The ordinary iron fence is his metaphor for boundaries — geographical and psychological. It is what Sumedh Rajendran turned to when he depicted the history of immigration in Vancouver in August this year, or even at his current exhibition in Delhi, where the fence is the signifier of distance.
It is the boundary that runs through Metal Shoulders, the solitary figure in wood and metal, or an untitled collage where the crowd manages intersecting paths at his exhibition at Vadehra Art Gallery, on till Saturday. “It is a universal symbol, everyone associates the fence with limits, boundaries that can’t be crossed,” says the Delhi-based artist.
Titled “Split Distance”, the solo comes to the Capital after five years. In between was his acclaimed satirical work in tin plates and rubber tyres, Lower Ribs, in the travelling exhibition “Indian Highway”. In 2012, he was at the inaugural Kochi-Muziris Biennale, taking a jibe at the Malayali fascination for wood in his installations made of laminated interiors.
At the current exhibition too, he has wood installations suspended from the wall in the form of landscapes. “These are reflections on water. The exterior world impacts the interior and visa versa. The reflections indicate how realities are distorted,” he says.
Born into a family of artists in Kerala — his grandfather R Govindan Chari was a professor of design and father G Rajendran a well-known artist — Rajendran, was inclined to sculptures at an early age. Years following his graduation from College of Fine Arts, Trivandrum (1994) were a period of confusion though. On a quest to find a new language of art, he headed for post graduation to Delhi College of Art. This trip from Kerala to Delhi is what the globetrotter terms as his longest journey. “It was a cultural transformation and gave me a different perspective,” he says.
Rajendran found his theme in stories of migrants like him and in the urban chaos. In this exhibition, he carries forward his dilemmas of displacement. The bird too is caged — its wings are trapped in the fence in Foot on Vertigo.
Rajendran looks at the dilemmas of displacement in his work Renuka Puri
The story appeared in print with the headline Not on the Fence