HYDERABAD: The spaces inside and outside us need the continuous influx of what is nourishing, and sometimes if something unwanted enters the sphere, the unwelcomed elements culminate into something that only an artist’s perception can elevate to a different altitude.
And this altitude can’t be just linear, it can have multiple dimensions if the viewer chooses to go deeper inside the creation. Hamburg-based artist Jan Ratschat tries to do something similar through his installation artwork ‘Indian Billboard Society’ at Dhi Artspace. The ongoing exhibition is supported by Goethe Zentrum Hyderabad.
The installation is placed in the middle of the gallery and forms a pentagon with five billboards. It creates a closed space with a small door-like entrance for the viewers to get inside the rectangular artworks arranged side by side. You enter to witness hand-printed fabrics tightly-wrapped on wooden frames. The colours -- jade green, earth red, topaz yellow, and faded blue appear to be in sync with one another especially with the block-printed patterns.
On the opuses are written a few English words in golden ink without leaving any space signifying the withholding of free thinking when in the urban jungle the vision encounters blockage and hence a disturbance is created both on the conscious and unconscious planes. This is how the artist has captured the billboards of Hyderabad. This is the first time that Jan is visiting India. But how did he come up with this idea? He explains, “I was watching YouTube clips about the streets of Hyderabad. I didn’t just see vendors, cloth merchants, cattle and pedestrians I also noticed the huge billboards blocking one’s vision. I decided to reverse it all bringing the experience inside a closed room.”
For the frames he bought the fabric from the local markets of the city. Says the curator Anja Ellenberger, “It’s important to touch and feel the ‘experience’. Jan tested the cloth before going ahead with the installations.” Other than this, in a corner of the art gallery a video of his artworks plays in loop.
It’s interesting to see emerald glades, fresh-blue lakes and sparkling glaciers on the canvases captured from the artist’s visit to Northern Europe. Other than being an artist, Jan also stands up for environment-related issues. The opuses in the video are seemingly contrasting to the installation which negates and balances it all at the same time. The exhibition is on till October 27.