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The colour indigo evokes various memories and experiences for the Indian collective. At one level, it is a natural dye used in a myriad of Indian textiles and traditional printing techniques. Yet, unmistakably, it is also reminiscent of the complicated history of its cultivation and how it morphed from being an inherent part of the Indian textile and handloom industry to the object of its exploitation during the colonial era.
Thus, Abishek Ganesh J’s works feel almost subversive in their rendition of the hue on organic materials. It’s a reclamation of meaning, and evocative of the artist’s own experiences with the material, one that includes the mysticism of music, landscape and culture.
Kaimurai, Untitled A1, A2, A3, 2019
Abishek Ganesh’s solo exhibition Shadjam under the name Kaimurai, is a collection of 29 works on display at Blueprint.12 in Anand Niketan, New Delhi. Each work comprises of natural indigo as the medium on a variety of canvases - from handwoven textiles, to canvas boards and handmade paper. And it is through the simplicity and organic nature of the materials that Ganesh’s intent and expressions become louder than the works themselves, filling the space with a feeling of stepping into the mind of the artist and seeing the inner workings of their subconscious.
Kaimurai, Untitled SN1, 2020
For instance, his series of untitled works, referred only to by their serial number, are broad single brushstrokes of indigo on handwoven fabric. Dark and saturated in places, light and streaky in others, the colour and shapes tell the story of aggression, and the manifestation of chaos and energy through a single stroke of paint, charting the complexity of the artist’s relationship with the flow of energy as he visualizes it. Its a mind-map, and voyeuristic almost for an observer to see the inner workings of the artist’s struggle with chaos, vibrations and energy.
It is also reminiscent of a dance - of brushstrokes, paint and the artist’s subconscious, working to the groove of music that moves in waves and curves. It's Carnatic music in indigo, raw and unfiltered through the experience of it for the artist.
Kaimurai, Ambara III a,b,c, 2020
One of the recurrent themes of the exhibition is the symbolism associated with the sky. In a series of works titled Ambara, the Kannada word for sky, the artist plays with natural phenomena that litter the skies everyday. From grim and heavy clouds, to storms and clear skies, its how the land interacts with elements of nature, and of the forces of wind and water that make up the skies, that are reflected in the way the artist portrays land and the sky.
Interestingly, its also a study of the metaphysical, as the effects of the skies and winds is felt only through its tangible effects on land. The turbulence of the skies remains invisible to people, and yet its chaotic or calming energy is felt across. The exhibition allows the viewer to stand in the midst of a sky painted by the artist, and feel the rage, aggression and chaos, yet also the peace and serenity that the sky can bring to an individual.
Kaimurai, Nara VI,IV,I, 2019
The chaos and the mysticism of one person’s experience with the world culminates in the works titled Nara. Nara showcases something veiny, hairy and fibrous, zoomed in to show the divots, reflections and shadows in its structure. The structures of indigo, akin to human hair or a woven thread, join together horizontally to reach the end of the room, which features three works of the same series, except with the structures standing vertically. The series is not placed in order of their numbering, but in the sequence of their ends joining together. Standing in the room, there is a sense of claustrophobia, or of strangulation, as these strands move in one direction to pull the viewer closer to the end. It's cage-like, with writhing and fibrous bars that enclose the mind, with a merging of the physical and metaphysical to create a tangible enclosure that exhibits an intangible prison of experiences, energy and unbridled formation.
Kaimurai, Naadi III a, b, 2020
Shadjam is the experience of walking into an artist’s mind and finding yourself trapped in the chaos and energy that resides there. It's the way the artworks are placed that subconsciously move you through the space into the inner-most sanctum of Ganesh’s mind, where you then find yourself enclosed within the manifestations of mysticism experienced by the artist. The exhibition feels like a mystical journey, as the indigo changes form and meaning based on one’s own perception of music, culture and the workings of the subconscious.
Shadjam will be on show at Blueprint.12 through October 30th, 2021. You can find out more about the show and the artworks on their website.