Alone | Together
Riyas Komu & G. R. Iranna
July 20 – September 1, 2012 Press Preview & Opening Reception: Friday, July 20, 6:00pm – 9:00pm
35 Great Jones St., New York NY 10012
AICON GALLERY heralds the first joint exhibition of Riyas Komu and G. R. Iranna in Alone | Together, featuring a selection of iconic paintings and sculptures by two artists long at the forefront of contemporary Indian art. A natural counterpart to one another, both artists turn to representations of the human figure to draw upon the sociopolitical implications inherent in India’s post-colonial culture as affected by themes of religion, media, gender and identity. While Komu’s hyper-realist portraiture focuses relentlessly on the individual to establish a unique identity, Iranna examines the dynamic tensions between the individual and the societal group, particularly in his sculptural groupings of blindfolded naked figures. Amongst visions of conflict and compromise, both artists incorporate multiple layers of narrative into the rich dimensionality of their subjects, weaving powerful allegories into the threads of memory and identity that bind their art.
As a painter, sculptor, installation artist and cultural commentator, Riyas Komu draws inspiration predominantly from manifestations of gender and religion as defining notions of the individual. Komu is predominantly known as a portraitist, having recently completed a series of commissioned large-scale works of prominent South Asian political figures for The New Yorker. “The portrait has become the key trope of our time,” says the artist, expressing his belief that portraiture conveys the human essence lost by other subjects. Creating allegories of the collective experience, as conveyed by individuals captured in attitudes of waiting, foreboding or memorializing, Komu gives prominence to the faces of his subjects, literally giving expression to the wider hardships – famine, genocide, migration, displacement and desolation – of which they are a part. The theme of globalization and the movement of power from individuals and communities, into the hands of corporations and governments is a central concern of Komu’s practice. Presenting an idiosyncratic and fully engaged take on contemporary political struggles, Komu forcefully reasserts the integral importance of the individual in political art at a time when the rise of mass protest movements has increasingly captured the attention of the general media and come to the forefront of recent critical discourses surrounding contemporary art.
A celebrated sculptor and painter, G. R. Iranna’s disquieting canvases and large-scale installations are some of the most haunting and captivating works to be found in contemporary Indian art. Like Komu, his predominantly figurative works are concerned with broader sociopolitical subjects. Synthesizing a confluence of varied inspirational strands of thought, Iranna poses interpretations of agrarian life and allusions to Buddhist philosophies alongside imagery evoking captivity and alienation to chart man’s problematic journey through life. His shifting focus evokes a fluidity of spatial and social contexts, often questioning the blindness of faith in both religion and the mass- consciousness of teeming societies. His figures are often superimposed against ethereal landscapes, as if separated from any possible existing environment and isolated from humanity at large. Iranna’s sculptures follow a similar concept, their tactile quality and submissive postures evoking feelings of empathy, isolation and horror in the viewer. Steeped in notions of restrained or passive resistance, the works are abstractedly realistic in their minimalist modality. We may empathize with his subjects, however, we can never fully enter into their realm.