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May 12 2009 3 12 /05 /May /2009 12:52

At the occasion of the Asian Contemporary Art week, organized by the Asian society, New York, the Bose Pacia Gallery presents the third exhibition of the Indian painter and video artist Ranbir Kaleka, from May 14th to June 27th.

Known for his videos projected on paintings transforming the fixed image in a flowing movement, his latest works go forward on the idea of mixing painting with other media by creating a whole environment surrounding the canvas. Furthermore, the atmosphere suggested trough the images painted is at a crossing point between realism and fantastic, with a touch of kitsch.

“The itinerant Librarian’s Dilemma of Choice and Refusal” is a painting flanked by two wing doors with acrylic mirrors. It represents an old man who is about to cut his maculate white beard. The symbolic is here clear, but what strikes the viewer is the look of the wise man, staring at us… yet his eyes are in the same time shiny and empty : no expression of pain nor regret are painted, only a firm look. Therefore, the mirrors accentuate this impression, the viewer feels trapped in the action of the man, obliged to see the symbolic of an old man cutting his beard, erasing his past. The whole composition is made of powerful colours with a dominant of light blue, mixing abstracts forms and figurative elements like the rails of a train, which reinforces this metaphor of life a past path. The mirror also provokes this sensation of physically entering into the fantastic atmosphere of the painting, as Alice walked trough the mirror.

In The Art News Magazine media, he said : “I like inventing metaphorical ‘events’, which are not culturally specific; I have also looked at art from other cultures and acquired a larger visual repertoire. My way of using colours has changed over the years. Emerging from a range of greys, I began pushing colours to the threshold of garishness. I felt that it was possible to produce kind of sophisticated kitsch, which was complex and nuanced.”

The central piece, is the “ Reading Man”, a, installation mixing a triptych with other sculptural elements such as a clock, a jacket and aluminum sculptures. It thus blurs the space of the representation, originally the painting, with the real space, the one we are walking on in the gallery.  This group shows a great freedom in the use of colours, switching from a warm yellow to a very dark palette, expressing different stages of mind. It represents a man who is running, but it seems that he is almost flying, a sensation of elevation and happiness is thus conveyed. The more our eyes go to the left, the more we enter into an atmosphere of darkness, conflict and uneasiness. The forms of the sculptures, one representing a man who is reading and an other a man walking looking on the floor, are also contradicting the light spirit of the man running. It feels like the artist is telling us a fantastic story, a one, like in the cinema, but this story is half here half there, half in our imagination half in the reality.

The rest of the exhibition purchase this fairytale atmosphere with fanciful landscapes. These absorptive mise-en-scène, in between the real and the fantastic, mixing painting and sculptures, is relevant of the way Indian contemporary art took these last years. Great artists such as Ranbir Kaleka are not yet known enough regarding their talent. We hope the Asian Contemporary Art week will help to promote it to the New Yorkers.

Ranbir Kaleka was born in 1953, raised in the Punjabi city of Patiala and studied at the College of Art in Chandigarh (1970-75) and received a Masters Degree in Painting from the Royal College of Art in London in 1987. Reading Man is Kaleka's third solo exhibition with Bose Pacia (2005, 2007). The preview of this exhibition marks his second exhibition with Nature Morte in New Delhi (1995). The artist's works have been included in most of the major museum exhibitions of Indian contemporary art taking places over the past decade, including: Chalo! India at the Mori Museum in Tokyo (2008); India Moderna at the Institute of Modern Art in Valencia, Spain (2008); New Narratives at the Chicago Cultural Center (2007); HORN PLEASE! at the Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland (2007); Urban Manners at Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2007); Hungry God: Indian Contemporary Art at Busan Museum of Modern Art, South Korea (2006); Art Video Lounge at Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami (2006); Edge of Desire at Asia Society in New York (2005); iCon: India Contemporary at the Venice Biennale (2005); Culturgest-Lison, Lison (2004); Zoom! Art in Contemporary India, Lisbon (2004); and subTerrain: Indian Contemporary Art at House of World Cultures, Berlin (2003). In 2007 Kaleka was commissioned to create a permanent video installation for the new Spertus Museum in Chicago and in 2008 his work was included in the Sydney Biennale. Ranbir Kaleka lives and works in New Delhi.

[Visuals : Above Ranbir Kaleka, The Itinerant Librarian's Dilemma of Choice and Refusal, 2009, acrylic and oil on canvas with two wood wing-doors with acrylic mirrors, 36 x 24 inches, courtsey Bose Pacia Gallery. Below : Ranbir Kaleka, Reading Man, 2009, acrylic and oil on canvas with aluminum sculptures and armature and wall clock, 99 x 197 x 96 inches, courstey Bose Pacia Gallery]

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