Mocking middle-class aspirations
Krishnaraj's approach is direct but cleverly couched in playfulness.
IT IS interesting to see young and enthusiastic artists trying out various mediums such as installations and video art to communicate their aesthetic concerns. Not only do such efforts break the monotony that painting and sculpture bring, they also offer relatively newer and interesting experiences to the viewer.
Krishnaraj Chonat, a BFA from Chitrakala Parishat, Bangalore, and post-diploma in printmaking from M.S. University, Baroda, has already made his mark as an innovative artist. His exhibition, Sinister White, held in the city about two years ago, proved his imaginative eye and delicate workmanship through a set of objects whose form, colour and display brought in freshness and sparkle.
Using the "sanitised" purity of fake fur, fleece, pearls, and prosthetic silicon, he was able to in his own words juxtapose, combine and fuse the precious with the banal, the rare with the abundant, the high with the low, the powerful against the voiceless, and the political with the artistic, so as to evoke a set of concerns without specifying the connections.
This exhibition titled Ideal Living at Galleryske reconfirms Krishnaraj's status as a resourceful artist. Here, his approach is more direct but cleverly couched in playfulness as ever. "The craving for opulence, coupled with an insatiable and obsessive desire to hoard just about anything" provides the trigger for the artist. "After all, falsehood is best enjoyed in a situation of fullness."
As the viewer enters the gallery, s/he is made to feel at home with neatly laid out articles of furniture in a spick-'n'-span milieu. The tall chandelier hanging from the ceiling dominates the room, while on the floor right below is a rolled-out tidy little carpet. On the wall is a bright "painting". And then there is the sofa all white and primed up enticing the visitor to sit and relax. By the side of the sofa is a potted plant. A "sinister white" floods all these items of furniture. Right in front of the sofa is a small stool on which sits a television set playing a popular but bland "soap".
On the face of it, the arrangement is striking with all the flawlessly executed and perfectly positioned furniture. Or at least, they appear so. In a minute, however, the ominous signs begin to show, and the realisation dawns that the artist is after all playing a game. The brightness of the white begins to have a numbing effect but more menacing is the awareness that many of the objects are fakes. The painting is "non-existent" in spirit and the chandelier and carpet are made of material such as fibreglass/fleece, fake pearls and silicon. The wicked cut probably comes in the form of the potted plant. Its plasticity and phoney presence can only enhance the "beauty" of the living room in a vicarious manner.
If the potted plant is lifeless and inert, the sofa is equally illuminating. Its posterior reveals the unfinished part and with it the fragility as well as its falsehood. Is this the same sofa that looked so alluring and strong from the front?
Adding to all this counterfeit objects, the television set with the "looped soap opera" completes the hollowness of middle-class yearnings. Krishnaraj has played his cards well.
The exhibition closes tomorrow.
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