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Gallery Beyond - The contemporary art gallery
contemporary art gallery

Gallery Beyond

Gallery Beyond
Sanjay Yamgar View Gallery 

When I first met Sanjay Yamgar late 2004, I knew he was an exception because he was brimming with an energy rarely observed. And the present show is a good example of that energy, which has now been hewed by control.

His visit to France, that predictable destination of so many artists, fuelled him to see beyond his roots in Atpadi, Sangli district. However, a small village has the ability to fire the imagination of a sensitive child who does not have electronic or material impulses to keep his mind at play. He has to reach deeper for it, into those parts of the mind where little incidents are continually creating the universal stories of mankind. And, aptly, his childhood is the starting point of this show. The difficulty and beauty of growing up as a shepherd's child and the everyday fight for little things like a bicycle makes for stories that anyone would be able to understand, if not identify with.

While he was doing a series of works in photo ink on photo paper of rockscapes and other shapes (and I have seen stacks of those), it was evident that as far as painting went he was on a plane that would be hard to move out of without a considerable amount of soul searching. Those works were smaller, well wrought and the pretty but controlled accidents were painfully charming.

This show is almost like a lightening fast evolutionary step for Sanjay, with the genes of his 'Chair' series and earlier mix-media work being dominant. However, as it is with evolution, a deeper consciousness is obvious in these canvasses. The products now have a more acute sense of harmony in representing his world view: that the semblances of logic that we find in our lives are arrived at by a constant mental sifting of the mysterious and all pervading chaos, which, when looked at closely, is so endlessly geometric that it is immeasurable. In a few ways, that is hard because chaos in not easy to represent.

However, more than the mathematical, his concern is with the emotional - in what it does to us as people. What is it that happens to us when we are exposed to scientific truths presented by great luminaries like Ramanujan? It impacts our lives irrevocably. It makes it clear that life is at once going to be clearer and complex. And Sanjay thrives in this contradiction of discovery. In fact, he revels in the fact that various cultural forces pull us in so many directions and that the true survivor is one who is enriched by the flux.

He uses images we continually receive in comic strips (Garfield in this case) and in email forwards (brain full of nude women) and, of course, the relentless onslaught of the television to represent our time with sensitivity that is tragic but clothed in humour. There is nothing much we can do about the way things stand today, he seems to say. Also, the canvasses are a sort of natural progression – the first talking about his early life to the one where he grapples with the unbearable tradition created by Raja Ravi Verma to his nationalistic look at international politics via the quirky vehicle of Marvel hero Spiderman.

Also, his fascination with what we call the popular culture, with it roots in the sixties' hippies movement, is undeniable. However, he is not enamoured by it. He points out at its beauty by using its most popular symbols, because in the overtly intellectual circuit of artists there is a tendency to forget that even the material can be beautiful. There is no desire to fight its influence. In fact, the force of his canvasses spiritualises the whole experience. For instance, the words of the Beatles song 'Give peace a chance' is probably the most recognised piece of convention in this rebellious movement. However, the truth is that it has far more simple wisdom than we usually grant it. And Sanjay's rendition of these loved but easily overlooked phenomenon (many intellectuals rubbish it as mere clichés), is his ode to a world that has a mind of its own, that shines and suffers in its chaotic methods.

Some people may ask what style he paints in and which 'ism' he is gripped by. The answer is there, to an extent, in that very lyric. Categorisation, much as it would sound clichéd, is a distraction for Sanjay as he absorbs from so many sources to create his world. Yes, he loves Picasso though his style is far removed from him. He loves the vigorous art of Jackson Pollock (with whom many might see a clearer connection), but he does not follow the drip style. His works are not abstract in the Pollock-ian sense because he does not believe that we cannot explain the world anymore using identifiable systems. He seeks to present a world that is his, within him. Or, the one he has dreamed up because it is possible to understand only such a world, more or less.

There are pretty accidents in his multi-coated backgrounds over which he paints his figures and symbols. But it cannot be simply called 'spontaneous' because the observed effects have been tried out to an extent. In fact, the destination is planned before he begins his journey - just that what transport or route Sanjay is going to use to get there is a little uncertain. And that keeps his works somewhere at the confluence of the instinct to embrace the dreamer who goes with the flow and the desire for mathematical exactness. In fact, many of you will notice that this makes his art an electric poetry of colour.

This is Sanjay's most ambitious endeavour, in comparison to his earlier works. The scale of the paintings, to begin with are a case in point. However, more than the scale, his desire to "draw fine" and pepper the paintings with so many icons and symbols – what we may call 'busy-ness' – is a better indication of this truth.

In present day art, where everything seems to have a place and, therefore, many things sink in the clutter, these paintings will make an impact on many. These works are a melting pot of tradition, skill, youth, and irreverence for 'isms'. They need to be seen without too much baggage to be truly enjoyed. I think here is an artist who has the ability to show that painting cannot be killed by a few angry, well-read theorists.

- Santanu Borah Writer and friend


Education: Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya – Pune. E’cole Supérieure des Beaux Arts - Marseille –France Studied under Prof. Jean-Louis Delbès and Prof. George Autard

Exhibitions: Solo shows *Year 2007 - Gallery Beyond - Mumbai *Year 2006 - Malaka Spice - Pune * Year 2003 - Hotel Sun -N-Sand - Pune * Year 2003 - Malaka Spice - Pune * Year 2002 - Malaka Spice - Pune * Year 2002 - Studio S Gallery - Pune * Year 2001 - Studio S Gallery - Pune * Year 2001 - Inn Galleria - Holiday Inn - Pune * Year 2001 - Studio S Gallery - Pune * Year 1999 - Malaka Spice - Pune * Year 1999 - Mapro Garden -Mahabaleshwar * Year 1998 - Tilat Smarak Mandir - Pune

Group shows * Year 2007 – ‘Beginnings’- Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi - curated by Gallery Beyond * Year 2006 – ‘Ye Hai Mumbai Meri Jaan’ -Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi - curated by Gallery Beyond * Year 2005 – Young Abstractionist - Gallery Beyond – Mumbai * Year 2005 – ‘Save The Children India’ and Gallery Beyond organized Tsunami relief Fund show -National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) – Mumbai * Year 2005 – ‘ Anubhav’ Art Festival – Film and Television Insti. Of India - Pune * Year 2005 - ‘ Pune Art Show – Hotel Sun -N-Sand - Pune, Organised by G.Kirloskar and Tao Art gallery * Year 2004 – Contemporary Indian Art – Hong Kong * Year 2004 – Crossroads – Pyramids- Mumbai * Year 2004 –show in honor of M.F.HUSAIN – Karizma Art Gallery- Pune organized by Mr. Sanjeev Singhal * Year 2004 –Indian Contemporary Art- J.I. Art gallery In association with Creations Art Gallery – Karachi -Pakistan * Year 2004 – Creations Art gallery - Dubai * Year 2003 ‘KAL AAJ AUR KAL’ – 100 years of Indian contemporary art – organized by Gallery Beyond at Jehangir Art Gallery - Mumbai * Year 2002 - Corinthian club - Pune * Year 2002 - E’cole Superieure des Beaux Arts - Marseille -France * Year 2002 - Soulcurry Gallery – Mumbai * Year 2002 - Silver woods - Pune * Year 2000 - Etcetra – Pune

WORKSHOPS · July 2006 - Oberoi Art camp – Mumbai organized by Gallery Beyond · July 2005 - Oberoi Art camp – Mumbai organized by Gallery Beyond · April 2005 – Le Meridian Art camp – Mumbai organized by Gallery Beyond Installations * Year 2006 – “ Yam Ka Gola” Interactive installation - Gallery Beyond * Year 2005 – ‘ Do U chew what U can’t swallow? – ‘ Art in Paan Shop’- Various public places in Pune city. * Year 2002 - “ Daily diary’ – Studio 12 - E’cole Superieure des Beaux Arts - Marseille –France

Faces From The Unknown World

So-called globalisation that caters to neoliberal policies today has many critiques. Prominent among them have pointed out the singularities within which such globalisation operates, and there are platforms that call for a wider, 'real' globalisation process. These processes, given their determination and appeal of their strong slogan ("Another World is Possible"), seem to revere multiplicity. They invite us to think how another worlds exist within the seemingly singular whole.

Of course, when Sanjay Yamgar names his new series of photographs, "Faces From The Unknown World", he might have thought of the quest for life elsewhere, as in science fiction. His characters, whose faces we see, look like cousins of our sci-fi villains and allies. Yet, there comes a moment when these faces of friends and foes seize to look fictitious. They look real, as we see the objects behind them : The gunny bags made of woven plastic threads, the forms they take, and the reality they represent : the reality of a thriving industry in India - The Recycling Industry.

'The Faces' are all found objects, photographed and mirrored with the help of computer. The coarse existence of the object is visible in the photograph. Sanjay found these objects, the bags filled with litter, near his home at the municipal dumping ground at Mulund, a suburb of Mumbai. He then met many wage-earners in the recycling industry, who would dump the litter only if it is not of any use. The refuse. Can it be called an Object, either?

The non-entity of an object might pave way for its afterlife.

Unknown is born when the known is dead.

The Faces that Sanjay wants to see us look amorphous, barbaric, draconian, decorative, strange, eerie... Totally unfamiliar, as if from a different world. Yet, they look like faces, of some human beastly quality.

Some of them seem to be looking at us, the spectator with awe or excitement, some others not impressed by us and engrossed in their drizzy, drooling universe. We are a race that trains itself how to read, and here we read visual signals about ourselves, we read about our race itself.

The mirror goes off the picture-frame, becomes a metaphorical ground that bases these pictures. The unknown is seen as a reflection of the known. While the use of trash and the technique of mirroring via computers may or may not be defended, our interaction with the Faces never stops. The claims of unknown world might be an alibi to bring us to them.

Sanjay's art practice has drawn much from the found image, though it was much subtle. Sanjay used thread or other tools to use paint in a manner that is unknown to the painter himself. Yet, these experiments did not go much far, they only made good abstract works: good to be detested by the critics as ' effect oriented'. Later, on his canvases, he used the drip technique of sorts for a visual de-composition of the painted image. It looked ecstatic, sometimes. The two leanings that Sanjay's works have taken in last decade are present in this body of work, in an informed, subdued manner. He now knows what is unknown. He knows to locate the unknown and the known.

The mirror effect on the computer might stay along in Sanjay's work. Faces is a begining of the trail.

Abhijeet Tamhane

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