Possible impossibilities of art

Rahul Mitra’s exploration extends beyond societal critique to reflect on the relationship between nature and urban development.
Rahul Mitra
Rahul Mitra

HYDERABAD: Rahul Mitra, an artist who captivated the audience with his installation ‘Box City’ at NEWS Art Fest, is back with his solo exhibition, ‘The Elephant in the Room,’ hosted at Gallery 78. This latest showcase invites viewers into a world of introspection and reflection.

Featuring 20 paintings, Houston-based artist Rahul Mitra’s artworks at the exhibition delve into the intricacies of science, gender disparity, social consciousness, religions, globalisation, politics, and more. While a few are inspired by real-life scenarios, the idea behind the other paintings is drawn from the characters in his books. The centrepiece of the show titled ‘The Elephant in the Room is Not the Elephant’ incorporates a caparisoned elephant in a room with a chessboard floor and four people running helter-skelter. This thought-provoking piece blends diverse elements to spark conversations about uncomfortable truths and societal norms.

Explaining the painting, Rahul Mitra said, “It refers to topics that we ignore when we don’t want to face them. It’s just something happening between these four people but could also be something entirely different. For example, ‘The Annunciation’ is a famous painting by Sandro Botticelli. In it, the angel Gabriel comes to tell Mary that she is going to give birth to Jesus. How can a virgin give birth? In my painting, I’ve taken two different civilisations or cultures together and connected them to contemporary affairs, like what are women’s rights in terms of abortion. The checkered floor is reminiscent of a chessboard. If you look at these four characters in the painting, they seem to be locked in some sort of a chess move.”

Rahul Mitra’s exploration extends beyond societal critique to reflect on the relationship between nature and urban development. Paintings such as ‘Box City,’ ‘The Sprouting,’ and ‘The Churning’ highlight the impact of human progress on the environment, making viewers understand our role in shaping the world around us. Reflecting on his artistic journey, he said, “I think, I am more interested in the content of what I’m trying to say than how I say it. And everybody has their tastes. Everybody has a distinct style. Stylistically, I have achieved something and it is based on my interaction with my own culture and the cultures that I have grown to live with. There are references to multiple cultures in each of these paintings.”

Beyond his artistic abilities, Rahul Mitra is a writer and scientist born in Hyderabad. Works such as ‘Garden of Inequality,’ ‘Daughter of Dvitiya,’ ‘The Extraordinary Dr Hex,’ and ‘Usurper’s Dream’ are a few of his paintings inspired by his books. These paintings interweave precise details of the characters, with a few common elements like snake and ladder and scientific references. Using oil paints and acrylic as his medium, Rahul Mitra creates a world of possible impossibilities on canvas. He shares the interconnectedness of his creative works, saying, “I am into art, science, and writing. For me, all are interconnected. Whatever I do is interconnected because I am the one doing all of them. I can’t seem to separate or want to separate them. They feed into each other. It’s ongoing. I would say, it’s a work in progress.”

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