Chitra Ganesh Reveals Her Art

Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart following the recent exhibition at Gallery Espace in New Delhi, examines the intricate art of Chitra Ganesh 

London: Colourful yet dark are perhaps some of the adjectives which best describe Chitra Ganesh’s art which is characterized by dichotomies. As such, her comic-like characters, often embedded with dark and disruptive connotations, are the main subjects of her works. In few words we are always quite unsettled and surprised in front of a Chitra Ganesh’s work. In a good way.

Chitra Ganesh, Matahari, 2011

Chitra Ganesh, Matahari, 2011. Image Credit: http://www.chitraganesh.com/pt19.html

In a recent interview with Neelam Raaj of the Times of India, Ganesh discusses and explains her art.

Born in New York from Indian parents, Ganesh through her multi-media works, plays with her “dual-identity” to express her self, and to better understand and communicate to her audience. However, despite her upbringing she is still considered “exotic” in America while the Indian audience finds her themes and characters quite familiar and easily recognisable.

Chitra Ganesh, The Exquisite Cruelty of Time, 2010

Chitra Ganesh, The Exquisite Cruelty of Time, 2010. Image Credit: http://www.chitraganesh.com/dc9.html

Her vivid artist vocabulary draws on Indian and American comics, Indian myths, religious iconography and much more, however a special attention is given to the “Amar Chitra Katha” comic book. After reading it again as a grown up woman, Ganesh paid attention to so many details she didn’t notice when she was younger. For example the female characters were depicted as pious figures yet scantily clad, and the rakshasis were depicted dark and the devis fair. So the artist realised that children books have more power than we think and through fairy tales they let us unconsciously accept stereotypes and set ideas. However not all of them are “bad”, in fact some children stories hold subversive meanings.

Chitra Ganesh, Atlas, 2013

Chitra Ganesh, Atlas, 2013. Image Credit: http://galleryespace.com/newsite/new_work_instack_current.php?artwork=003542&collection=129

Ganesh hence decided to give power and prime role to those heroines who have been waiting all of this time at the side of powerful men. So, at least in her work she changed the history and went against the general expectations and replaced the Greek god Atlas and Hanuman with female characters!

Chitra Ganesh, Fingerprints, 2007

Chitra Ganesh, Fingerprints, 2007. Image Credit: http://www.chitraganesh.com/dc5.html

The artist also came to terms that now is the right time to make rebellion a long-term project and not a small act. She said “I now want to change things in a long-term way.”

Finally Ganesh noted that her intention is not to shock the audience but to openly include every aspect of our life in her narrative.

Chitra Ganesh, Madhubala, 2007

Chitra Ganesh, Madhubala, 2007. Image Credit: http://www.chitraganesh.com/pt10.html

You can click here to read the full article.

 

 

 

 

 

Chitra Ganesh’s Residency at Bose Pacia, New York

Kanika Pruthi of Saffronart discusses Chitra Ganesh’s fantastical works in light of her ongoing artist residency at Bose Pacia in New York City

Secrets, Chitra Ganesh, 2007

Secrets, Chitra Ganesh, 2007. Image Credit: http://www.chitraganesh.com/dc6.html

NEW YORK: Brooklyn based artist of Indian origin, Chitra Ganesh is the current artist- in residence at Bose Pacia in New York City as part of their Transparent Studio initiative, showing her works from June 18th to July 16th, 2013.

The Transparent Studio is an artist studio program founded by Bose Pacia where the selected artists are provided with a studio space in the main gallery. The intention of turning the transitional gallery space into a temporary artist studio is to enable an atmosphere of engagement and conversation around the creative process, allowing an opportunity to engage with the artist is the given set up.

Chitra Ganesh received her BA in Comparative Literature and Art Semiotics in 1996 and her MFA from Columbia University in 2002. Ganesh’s work has been exhibited widely at venues including PS 1/MOMA, Brooklyn Museum, the Asia Society, and the Andy Warhol Museum, Fondazione Sandretto in Italy, Nature Morte Berlin, ZKM in Germany, and the Gothenburg Kunsthalle.

Melancolia (Sorrows's Refrain), Chitra Ganesh, 2010

Melancolia (Sorrows’s Refrain), Chitra Ganesh, 2010. Image Credit: http://www.bosepacia.com/exhibitions/2013-06-18_transparent-studio-chitra-ganesh/selected-works/#/images/2/

Ganesh’s art and practice draws equally from her Indian roots as from her engagement with contemporary discourses regarding identity, the feminine, history and such. An adept multimedia artist, her works range from text based canvases, illustrations, prints, installations and collaborative projects. Her visual oeuvre serves a concoction of mythology, folklore, sci-fi, Indian bollywood, graffiti- drawn from her international experiences- a heady mix nonetheless a stimulating portion for a discerning connoisseurs’ palette .

The female protagonist is central to Ganesh’s work, reminiscent of the male super heroes of the comic book traditions. The ‘heroine’ often takes on the garb of the superhero- challenging and questioning societal norms and beliefs. The artist’s narrative is fuelled by her efforts to challenge the established canons- of history, literature, art, culture. The super ‘heroine’ of Ganesh’s works gives voice to the excluded narratives which are often relegated to the periphery of the ‘popular’ and ‘accepted’.

Tightrope, Chitra Ganesh, 2011

Tightrope, Chitra Ganesh, 2011. Image Credit: http://www.bosepacia.com/exhibitions/2013-06-18_transparent-studio-chitra-ganesh/selected-works/#/images/3/

A consistent element of Ganesh’s visuality is her adaptation of the comic book layout in her works. An important point of reference is the Indian Amar Chitra Katha comic series that the artist encountered early in her life. They present religious and cultural narratives based on Hindu mythology and Indian history. She combines these with her interest in Greek mythology, western fairy tales and fantasy literature. She skillfully adapts the popular comic book format to her large scale works. Her use of the comic script as a trope to infuse the otherwise playful visual with an intent and relevant narrative is one of the many high points of her practice.

The humor and lightness of the visual elements balance the weighty discourses she handles in her practice. The blown-up and larger than life scale of her works also references the multiple points of entry and focus. She uses the busy and sometimes overwhelming imagery to give material form to an abstract concept- which through this process becomes accessible to multiple viewers. The use of text in her works is an inviting point of reference which opens the eye to the fantastical landscape at view. The words interject her visual narrative, and the two elements together take the viewer on a journey that titillates multiple senses.

Bose Pacia will be hosting an open studio on 11th July 2013 where the artist will be present.

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