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Juxtapositions of shock and awe revive Basquiat
NIDHI GUPTA  20th Oct 2012

ack in the 1970s, graffiti artist Jean Michel Basquait took the streets of New York by storm by spray painting an angst-ridden commentary across the suffering megalopolis' walls, highlighting the countless contradictions that perpetuate through our individual and collective lives. With the signature SAMO (which stands for Same Old S***) followed by sarcastic phrases like 'the indirectly involved, the easily convinced and the baffled' and '...as a conglomerate of dormant-genius', he strove to criticise the day's way of life, topped off with a crown.

Four decades later, an Indian curator inspired by his art has come up with an exhibition titled 'Suggestive Dichotomies', directly referencing his work that looked at the inner vs. the outer space of an individual. Including 30 works by artist Kanchan Chander and photographer Ridhima Sekhri, this exhibition seeks to look at the dualities of presentation and self-exploration, and everything that lies in between.

The show is divided into three sections: 'Vainglory' which includes Chander's embellished, photo-shopped portraits of popular icons, 'Rebirth', a personal journey into the self by Sekhri, and 'Decontruction', a collaborative zone where the two have joined forces to effect a neutrality of works.

It is impossible, for instance, to guess where the woman, in a black and white turban, is from, or what religion she belongs to. It seeks to question traditional methods of identity and thought. — Sakhshi Mahajan

In Vainglory, Chander has taken pictures of some exceptionally beautiful women that the world can identify — Marilyn Monroe, Madhubala and Audrey Hepburn, among others — photo-shopped them to add layers or angles, and hand-embellished them with sequins and Swarovski crystals.

The next section is 'Rebirth', where Sekhri's austere photos in hues of red, black and grey tell a story of disillusionment. "I've looked at the concept of Maya, a web of illusion that we create around us. It is also through these photos that I depict my journey out of this materialism, into the self – a sort of re-incarnation," she explains.

'Deconstruction' showcases a series of black and white portrait shots of women by Sekhri, with Chander's signature embellishment adding to their austere beauty. The pictures have been deprived of colour, so as to make them women within them 'unidentifiable'. "It is impossible, for instance, to guess where the woman, in a black and white turban, is from, or what religion she belongs to. It seeks to question traditional methods of identity and thought," explains Sakhshi Mahajan, the curator of the show.

With a specific focus on the irrationality and rejection aspect, Mahajan's show is nicely put together. But considering that postmodernism is a much more familiar concept today, the dichotomies suggested here aren't radical, but definitely more aesthetically pleasing.

 
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