SHIFTING PARADIGMS-LEARNING FROM LIFE
10 Jul, 2015 - 25 Sep, 2015
The works are mesmerizing akin to Op art of the 1960s. There is intrigue, intricacy, complex geometry, optical density, web of magicality that draws the viewer to a closer appreciation of the art works. It inevitably foregrounds the intense physical labour and time, the conceptual process and the methodology of the creative act. The artist who has wrought such a canvas of breathtaking beauty and enigmatic amazement is Yuvan Bothysathuvar, a Chennai based artist whose recent suite of works belong to a different league. The visual language is abstract and the methodology of creation akin to the process of collage but with a difference. While collage articulates various materials, textures, paints, fabric etc in its creation, the material employed by Yuvan is exclusively paper creating papier colle. Engaging with materials as old used magazines, coloured canson paper, GSM boards, and cardboards on plywood; he weaves his concepts and experiences of life into a magical fabric of art that has the appearance of a structured geometry, mathematical precision juxtaposed with his clever dexterity and confident skills that transcends the medium of papier colle itself. His works manifest dynamic energy, passion, intensity of purpose and empathy particularly for his materials. Arriving at this visual vocabulary was a journey that began with hyper realism which found realization in abstraction. This trajectory forged by the artist was started when he reflected on the use of paint and canvas with its tones and tints, highlights and darker umbrages, and felt a need to transcend the pigments and canvas and translate the same into another material. Thus he hit upon the idea of using paper and thus was born the new expanded field of creativity for Yuvan.
The critical aesthetic of the works is centered on the attitude and beliefs taught to him by life that is struggles of survival at an impressionable age of seventeen when he came away to Chennai from Thiruvanamalai, encounters with diverse people, and readings of various philosophers as Kafka, Tolstoy, or Homer’s Iliad. This was the bedrock of his development of concepts leading to creative act. The intensity of his experiences finds transubstantiation with his working method and particularly the material. Paper in its diverse dimension becomes the warp and woof of his creative fabric, manipulating it to exercise his ideas and objectives. His articulation with paper is equally symbolic and metaphorical. It demonstrates a system of communication as it is printed for knowledge and information; it serves as a chronicle of memory where the verbal and the visual are juxtaposed, the fragility of the material and its vulnerability to the capriciousness of time are seminally the dimensions of life itself. And Yuvan has appropriately extended his experiences through this material; thus creating double entendre to convey the biography of the paper as his own. It is this poignancy which comes through when an insight is gained about his life as dictated to in his art works.
Yuvan interfaces with concepts as fragility, palimpsest, memory and vulnerability, giving substance to his material that echoes the fragility and vulnerability of life, which has been contemplated through his personal cultural perspective. This cohesive body of works presented as Papier colle wall installations offers a visual portrayal with correspondence between the human body as a vessel of received responses and stimulations and the art material paper. The idea of palimpsest and memory is made manifest in the work titled “Wall”. The concept of layering through a process of removal and pasting creates a space for memory to be locked in as time between the layers. The fundamental concept which inspired Yuvan was the walls of his urban spaces that are continuously layered with posters either from films or political leaders. With poignancy he says, “Today it is one powerful political leader, tomorrow he or she will be replaced by another, and so the posters get torn and a new one is pasted upon”. This marks an insightful reading of temporal fragility, with meanings locked in and perhaps never to be unlocked.
In his conceptual approach to art making, there is an inherent duality. That is life is not one dimensional but multidimensional, and that every experience has its contrasting play of emotions and sentiments as joy and sadness, confidence and insecurity, optimism and pessimism, light and dark, which as abstractions felt and experienced morph to material existence in his works as he manipulates colours, tones, shades, light and dark. This approach also creates a hint of an autobiographical rendering, but for the artists it is mostly a therapeutic act to make sense of life on earth. Yuvan aims to touch people’s lives and their souls and hopefully help the viewer to confront, to re-examine their place in the world. If death is creativity, undeniably Yuvan has resurrected it with a creative insight the old used papers and magazines to breathe a new life into it. The work “Afterlife” stands testimony to this process, which reinvents the old magazines to get infused with artist’s life searching philosophy.