Ashish reviews an art exhibition currently on in New Delhi, till the end of this month, exclusively for Different Truths.
Let’s talk about art. The question then comes how we should talk about art. A philosopher of Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai, Ravindran, used to give an example to his student while talking about how to understand things. He pointed at a table and ask his students, “So what makes you say that it is a table?” Students like me wondered in the beginning, what kind of question is this, I mean who does not know that it is a table. Slowly, as his lecture continued, we learned that the table is just not defined by its role, it can also be defined by the material used, the colours painted, its design, etc.
Is this the same thing Derrida’s “deconstruction” tells us? Possibly yes. Then again, like philosophy art is also subject to interpretation. A similar experiment I did sitting at a student café in Oslo. My friend, Guttorm, and I were trying to convince a common friend (Jana) that “glass” is “candle” and “water” is “fire”. We managed to convince her, after a few hours (it took us about three and half hours to do so).
Recently, at an art exhibition in New Delhi, I met Dr. Sukant Khurana. Sukant is a scientist, artist, writer, and entrepreneur. He was born in Delhi, India, and has spent most of his professional career in the United States. His science focuses on ameliorating human suffering and coming up with innovative data science solutions, while his art focuses on exploring the human condition. Sukant has worked on efforts to encourage education, sustainable development, women empowerment, environmental, and healthcare issues. In his free time, Sukant keeps himself busy working on art projects, traveling off the beaten path, capturing wildlife on his camera or having long chats with friends over a cup of coffee.
We are making a movie about how people in India respond to paintings. The title of the movie is “What’s the fuss about Sukant Khurana’s art?” We would be recording people’s reaction to his art-style and interviewing all interested. We would also focus on people’s interaction with the artist. Do people respond to signature or art or both? What is the role of a gallery? We are making a movie and looking for more and more people to join in the making of the movie.
From 20th to 24th of April, his artwork, which usually range from creative destruction of one layer hiding the previous layers and process being central, all the way to destructive creation, where each layer is washed immediately after creation, leaving only a small contribution to overall art, would all be on display in Delhi. The title of painting exhibition is “From creative destruction to destructive creation”. The themes would be fake-smiles, circling while, and breaking free, an autobiographical journey, where each day of the exhibition, different art-works would be put up. The venue is Cafe de art, Connaught Place, Outer Circle, New Delhi.
This is just a beginning. We would be working on next series on people’s response to work on neurological disorders and alcoholism. Following that, we are working on paintings that get revealed only after a transient top layer is washed away but the patron does not get to see the real painting until she or he takes it to their home. This social experiment would address the role of signature in art. We are also working on making a movie about making a movie about alcohol addiction. Dr. Khurana recently talked about these experiments in his TEDx DTU 2017 talk too.
Photos by the author.
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Ashish Kumar Singh is interested in human rights issues. He has two Masters Degrees in social sciences and works towards making the society just and democratic. He has over five-year experience in policy research, project management, governance assessment and development communication. He has also honed his skills in data collection, literature reviews and preparation of reports and concepts notes. Ashish began his career as a journalist and writes for the print and online media.