Experimenter presents ‘Do you know how to start a fire’, an exhibition by Ayesha Sultana, Biraaj Dodiya, Prabhakar Pachpute and Rathin Barman employing political, illusory and anthropological lenses that embody their fields of vision and yet are unbound by the physical.
Through a new series of oil paintings, Prabhakar Pachpute continues his inquiry about exploitation of land and mineral resources in which he imagines the future of a post-mined and post-industrial landscape. He uses personal experiences, research and folklore, represented by characters in his paintings, drawings, animations and sculptures, that confront, subvert, or even succumb to the pressures of economy and capital on land. His works on view propose as much a state of disarray as they indicate a chance of optimism. A precarious visual equilibrium emerges to indicate a time that is at the precipice of change. Pachpute proposes a possible afterlife of objects and people who inhabit the landscape today, where an alternate legacy exists or even calls to action for revolution.
While Pachpute looks outwards, Biraaj Dodiya introspects on her own self and searches for personal experiences in her work. Dodiya’s paintings take the form of a lament; bringing together signifiers of youth and mortality, discomfort, relief and absence. The paintings, part funereal abstractions, part nocturnal landscapes, are primarily studies of uncertainty and distance. Moments of abrasion and resistance are hinged from slivers of light, balancing movement and stasis, form and vision. Like an excavation site, the works in Do you know how to start a fire resemble an embroidery of chaos . The process of applying paint, scraping it off and slapping it on becomes undecipherable and refers to moments where sequences of events are a blur and not chronological. Dodiya is interested in metaphors that develop through modes of making, where erasure of meaning becomes a process of negotiating with time, navigating a space between the inner self and trepidation in moments of personal loss.
Landscape and the relationship of the body with its surrounding is explored in Ayesha Sultana’s paintings. Through her understanding of tempo, rhythm and movement, Sultana’s paintings convey an emotive force. In Untitled, her complex handling of the medium is evident through expressive and dense washes of paint that reveal a sense of intense motion and energy, yet subtly underscore subtraction and distance. By employing this gestural and rigorous application of paint then scraping off the layers of excess, Sultana’s works begin to refer to a moment when things start to coalesce in the understanding of the whole as opposed to the singular.
Anecdote, insight and memory play a crucial role in Rathin Barman’s practice. For over a decade, Barman has been exploring the nature of built structures and what lies beyond the visible. Immersing himself in old decrepit mansions in north Kolkata, where he lives and works, Barman assimilates memories through his sculptures, building fragile scaffoldings of connections between the architecture of these homes and the people who live and thrive in them. Often in doing so, Barman finds the structures and relationships of people inhabiting them to be closely intertwined like a thinking, alive and rich entity, entirely unlike what it may appear on surficial engagement. Standing as fluid markers between the rigidity of built architecture of brass and concrete and the pliability of transient emotions of current and previous residents, his work in the exhibition made with construction materials such as concrete, iron and brass explores these interconnections. The exhibition primarily explores alternate ways of viewing of our surroundings through the layered practices of Ayesha Sultana, Biraaj Dodiya, Prabhakar Pachpute and Rathin Barman.
Very rarely, a minute moment in time seeds a thought or experience which alters the course of the expected narrative, throws open frontiers that were unimagined and ushers possibilities that may have been stifled by boundaries, whether metaphysical or physical. All it takes to start a revolution is a spark – Do you know how to start a fire?