Image and Text

27 Dec

A group exhibition that explores the relationship of text and the material 


Georgina Maddox

“Written and readable text has been of interest to artists from diverse cultures since the decade of the 1960s. While the twenty-first century’s world’s spectacle occupies artworks which are spectacular, artists who work with text have voiced out simple and deep insights, caring for text as material. This makes text as an alternative expression in contemporary times,” writes Shubhalaxmi Shukla of the exhibition, curated by her in September in Mumbai. It featured artists Aqui Thami, Himanshu S, Anjana Mehra, Jyotee, Sanjeev Sonpimpare, Lalit Patil, Rajesh Pullarwar, Mithu Joardar, Sarita Chouhan, Kim Kyoungae, Gayatri Gamuz, Rupali Patil, Kiyomi Talaulicar, Sudhir Pande, Abhimanue Govindan, Arpita Bhavsar, Bharati Kapadia, Vidya Kamat, Murali Cheeroth and Mithu Sen.

sUBU 1


To bolster her observation Shukla sites the works of Yoko Ono, “Listen to sound of the earth turning”, Barbara Kruger’s biting “I buy therefore I am” and Jenny Holzer’s truisms (texts that explored the dimensions of femininity while reflecting upon the city’s fabric. In India she sites the works of artist Anita Dube’s whose text-based works explores a journey with “language” like a weaving that unveils the poignant paradoxes of human life.

The artists featured by Shukla engage with the idea of text through various fonts, sizes and play with language itself. For instance, Hanif Kureshi, presents us with four rows on almost illegible text, that read as follows, “Now you know – you never know-between the lines-distort reality.” The work is clearly demanding, even while it engages the viewer to peer and ponder at the text, which is not easily decipherable. Perhaps Kureshi is commenting on our easily consumable culture and intends to provide an alternative, where taking time and engaging with is imperative to understand the work.



Jeetander Ojha’s collection of aphorisms are cryptic and lead one to conclude that the artist is leading us towards an inner discovery of the self. Lines like “I love my Sins” and “I heard My Cry” may be seen as juxtaposed by more generic sayings like, “Whoever lives in love lives in art.”


Rumi Samadhan’s ‘Absence’ appears as a poetic comment on the ephemeral nature of human mortality, the void and the present both integral to the act of existence and being. Santosh Kalbande’s Jai, is a powerful work that obscures the name of the deity, perhaps making a comment on the generic nature of religion and the hidden violence within. The disappearing text is as significant as that which is visible and, in a sense, it ties in with Samadhan’s work.

The second instalment of Shukla’s curatorial venture features artists Jeetander Ojha, Hanif Kureshi, Surekha Sharada, Nikhil Purohit, Ajinkya Patil, Jenny Bhatt, Mithu Joardar, Yashwant Deshmukh collaboration with his son Soumitra, Baiju Parthan, Santosh Kalbande, Hemanta Roul, Sanjay Nikam, Moutushi Chakraborty, Ushmita Sahu, Prasanta Sahu, Manjri Varde, Nikhileshwar Baruah, Nilesh Shilkar, Alennott and Ashok Kadam’s Rap Group, Yuval Waikar, Pranav Rajput, Ankit Harchekar, Mayur Waikar, and Akshay More.

“I would like you to thoughtfully assemble what seems to be broken or scattered in language unveiling the layers of words historically,” says Shukla.  The project certainly has the scope of extending into a second part where more of the vision is realized and more of this lost art of communication is uncovered.













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