A currency note may pass several hands each day, but does anyone stop and think about the meaning attached to the valuable piece of paper? Bengaluru-based artist Srinivasa M Reddy, who has done a whole series centered around the concept of money, has explored how money can transform a mere mortal into an icon. That apart, he has used money as a medium to make a satirical comment on the current state of affairs.
“My work centres on money, a topic which in relation to art, raises aesthetic and ethical dilemmas. But I do not engage with these issues and instead adopt a didactic position on the effects of money on man,” says Srinivasa, whose work belongs to the lineage of the South Karnataka school, which has produced stalwarts like K V Venkatappa, who was known for exquisite lines and proficiency with water colours.
In the series titled ‘Neta & Netaji’, he tries to convey that in the present world, Netas are hailed as Netajis and the real leaders are erased from public memory. The series includes an image of Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Three Monkeys’, an icon of virtue, against a backdrop of currency notes. He uses both actual currency notes as well as photographically painted currency notes. With this technique, he suggests the blurred lines between the moral and corrupt in society. Reddy’s paintings also include images of his own self juggling coins or peering at currency notes.
“We are accustomed to money floating with us. However, it’s a dilemma of how we have Gandhi’s image printed on the notes, reminding us about the values, but the same can get us anything we desire. Ultimately, my paintings speak of the process of making an icon, where money transforms man — significantly an artist in my case — into an icon,” he says.
The show ‘Neta & Netaji’ is on at Apparao Galleries till July 30, 2015.