Allegorical Spectrum – 14 Proverbs
‘Every Move brings a Change’ – The change which the proverb undergoes in the course of its evolution in the work passes from a subtle to an engross state – the existence of the manifold, is the oeuvre of Ratnadeep Gopal Adivrekar’s exhibition titled “Proverb In(ter)vetions”, at NUS Museum, Singapore. For the artist living in Mumbai a metropolis, a melting pot where the world's great religions are practiced brings along its own cultural baggage but wisdom is one familiar occurrence which cuts across these several practices. Much new knowledge is admittedly remote from the immediate interests of the commonplace man on the street. The void of these academics is completed by one liner wisdoms or proverbs. The universality and philosophies in these proverbs was what got Ratnadeep interested. Proverbs embrace the wide sphere of human existence: the philosophical antiquary may often discover how many a proverb commemorates an event which has escaped from the more solemn monuments of history, and is often the solitary authority of its existence.
(Excerpt from Allegorical Spectrum – 14 Proverbs, Art&Deal Magazine, 2009.)
The Existential Human Condition
Many contemporary artists are aware of controversial political and celebrity figures of the past. Along with the increasing turbulence of our societies, they are also concerned with the future of their nations. Consciously breaking away from traditional arts and cultures, many young artists prefer to pursue bolder and socially realistic subjects. Thus, it is common to see various world leaders dressed in mocking fashions, figures of women depicted in provocative poses, two dimensional contemporary landscapes, raw human expressions, localized sociopolitical scenes, regular citizens consuming popular brands, animation dolls and computer generated robotic images on canvases.
On the other hand, despite the recent excitement of the “contemporary arts”, many Indian contemporary artists have chosen not to abandon their traditional artistic elements. Instead, they are proud of their traditions, and dream of expanding their cultures while incorporating various contemporary life concepts into their arts. Utilizing a strong foundation in religion, literature and philosophy, Indian artists continuously strive towards creating innovative presentations of new abstract ideas. Such radical methodologies often yield brilliant and compelling artistic expressions. One such promising and talented young artist is Ratnadeep G. Adivrekar.
Born into the family of a prominent artist, knowledge has always been greatly emphasized in Ratnadeep’s life. Growing up in a culture where old literary philosophical wisdom is often not easily understood by common men on the street, Ratnadeep feels the importance of simplifying the academic aspect of the universal truth. Wisdom in a manner of proverbs is widely accepted. It is because many of these proverbial wisdoms reflect the verity of nature, which hold the answers to the many problems in human existence. For many generations, though wisdom has become a familiar concept; unless one is insightful, its understanding and real life application may not be useful. To Ratnadeep, human relations is not based on a single linear model but a set of complex interactions fueled by personal experiences, expectations and interpretations of one another’s actions. Just like a close parachute, a person who is not willing to open his mind to new possibilities will find his intelligence void. Based on the ideas of perceptions and reality, Ratnadeep wants to portray the existential human condition through the instantaneous coexisting chronologies in one’s life. Motivated by his viewers’ artistic appreciation, Ratnadeep strives to evoke the memories and visual intelligence of his viewers through his artwork.
(excerpt from The Existential Human Condition, Asian Art News, April, 2009.)
The allusions to universality and philosophical intricacies contained in these proverbs was what got Ratnadeep Gopal Adivrekar interested. The proverbs in this exhibition are accompanied by a string of qualifiers, by the occasional if and but, constantly seeking to create, perhaps even project an ambivalence. However, such a strategy is approached with caution, for to enter too many qualifications in an exhibition of this kind would be to bury the viewer under an avalanche of indecisiveness. Rather, the artist has taken the liberty of expressing, and even trusting that the reader of his works will understand the stylistic nuance. The artist, having experimented with a wide range of styles and subject matter, brings together metaphors from contradictory or unpredicted sources, both historical and contemporary, by using diverse materials and techniques. Ratnadeep’s artistic diversity and his resistance to simple classification can be seen as a consistent recurring premise in his work. Ratnadeep uses the richness of symbolism nevertheless eluding the mysteries of logically understandable things... Ratnadeep’s work and the proverb theory are presented here – not as final word, but as a first approximation of the new realities.
(excerpt from 14 Proverbs, Proverbial In(ter)ventions: Ratnadeep Gopal Adivrekar, Exhibition Catalogue, Singapore: NUS Museum, 2009.)
My first foray into contemporary Indian art, curating Ratnadeep’s exhibition has been immensely fullfilling. The works render themselves to such multitudinous readings that each encounter continues to ‘haunt’ but also perplex.
Writing across the figurative expressions of the avant garde or defining moments from history or history of art for one frame juxtaposed against a second frame which illustrates a political or socio-cultural episode from world history, it is not easy to locate the work of Ratnadeep Gopal Adivrekar within the seemingly established contours of intellectual and artistic work emerging from non-territorial Mumbai. From his first solo exhibition Memoirs of the Unreal City (1997), his oeuvre spans a broad “culturalist” perspective, including philosophical work on exposing the constructed nature of postcolonial identities and the cultural effects and affects of the unconscious. In his most recent series, Ratnadeep extends this intellectual commitment further with fervent paintings which represent a part re-working of the diptych, but also as an intensely symbolic interactive play which deploys everyday proverbs as strategically inventive bases setting off a complex play of encoding and decoding between the artist’s own conception of the proverbs and its visual translations on the canvas. The encounter between audience, space and artwork becomes mitigated by each new frame which is only but a device to encode the meaning of the other…
SHABBIR HUSSAIN MUSTAFA
(excerpt from “Proverbial In(ter)ventions: In Dialogue with Ratnadeep Gopal Adivrekar” in Proverbial In(ter)ventions: Ratnadeep Gopal Adivrekar, Exhibition Catalogue, Singapore: NUS Museum, 2009.)
Viewing Ratnadeep’s Suite of Works as a Cultural Object
Ratnadeep’s compositions appear like reinventions of the diptych. He juxtaposes two independent scenes within a single canvas. The neat framing of each scene gives the canvas the appearance of a diptych as opposed to a “collage”; the latter typically consists of multiple scenes or compositions which are arranged at best in a haphazard fashion. The two neatly demarcated visual frames, characteristic of this series, also become crucial devices for the encoding and decoding of the proverbs/text which drive the final image-making in this series.
Ratnadeep mostly chooses avant garde or defining moments from history or history of art for one frame. This frame is juxtaposed against a second frame which illustrates a political or socio-cultural episode from world history. This sets off a complex play of encoding and decoding between the artist’s own conception of the proverb and its visual translation on canvas, which as we have seen is aided by an alternative scene from history/art history. For the artist, each frame becomes a device to encode the meaning of the other. These frames, in turn also become devices for decoding the content and meaning of each other on part of the viewer…
(excerpt from Viewing Ratnadeep’s Suite of Works as a Cultural Object, Proverbial In(ter)ventions: Ratnadeep Gopal Adivrekar, Exhibition Catalogue, Singapore: NUS Museum, 2009.)