ARTIST IN FOCUS: Siddharth Kararwal

Siddhartha Kararwal: The Pandora head of his Paracosmic self- Part 1

There is an element of Pandora to Artist Siddhartha Kararwal’s work and it comes much from his paracosmic self. While installing his much talked about piece “Denture Venture” at the India Art Fair 2014 for Latitude 28 in New Delhi, my mind was devoid of these thoughts. As we piece by piece, put together the work, brush after brush- diverse brushes mostly used as bathroom cleaning implements, in what would come to look like a farcical chandelier, all I saw in the work was loud colours and these fantastical creature heads, almost reminiscent of the Gargoyles sculptures from gothic architecture and grand-mom dentures. Assembled and polished, once it was slowly and with much assistance lifted up to its curated spot, I walked away to a distance, only to see Denture Venture as an amusing, quirky and smile-inducing work of art. Here is when I saw the Pandora in it, as the lights came on.

Looking almost like a conventional chandelier that you’d see probably in hotels and privileged homes maybe; Denture Venture hung was a symbol of luxury and if I may say elitism. Chic and bright (probably because of the dominance of the colour pink in the sculpture) it caught your eye irrespective.But it is only when I started walking back closer, did I see it reduce to brushes and bottle cleaners, fibre and clips. It broke my idea of luxury that was created from a distance. There was a sense of shock in its exposition as mere brushes from some China market. Here is when I smiled, and looked up at it again and saw the dentures smiling back at me, as though they fooled me into having my attention. This is where Siddhartha’s art worked.

Some art can never be justified in photographs, it takes your physical-tangible presence and in a way vulnerability as you stand in front of it to experience what it truly means and communicates. Artist Siddhartha Kararwal’s Denture Venture is easily one of those. Wearing its flamboyant colours with pride, the mockery of Plastic consumerism talks loud of the society and its habitual folly of over-abusing resources till they face the brunt of it. Drawing constant crowds by the minute, the sculpture almost brought a child like awe to the audience as they posed with it, pointed at it or just stood staring. The interpretations were open, but the sure visual was clearly the outright winner here. Famous for his sculpture titled the Hangover Man showcased in multiple arrangements, the Denture Venture was a ‘fun’ change in terms of colour, construct, concept and the resultant cheekiness.

Characteristic of Siddhartha’s work is his magnanimity (The parodical work in question here weighs a 50 Kilos), a bizarre choice of materials (Plastic bags, Brushes, Foam Sheets, Firecrackers, mattresses) and a thought that is borrowed from everyday. The heart of his work is a mundane idea, wrapped in a cunning deceptive cloak; however evocative of emotions by the end of it. Here comes to mind, the story of the murder of Skinu and thereby his work ‘Skinned’, woven in satirical fashion. Siddhartha narrates the kinetic violence from one’s surroundings with his lead character Skinu, who was murdered with a rock by an assailant for his new skin (blanket) on a cold winter night. Unfolding in a format, that is almost similar to your everyday murder-robbery-kidnap report in the morning newspaper read over a piping cup of tea; it creates the need for an insight.

Or even in ‘Kalki‘ where he takes a mythological reference to the Kalyug avatar of Vishnu, and the perennial wait for his arrival. In turn, comments on the sheer apathy towards the environment. Cliched much? Well, with Siddhartha its only unpredictable as established already with his out of the box oeuvre. The digital prints of paper showed  a cosmonaut in a silver suit made of waste materials, embarking on an odyssey to spaces almost unrecognisable now due to pollution.

Being a popular culture head, he infuses the same in his work candidly; perhaps, which is why one relates to his work at such a great level, art enthusiast or lay alike. The references are real and relevant. Let’s remind you of the powder coated stuffed garments from 2012, where he uses displacement as a meter – Animal Skin prints/garments on hooks in one’s wardrobe against butchered animals as meat on hooks in a butcher’s shop. Made from ‘well-travelled’ garments that have found their way home to export reject/surplus stock shops, Kararwal acquires them to create a work that contains the stories witnessed by the garments on their journey, away and back.

Kararwal’s work at times looks like pages from a scrapbook, each different from the other yet so intrinsically connected (picture his funny bone size made from candy floss and styrofoam in comparison to his recent ‘Monster Family’ installation at TANK in Mumbai); coming across ultimately as a large book of fables, with each story talking about a someday somebody.

Siddhartha Kararwal b.1984 completed his BVA and MVA in the discipline of Sculpture  from MSU, Baroda in 2006 and 2009, respectively. He has  participated in group exhibitions, including ‘Matter of Importance’, Sakshi Gallery in collaboration with  Latitude 28, (2013); ‘Glitch Frame Lollipop’ at Latitude 28 (2012); ‘The Matter Within: New Contemporary Art of India’, the Yerba Buena Centre of Arts in San Francisco (2011); ‘Beauty and the  Beast’, Mathieu Foss Gallery, Mumbai (2011); ‘To Be Continued…’, the FICA group show, Volte Gallery, Mumbai (2011); ‘Demould’ Fine Arts Faculty, Baroda (2011); ‘Two Positions, Part II’ Seven  Art Gallery, Delhi (2011);  ‘Scratch’, presented by Sakshi Gallery at Lalit Kala Akademi,  New Delhi (2010); ‘First Look’, Project 88, Mumbai (2009). Siddhartha was represented by Latitude 28 at Art:Gwangju:12 and at India Art Fair 2013, Art Summit 2011, 2014; India Art Collective 2011, Art Expo 2009. He was showcased at the Sculpture Park at India Art Fair 2012 (curated by Diana Campbell – Creative India), and a Special Project at India Art Fair 2013 supported by Latitude 28. In 2012 Siddhartha was part of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

Cover Graphic : Aniruddha Das

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