Art exhibition: Metaphor: The Magic It Holds at Dhi Artspace delves into the layers of memory and meaning

The ongoing exhibition at Dhi Art Space, Ameerpet, features five sculptures of Arjun that have been inspired by the objects and spaces that he lived in, back in Bara Bazaar.

A Harini Prasad Published :  31st January 2020 01:00 AM   |   Published :   |  31st January 2020 01:00 AM

Artist Arjun Das’ work, at the ongoing exhibition Metaphor: The Magic It Holds, takes him back to his childhood days spent in Bara Bazaar in Kolkata. After running away from home at the age of 10, for the sake of education and a better living, he took up a job in a restaurant and lived in the shopping district with other migrated workers. The mix of cultures and backgrounds of people that he was surrounded by inspired his latest collection. “My experience of working in a dhaba gave me an opportunity to closely examine the behaviour and sociology of a section of the migrated community. It was only after I graduated in arts and started working on my pieces that I analysed all that I grew up around,” he says.

The ongoing exhibition at Dhi Art Space, Ameerpet, features five sculptures of Arjun that have been inspired by the objects and spaces that he lived in, back in Bara Bazaar. Made out of old woodblocks, his pieces depict brotherhood and close-knit community living - art imitating reality. “The migrants usually rent one tiny room and about five families live together in the same space. It is divided into sections and each one stands out with different cultural objects placed. It’s not just materialistic but there are emotions of kinship and togetherness,” he explains. Arjun was also a part of the residency programmes including Arbeitsgruppe Gasteatelier Krone, Switzerland (6 months) and Piramal Art Residency in 2019.

His pieces are like miniature versions of spaces like kitchen, washroom, market and private room. While one work showcases the sections in the house with small stools, ladder and make-do table, another series consists of everyday items like gamcha (multi-purpose cotton towel) and a bag filled with tools like spanner and handsaw. His realistic representation of architectural spaces from his immediate surroundings succeeds in providing a glimpse into the lives of the migrant labourers of Bengal. The woodblocks used for carving carries the traces of time in its body, which he says is more than 100 years old and is from Bara Bazaar. “The whole idea lies in the act of experiencing a shift of the considered objects from the ordinary context to the artistic periphery. So I sourced my wood from the same place. I also kept collecting small objects for my reference,” says the Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, graduate.

Curated by Somedutta Mallik, the two-month-long exhibition is an attempt to bring together three practising artists who are variant in their methods and expressions yet coherent in terms of creating visual metaphors. Along with Arjun,Subhankar Bag and Ajith AS.

Ajith AS, Subhankar Bag and Arjun Das

Ajith A S
Kerala-based Ajith AS’s work is influenced by his political view and everything that happen in his surroundings. “I prefer working with the objects and materials that catches my attention at the first glance. Creating a new form with these bestows them with a new meaning and metaphor,” says the SN School of Arts and Communication (University of Hyderabad) graduate.
Subhankar Bag
After conducting a workshop on wood carving at Tirupati, Kolkata’s Subhankar Bag makes his way here. Talking about his work, he says, “An engagement with the sculpture studio as a space of my functioning has enabled me to work with the tools there. In simultaneously contemplating the form of the tools and negating the same to bring about an artistic ambiguity, I altered the surface, scale and even at times their projection.”
Till March 15. 
At Dhi Artspace.