This seriesof paintings continues my interest in the fascinating theatre of activities,both religious and secular along the Ghats of the Ganges in Varanasi. The title - Agent Orange refers tothe omnipresence of Hanuman murtis which are painted a generic bright orange color.There is a curious mischievousness about these idols due to their often lumpen andcartoon-like appearance - either due to the naivety of their construction or, aftermany added layers of thick orange paint, the original sculpted details havedisappeared. Their eyes though are re-rendered in black & white, seeming tobe peering out and watching you from myriad temples and shrines.
The often abstracted rendition of Hanuman murtis echosclosely my semi-abstract interest in form. My primary painting practiceincludes multi-layered, minimal-palette paintings, which work between theabstract and the figurative. The morphic shapes that inhabit my canvases,whether sculptural or linear, are a major motif in the works.
My interest with this project has also included researchinto both the history and the pigment base for the orange color applied to theHanuman murtis. A color derived from a red lead pigment that has historicalconnections going back to the middle ages and has played a major role in theproduction of manuscripts and miniature paintings. A significant number ofpainted murtis and the sindoor mixed for application of the tilak is often of thisred lead base.
Agent Orange is my third exhibition at Kriti Gallery. The first ofwhich - Ghat by Ghat was alsoexhibited at the Nandalal Bose Gallery, Rabindranath Tagore Center in Calcutta,and the second - Banaras Backs wasalso exhibited at the Lalit Kala Akademi in Delhi, The Australian Center forPhotography in Sydney and RMIT Gallery in Melbourne. The Banaras Back Book was co-published with Kriti Gallery in 2013. A video work - Ganga Dancing, also produced as a result of a Kriti residency, wasfeatured at the Parramasala 2013 South Asian Arts Festival inParramatta, Australia.