In his latest solo show, on view at Delhi’s Vadehra Art Gallery, artist Gigi Scaria seems to be saying, “You can have everything you want, but at what cost?” Entitled Ecce Homo: Behold the man or How One Become What One Is, the exhibition includes Scaria’s sculptures, drawings and videos all created in recent years.
The artist takes the name of the exhibition from the title of the final book written by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. The philosopher believed that a superhuman is one who has the ability to manoeuvre through all the challenges that life throws at him.
For this show, Scaria extends Nietzsche’s idea and shows the consequences a man could suffer in order to become superhuman after the Nietzschean model. He places his works under his preferred theme of the urban life and its effect on humans. Scaria looks at socio-political conditions in an urban context and offers a mix of serious and playful metaphors through his art.
Conviction is a set of three drawings by Scaria on display here. In one of these drawings, the artist refers, through the torso of a male figure, to the Hindu deity Hanuman, who, in keeping with mythology, has his chest split open. In the mythological version of this story, the image of Lord Ram resides in Hanuman’s heart, now ripped open for all to see. But in Scaria’s take, what we see inside the man’s heart is not Ram’s image, but flashing digital signs of play, pause and play. “Nowadays, too much of religiosity in our surroundings makes you a puppet in someone’s hand,” says Scaria. This artwork makes you think of the selfdeclared superhumans in our surroundings.
In another of his artwork, which is a video entitled Disclaimer, a similar power structure is seen. “It was the news of lynchings that made me make this video,” says Scaria. In the nine-minute video, we see hands of a magician who is shown playing Three Cup Shuffle, a popular trick game where one places different objects under different bowls and the viewer has to judge the placement of the objects after the trickster shuffles the bowls. In another scene, there’s a village and several dead bodies. “I made the video in such a way that it seems it is the magician who is doing all these tricks,” says Scaria.
The sculptures are the most appealing of his artworks on display at the show. He has used classical figurative style in making these sculptures, which are small in size and are placed on the walls. “I knew that I wanted sculptures but on the walls of a gallery because it is the high-relief style that I really like,” says Scaria.
A fine example of Scaria’s mastery of this form is a bronze piece titled Ringa Ringa Roses. It depicts female figures holding hands while standing in a circle. “One can see the various perspective of the sculpture. I was making it more like a drawing