Manjunath Kamath began the presentation of slides and videos of a lifetime of his works on a cautious note. There are about 100 slides,but I promise you wont get bored, promised Kamath. And true to his word,for over two hours at the Government Museum Auditorium on Friday evening,the visual artist had the large audience go along with him on a journey that was both magical and mysterious.
In Chandigarh on the invitation of the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi,the artist,known for his installations,video art,paintings and drawings gave a clear glimpse of his works,with his reflections. Everything is possible in my work and its all believable too, he said. Influenced and fascinated by Indian miniatures and the magic realism that they exude,Kamaths affection for mythological images is clearly seen in his works. At the presentation,Kamath showcased a repertoire of works starting with 2006,when after returning from Cardiff,he toyed with the thought,whats my responsibility as an artist? to his latest project. He shared that all his works start with a title and then move towards a narrative. After I finish them,they are yours. In my opinion,we first need to find joy in looking at art,and not get too perturbed about finding meaning in it. Art appreciation is a quality that needs to be instilled at an early age,at school level, said Kamath.
Featuring god,people,animals and different philosophies,Kamaths works are inspired by the day-to-day life of any individual who observes things going around him. In his own words hes a capturer of the immediate in painterly images who takes cues from conversations with friends,relatives,street smart guys,storytellers,children,journalists,art critics and so on. All this is to try and go beyond the face value of the words uttered and the mental images created. I look at the possibilities of the unsaid and chances of the unrevealed in my works. So they are always mysterious and playful, pointed out Kamath.
Like in the fables and parables,there are many animals and birds in his works too. I try to create simple but thoughtful narratives by painting quirky situations, shared the artist who uses luminous acrylic colours and experiments with various mediums,techniques,sizes and ideas to generate new images and impressions. He believes,while technique and skill are important they should not enslave an artist,but empower.
For someone who is constantly thinking,ideating and drawing,Kamath threw light on his fibre glass sculptures,installations using varied materials,digital prints and videos,each of which are a comment on life,people,situations,issues of identity,race,social structure and interestingly todays consumer-driven world. Hes quick to admit that hes a collector of images,one who lets his work be seen as a process. No,my works are not surreal, he clarified.
As slides of works like Character from my Grandmothers Story,Marriage in May,Pink Elephant,Paneer Pizza and Photo Therapy changed on-screen,Kamath agrees his world view is quite humourous. I like to laugh at things and through this laughter get into the unrevealed sides of events, he said. Its this attitude that he takes in to his video works. I create imaginary situations,like those in fables and parables,through claymation models. They create one kind of a narrative and I leave it open for the viewers to interpret, says Kamath whose forte ultimately lies in creating fantasies out of the ordinary.