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The artist as a chronicler

SUNOJ.D, WHO also goes by the name of Rinku Palakkad, beats off challenges that come in the form of criticism with a flair that you later acknowledge in his art. His works sometimes defy comprehension, you tell him. Can brand names screaming out for attention from old newsprint, pass off as art? Obviously a common protest because it bounces off him with ease. But Sunoj has the time and talent to explain.

His move from Palakkad to Bangalore four years ago was revolutionary in as much as it was fraught with change. He was here to pursue a fine arts degree, which he is in the midst of doing. What came, as a bolt from the blue to him, was the colossal pull and reach of advertising; it followed him wherever he went, unnerving him with its persistence. The kitsch culture of consumerism left an impact that was difficult to shake off. The svelte mannequin in shopping malls wooed and tempted, providing a readymade source of imagery for his paintings.

He starts off from where the newspapers stop, using it as a surface for his painting. As he does this, he explores and uses the very rules of advertising that are based on timeless logic. Repeat yourself so often that it becomes a mantra. The mannequins find themselves on many canvases, each time striking a different pose. This reiteration serves two purposes; the artist gets better at expressing his idea and it gets ingrained in the viewer's mind. He wants to partake in India's tryst with pop culture and confesses getting inspired by Andy Warhol, the doyen of pop art.

Beauty and aesthetics take the backseat, as it is the idea that he seeks to promulgate. It is not style or technique but the idea that is supreme. "It is when skill and idea marry that a great work of art is produced," he says. And the world of consumerism is a cauldron simmering with inspiration.

Sunoj uses the mediums of stenciling, silkscreen and signage graphics to his advantage. He explains an etching print done in white; "I see lots of colour in white." His works are interesting as they revise our perceptions, of the way we view and respond to the world around us.

Sometimes artists are reluctant to create anything that might shock the viewer, preferring to settle within the broad outlines of what had been previously defined, he tells you.

Their art is "pretty," it agrees with the audience, goes down well with critics and brings in the moolah.

While this might be an easy option, the comfort cover cannot last for long, as it is not meant to be.

In more ways than one an artist dons the mantle of a chronicler. His works reveal and deal with the interests and happenings of its time. When eye-to-eye with modern art, (a euphemism for one that is not immediately understood) an uninitiated viewer loses interest; unable to unravel the mysteries that lie submerged in the canvas, he closes his mind. "But if you stay long enough, art will bond with you. The picture will speak its language and haunt you, often leaving you mesmerised."

Sunoj D's collection was on display at Gallery `B', Durbar Hall Art Centre, from October 20 to 26.

S. K

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