Moving fantasies

Artist Tensing Joseph’s recent exhibition of kinetic sculptures, wooden carvings and paintings dabble in the philosophical and the magical

author_img Steni Simon Published :  17th November 2022 05:02 PM   |   Published :   |  17th November 2022 05:02 PM
The artist says these works are based on his experiential observations as a contemporary artist

The artist says these works are based on his experiential observations as a contemporary artist

Artist Tensing Joseph always tries to bring in the elements of reality and fiction in his works. His latest art, which was displayed at Durbar Hall Art Gallery in Kochi, featured some remarkable kinetic and wooden sculptures and paintings. The artist says these works are based on his experiential observations as a contemporary artist

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Four kinetic sculptures were displayed at the self-curated solo show titled ‘What You Think is not Much Important to Me’. “I always like experimenting with different mediums. My last show was an exhibition of wooden sculptures. This time, I thought of doing kinetic ones. Sculptures with mobility,” says Tensing.

Each movement may seem like an art and evoke emotions in spectators by either provoking or amusing them. One of the kinetic sculptures, ‘No beginning, no end’ is inspired by Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini and his films that blend fantasy with earthiness along with beautiful baroque imagery.

“I have tried to recreate a visual element from the themes in his films. I have, in a way, tried to reincarnate the fish that provides illusions to the spectators. The kinetic sculpture of the fish constantly rotates on a circular surface. I have tried to transform the film language into a sculpture language by using these kinetic works.”

Another sculpture features birds constantly rotating on a wooden surface. There is a sitar string connecting them. The beaks of these birds constantly strike against the string producing minute and soft music for the ears. “Each of these sculptures took several months to complete, after a thorough research.”

He also plays with the saying ‘obscenity lies in the eyes of the beholder’. The work, in the same title, features a sculpture of an eye carved in wood. The eyelashes are created using an iron rod. “Inside the pupil, a concave lens has been placed where a video is playing with the help of a mobile phone placed inside. The video has nude images of a man and woman.”

“There is nothing obscene in the world.Only people see things as obscenity. It is just a guilty consciousness, which comes to mind after seeing this video. The human body is natural. I have tried to create the consciousness in our thinking through art,” he says.

The kinetic sculpture titled 

‘ I Don’t Want to Be a Van Gogh’ portrays a man who does not want to be Van Gogh. The work depicts an ear made of wood from where the poetry ‘Van Gogh by poet Jeanne Muray Walker is played. The typical Van Gogh swirls, present in paintings like The Starry Night, are carved around the ear. The exhibition consisted of some of his recent paintings that deal with themes such as indefinable childhood memories and the atrocities against women and children. All of these unfold like a film.

“In Kurosawa‘s film Tunnel of Dreams, Noguchi (a soldier) convinces the viewer that the anxieties of the man in the tunnel reveal the reality of death.A brigadier, coming home after World War II, speaks to Noguchi, who expresses his desire to meet his parents. However, the brigadier tells him that he can’t because he is already dead. This is when he sees the long line of soldiers right behind him who have also died,” says the artist. 

Noguchi represents all the anxieties, aspirations, and sentiments of the common man.  Images from wars appear in works such as Tombstone Makers. About 15 such works were displayed at the exhibition. Another of his solo show of 30 paintings is on display at J Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas currently. 

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Eerie, surreal 

The catalogue for the exhibition was done by R Nandakumar, an art historian and culture critic. “In some of the wood-carving paintings displayed at the exhibition, Joseph lays out the scene of struggle by allegorising the landscape and lending it an eerie, surreal streak. The painting ‘Deaf Republic’ is an example,” he says. “On the one hand, these paintings are grounded in an earthy sense of local life and, on the other, they evoke the intertextuality in stylistic terms from world art.”