The matchstick as a metaphor
06 December 2011, 10:32 PM IST
Feminine Fables: Rajesh Prasad Srivatsava
Gallery Trapezoid (Delhi) will present 'Feminine Fables'a solo show by Rajesh Pratap Srivatsava. A series of 14 large works and a set of miniatures create a world of stories within stories for the world of the contemporary or urban woman. The clothes that they wear are the mapping grid of India's relief and land textures. Srivatsava's women are candid creatures who relate to Indian myth as well as the modern day world.
A flight in an airplane is all it takes to change an artist’s visionary construct and bring on a plane of terrain and texture in sensibility. To create works that translate the relief features of land masses and distill human embers within the visage of the female form is the signature of Lalit Kala National Awardee Rajesh Prasad Srivatsava.
In the format of the idea of creating fables within fables in the feminine domain, not far from a giant roll of land and vegetal features you'll find a series of match sticks at eye level. But for a few moments don’t be fooled that there isn't much to look at. Indeed, under most conditions, there is a good chance that you wouldn't notice it at all. When the sun reaches the right point in the sky, however, a twinkling composition of light and shadow springs to life on the canvas and stories unravel. The match stick can be an ornament, a tool, a pen placed in a pocket, a woman's hands, the part of flight or even a bow for a musical instrument.
The metaphor of the matchstick is what meets your eyes in this solo showing.
In conversation, Srivatsava is avid and engaging. His studio, a comfortably cluttered small space in Chittaranjan Park is a hub of activity unfolding in multiple directions .It is filled with static, fragmentary objects, waiting, like a musical score, to be brought to life.
"I'm interested in the idea of using the matchstick as a relative context –where it’s not physically solid or substantial having a larger life," he says. "The opposite of that — what I'm historically reacting against — is the idea of a painting projecting itself into the world the same way each time, such that you could identify it. I want for the work to not have that kind of identity. To be more complicated, more reactive to what's around it, in a constant state of fluctuation." And I believe that it is always women who are the core of every story that happens. Women for me are like modern day Sitas, each having their own facet in a world of struggle. And the matchstick is a small but useful tool, it is protector and instrument.”
Even his miniatures which are basically two-dimensional and static, have a feeling of oscillation and insight. They seem pieced together from countless fragments of paper, but they are painted landscapes of a sort, charting not the appearance so much as the experience of a place, but time in an hour glass. In the large work called Mappings, he creates sprawling, disjointed and disorienting compositions based on aerial photographs taken while flying and gives it a large frontal gaze with the single matchstick stuck in the ear lobe.
(Feminine opens at Trapezoid on 12th December, 2011)