Pain, poverty, war: Art that is born of ad­ver­si­ties

The Sunday Guardian - - Artbeat - BY OUR COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Pan­dora’s Box, a group show of com­pelling con­tem­po­rary art­works cu­rated by its co­founder Son­ali Ba­tra is on dis­play at Delhi’s The Stainless Gallery.

The art­works cu­rated are in­spired by the an­cient greek myth and metaphor used in our mod­ern lan­guage, “Pan­dora’s box”. The provervial phrase refers to the havoc that im­med­i­tately arose af­ter Zeus handed Pan­dora a beau­ti­ful box with a big lock say­ing, “This is my gift to you. Don’t ever open it.” As Zeus an­tic­i­pated, Pan­dora’s cu­rios­ity led her to open the foribid­den box, end­ing the golden age. It is said that as soon as Pan­dora opened this box, she un­leashed hu­man evils and end­less trou­bles in the world such as greed, envy, hunger, poverty, vi­o­lence, pain and war.

The show will ex­hibit works by some of In­dia’s lead­ing con­tem­po­rary artists such as T.V San­tosh, Shilpa Gupta, An­jum Singh, Su­nil Pad­wal and Ramesh­war Broota. It jux­ta­poses these along with art­works by emerg­ing con­tem­po­rary artists from In­doen­sia, South Korea, Viet­nam, Rus­sia, Czech Repub­lic, Nether­lands, Spain, Poland, Ro­ma­nia, South Africa, United King­dom and United States of Amer­ica. The col­lec­tion of di­verse art­works strings and es­tab­lishes the anal­o­gous na- ture of angst, stress, distress and the frag­ile na­ture and times we live in.

The con­tem­po­rary art­works fea­tured in the show sym­bol­ise and re­flect so­ciopo­lit­i­cal ad­ver­si­ties that are preva­lent in our world to­day. We are in­creas­ingly be­com­ing more ap­a­thetic as in­di­vid­u­als and as a so­ci­ety. We choose to con­tin­u­ally trade com­forts of to­day by pass­ing the bur­den to the next gen­er­a­tion. This con­stant mis­use of take has re­leased evils into the world which we can­not take back. “Pan­dora’s Box” show­cases artists from 12 coun­tries across the globe to high­light the uni­ver­sal need for power that has plagued our earthly para­side.

Some art­works cu­rated for the show are satir­i­cal and a com­ment on the harsh ur­ban life pres­sures shap­ing our so­ci­ety. For ex­am­ple In­done­sian artist, Tatang Ga­nar high­lights so­cio-po­lit­i­cal prob­lems by paint­ing re­cur­ring themes such as the im­bal­ance be­tween the cap­i­tal­ist and worker’s life. Sim­i­larly South Korean artist, Sung-ha Ahn paints or­di­nary ob­jects as metaphors such as cig­a­rettes, which give psy­cho­log­i­cal com­fort to peo­ple its con­vey­ing the se­duc­tive tox­i­c­ity.

There is sig­nif­i­cant rep­re­sen­ta­tion of global is­sues such as war and ter­ror­ism in the col­lec­tion. For ex­am­ple, Deny Prib­adi’s paint­ings por­tray hu­mans as preda­tors and their in­nate greed and need to dom­i­nate, colonise and fight even if it’s done for lev­ity. Lyra’s works re­volve around the pol­i­tics of iden­tity and is­sues of dis­place­ment, move­ment, his­tory and mem­ory.

The ex­hibit also show­cases a vivid se­lec­tion of por­traits that cap­ture the psy­chologi- cal di­men­sions of hu­man evo­lu­tion. Artists such as Alexan­der Ilichev, Daniel Clark, Mary Chiar­monte and Carlo Gabuco delve into the dark side of hu­man na­ture of­fer­ing a nar­ra­tive that re­flects a wide range of hu­man ex­pe­ri­ences. Sim­i­larly, Czhech Repub­lic Stet­lana’s in­no­cent char­ac­ters co-ex­ist in a frag­ile world of har­mony and dream, un­fold­ing the depth of the life lived by the sub­ject in an imag­i­na­tive and com­pelling way.

While ‘ Pan­dora’s Box’ draws light onto life’s mis­eries that ex­ist in our world, it also em­p­hazies on hope, the only thing that Pan­dora left trapped in­side the box. The ex­hibit hopes its view­ers to en­gage with the thought­pro­vok­ing works and start a broader-di­a­logue about ethics, morals and hope, which has stayed with us till this day.

The show em­braces paint­ings and pho­to­graphs by artists such as Ramesh­war Broota, Shilpa Gupta, T.V San­tosh, An­jum Singh, Su­nil Pad­wal, Sung Ha Ahn, Deny Prib­adi, I Made Wi­randa, Svet­lana Kur­maz, Byen Ung Pil, Carlo Gabuco, Klau­dia Krzysz­tonek, Hon­gru Yao, Xi­adong Cui, Steve Lawler, Daniel Clarke, Mary Chiar­monte, Viet Ha Tran, Ion Vacare­anu, Alexan­der Il­lichev, Pepijn Si­mon, Maria Aparici and AgataZynch­linksa. The show is on view till 19 Novem­ber

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