Posted by ryanlobo on 3/18/11
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Tasveer - Bangalore
Sua House, 26/1 Kasturba Cross Road, 560001 Bangalore, India
February 4, 2011 - March 11, 2011
The normalcy of violence
|Ryan Lobo's "War and Forgiveness" at Tasveer (February 28 to March 19) neither documents the suffering and ravages of armed conflict nor conjures spectacular metaphors of it. Instead, it takes an unusually calm, both close and distanced, look at common places and situations of the everyday to discover how life copes with violence, destruction and poverty. The prevailing sense of normalcy seems to suggest at the same time that people survive and remain resilient by accepting war as something matter-of-fact and that it indeed is inherent, natural to existence.
From images of the ordinary adjusting to this condition the viewer can intuit the wounding and distortion impacted on the human soul and that of the environment, whereas the tinge of warmth, lyricism and humour reassures that not everything has been lost.
Eventually, like the artist writes in his commentary, one begins to wonder about the hardly noticed but omnipresent cruelty in this country and about the possibility of redemption.
Although normal reality reaches us in colour, Lobo's photographs are black and white which enhances the feel of erosion while endowing the whole with a disturbing, sporadically majestic gravity.
The lens-man achieves such complexity of content and expressiveness by sensitively as well as powerfully mediating a number of instinctive and compositional approaches where snapshot-like qualities blend with informal posing, static frontal close-ups or panoramas and classic, almost painterly framing contrast and mix with dissonant angles of randomness in motion and leaning rhythms yielded from within the state and behaviour of buildings, objects, plants and people.
So, among the Afghanistan shots, poppy fields come with farmers or children posing in front of them and with soldiers cutting them, cultivation and destruction ever coexistent, while the mood oscillates between pride or naturalness and the ominous with a dose of the comical. The timeless grandeur of the mountains accommodates troops in relaxation and prayer and a boy vendor against an ancient-looking city network, acquiring an eerily graphic subtlety above an iron landscape of wrecked tanks. Understated juxtapositions hide oppressive extremities, as someone's hand in a car amid urban geometry is seen next to the disembodied palm of a suicide bomber on an empty ground.
They, however, reveal some stained vitality and playfulness too. The Baghdad images may turn poetic urban sceneries symbolic, when they register a beheaded palm tree or a misty dawn over mosques embraced by military helicopters.
Human figures and movement are determined by the heaviness and diagonals of bunker and prison volumes, this environ imposing itself on the femininity of women.
The Liberia images focus on single and group portrayals, intense, raw emotions and dynamic, almost chaotic interactions, while Lobo follows a particularly gruesome general become equally passionate evangelist of remorse and reconciliation among his scarred victims. Perhaps one may admit that we are capable of saving ourselves from our belligerence, nonetheless, what strikes the most is the archaic togetherness of violence and the capacity for love.