It is rare to see an artist work on a style which demands one to intensely research historical identities with its present day state and explore traditional styles of art making from which explodes an entirely new language of its own, a bridge which negotiates the past with the present. This is done in such a fluid manner that both influences can be seen but the language itself is unique and lyrical in its contemporary form. This is just the tip of the iceberg, which forms Rajnish Chhanesh’s exquisite works.
On observing the minarets and tombs one sees a resemblance to identifiable monuments like the Taj Mahal and the Moti Masjid..But the resemblance ends there. What is interesting are the new analogies which are built with the almost cut forms of the stones which seem to speak of a disassociation from their former states of glory. The use of the traditional way of making foliage as was done in the miniatures and the lack of perspective, which is the charm of the traditional miniature, takes place here as well. What it does here, however, is that it makes the viewer wonder if he is pulled to the past or is present in the distraught today with the flat forms one sees now. From beneath the lyricism of the beauty of the work rise the strong voices of disjointed associations with the present where there is neglect and non engagement with these histories and identities, the very entities which built who we are today.
The traditional architectural elements like the pool of water in the center of a garden or a pond are replaced by modern day swimming pools angular and creating an uncomfortable fit within the visual reading of each work. Sometimes one may be drawn to the shadows of a plane, a tiger drinking from the pool or just cast shadows of a minaret or the monument in question. These bring in the element of the absurd which in turn disassociates the viewer from the synchronicity which datelines.
The backgrounds of starlit skies or plain day blues add a certain old world charm where the line segments in form and as drawn icons, raise a question dissecting and questioning the viewer’s comfort with the lull of the comfortable past, distorting and creating an interesting conflict in the visual composition leading to the address of the core points of the concept and issues in Rajnish’s worldview.
The beautiful whimsical elements of the earthy colours, the reflection of the stars and clouds in the water pools and identifiable flora, fauna and habitation bring back a sense of wellness where the sharpness of lines and fallen or twisted architectural segments create dissonance. Thus, Rajnish’s works negotiate contradictions in more than one layer as meaning, concept, style, form and composition.
There is a poignancy in Rajnish’s treatment of the absence or in certain cases like that of the missing portrait of one of the shahjahan –noorjahan lover duo, a lost identity of people. That absence is almost as if these were mechanical elements to a growing mindscape where the unreal objects had more life than its real element – human beings, who are on their rampage to own the world and in that rampage destroy and distruct leaving imprints on all that could live. There is a yearning for the old to be rediscovered and to see the world non mechanical and devoid of the red tape which is seen in the bird cage and the spears outside the main gate of the moti masjid.
This discovery is not morose but is strong in its stand and at the same time mellow and poetic in its beauty. The angular meets the curves, past merges into the present, painting and architecture fuse in a dialogue and one hears multiple layers of unheard voices come up in a subtle yet violent upheaval for questioning, defying their very essence of staying silent and being buried in the sands of time.
VENUE: Galarie Romain Rolland, Allaiance Francaise,
72, KK Birla Marg, Lodi Estate,
New Delhi – 110003
DATE: 12th September – 14th September, 2015