'Tonight at 9 PM'

Gallery Sumukha Bangalore.

Tonight at 9 PM

- Suresh Jayaram

An artist like Ravikumar Kashi is a strategic planner making the right choices at the right time, changing stance and language with the demands made by the growing internationalism in the visual art field. He straddles many worlds with ease, every move is calculative and his ability to take risks is uncanny. Despite the familiar repertoire that impresses the viewer, he surprises us with an unexpected body of work and gives a tired mind an eyeful.

Moving from a high modern aesthetic of abstraction that dealt with an urban experience, he pushes its limitations beyond a level of using an expressionistic brush. In the recent works, we see touches of realism that seeps into his vocabulary. The 'Shifting Periphery' has moved into a wider horizon, living in a world of global economics in the cyber city of Bangalore. This cosmopolitan and eclectic population of the city is a microcosmic version of any other city in India. Every product launch is targeted to them as the ideal middle class customer, showered with freebies and goodies, luring them to buy. Ravi Kashi's images are a pastiche from the world of these seductive advertisements that speaks to the common citizen to indulge in excess beyond one's needs and reach. It is a world that sells utopia, sheer bliss, instant pleasure, and happiness. This is a world of make-believe marketed through the media through sensuous images that cajole us to see and buy in a spiritually and culturally empty world.

The visual imagery of the artist is a complex collage of signs, icons, repeated like a mantra seen on television. Here, the couch potato finds salvation watching the soaps that are packed with commercials promising heaven from the fairness cream to how to become a millionaire in a few seconds. This is the fragile dream of everyone who craves for instant success and ultimate bliss - the complete man, ideal holiday destination, food, clothing, home and lifestyle. The artist navigates a twilight zone of abstract expressionism and a local version of Pop art. The massive scale of his works affects us as we confront the violent gestures layered with an assault of texts, images, and objects. He opens a niche in the centre of his compositions. This image is sourced from the world of popular advertisement glossies.

It is neatly cropped and enshrined in a sheet of acrylic. They are images of a boy eating ice cream, a macho leather-clad man standing akimbo, a woman in her sleep, a devotee at the Kumbh Mela are collaged with other fragments with words like ""run"", ""sleep"", ""empty"", ""kill"", ""love"" and ""eat."" They also deal with the large-scale photographs that appear in the print media and the ideas of mass production. The use of the hand is also part of the dynamics he uses - simple graphic techniques like stencils, moulds and other repetitive devices arranged with a conscious graphic precision of a designer. Another set of works is a book of alphabets arranged like sacred manuscripts, with similar intentions in three dimensions.

Belonging to a generation that experiments, improvises, in mixed media and assemblages, which is an eclectic strategy, Kashi's imagery transforms images into two-dimensional motifs or icons and uses it liberally to enforce the image of multiplicity in ironic efficiency. The process of assemblage or collage of a real object is anonymous and the technique is mechanical. This is layered over the surface of painterly abstraction - a tension and a contradiction of visual languages. This prosaic, commonplace illustration or objects are layered over the personal brush-stroke evoked from a very private emotion. This juxtaposition owes much to the history of pop art in the twentieth century. In one stroke/gesture, the artist moves from the local to global, side-stepping the national.

His latest works are filled with generative and fecund images of the media, which reflect the youthful buoyancy of India's unchecked global climb. The viewer is confronted with images that are ""ready-mades"" and are impressions or objects taken from life. We are faced with many questions and dilemmas - is it abstraction or a resemblance? We question ourselves about reality - is life more real than art?

'Made in Glasgow'

Solo Show at Glasgow School of Arts, Glashow, U.K.

Made in Glasgow

- Ravikumar Kashi

Living out of a suitcase in a foreign land makes one acutely aware of the few objects in one’s spartan room. Personal belongings that can fit in a small suitcase are all that one possesses. These bare essential things are in sharp contrast to the luxurious belongings that dot the home. And add to this the frequent trips to the super market to buy, and a new insight is gained into the relation between man-object and the state of possession, as well as that of identity.

Objects have several lives. Starting from the factory and ending in the buyer’s hands, they go through a series of hands. The instant an object passes through the cash counter and comes into the buyer’s hands, it gains a new identity. A mass-produced object becomes a personal possession. It is described as “my shoes”, “my shirt”, “my brush”, “my gloves” and so on. By the association and touch of the owner, it begins a new life. Again when the object is discarded and dumped in a dust bin, it loses this unique identity and is termed as `waste.’ It becomes trash like everything else in that category.

The intermediate space between buying and discarding, the phase of possession, how it alters the character of the object, is interesting. While it is in the possession of the owner, he considers it an extension of his ‘self.’ It is assumed that the choice of the product, its brand and allied qualities, somehow, reflect his personality; though there would be hundreds and possibly thousands of people using similar products from the same brand. Those who use these branded objects, at times, feel that the brand image as shown in the media will rub off on them as well, changing the perception of their personality by others. The object fills an existing lacuna in his personality and turns him into a ‘complete man’

In some cases, this association of man-object actually brings an aura to the object, lifting it from the impersonal anonymity of its earlier life. The clothes and accessories of celebrities are auctioned every now and then to raise funds for some cause or other. These objects have additional worth now that the ‘stars’ have used it. The object becomes a mini-celebrity in its own right and people pay large sums of money to possess them for their fetish value.

In on other instances, where the owner has died, like a famous artist or an author- brushes, tubes and easel, or pen, notebook used by that famous personality would be preserved in a showcase in a dimly lit corner of a museum. The object substitutes his presence and continues the legend.

When I present objects like gloves, shoes and brush as “My shoes”. “My gloves”, “My brush” a similar question can be raised. How much of it is actually mine To what degree the identity of the object is coloured by the association Instead of naming it “My brush” if I identify the work with the title “Van Gogh’s brush” would the significance and value of the object alter drastically What is the relation between the title and the visual . The set of works titled `Desire’ are about the habits of possession/consumption. In our day-to-day life, we see media playing on people’s desires. The patterns of possession/consumption and the subjective nature of what is necessity or luxury are brought into focus. Is the quantity of possession directly proportionate to happiness it can generate.

Again, living in a foreign land also heightens ones sense of identity, upbringing and culture. Metaphorically speaking that little suitcase I carry around not only contains my physical belongings but my entire history. Would a change in citizenship alter that inner status radically When people settle abroad won’t they carry this identikit, their sole possession, with them all along Contrast this to the playful face painting, of favourite nations flag colours, just to express solidarity with that team.

Paper has this fragile quality, which suits the fleeting quality of desire. The frail nature of paper is also in tune with transient desire, as it can change its state, unlike rock, and take a new shape with some effort. And, paper documents views / arguments / events / histories for posterity, knowing fully well it won’t last forever.