Sunday 25 March 2012

Negative is nothing but hidden pool of positive possessions … Prashant Hirlekar's recent art works

It is intriguing and thought capturing series by Prashant Hirlekar. The everyday useful household commodity ‘Iron’ becomes a remarkable metaphor in this series. He addresses it in Hindi language and calls it ‘Istri’; it is explored physically and characteristically. He tries to exterminate misconceptions, blind beliefs and pseudo psyche.

‘Istri’ is basically used for purpose of ironing; it stores negative energy –heat. This negative energy itself is used for good outcome of flattening the creases on the clothes to make them more attractive and presentable. This working of Istri has magnetized the artist and he finds its association in our surroundings.  He has deeply studied nature and found that goodness of nature has its existence due to presence of negativity. This negativity surrounding us, leads to positive outcome or its presence is unavoidable if one wants to experience goodness in the universe. In fact, not a single being is devoid of this negative energy which plays an important role in boosting positive spirit in us. Doesn’t hate make us sensitive towards love? Isn’t the fear of death which is a future, make us live the moments today? These complexities and much more is presented in the series.  

(Recent work by  Prashant Hirlekar)
Hirlekar precisely points out goodness out of bad, positive out of negative all through the series. Generally, people and for that matter even artist look at the happy and attractive side of the elements and artist paints them on canvas to make a good impression. There is deliberate attempt in the society to ignore or avoid negativity as it is considered bad. There are superstitious beliefs associated with many things in nature. Some of the superstitious beliefs like considering black colour as inauspicious and representative of bad omen or crow being considered ugly and useless, these same things bring twist in life when they gain priority and importance by the same society which discards them very often. Black colour may be inauspicious for people but for artists it has proved to be useful colour to make impressions, even in nature clouds are dark bringing the rains, dark nights bring along sound sleep, black hair sign of beauty so on and so forth. In the Hindu ritual a crow is sought after, to know whether souls of forefathers are satisfied and are at peace.

In one of the paintings where the canvas is ironed and properly hanged on the hanger clearly indicates that even if canvas is the base of painting; it is of little use if creased and wrinkled; it has to be flattened before painting on it. So, if canvas stands for positive result of good painting, it needs negative energy (heat) of Istri to form plain and unwrinkled base for painting. This applies to human appearance in society as well; i.e. even if you are a disturbed person you can present yourself composed and balanced in that well ironed clothes and that is exactly what an iron does using negative energy of heat to present positive side of you.  

Basically it is the negativity that nurtures positivism and the ideas and concepts develop according to their intensity. Too much of comfort and luxury is a sign of hampered mental growth, therefore some amount of failure, void and dejection is necessary to keep our central nervous system active and rouse our adrenalin rush. It stimulates brain and makes it more active to think of the ways to achieve the unaccomplished aims. This is subtly projected in the image where iron moves upwards and gets divided into two parts. It seems as if the path is a backbone which moves up and Iron at the end of it gets divided into two parts of the brain; where every experience is processed and body is commanded to act upon it.

Just like too much of goodness, even too much of negativity is also dangerous, in some cases leading only to destruction and that can be on individual level or society at large. This idea is clearly indicated on his canvas and also through the installation where the hot iron sole if pressed on one spot for longer period that part of the cloth gets charred and destroyed completely. Here it may also be suggestive of suicidal thoughts and actions due to pressures or on the larger scale it can be also indicative of historical episode during Hitler’s reign when Jews were inhumanly charred to death and in recent context it can also be indicative of corruption, poverty and deadly terrorism which is affecting lives of people all over the world. To eradicate these grave problems, controlling the rising negativity is important to keep the situation under control. So, negative energy is good as far as it is in control and directed towards positive result.

This series is not partial to any extremes of positive or negative; it aptly presents the two characteristics in balance which makes living complete. But more credence is on viewing Negative in good terms and accepting the fact that it is not always bad, but it stores positive energy. To put in other words, in context of Istri- hot or burning iron is a potential energy which becomes kinetic as soon as it is applied on the desired base or cloth. But one has to be careful while moving it smoothly with variation in pressure according to kind of cloth and wrinkles on it. Silk and cotton are two different fabrics requiring different temperatures and pressure and just like that the negative things in surrounding can be used actively in changing social and personal outlook by applying proper wisdom.

Apart from presenting the characteristic and the use of Istri, Hirlekar is also fascinated by its shape. The broader end that join together at arched point on the other end is unification that straightens the most wrinkled corner of the cloth and in reality too giving finer shape to thoughts can also eradicate the most difficult problems, thus making a remorse a rejoice. If it doesn’t offend Hirlekar or ruffle chauvinism in him, on personal level I also find similarity between the physical make and characteristic of Iron and Woman. Woman is said to be the reason either for civilization or destruction of society and is just like Prashant’s Istri, burning with desire of progress of her family and herself. If her goal oriented fire within is directed in right direction and moved smoothly, it can straightened ruffled feathers of society and lead to proper reward.

To sum up, the series appeals the psyche due to its subject matter and visual impulse through amalgamation of shades of red and orange with blue, which are again contradicting; red arousing heat and blue subduing it by its nature of calmness.  

- Pankaja JK

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Thanks for comment JK