personally. Beautiful work, and wonderful post! thank you, Karin

nothing profound said...

Beautifully and intelligently expressed. Do you know the artist? I'm sure he'd be flattered by your interpretation of his work.

Abhay said...

@ Karin Bartimole : Thank You. And like you said seeing them up close makes it more personal. Some of the texts are unclear in some of the images that I put up.

@ nothing profound : Thanks mate. Yes, I know the artist. "90 - 09" is his current exhibition and will last till the end of this month.

Encore Entertainment said...

Wonderfully written. You can tell you care about what you write. Nicely done indeed.

kasabiangirl said...

Beautifully expressed...you have interpreted the artist's work really nicely.

The artist's work displayed below is fantastic.

Looking forward to more such posts from you :)

Shabnam Sultan said...

Awesome....... i loved your post. You have beautifully expressed the work of the artist.Keep posting......

Abhay said...

@ Encore Entertainment - Thank You. I do care about what I write. Just don't want to write for the sake of it. Thats why there are just two posts in over a month. I need to catch up. :)

@ kasabiangirl - Thank You so much.

@ Shabnam Sultan - Thanks for the support.

true said...

Well written. Those who know Upendranath and his work would surely appreciate this as would Upa himself.The beauty of Upendranath's work, lies in the vast spaces he leaves in his frames. One feels like he has left them purposefully , inviting us into these spaces and having us explore his surreal universe from within.
And his choice of medium.Its easy to express one's thoughts on a piece of paper but how does one do it with a piece of paper?

Ingrid said...

I have not seen anything like Upendranath's work before! And how you described the artist in your post is absolutely beautiful.. :)

Both true artists,

Waiting for more of your posts :)

Take care,
Ingrid

Happybirdie said...

heyy!beautifully written and exiquisitely expressed...we can make so gud interpretations of small small things ,just that we dnt observe.
looking for more posts from you.
I am following u.
keep up d gud wrk!!

Shafeeque said...

Really Nice One and a Good Start!!
Try to include "About me " so that readers can know u better,,

Shikha Khandelwal said...

Hey Hi Abhay.... thnx for accidentally comin across my blog... coz it gave me an opportunity to come across urs...
I dunno how u might like mine...but I loved ur posts nd way of writin really!!!

Abhay said...

Once again, sorry for the late reply.

@ true : Thanks mate. Two people never interpret art the same way. That's the beauty of it and sometimes also the burden. Thank you for the comment and support.

@ Ingrid : Thank You so much. That means a lot. Sorry haven't been able to keep up much with the posting. But I am writing the next one and it should be up soon. Thank you for the support and also for following me. Think I forgot to say that the last time. :)

@ Happybirdie : Yes we can. Sometimes we miss the small things that matter. Hope I did not miss any and Thank You for following and your support.

@ Shafeeque : Thank you for the suggestion and comment. I will do that.

@ Shikha Khandelwal : I am glad that I came across yours. I really hope you can be the writer that you want to be. Will definitely keep a look out for you :). I like your blog. Wish I could keep up with the pace with which you make your posts ;). Thank you so much for the support and for following me.

Vinay Rai said...

It was the longest post I have ever seen but a good one with life changing expressions.

how to write a successful blog

kay said...

Oh my God, Abhay! This is stunning. I really wish I could see Upendranath's art up-close.
Also, when is your next post coming?

Abhay said...

@ kay : Thank You Kay! Yeah, this is one of the few times when a picture doesn't speak a thousand words.

I did write something, but wasn't happy with it so I deleted it. Now am in the process of writing the next one and should be up in the next few days. Also I am hoping to post more frequently and regularly, like say once a week or at least once every two weeks.
My apologies for the late post.

shreeny said...

Hey Abhay! Good writing style. Hmm had not heard about the artist until now. Good to know this. And keep updating the blog :)

Abhay said...

@ shreeny : Thank You for the compliment and for visiting my blog and leaving me a comment.
And I am getting a lot of complaints on the updates, or the lack thereof.
Writing something now. Just can't seem to be happy with what I write.

Gway said...

I like your Art and the writing. I was wondering if you choose to blindly make some quotes yours without referencing to your sources on purpose?

Abhay said...

@ Gway : Thank You for reading the blog and for the comment.
The Art is not mine. It is of the artist Upendranath. Which quotes are you referring to?

Kannan Nair said...

Good work..very good selection of words..Keep posting..