Surreal yet sombre

ByProma Chakraborty

Mar 22, 2019

An exhibition that captures the scenario of today’s world through narrative sequences and two-dimensional canvases

“Bodies falling, fallen, prone, smouldering, pierced by flying arrows, dissolving, are castaways, debris from refurbished histories.” Cast in a grave overtone, artist Ranbir Kaleka is back with a set of multi-surface video projection on display at an exhibition titled ‘Fear of a New Dawn’.

Kaleka’s sombre works reflect on the present times haunted by the stubborn after-images thrown up by fear, hate, and violence. Initially trained as a painter, his work has increasingly moved towards two-dimensional canvases within experimental film narrative sequences.

A multimedia artist based in Delhi, Kaleka’s work with video aids in bringing viewers closer to the narrative. “With Fear of a New Dawn, he brings to bear his proto-cinematic practice to offer an experience of abjection that blurs the borders between the conscious and the subconscious, and the self and the Other — the one that is excluded — which returns, in an act of resistance, to confront what it was othered from,” reads the note of the exhibition.

One of his works titled ‘Fearsome Acquiescence of a Monotonous Life’, is a two-channel video installation along with a sculpture. The video had an architectural structure that invokes both the haveli Kaleka spent his early years in, and a bioscope, an earlier form for cinema and worldly experience. Through one of its two peeping bays one can see balls of tumbleweed rolling on the ground in front of a door, and through the other — a man watching himself walking into the house and into himself, in an endless loop.

In another work, ‘The Unremarkable Life of The Man With Tiffin’ — the digital collage-painting, depicts surreal scene of a man about to step out of his house finding his doppelganger staring at him from across the threshold. Both holding a tiffin box. Serving as a sharp contradiction to this normalcy of the street scene, is the unfolding of a violent event in the background.

One of the most striking works, ‘Not Anonymous – Waking to the Fear of a New Dawn’ is a video projection on six surfaces. The work shows a man only half visible in a wasteland, falling victim to arrows shot randomly by an archer projected on a different panel. Each time the man falls, a decapitated head of a donkey, the only painted element in the work that brought ‘alive’ by projected image, bleeds from the mouth.

“Kaleka learnt early that donkeys were the builders of civilizations and here the donkey’s severed head, the anchor of the work, symbolises the demise of civilizational values,” reads the note.

So, drop in to get a glimpse of world today that is both surreal and sombre.

The exhibition is on display at Vadehra Art Gallery till April 6