Art in a materialistic culture
The plucky Ravi Kumar Kashi qualifies to be in today's genre of experimental artists. Hs tenacity to shift mediums from time to time and his ability to reflect consumerist culture is manifested in the recent series of works on handmade paper titled `Made in Glasgow,' writes B. PADMA REDDY.
OBJECT PLAY: Ravi Kumar Kashi works out interesting images. Photo: K. Ramesh Babu
AN ARTIST is a product of his environment. The milieu in which he or she works consciously or unconsciously conditions his or her works. Since society itself is in flux, the artists' visual vocabulary too undergoes a metamorphosis as they try to grapple with issues and problems in their own way. Ravi Kumar Kashi, an artist from Bangalore who has mounted his works at Daira Centre for Art and Culture is trying to reinvent and place himself strategically in the modern consumerist society.
`Made in Glasgow' is the exhibition of art works that Ravikumar Kashi is travelling with after a three-month study at the paper making resource of Glasgow school of art under the British Council Charles Wallace India Trust fellowship from September to December 2001. After showing at Chennai and Bangalore, the show opened at Daira Centre for Arts and Culture in the city recently. A graduate in painting from the College of Fine Arts, Bangalore, 33-year-old Kashi, completed his masters in printmaking from the M.S. University of Baroda in 1990. The past decade in retrospect corroborate Kashi's personality as a young man who consciously treated the art field with defined plans. His guarded moves and strategic decision of travelling across the country, working in various institutions with a variety of artists belonging to different generations and groups, enhancing his academic qualifications, deciding to be a freelance artist by giving up a lucrative lecturer's job at R.V. College of Engineering in Bangalore, his choice of galleries and above all the constant shift in mediums manoeuvred a career with impeccable clarity and the general restlessness of a beginner .
Over the years, Kashi has evolved as a plucky artist combining his interest in literature and reading, his academic skills as a prolific realistic painter and his tenacity to shift mediums from time to time.
Hurdling past the conventional painting on paper and canvas, followed by the various mediums of print making and collages, smoothly sliding into mixed media or large format, Kashi progressed into today's genre of experimental artists, firmly nestling into the contemporary art scene.
`Made in Glasgow' is a set of fifteen works broadly categorised under two heads - `Desire' and `I, Me - Myself', in tune with Kashi's ever changing mendacity where medium is concerned.
These works are made in handmade paper prepared by Kashi himself which manifest into seemingly simple compositions, involving casting of the paper pulp, creating textures and patterns by using dyed paper pulp in various colours, within the paper compositions, realistic picturisation of certain objects and photocopy transfer of some more on to the prepared paper canvas.
They are a combination of technicality and the thought process of an isolated man - an autobiographical allegory of an alien in a new land, discovering various nuances of his association with his day-to-day objects of necessity.
The constant presence of simple objects in the spartan room in the hostel or at the supermarket becoming sources of inspiration, giving rise to complex and interesting theories regarding the association between object and man, `the intermediate space between buying and discarding, the phase of possession, how it alters the character of the object' -- all these are Kashi's contemplations that emerge at technically inclined works, with a tactile moulding of aesthetics and sensory listing.
Says Kashi, "objects have several lives. Starting from the factory and ending in the buyer's hands, they go through a series of hands.
The instant an object passes through the cash counter and comes into the buyer's hands, it gains a new identity. A mass-produced object becomes a personal possession.
SKILL AND TECHNIQUE: The artist makes paper and moulds forms.
It is described as `my shoes', `my shirt', my brush,' my gloves and so on. By the association and touch of the owner, it begins a new life. Again when the object is discarded and dumped in a dustbin, it loses this unique identity and is termed as `waste'. It becomes trash like everything else in that category.'
There is much more narrative to Kashi's rejuvenated diligence. Yet the works under the heads `I, Me, Myself' and `Desire', on the whole are simple personifications of Kashi's obsession of the simple things like his shirt, brush or shoes that are an intimate part of him during his travel and stay or `Desire' that cannot be negated at the sight of an ice cream or a cigarette despite the warnings of calories and ill health they come with. Kashi has also used paper as a metaphor for `paper has this fragile quality, which suits the fleeting quality of desire.
The frail nature of paper is also in tune with transient desire, as it can change its state, unlike rock, and take a new shape with some effort. And, paper documents views/arguments/events/histories for posterity, knowing fully well it won't last forever. Reinforcing his thoughts is the text in pencil written on the works that also facilitates to understand the artist and further enhances the quality of the work.
Over the years Kashi has participated in number of curated shows, group shows and annual exhibitions (including the 10 Triennial of India in New Delhi), in several painting and print-making camps in various parts of the country and his works are in several public and private collections.
He has won several awards including the national award in the 42nd National Exhibition. His solo shows were held at Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai, Venkatappa Art Gallery, Gallery Sumukha and Crimson Art Resource in Bangalore, Vadhera Art Gallery, New Delhi and Glasgow School of Art in Glasgow. He has executed murals for various corporate houses and private residences, contributes regularly to newspapers in Bangalore and lives and works there.
The exhibition is on view till November 18 between 11.00 a.m. and 8 p.m.
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