Behind the scenes 

Reminiscences of a dream

Giving the viewers an insight into the ‘making of’ art pieces, artist Susanta Mandal identifies and depicts the process as the crux of creation 

Artist Susanta Mandal initiates an exchange of ideas around the theme of the creative process through an exhibition format, inviting artists whom he respects and admires to weigh in on their artistic sources and cognitive triggers.

On display at Vadehra Art Gallery’s group show titled ‘Erasure’, curated by Susanta Mandal, featuring work by himself along with artists Atul Dodiya, Anju Dodiya, Sudhir Patwardhan, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Dayanita Singh, Ayisha Abraham, Mithu Sen and Ranbir Kaleka.  

Mandal identifies the process as the crux of creation while considering how its relationship to artmaking has evolved with as much precision and fervour as the diversifications in visual languages. 

From serving as an invisible structure in early art movements when artworks were posited as transcendental, author-less creations, to its present-day avatar as a fundamental feature or contextual aspect of post-modern art, he explores how ideas are formed in response to a range of fluxes. Through the process, from assimilation and alienation to aggregation and erasure. 

“As process becomes the catchword of content in the contemporary age, as how something is made gains more traction and weight in how one must feel about something, Mandal is interested in postulations of erasure – of a self-referential and self-editing intention that is in parts voluntary and involuntary – as an act of thinking,” reads the curatorial note. 

In social and mass media, identities are finely erased and intolerances are layered as per old discriminatory practices on the basis of colour, caste, religion, gender and sexuality. For Mandal, actions of erasure are not only affected in the original strokes of creation but also in the revising and remembering of past acts, as is the case with an unstable mental prowess that attempts to reconstruct its reality or a political manoeuvre to re-visualize identity, place and history while keeping certain objectives in focus. 

The illustrative breadth and thoughtful depth of Mandal’s point of view emerge as he complicates and engages with these core questions of process. He asks: “Whose or what stories are being told? Whose or what pain is being acknowledged? Whose or what birth is celebrated? Do we tend to forget some ideas, or is it required we forget for the comfort of our inner constitution? Who will decide, for the sake of truth, which version is unbiased?” 

In contemplating creation as process over product, Mandal adds a valuable, interdisciplinary dimension to the show by including a myriad of contributions in the form of text, notes, drawings, images, video and sound from both creative and non-creative practitioners involved in their own kind of ‘making of’. 

The exhibition is on view at Vadehra Art Gallery and also on their website till April 2


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