Abstract of the Project

Title – The Vista 2012-13

Definition, Term and New Art

There are several factors that inevitably influence art works and artists with regard to their creation. Personally, I can identify three major influences on my work. The first is legacy, all that I inherit from my sense of history, secondly there are passion and ideas and the third is the hopes and fears that animate the present. In the strange current cultural situation, my art practice yields resources drawn from olden times, which are then associated with the present through pictorial vistas.

Here I propose to discuss briefly the kinds of inspiration that sustained artists during the 19th century and the new movement that emerged in the early 20th century in India, which has been always an area of interest and a source of inspiration for me. By the end of the 19th century, a lack of patronage and political weakness created a vacuum that was transformed into a new cultural edge. There were a few dedicated people who raised their voices in those days, in an attempt to find support for Indian art, some of the most important were Akshay Coomar Moitra, Sir Rajendralal Mitra and later Swami Vivekaknanda. Prior to these people’s efforts to create awareness about Indian art, Greek art had been considered the highest form of expression and the yardstick against which Indian art was measured. After Swamiji, a new appreciation for Indian art entered Jorasanko House in Kolkata, brought by those like Sister Nivedita , Okakura Tenshin, Coomarswamy to name a few. Later the major Nationalistic Movement [ Bengal School Movement] started from Jorasanko house, Kolkata, led by Abanindranath Tagore.

In India the beginning of this intense movment was remarkable, it was the most important movment around art and culture, something which had never happened before and much of its evidence is still very contemporary and continues to have a significant impact on my art practice.

For the proposed exhibition I intend to explore the first layers of stimulation based on Okakura’s book ‘ The Ideals of the East ’ which is my primary source of identity to begin with. [The first book in the set, on an artist with semi abstract texts]. The second level would be a personal journey [ a psychological one] by Abanindranath Tagore titled ’Pathe Bipathey’[An expedient To aberration] [ the second book in the set of artist books with images ] here his local and global identity is not yet established and the writing leads us to confront a strange state of mind. The third level of this architecture will be constructed around the milieu of Amartya Sen’s Book ‘Identity and Violence: the illusion of destiny’ [The third in the set of artist books with inspirational drawings ]. In this work he explains a confused state of mind, providing guidelines to a way of thinking and reviewing our roots in order to rediscover a connection. He discusses the definition of violence and its source, as well as questions of identity. His work is an architecture, encrusted with history, interspersed with contemporary contemplation.

Exhibits and others elements 

In all there will be 3 or 4 Unique edition Artist Books, 3 referential books on artists [Text only] with a few display components to complete the whole statement.

For the display, a few podiums are required for the books and a comfortable seating arrangement needs to be installed to allow the viewer to have a closer look at the material. The lighting could be of the intensity of a reading lamp. A few, well finished, ply board/MDF structures, may be required in the dedicated space.

Some chosen images will be projected on to the wall and a referential text will be handed out to the public.

The Form of the Artist’s Books – Mode of presentation – ‘The work of the mason,who assembles, is the work that matters. The foundation of one’s thought is the thought of another ; thought is like a brick cemented into a wall. Thus the adjoining bricks, in a book, should not be less visible than the new brick, which is the book. What is offered to the reader, in fact, cannot be an element, but it must be the ensemble into which it is inserted : it is the whole human assemblage and edifice, which must be not just a pile of scraps, but rather a self-consciousness’.

George Bataille, where this book is situated

As a starting point for my work that will take the form of Artists books, I must say that I cannot separate the intimate connection between my source of inspiration [also various books] from my own process of execution throughout my artistic journey. To engage with the book is a form of performance and a manner of taking this process further by the use of different materials and images, thus creating different architectural thoughts. This form of expression can allow a contemporary viewer to make a connection between history and the present in an ongoing act. The book thus seems to be an appropriate structure to share the essential thoughts acquired from other books. It takes the viewer through different experiences using a support that is a visual/ textual journey, rather like a film. It is also a manner of recalling a vast range of past experience and putting forward another aspect of architecture. Clearly the essential quality of an architectural hypothesis is strongly perceptible in the form of a book.

Time period – at least 3-4 days required to install the works

Design of the given dedicated space – a cardboard dummy would be provided by the artist for the carpenter to follow.

Samit Das
New Delhi
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