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In search of an identity

The `self' emerges evidently through signs and symbols in Ameen Khaleel's works



Shadows of past experiences: One of Ameen Khaleel's works

WITHIN THE present context of what is generally termed the post-modern scenario, art as an expression, for many artists, has become a complex process — appropriations, choices, simulacra (sameness) — battling with the visual and sensuous bombardment that they are subjected to from various mediums.It is in this milieu that one needs to look at the works of Ameen Khaleel, an artist from Kerala, who is holding his one-man show at Alliance Francaise.

Looking at Ameen's work, you realise that all artistic productions and aesthetic experiences require a constant renewal through imagination. And Ameen from a period of isolation, when he went through a process of intense introspection, has emerged to mark his `self' within the artist community. The `self' emerges evidently in most of his compositions through signs and symbols. His use of imagery transferred from digital prints as in "Well" or printed digitally directly on canvas as in "Imthyas kissing his wounds" is fragmented and borne out of his experiences. These fragments or parts of the human body have the power of conviction to transform or gestalt into complete forms through the imagination of the viewer, which the artist subjects to, through such indexical vocabulary. And this is where Ameen significantly makes his human forms fragile, reflecting his own vulnerability in a society where distinctions of caste, class and colour still persist. His "Imthyas flying in imagination" is pregnant with these signifiers.

Identity crisis

Ameen tells the story of Imthyas who is unknown to the viewer but has a close bond with the artist, in which Imthyas' royal clan with their own kingdom (symbolised by the cat in one painting) was usurped by members of another race, thus marginalising them to a subaltern condition. Imthyas is portrayed dark and half buried under the ground, symbolically remaining in that state and incapable of rising up from the present status that he has been pushed to. Obliquely, the artist's identity crisis gets reflected through Imthyas. Ameen, who is essentially a self-taught artist, went through the process of acquiring various skills from varied disciplines as computer graphics, representations in electronic media and fashion designing. And he translates them appropriately to the needs of expressing his life's experiences.

This type of tutoring that he has subjected himself to becomes obvious; particularly in the way he is able to control his strokes and colours. The colours are vividly alive. So much so that his works exude dynamism.

In addition, the artist has also scribbled his thoughts on the canvas in Malayalam script, making his frames vibrate with taut tension. An air of surreality permeates his works, wherein the artist's fantasies and imagination have been given a free rein, allowing a happy escape into another reality, which he calls "Penumbra of life lines". Quite ironically, the shadows of his past experiences find a cathartic release in this body of works.

The show is on at Alliance Francaise till April 2.

ASHRAFI S. BHAGAT

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