Polished, shiny, plastic, glistening, steel, luminous, Sandeep Biswas’ almost life-sized polymorphous photographs glow lucent within the bright, spacious walls of Ashna Gallery. Depicting exaggerated, blown up images of light bulbs, mannequins, plastic water bottles, curtain holders, funnels and other such ‘material objects… that glitter and need no effort in maintenance’, Biswas offers the viewer a meditation on the transient psyche of city life.
Each of his images are knotted, stacked-up and multiple; no object is seen singularly, instead as a cloud of mass production. One of the fascinating aspects of Sandeep’s picture taking is his play with both light and volume. As if seen through a glossy veil of plastic, frosty stains—tints of white and silver and red and gold—call to mind diamonds and mirrors and high class. The photographs are enticing, simultaneously suggesting their artificial, vaguely erotic, futuristic fetish. Objects reflect other objects in blurry, distorted ways, and the cluster of reflections amount to a feeling of an infinity mirror; that these objects and city life surround, engulf, then devour one whole.
Equally arresting is the balance of the show as a whole: gold and silver, vertical and horizontal, light and dark, large things and small things, paper and canvas, focused and unfocused, things hanging from the air, things on the ground. The selection is well thought-out, by Ashna Singh herself, the litmus test being that the viewer did not need a specific textual reference.
Though Biswas’ artist statement is true and relevant, the images could allude to meanings quite contrary. He explains that “Objects & material plays a major role in creating this new world, which overshadows the holistic or organic life. Cities have always been an easy target for migrants who want a better & comfortable life. The life of material that makes them feel stronger than the others. A life full of the objects of desire.” But necessities and comforts are of course relative: These objects, indeed inorganic, struck me indispensable to the lives of city-dwellers that were previously migrants. They bring light and breath to ordinary lives and turn them extra-ordinary. Curtain holders for those people who otherwise have no privacy; funnels that filter water and oil; light bulbs that illuminate a whole house, allowing a child to work an extra hour or a mother to sew with newer eyes. Though the accumulation of these objects appears trivial, the filament at their heart glows with the essential.
The solo exhibit, with ten photographs, is lean. Despite the photographs being full—even explicit—in symbolism, the physical space yearns for more. If the artist could only extend his medium beyond the two dimensional, so that these objects literally obstruct the viewers way—a visceral experience—then perhaps his verbose statement would stand on its feet, lucent, in three dimensions.
-- Himali Singh Soin
Reprinted from Take on Art Magazine
(All images courtesy of Ashna Gallery and the artist.)