Artist Praneet Soi's Hold Still on display at Experimenter, Kolkata
Renowned artist Praneet Soi, whose work has been feted and displayed across the world including the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Mexico and Australia, is holding his second solo exhibition in the city at Experimenter.
Named Hold Still, after American photographer Sally Mann’s book, the Kolkata-born and Amsterdam based artist lays bare a layered lens through which he looks at his surroundings, creating a unique interplay between the narrative and the image.
The exhibition offers a point of entry into the the densely populated world of images that co-inhabit Soi’s mind and explores the construction of meaning through the manipulated and layered visual. It includes traditional practices, such as miniature-painting and coir-weaving and enmeshes them with contemporary techniques such as digital printing and moving image.
Soi places the archive of motifs he has built over two decades at its centre, and unravels how he constructs, expands and then rebuilds recurring narratives in his work.
Soi’s work has a deep association with the circulated image, its archiving and re-appropriation, which at times, lead him to unravel the many transitions – of transfiguring, fragmenting and deconstructing the original form. His personal experiences, during his time as a student in a changing political climate in the US of late nineties, marked a shift in his work, entrenching it further into the politics of representation.
"The devastation in Manhattan in 2001, during the fall of the Twin Towers were caught by Western media in ways very different from those of the consequent attacks by the US forces in Taliban controlled Afghanistan, where the same media propelled a primitive narrative of the land and its people," feels Soi. That moment marked for him the beginning of an engagement with circulated media and he has since collected and compiled an archive that throws light upon this dichotomy.
Over the years, Soi has many a time subverted conflict-zone images. He often merges -- as he has done with his works on Kashmir -- such abstracted images with spatial aspects of architecture in an attempt to shift the imbalanced perception of conflict zones. Since his first visit to strife-ridden Srinagar in 2010 and meeting master craftsman Fayaz Jan, Soi delved into ideas linked to the depiction of the city’s cultural fabric and slippages in the public understanding of its rich historical legacy, not limited to those of violence and loss, usually depicted by the media.
Hold Still, continues Soi’s oblique allusion to the circulated image and its public memory. Several works in this exhibition, such as Falling Figure, Twin Towers, Memento Mori, and others transform this archive of images.
The fragmented form of the Falling Figure juxtaposed by the abstracted façade of the Twin Towers, or the image of the screaming man from Gaza for instance, are represented in paintings and even coir weavings on the floor. Soi’s use of the archive in paintings, such as Two Architectures, October and Mumbai Diptych, reveals correlations of the body and architectural elements.
(All pictures: courtesy Prannet Soi)
The exhibition will be open from December 1 to February 2, 6 pm to 8 pm at Experimenter, Ballygunge Place