Bose Wields his Brush Again
In the aftermath of Bose Krishnamachari ‘s mobile museum project, LaVA (Laboratory of Visual Arts) spanning between 2006-2011, and co-founding and helping curate India’s only art biennale, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, a not-for-profit event that has showcased the work of hundreds of artists from around the world and is touted as one of the success stories that has reawakened art and creativity while bringing in tourism revenue to the state, Bose has not done any art exhibition of his own for nine long years.
But ask Bose about the hiatus and he counters, “My practicing of art is not only when I wield the brush or scalpel or chisel, but it is also in the way I live my life, it is in the choices I make, in my artistic sensibilities.”
“My way of life, in itself, involves the application of my artistic sensibilities, and hence, I do not believe in that dichotomy. ‘The Mirror Sees Best in the Dark’, has been in the making for about two years now. “
In this exhibition, he presents a series of nine new art projects with materially rich and diverse assemblages and installations that explore the co-existence of extremes and the closeness between opposites. He explores ornamental maximalism and abstract minimalism. He investigates the state of ‘obsession’. Bose tries to tell us about the lure and pull that an obsession can wield, which he says is similar to that of a mirror.
“A mirror also draws you in; entraps you. It accumulates your obsessions. It symbolizes obsession,” he says.
Bose looks at our relationships, our politics, faiths, wisdom, our communities, our gurus – our obsessions; at images and the icons, word and number – as a literal sense and a metaphorical gesture.
Bose Krishnamachari says, “My works reflect my anxiety about our contemporary society and a self-obsessed autocracy that is looming. My language has been renewed, but it is not new. I have toyed with similar concepts like minimalism and maximalism, but the works are conceptually fluent. I was introduced to Richa Agarwal by curator and art consultant, Anupa Mehta, around two years ago, when Emami Art Gallery was still in the works. I was also aware that an old friend Pinakin Patel was designing the gallery space. I was impressed with Richa’s simplicity, humility, and sincere wish to set up a world-class space for the arts. Richa unhesitatingly requested me to work with them on an exhibition, and I eagerly consented to it.”
Historian and art critic, Ranjit Hoskote, describes Bose’s work thus: “Bose’s practice has been vibrantly hybrid, spanning art-making as well as institution-building. As an artist, he has engaged with diverse media, ranging from painting to the installation and the social sculpture. If certain chromatic preoccupations have traveled with him over a period of three decades, so have certain emphases on informal pedagogy, the library, and the space of mutual intellectual and affective nourishment between artists and audiences.”
In his current body of work, ‘The Mirror Sees Best in the Dark’, Bose returns triumphantly to art-making, says Hoskote.
He continues, “Bose explores the thresholds at which potentially unifying concepts like nationalism can become unhealthy obsessions, dividing the world into Us and Them, injecting toxicity into collective life. What we see in Bose’s recent works is a portrait of what we have done to ourselves today, at the level of the individual, the community, the religious group, the nation-state. Sometimes, this portrait is manifestly clear, as in the works where he uses a traditional Kerala metal mirror. Sometimes, as when he uses Braille in his graphite works, we may have to decode the portrait. The seriousness of the artist’s intent communicates itself through playfulness as well as somber irony. The sighted can sometimes miss the obvious truth, while the visually challenged can read it with precision. The times are dark, and Bose’s mirror is designed to see – and reveal – better in such conditions.”
And there seems like no better time, than now, to view and reflect on what Bose has imagined the world as.