Commonplace objects that we disregard and later discard in life have umpteen tales to unveil. Each object has a memory and history attached to it. Objekt, an exhibition at the Durbar Hall art gallery conjures up bouts of nostalgia for the days gone by through objects that deceive our eyes primarily as banal and run-of-the-mill. A conscious rediscovery of the space to which we belong, through the objects that come across in our life is the central theme of the show that has the works of four artists.
Memories drive Ali Akbar when he revisits the narrow streets of Dhaka that smell of spices. Reflections on those days were the muse for this Bangladeshi artist who later got intrigued by the way the space is a peripheral concept in the American city of Dallas where he lives now. The works of the artist, mostly in white, have multiple textures in acrylic. His works are minimalist when compared to the other artists’ depictions at the show, yet carry the same idea on a meditative level.
‘Yellow Rain’, done against a pitch black backdrop is one of the eye-catching works, and the artist says that it is the rain of romance. Another striking work in white, ‘The Boat’ has a dreamy character and we can fantasise images of a grey boat and other objects. ‘The River’, another piece in white is again about the waterways of Dhaka, while ‘Rainy Night’, a work in grey tint is the artist’s yearning for the mountains of the place. Akbar, who has been working at the Dallas Museum of Art for the past 20 years, says that his mind is boiling with memories. White is a colour dominating his works. He says the reason for this is his emotional connect with the colour. The day his father passed away, he was sitting alone in his room and a white beam of light came through the window, which he assumes was his father.
Sculptor Reghunadhan K feels that the object that he creates is a work of art only, and one should not conceive it as the real object. No wonder the artist who believes in the liberty of the creator has made his fibreglass goat in yellow colour.
In the work titled ‘Leap’, there are green creepers around the animals’ leg which is there as the goat will stand there for long. A red bottle that signifies the commonplace nature of life is also seen. In another striking piece in fibre glass, ‘The Kiss’, a couple are seen cupping each others face. Faces concealed in latex covers indicate the commotion within their minds. ‘Conflict’, done in cast fibre glass and wood, has two figurines that are seen brawling with each other.
‘Hangover’ is a humorous piece of art that has a pile of random objects like fish, book, tin and box, placed topsy-turvy. Connecting it to a typical Malayali’s love for booze, the artist says mischievously that it may be the after-effect of a person’s drunken state. There are some small works done in terracotta as well that are equally thought-provoking.
Sebastian Varghese’s antique Willys Jeep, Ambassador car, Royal Enfield bike, steam engine, done adeptly in water colour are all a trip down the memory lane. He has connected the history of the country through his memories of objects that he finds significant.
The series of vehicles also has a truck full of cars that signifies the present is the natural culmination. Chairs of different type reflect the banality of life, that can be surpassed only by recapturing them as fond memories, believes the artist.
The pull-chain, sink, cushions and other quintessential parts of a train compartment takes us to the memories of winding journeys. Sebastian, who lives in the US, believes that the selection of the good and the bad memories helps to bring an intimacy to life.
Anto George has been working on the series of objects from 1997. It is interesting how trivial dolls, paper stacks, matchsticks, bottles and other random articles that can be easily dismissed as trash, can rekindle memories.
On a conscious note, we can see that the paintings, mostly done in pastel, are the imprints of a certain period gone by. Anto has included a collection of bamboo toys done with pen and ink that too easily merge with the mood of the show. The show is on till February 24.