Barcodes and aluminium screws. Telephone wires and switchboards. Creeping vines, automobile parts and human psyche. If you think these are some pretty unlikely combinations of every day things, then you haven’t seen Chippa Sudhakar’s art installations. For he takes the unlikely and moulds it into a coherent whole — so that his automobile parts, bar codes and creepers all make sense when put together.
Sudhakar’s exhibition at Gallery Veda, ‘Technology Vs Man’, combines the every day with bizarre — but still manages to evoke the kind of reaction artists long for but cannot accomplish. With a combination of etchings, wood in mixed media and several brilliant installations, Sudhakar expertly manages to showcase just how deep technology has managed to creep into everyday life.
“Youngsters these days cannot live without technology. Their lives practically revolve around it. That is why I decided that exploring this side of humanity, one that is involved so closely with technology, would be an interesting aspect to showcase,” says the artist, who is back to Chennai for his third solo exhibition after six years.
And interesting it is. The etchings, beautiful and stark in their depictions of human relationships, are comparably run-of-the-mill next to the vibrant artwork of technology. Wood, carved very finely, papered oh-so-carefully with aluminium foil and then painted over with bold acrylic colours — that’s what Sudhakar’s mixed media consists of. And the boldness is not confined to the colours alone. A bright blue acrylic, titled ‘Mindcode’, depicts a conflicted human mind — there’s a barcode running at the back of the head while there’s a lotus, signifying peace of mind (and possibly, all positive emotions) at the front. The human mind is surrounded by vines creeping along. The main function of the vines, Sudhakar explains, is “to depict the positive emotions in the psyche. The plants grow naturally, but they’re not without ups and downs, just like the life of human beings. But they still grow against all odds. They represent positivity in my work.”
Sudhakar’s best work, his most compelling pieces are not his etchings or his wood art. They are fibreglass installations — of lifesize human heads with auto parts and flowers inside. It sounds bizarre, but the installations, collectively titled ‘Transplantation’ are stunning — you cannot tear your eyes away from them no matter how much you try. “Like I said, it is technology against the human mind. They both struggle for control, but in the end, neither wins,” signs off Sudhakar
(The exhibition is on at Gallery Veda, Nungambakkam till the end of August.)