Dramatic handprints jump at you from the canvases and demand your notice. If you look at them long enough, these handprints — some in black and white, others in a multitude of hues — take forms of their own, somewhat on the lines of a Rorschach test. This handprint series, titled Mind Sees What it Chooses to See, is one segment of theatre person Pallav Chander’s exhibition of paintings.
Titled “Decoding a Dyslexic Mind”, the show marks Chander’s first solo, with close to 40 autobiographical works made over two years. Diagnosed with dyslexia (he also has ADHD) at the age of 10, Pallav grew up with the fear of being judged, and shied away from people. Cut to the present, Pallav works in the limelight, off stage and on it. Brought up primarily by his artist mother Kanchan Chander since his parents separated when he was seven, Pallav grew up in the school of hard knocks. “My tuitions (therapy for dyslexia) used to be in the VIMHANS hospital. The system was such that you had to pay the fees on a daily basis at the emergency counter. At the age of 10 or 11, I was there everyday, standing in queue for the emergency counter. There were sick and dying people everywhere — it was the emergency counter after all. I feel like I grew up before time,” he says. As the 24-year-old sits in his mother’s studio in a kurta and track pants, the greys on his hair catch the light as witness to his words. “People may think that I want to cash in on my condition but I think that if dyslexia is what took away my childhood, dyslexia is what will put me on the right track,” he says.
Pallav’s Obsession with Cards is in my Blood, a series of five paintings in black and white, voices the autobiographical touch with great clarity — “My family is obsessed with playing cards, my grandmother has played rummy every day for the last 40 years,” he says. This series also brings out Pallav’s deep theatre roots. He rarely uses a paintbrush, preferring his hands instead to create an air of theatricality.
Another demarcator of Pallav”s budding style is this — when he is happy, black and white speak through him, and the more upset he is, the more colourful his work becomes. In an earlier version of Biological Knot, viewers had to look long and hard to make out the words “F**k Off, Brother,” that were painted in reverse. He has painted over the words now, something that the Birmingham City University,UK, graduate constantly does to all his canvases. “The process is more important than the finished product for me. Every painting has been painted over four to five times. It’s like a full-fledged play, scene one has just been painted over,” he says.
The exhibition is on at Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, from March 1 to 6. Contact: 24682001