Medha Kapur of Saffronart shares a note on a Thomas’ latest solo exhibition at Gallery Ske, Bengaluru.
Bengaluru: Anup Mathew Thomas is a visual artist who lives and works in Bangalore. His photographic images depict events that are both personal and specific but also ask broader cultural questions. Thomas’ works are often presented as digital slideshows as well as prints.
This exhibition’s title, Hereinafter, alludes to both the words ‘afterlife’ and ‘hereafter’. It captures troubling themes such as death, objects reminiscent of yesteryears, and the need to preserve bygone times and experiences. Consisting of 15 images, much of the work on display focuses on the cultural history of Kerala. Thomas uses traditional storytelling conventions to present his documentation of objects collected and preserved by others
Thomas also brings in a handful of compelling images of crime scenes at a police museum, and the staging of a man’s funeral, to capture not only the human aspect of loss and death, but also its significance in social culture, expanding beyond the scope of human (and animal) mortality, and touching on the preservation of legacies.
‘Ithikkara Bridge’, the first piece you see stepping into the gallery, sets the tone for the show with a plaque bearing this message:
The plaque itself is a memorial stone, but works on different levels to emphasise a transition or ‘passage’ from life to death. The fact that the bridge was opened for traffic the day after Divakaran’s funeral procession elaborates the idea of passage.
‘KS Biologicals’, a photograph of the personal collection of K. Shikamoni, a biology teacher, represents both a straightforward attempt at showcasing the remains of a variety of species, much like in a school’s biology lab, as well as the personal idea of collecting.