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Compilation of surprises

The book `Chintala Jagdish: Unmasked' offers a rich and captivating assemblage for the eye


IMAGINE: IF only we had the ability to conceal emotions the face would have been one monotonous frame of inanimate expression for a lifetime. Happiness, guilt, anger, sadness, jealousy or even giddy-headedness wouldn't have been understood as we understand these faculties today. In fact, emotions are outlets that purge the human psyche and act as cathartic exercises that answer the complexities of the inner self.

Yet, civilised society demands the human mind to mask the very nature of emotional life. Indeed, it is important to be detached from emotions but before such an objectivity is processed it would be pertinent to understand emotions before conditioning oneself to camouflaging this inexplicable rhythm of the human face.

The flamboyantly designed Chintala Jagdish: Unmasked, an engaging flip book of masks and quotes, produced by Gallerie Publishers, acknowledges the absorbing nature of Jagdish's contemporary masks.

Designed, compiled and edited by Bina Sarkar Ellias, the book is a stylish documentation of the sculptor's masks. Here the concept is sagaciously divided to complement the colourful artifices with the quotes of a range of globally celebrated personalities.

While Jagdish's masks are attractive and humorous by themselves, the accompanying text provides yet another dimension to the image. For instance, in the first section, which is a reasonable plaster of intellectual wit, the American comedian, George Burns' (1896-1996) statement, is an apt sprinkling of sincerity and sarcasm. It reads: Too bad that all the people who really know how to run the country are busy driving taxi cabs and cutting hair.

On pages 28-29, American filmmaker and actor Woody Allen (1935), is boldly splashed on the flashy lime yellow art paper sans a mask, which goes as `I'm astounded by people who want to know the universe when it's hard enough to find your way around Chinatown'.

The bizarre, bold and beautiful masks of Jagdish are brilliantly marshalled by Ellias. Playing around with the scale of the masks, she has a knack of teasing the eye with her page layouts.

The book is a compilation of small and big surprises; sometimes a group of masks are organised in the economy format but then the very next page spells luxury. Combining the sculptor's Indian, western and sometimes absolutely contemporary masks, Chintala Jagdish: Unmasked offers rich and captivating assemblages for the eye. Supported with a text by Ranjit Hoskote, the book fuses art, text and design into one.

Chintala Jagdish: Unmasked, Rs. 800/-, Studio Gallery, G-3, Buckingham, Amrutha Valley, Road No. 12, Banjara Hills, Tel: 23323108.

ATIYA AMJAD

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