K M Adimoolam, Arun Kumar HG, Ashish Kumar Das, Bibhu Pattnaik, Debanjan Roy, Debraj Goswami, Deepak Tandon, Gigi Scaria, Gireesh G V, Gururaj Hadadi, Jagannath Panda, Josh PS, Manu Parekh, M F Husain, Murali Cheeroth, Navjot Altaf, Phaneendra Nath Chaturvedi, Prasad Raghavan, Rajan Krishnan, Riaz Samadhan, Sachin Karne, Sudhanshu Sutar, Tushar Waghela, Vibha Gahlotra & Viveek Sharma
Venue: Gallery Kynkyny Art, 104, Embassy Square, Above Ganjam Jewellers, #148, Infantry Road, Bangalore
October 4 -15, 2010 , 11 am – 7 pm on all days
Who has seen Gandhi? This question can have many answers, well almost as many as the number ways this question can be understood, one can begin with wondering what exactly is seeing, or else one can wonder what or who is Gandhi. If Gandhi is to be understood in terms of a particular vision, energy, or a path one can assume that hardly anyone from the post-independence generations have seen him. However if Gandhi is to be viewed as a stale icon, or a forced annual two minutes of silence, then yes we have all seen him. Seeing is a very complex act and has many layers to it. We stay in a society which has been fairly exposed to a certain iconic visual definition of Gandhi and in that measure all of us can claim a certain visual intimacy; from such a context almost everyone can raise their hands and state “ I have seen Gandhi”.
However, let us just stop and think, “Who is this Gandhi we have seen?” a pedestalised icon? An untouchable myth? Or a father who has been disowned, but celebrated through sterile ritual references by the state?
A key aspect of reinvigorating our times with the values of truth and dignity, intrinsic to Gandhi, is to be able to visually reclaim Gandhi and the symbolic manifestations of his ideologies and philosophies. When a person who communicated and lead the nation primarily through his “personal touch” is visually reduced to a stagnant “iconified” image, we know that it is the time to contest and reclaim his imagery. The stagnant “iconification” is a metaphor of Gandhi being reduced to a distant unreachable (un fashionable?) icon and this mode of representation has severed the purpose in the realm of politics where the myth and fame of Gandhi still has relevance in luring voters, but his models have become too difficult to follow. Art has always offered a space where one can resist vested forces of power and put forward new possibilities through making interventions in visual culture.
“Who has seen Gandhi?”, is imagined to be a “space” where such alternative possibilities are showcased, seeded and nurtured. It is also a platform which where the torch is being passed down to our times. Gandhi may have been marginalized and sidelined by the Indian nation state, but his methods and imaginations had become deeply rooted in the mindscape of the young artists, who had felt the energy Bapu had generated during the independence movement. What seems to have really informed the artistic spirit of that generation of art practitioners was Gandhi’s ability to define independence outside the narrow confines of political independence and project it as a philosophical stance rooted in a deep understanding of dignity . The post Gandhi generation would have found it difficult to understand and imagine his legacy, if the torch had not been passed down by the generation of artists “who had seen Gandhi”.