Once upon a time, one knew artists by the sketchbooks they always carried. Today, the sketchbook has been rep laced by the computer. Instead of a pencil or a stick of charcoal, the artist has a mouse. However the old idea of capturing reality -or at least a version of it - still fascinates Aditya Pande, who combines photography, drawing and painting in his works. Pande makes his Mumbai debut this fortnight with a series of collages that look like a messy jumble of lines and colours at first but, after a second and third glance, reveal themselves to be energetic, intriguing and often humorous.
This suite of works is more colourful and photographic than Pande's older works, which were exhibited in Delhi last year. Pande creates carefully- arranged maps of textures and images. In one work, he uses as his background a photograph of a peeling wall in his home. Against that background, a face emerges whose serenity recalls Buddhist wall paintings. The smaller upside down face with its umbilical cord-like connection to the centrepiece of the work gives rise to ideas of imagination, alter ego and identity. "My process is intuitive," said Pande. "It's a whole process of performance with the work. I attempt to create an open-endedness with the work. On many occasions, even I'll see things or entire works differently at different times."
Pande described his process of creating a work as being akin to "discovering patterns like a Rorschach test". His drawings are made up of finely -spun lines that fan out to create shapes that are occasionally ghostly and often comic. Like the Rorschach test, there's a variety of meanings that a viewer could arrive at by connecting the dots between the odds and ends in his pieces. "It's all a huge experiment," said Pande of the art he produces, adding that it was observing the work that completed it. "I would allow for any opinion on the work to be valid. Whatever someone gets from observing the work is valid, whether it's positive, negative or nothing at all."
While his works "start off as randomness", there's a fair amount of calculated thought that goes into Pande's collages. "I do try to post-analyse my own work," he said. "I try to dig deeper and see what I can find. Art should be investigative. It has a greater need to raise questions." In the chaotic tangle of lines and images that make Pande's work are influences ranging from Tintin comics, which he's a fan of for their uncanny knack of pre-dating events, books on theoretical physics and the occult. "It's a shared osmotic kind of knowledge system where you can't really tell how different things feed into the work," he said.
As an example, he points out a work that revolves around the image of a brightly coloured shirt with his own face sticking out of the collar like a Mini Me. The shirt is reminiscent of a jester's outfit while the other faces in the work are reminiscent of death masks and masquerades, leaving the painting teetering between humour and the macabre. Pande wanted the work to feel like the joker card in a salute to surrealism. "I was going to call it 'Unchained in the Loo', you know, as a cheap pun on 'Un Chien Andalou' but I decided that was just a bit excessive," said Pande.
See Chatterjee &La!.
October 31- November 13 2008