Friday, February 2, 2018

FACTUAL FICTIONS - Solo Show @ Gallery Veda, Chennai 2016


Venugopal’s visual language reflects a seamless assimilation of varied elements over the period of his practice, pertaining to concept, content and technique. A central theme in his work has been the exploration of urbanism, often routed through his personal experience. Underlying the imagery of a built landscape is a deep engagement with notions of displacement and migration, and questions of home, belonging and identity, that are shared feelings in this world of trans-national and trans-regional entities. The artist’s paintings appear to be built around the understanding of reality and its transmutation into imaginary narratives through creative devices. His process involves a remarkable ability to continually disintegrate and reassemble aspects of his environment, manipulating meanings and making fictional worlds from factual experiences.
Space is treated in an elastic way in many of the works, drawing attention to the forced sharing of space in largely overburdened cities. The work ‘In Bloom’ (2014) with its starkly painted flower pot, epitomizes the idea, wherein the blooms become receptacles of massive towers. In ‘Transit’ (2015), the burgeoning load of city detritus is within a wheel-barrow, this time partially masked and concealed within drapes, but recognizable by shapes nonetheless. The pervasive idea of instability is carried through not only by absurd juxtapositions and playfulness of scale, but also by the repetitive imagery of constantly moving, traveling persons, carrying their own loads and belongings. Where are they going? Where have they come from? Who are they? These are some of the questions that play on the mind when viewing the entire ‘Transit’ series of works. The protagonists ‘suspended in animation’ are anonymous and sometimes disembodied beings, invisible if not for an outline. Deepening the commentary on the homogenizing characteristic of a city, and the vulnerability of citizens, Venugopal has experimented with a new technique of strategically cut paper over abstracted washes. In these floating worlds, revelation and concealment are once again emphasized.  
Past, present and future mingle within almost surreal settings in works like ‘Green Carpet’ (2015) and ‘Contemplate’ (2016). In the former, an overwhelming grass coated stairway, remembered from a childhood dwelling leads to a dwarfed cityscape in the distant sky-space; in the latter, assorted fragments of everyday life sit on cloud-forms, while in the forefront a decrepit chair balances a leafless tree, and a pair or wringing hands overwhelm the eye. 
In his current compilation, Venugopal V G continues to map horizons, both his own and of the millions he shares physical, emotional and psychological space with. 

Lina Vincent Sunish 2016

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