Desire in August

Desire in August

Gallery: Solo Show in Vadhera Gallery, New Delhi.

Essay Title: Desire in August

Author: Ravikumar Kashi

Year:  2002

I want to name the show as ‘desire in August’ . I will come to the reason for the title a little later.The works in this set are triggered from watching the media / advertisements closely.

I have made hundreds of clippings from magazines, newspapers and promotional catalogues. Each painting is triggered by a powerful media image and then associations are built, other image gets connected to it. All the images including photographic images, colour saturation, graphics, the font style and the tone of the text as well as the overall sleek appeal are generated from either print or electronic media.

As if I am refusing to see directly, not a single image has been either drawn or generated or sourced directly from what I see around me. Everything is filtered through a secondary source resulting in the construction of a secondary reality. I suppose one can also think of me as a visual scavenger.

Something curious happens in this filtration process. Media projects objects, people and experiences with a certain ‘tinge’. This ‘tinge’ is carried over to my work because of my scavenging.

Media/ads creates desire/want where there is little or none; it plays on the psychological state of the receiver. It associates images, people and ideas in a way that is not always logical. All the activities –Love, Kill, Eat, Sleep, Run, and Empty – are coloured. It wants you to eat certain things, sleep on a certain brand of bed, look like a certain hero; killing of course has become a spectacle thanks to action movies. The words used in the work are activity based, suggesting a certain attitude to life.

In the works there are references to computer print outs, state enforced censor in the electronic media by digital distortion (in the work ‘what will people think’ – kissing is censored), digital noise (in the work ‘win’ - girl with an apple), pop patriotism witnessed during cricket matches by painting the face with colours of the Indian flag (but apparently this loyalty can be transferred as people were also painting their faces with Brazilian flag colours during the recent foot ball match), business pages- their emphasis on competitive spirit, growth and success. Get there - A.S.A.P. If I am sourcing from the media, playing along with it where is the contest – the space for reflection and stating the anti thesis There are images in each work, which would be considered as contradictory to the main thrust of the work. Like the rocking horse in the work ‘Run’, now rocking is a perfect antithesis of movement per se’, as it is stationary and only simulates movement. Or the title ‘What will people think’ - makes the whole activity apologetic, changing the tone. In the work, ‘Sweet Dreams’ waking is reminded with an open eye, mosquito coil. It is also about overstating, too sweet to bear so that it starts affecting in the reverse.

The whole format is like watching a TV. While scanning through the channels we come across various images, incidents, but each channel is seen isolation; Advertisement for a tooth gel as separate from the image of terrorist killings, which one saw a moment ago, in the news/ documentary channel. When this flow is seen as a continuous stream of images, the contradictions, which arise, are mind-boggling. Even while reading the newspaper or a magazine the left half ad about a fashion suiting would be juxtaposed against a farmers suicide or drought. But we don’t connect them. The format of a diptych (in paintings like ‘Indian’, ‘Portrait of an Artist’) has this suggestion of opening a page. There are also references to the reinforcing by repetition in the media, over stating and the language of appealing.

I make notes in a diary, as and when the idea occurs, with small drawings and text as to how a particular painting can shape up. Later when the actual painting starts changes are made, new associations creep in and the painting gains a new twist.

And finally, is desire different in July than in August or April. It is not, but it can be made to feel so if the media thinks so. Any month can become a special month with lots of discount shopping ops and packages, though the earlier month was also special because there were some other goodies on the block. Keep wanting – that’s the word. Embers of the desire have to be kept glowing, whether it is January or February. Hence, the title ‘desire in August’

Desire in August

Ravi Kashi, Works 2002

By Ravikumar Kashi