In his latest exhibition at India Habitat Centre, Ranjan Kaul, a self taught artist brings a pre and post pandemic view of the world, not just as a mere observer but as an empathetic participant
After leaving his corporate job at the peak of his career to pursue his love for art, Ranjan Kaul became a visual artist and art writer. A self-taught artist, he has been passionate about art and literature since his early years and painted on weekends throughout his professional life.
His fourth solo exhibition titled ‘Ringside View’, tells the moving story of the recent traumatic times through the painter’s eye.
“Kaul continues to evolve his nuanced oeuvre that chronicles and portrays humdrum situations and quotidian life by infusing them with drama, colour and emotion. He portrays real-life stories not merely as an active participant, but as an empathetic and perceptive observer, from the ringside, as it were, from a vantage point,” reads the curatorial note.
In this exhibition, he showcases not only the time of the pandemic, but the pre- and post-pandemic times as well. The plight of migrant labourers who trudged thousands of kilometres from the metropolis to their homes are now back, once again in search of a livelihood. Kaul has depicted them through a series of artworks like Flight to Survival and Rootless and their life on the footpath as in Home and Supper.
In his work An Arm and a Leg for a Job, migrant labourers have been shown in post-pandemic times sitting vacantly in the big city, jobless, lost, defeated. During the lockdown, cars gathered dust, salons downed their shutters.
With the virus redefining physical spaces, Ringside depicts the transformation in human behaviour – with people on a short fuse, a minor road accident leading to a major skirmish while onlookers watch the incident as one would a sport. Issues related to women’s safety on deserted streets with the easing of lockdown restrictions are another concern that kindles the artist’s imagination in Twilight Zone. Holding On portrays the resilience of women in the face of tribulations.
Lockdown has led to group isolation and people’s disconnection with the world outside the bubble. In Cocktail Party an evening of high-society party depicted with a palpable tension in the air, even as the people inside are unaware of being watched from the window – the work is also a comment on the increasing invasions of privacy. The post-pandemic series, ‘Fragmented’, depicted the grave fallout on the human psyche and mental health.
The exhibition is on display at India Habitat Centre from November 11 to 18
(Cover: Cocktail party by Ranjan Kaul)