February 4, 2009 2:57:31 am
Dislocation and migration are recurrent themes in the works of Kolkata born artist,Kanishka Raja
Airports,stadiums and malls,for most of us these are little more than urban public places,but for Boston-based Indian artist,Kanishka Raja,they are symbols of change. Symbols that figure prominently in most of his works. An airport is a transitory place. Its like an in-between land,which people have to negotiate before traveling somewhere. On the other hand,a stadium is where people passively participate in the proceeding. They are mute spectators. And malls today are not only places of trade,they are social forums. And all these places reflect the changing nature of todays world, says Raja sprawled comfortably on the sofa of his Ballygunge Place residence. The tastefully-done living room spells evolved aesthetics,but Raja,who has been called an exceptionally interesting painter by the New York Times,claims that he has nothing to do with it. My parents are very creative people. What you see here is all about them, he beams. Everything but the dazzling wall painting of a strange,disorienting space,which dominates the room. I painted that during my college years. Its is a reflection of a youths state of mind,I guess, he concedes.
As a matter of fact,most of his works are reactions to recent events. Its impossible for a modern artist to be isolated in his experiences. His or her work has to reflect the times in some way or the other, he says. Painting he feels, empowers modern man to think beyond technology. Two thousand years ago,people used a stick with a few strands of animal hair to paint on walls; today they use the same thing and calls it brush. While other forms of creative expression has changed a lot,painting remains the same, he claims.
His latest exhibition,titled I Have Seen The Enemy And It Is Eye,which debuts in Mumbai this week,is very topical. In many ways it talks about migration,which is the cause of much conflict in the modern world. There are many reasons for it-environmental,political and economical. I try and address these issues in my works, he says.
Citing the works of contemporary Indian writers like Amitav Ghosh,Raja reiterates; I am reading the Sea of Poppies and I realise that he too is talking about the same issues. He narrates an untold story about the heroin trade to make sense of globalization today,I use my paintings, he says. So the fragmented world of empty airport lounges,glitzy malls and stadiums,come together to form a composite whole in his work. Come to think of it we are more connected than ever today,yet so isolated, he says.
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