CHENNAI: Do myths give rise to superstition or is it vice versa? The myriad connections between fact and belief, history and mythology, structure and chaos and ultimately between the ‘self’ and ‘other’ form the basis of the exhibition Myth and Superstition that is being presented by Apparao Galleries in New Delhi. The artists in this exhibition of multi-media works — Abul Kalam Azad, Deidi Von Schaewen, Hitendra Singh, Manish Nai, N Ramachandran, Siddharth and Sudhir Pandey — explore various aspects of myths, ranging from the personal to the political, to elaborate on the multiple facets of age-old beliefs.
Artist Siddharth weaves a private mythology populated by feminine forms and amorphous vegetal shapes. His application of colour has the subtlety and evocativeness of a dream as he combines elements from diverse sources such as Thangka paintings, South Indian art and oriental traditions. Singh uses a vivid visual language to engage with themes that reflect the Indian cultural ethos and transforms familiar images into vehicles of personal expression. Ramachandran takes these explorations a step further by providing an overview of various worlds, ranging from the mythical and childlike to the real. Nai works with jute in his art. The material has a special place in his life because his father had a jute manufacturing business that had to be later wound up, thus making the material redolent of both nostalgia and hurt. Like Nai whose works are rooted in personal history, Azad’s works are based on photographs of Kerala, a State known for its traditions of myth, magic and rituals, and for its politically aware populace. Azad merges the two aspects of his homeland through amorphous digitally modified spaces that refer to the fluid political structures in the country and its commonality with the unpredictability of myth.
Pandey engages with the aspect of the mythical in contemporary life and probes into the relevance of faith in today’s contemporary world. Using man-made material such as plastic and cardboard along with photographs, astrology charts, viscous red drips of wax and threads, he creates a pictorial surface that refers to India’s cultural life as well as to the contemporary.
While Pandey literally focuses on the veiled presence of myth and belief in everyday life, Schaewen focuses on the omnipresence of the transcendent in the mundane world. Photographing tree shrines in India, she highlights the visual and cultural accretions that transform everyday objects into symbols of transcendental power. Her work makes one ponder profound issues such as environmentalism embedded in oft-repeated myths and beliefs.
(Poonam Goel is a freelance journalist who contributes articles on visual arts for unboxedwriters.com)