Conditions for the Perichoresis

A group exhibition titled “Perichoresis” was inaugurated on March 29 at Bharat Space Art Gallery, Gurgaon. This exhibition will continue till April 19, this exhibition has been curated by Joni ML. Johny ML is a writer, translator, art historian, art critic, art curator, editor of art magazines, poet and prolific blogger. He has three post graduate degrees in Creative Curating, Art History and Criticism, and English Language and Literature. Here is the curatorial note for this exhibition written by Joni ML.

We are in a peculiar socio-cultural and political situation in which the dominant ideologies that direct the general thought process of our country are not really conducive enough to create works of art that are capable of critiquing the contexts where they are originated, circulated and appreciated. This negative eco-system of fear and anxiety is not new in the world history. In such scenarios artists find new ways of expressing their angst and perspectives either by conjuring up an entirely new set of symbolism or resorting to a self-censorial articulation. This kind of camouflaging the critical aesthetics has been the engine of art history which other- wise, for the lack of such ingenuities, would have been rendered it staid and stagnant.

Inventive modes of articulations need not necessarily be happening in isolation, especially when artists find themselves in strange and unfriendly environments. The new techno-capital economy has scattered the centralized production of goods, products and consumables, including the aesthetical objects. Pandemic years normalized the decentralized practices of ideation and production through this new work from home’ culture. Perhaps, for the artists who operate from their studios this may not have presented a greater challenge, however, in the afore- mentioned hostile socio-political contexts, despite their scattered existence in different places, they tend to form groups and cooperative structures through which they could not only ideate among themselves, as a spiritual route of survival, but also exhibit their works finding common platforms that could temporarily put them together, seeking public appreciation and assessment.

Coming together aesthetically is more difficult than getting closer ideologically. In the latter scenario there will be written and unwritten ideas and manifestos that function as a glue to grouping. But in the case of aesthetical camaraderie, each one in the group has to hold his or her stance without submitting to the dominant orga- nizer who could be from among the group or an external agent. However, when a curator is involved, for him it is all the more challenging to see the temporal group- ing of the artists who are aesthetically divergent with no ideological adhesive and to bring them under a common curatorial argument. A curator with no vision would hang a few works together and give a seemingly common title so that the varying ideas and aesthetics may look contained within the given context.

This grouping of eight artist is temporary as anyone could see from the displayed works. But in strange times temporality of coming together and dispersing after a certain duration is a way of surviving as artists. Kanha Behera, a Delhi based artist, since the completion of his formal art education, has been trying to prop up tempo- ral groups of artists and in a couple of occasions he succeeded in putting them together and getting positive responses in terms of appreciation and sales. As a curator, I have been following Kanha’s activities and helping him out by writing introductory essays for the exhibitions. This time, he wanted me to be the formal curator of the exhibition at the Bharat Art Space Gallery, Gurugram. Kanha, when he approached me, already had convinced this set of eight artists and had almost chosen the works of art. Technically speaking, he should have been the curator of this exhibition. However, I decided to shoulder the responsibility because of two reasons; one, it was a first-time experience for me to work with a set of artists who were chosen by someone else. Secondly, I knew a temporal grouping of artists without a manifesto will stay in history only when they are mediated by a curator, with proper documentation.

Perichoresis, is perhaps a tongue-twister title. Thinking of it, when there are not only tongue-twisters and brain-twisters but also common-sense twisters as titles of exhibitions these days. I thought of bringing forth this word as the title of this show mainly because I found the word aptly and simply holding the works of these eight artists together. Artists, Rajesh Kumar Singh, Nidhi, Chitaranjan Moha- rana, Kanha Behera, Bipin Bihari Martha, Promod Baruah, Jyoti Kushwaha, Rohit Supakar, though different in approach towards life, art and the present contexts of their visual ideations, have a common characteristic to share in/through their works; a kind of divine celebration. Whether they have gone by the dominant religious streak prevailing in our country today or they have opted an idiom which balances the dominant and latent streaks of the current cultural affinities, one thing could be said for sure that they think deeply about life without fear or anxiety. They seem to defer those feelings pertaining to the socio-political realities and celebrate life in a positive way. Some of them are starkly figurative and some are definitely abstract. Some have taken the road of non-figurative symbolism while experimenting with the size and shape of the pictorial surface. Now, to quell your curiosity, let me explain the title, Perichoresis. It is a divine dance; the dance of the Triumvirate of divinity. This concept of the dance of life spirits and forces is common to most of the religions, and in a secular context, it is the dance of life itself.

Chitaranjan Moharana is the only sculptor in this group. In the wood and mixed media sculptures, Moharana underlines the need for environmental protection and preservation of seeds for the future through metaphorical and symbolic methods. Kanha Behera has been a traditional Tiger Dancer’ with considerable knowledge about its history, mythology and techniques. He brings forth these ideas both in a narrative and conceptual fashion in his meticulously done paint- ings Nidhi employs the feminine power as exemplified in the traditional miniature and palm leaf painting tradition in Odisha. She uses woodcut as a medium to create her works. Rajesh Kumar Singh, in his circular paintings, presents the ‘place of existence’ from a bird’s eye perspective. He approaches his works as if they were constructions meant to be built through complex layers and multiple symbolisms.

Bipin Bihari Martha responds positively to the dominant cultural narrative of our country and dives into the mythological lores in order to eke out the images for his skillfully done paintings and drawings, Martha, in an expressionistic way models the godheads without compromising their iconic existence in the popular imagi- nation. Promod Baruah invests his creative energies to capture the cosmic under- standing of the universe through painterly interfaces. Baruah’s works are suitably titled as ‘Creation’ and ‘Brahmanda.’ He conceives the universe in all its complexities and executes it with required symbolism. Jyoti Kushwaha, in her non- figurative woodcuts frames the ‘nature of knowledge, Khushwaha seems to underline the fact that knowledge is not linear and two dimensional. She presents the ‘form’ of it in a zig-zag manner. Rohit Supakar takes up Mediatic Realism as his chosen style. Using various popularly recognizable images, Supakar paints human hopes, longings, competitions, vanity, delusion and celebration. In one of his works titled Wings of Imagination’. Supakar presents a boy, totally in communion with the nature and its beings, imagines a free world where he could fly freely. Does it mean that he lives in captivity? May be the artists in this exhibition, through their works, are speaking about the times that they are living in.

-Johny ML March, 2024

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