Delhi-based Studio Art gallery's inaugral show shows similarity between two creative minds

Internationally acclaimed Pakistani artist Khalil Chishtee, who is currently based in New York, credits his Sufi upbringing to trust the ordinary and find worth in dirt in this case, trash bags.

Published: 28th March 2021 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th March 2021 06:48 PM   |  A+A-

'Bedtime Ritual' (L) by Khalil Chishtee

'Bedtime Ritual' (L) by Khalil Chishtee (Photo| Special Arrangement)

A showcase of quietude and self-examination. A celebration of a year that forced corrections on the world, compelling many to face their inadequacies. The ability to recognise a time that brought about strength, a sense of freedom and a reintroduction to oneself.

This in short sums up gallerist and art curator Ashna Singh’s exhibition This & That. Comprising painting, video, sculpture and photography, the show is on at the newly launched Studio Art in Delhi.

Singh says, "Peace is being restored, not through compromises, adjustments or filling voids but by simplifying the unnecessary and understanding the essentials. Our inaugural show is an amalgamation of choices humanity has been gifted with a choice to choose how to proceed forward and to repeal what doesn’t serve a purpose anymore."

Amid the range of works in diverse mediums, from use of trash bins to staple pins, from wood to bronze, and from ink to acrylic, two artists stand out with their works that are starkly differently, yet connected Khalil Chishtee and TV Santhosh.

Internationally acclaimed Pakistani artist Chishtee, who is currently based in New York, credits his Sufi upbringing to trust the ordinary and find worth in dirt in this case, trash bags. He uses the bags to model human forms, displayed like a soul caught between two realms. "My trash bags have the ability to hold the content of my work with more love and care. It bends itself for me like clay or any other traditional modelling material," says Chishtee.

Titled 'Unbearable Lightness of Being' and 'Bedtime Ritual', his work in this exhibition is an attempt to connect two worlds the world of reality and fiction, the world that we live in and the world that lives within us.

As an artist, Chishtee's works bring to mind the words: The world was created out of nothing. The artworks begin with a single knot, and then after many knots one is able to trace a form emerging in the space, which grows bigger gradually.

"Another phrase that comes to my mind while working is: nothing is wasted," says the artist, whose debut show in Delhi titled ‘Between the Lines’, was also in collaboration with Singh. For the same, he resorted to his recurrent themes of war, religion and other power struggles, merging them with text a practice, which he believes, enhances the meaning of the visuals.

While his works made with trash bags are personal and emotional, his text-based works are made out of either wood or metal, giving it a more broad narrative.

Like Chishtee, TV Santhosh also uses things that we are content to throw away, as a means to express his creativity. A known name in the field of contemporary art, his works almost take you back to the 'Unreal City' of TS Eliot's 'The Waste Land'.

Technology is progressing at breakneck speed and systems are getting upgraded overnight, replacing the old one and relegating it to a wasteland of obsolete electronic items. From this space emerges Santhosh’s sculpture in bronze, titled 'Obsolete Objects'. "These sculptures are a kind of re-imagined documentation of obsolete objects that have become part of nostalgia today," says the artist.

Objects that remind us of a bygone era, memories that talk about many cultural and social changes, successive paradigm shifts happening in technological advancement - these are what define Santhosh’s oeuvre.   

An artist who believes that discontent breeds art, Santhosh looks to Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky’s words: "Art would be useless if the world were perfect, as man wouldn’t look for harmony but would simply live in it."

His installation comprising 30 metallic dogs with LED panels strapped to their backs, 'Hounding Down', which became part of the prestigious Frank Cohen collection, earned him worldwide acclaim. As always, there is a dystopian vision to the artwork.

The LED timer devices set in a counting down mode remind us that our days on earth are numbered and we are edging closer to the final doom. "An artist's creative endeavour is a continuous process of a dialogue that happens at different levels. And this dialogue cannot be completely insulated from the outside world. Every day you wake up in a turbulent world. And there is no way out," he says, explaining his dystopian vision.

When & Where: Studio Art, Delhi; Till May 15


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