Experimenter presents Ground Control, a solo by the late artist Kanishka Raja, with a body of works that converge several strands of enquiry that ran concurrently in Raja’s multi-dimensional practice. The exhibition opens at Experimenter – Colaba on 9th March and will be on view until 13th May 2023.
Deeply interested and influenced by handloom textile weaving, Raja grew up within a family steeped in textile design and weaving, a craft needing exceptional control and skill, and whose fundamental structure underlay in the grid – a form that was a consistent source of exploration. Raja also played several field sports growing up, and remained interested in them, especially because these sports are defined by lines and rules that qualify these lines, which form a scaffolding for the work in the exhibition.
Ground Control brings together a series of woven paintings that were especially crucial in Raja’s practice. The works on view were woven by highly skilled craftspeople, in close collaboration with Raja, on double-weft handlooms in Phulia, West Bengal. He was interested in their translation, the slippages in the transformation of form, from drawing to painting to scanning to weaving on the looms in India and back on stretchers in his studio in Brooklyn as woven paintings – from art to craft and from paper to image to thread. Since the works went through several processes, some fundamentally made in Raja’s studio and others in weavers’ pit looms, Ground Control explores aspects of control as well as its absence.
Kanishka Raja straddled multiple worlds simultaneously. Acutely erudite in music and equally conversant in literature, politics, philosophy and history, he was an artist who could lead the viewer to enter his work from different points of view and emerge from it with several kaleidoscopic visions of how we may understand our world. Ground Control sheds light on Raja’s multiform practice, underscoring a constant pursuit in plurality of thought, materials and processes that held influential positions in his life and work.
Kanishka Raja (1969 – 2018) was born in Calcutta and lived and worked in New York and Kolkata.