Monday 18 June 2012

Food Art….Invoking philosophical reasoning and creative output.

Food Art….Invoking  philosophical  reasoning  and  creative  output.
Pankaja JK.    

“In India people most people die not due to lack of food but due to over eating of food…”
This is no scientific analysis or report on World Food Survey.; but just a moment of thought given to most basic need of every living being- it is Food. Do we need food only to keep our body working or is there more profound importance of it in our life? Thinking about this I found very interesting answer to this bizarre question. Food has more than physical responsibility- it nurtures philosophy of life. There are basically two different categories of food that are necessary to fix and achieve the meaning of life. First is the ‘actual nutritional diet’, second is the ‘thought as food’.
After Industrialization the food habit of people especially in urban area changed rapidly. The trend of processed, packed food developed rapidly. This trend still continues and it has become a part of everyday lifestyle of people all over the world. Technological progress is not the only reason for this changing habit. There is a sly politics behind making people addicted to such habit. Establishing international market and earning foreign currency is the main aim of politicizing of food. In fact, Food and Beverage Industry is prospering day by day. There is a competition in luxurious and stared hotels to present food with attractive garnishing. We can simply call it ‘food modeling’! This food is advertised as very healthy and safe, ready to eat food but in reality it is devoid of any nutrition and it is more harmful to body. Comparing today’s people to early generation we find more and more of them suffering from physical ailments due to faulty food habits.
(Title: I roasted papad on iron, c - print on aluminum.     By Prashant Hirlekar)
But the second category of food is common to people from all walks of life and that category is ‘thought as a food’.  Civilizations have developed and perished but one thing common in all civilizations is the haunt for food by every surviving soul. Speaking of mankind it has not only been for satisfaction of hunger but for development and progress too- it has always been food for thought. There is a very interesting proverb in Marathi which sums up the basic need of life – Pot lagle pathishi…phiravito desho deshi…. Which means- Stomach/ hunger/ need for food follows you (is behind you?) and makes you go places in search of food. When the basic urge of food is satisfied man is able to think beyond survival, he is able to think and move on progressive path. The food that is mentioned here is food that a man needs to develop in his field of interest. For example, a painter needs inspiration, scientists needs evaluation, a writer needs stimulation, freedom fighters were lured with the thought of gaining independence for the country,  a laborer is nurtured by the thought of worrying for his own and family’s survival and so on.
Every kind of thought acts as ‘food’.  Speaking of art community, Food has been subject of many artists; creations. Food has depicted elements in nature, food has represented hunger and vice a versa and so on. Artists have used food stuffs symbolically.

Out of many such creations, installation one that has emotional touch is the artwork of Prashant Hirlekar, a passionate artists who is inspired by household things, imprinted his favorite ‘Istri’ (Iron) in the shape of a papad (wafer) on  aluminum base. He told an interesting story behind this creation, that during his college days while staying as a paying guest, he and his other artist friends would have party in anyone friend’s room. But since during those days paying guests were not allowed to keep gas stove, it was not possible to prepare any snacks in the room, so he and his friends would heat the iron and roast the papad by keeping hot iron on it. This nostalgia has turned out as a memorable creation of Prashant. 
(Title: Red chilly:  archival print on paper  by  Vishwanath Math.)

Artist Vishwanath Math has been dedicatedly involved in exploring the depth of mundane things. His ‘Mundane’ series is his curiosity to search abstract forms and shapes giving some meaning to it. His photographic skill can be easily felt when we observe chilly and curry leaves kept on the steel plate. There is nothing unusual about it. We see it everyday, but the way he has shoot it, makes it seem mouth watering, though if we eat it raw as seen in photograph we would have watering eyes along with mouth! 
To sum up, there is no alternative to ‘food’ and important aspect of social, political, philosophical and aesthetic scenario of the world.


Tuesday 5 June 2012

F A C E TO FA C E –Mumbai : artist interview – 1 by Pankaja JK

Istri- Series of painting by Prashant Hirlekar.

(Artist: Prashant Hirlekar, Photograph by Vishawanath Math)

Pankaja JK (J.K.) in conversation with Prashant Hirlekar (P.H.)

Following is my tête-à-tête with artist Prashant Hilekar who has the knack to give extra ordinary philosophical and mystical touch to most ordinary things or to put it rightly- Unusual and exceptional use of devices used for household needs, represent creative output of an artist as an individual creative thinker. The subject of his latest series of painting is ‘Istri’ or Iron. The device becomes unique thing as Prashant shapes it according to his creative instincts. Peep into his psyche and read his interesting visual and intellectual indulgence. 

J.K .  1. What inspires you to use household commodities as subjects of your paintings?

P.H: Man made objects that we live with, are representatives of time in which we live. It talks about the lifestyle we live during that period. I am going ahead to use the same man- made appliance to create my art works. Unusual and exceptional use of this device stands for creative output of an artist as an individual creative thinker.

An iron stands for disciplinary, well- presented but compulsion oriented habit of human being. We are unknowingly hooked to such things which can never be important and necessary in its basic forms e.g.: chappals and shoes that we wear are indispensable man made objects for city people. If we go to villages, most of them don’t wear chappals, though roads are smoother here in city .We are more conscious of our social image and status. We are conditioned to rely on other people’s opinion. I live in city where millions of people wear ironed clothes and go to office early in the morning; it’s as if they are fitted on conveyor belt, produced under a wish of collective mind. I use iron unconventionally to create my artworks.
When I burn canvas I get immense pleasure, like that of a magician who performs magic. It is a pleasure of directing nature or seeking nature’s help to support your request and to get this final natural desired effect of burning.  Even though burning has negative connotation, I take up this as a challenge and convert this into positive aesthetical statement of an art by adding colors and forms related to it. The whole combination of negative and positive balances me on the equilibrium of my thought process at the same time. When I think of iron, it delineates the same meaning of human body which emits heat within. Heat in the body has a strong relation with a negative thinking followed by negative energy which is blocked in some part of body. After emitting heat when body comes to normal it continues with free flow of energy. The similitude of iron and human body employed me to produce this series of painting. Iron has a aero-dynamic shape where two points meet at one vertex, where it creates the arch- like shape of iron; similar  shape we see in churches and other holy places and I feel this is a gateway to spiritual space; Spirituality that keeps on haunting and tapping a door of every individual.

An act of ironing itself is a spectacular act for me. The way iron moves while pressing clothes is a composition in itself. A laundryman who comes from Uttar Pradesh to Mumbai for his survival finds a small shop or a table. There is a peculiarity in the way he keeps iron on the piece of asbestos sheet and a wire coated with cotton cover for insulation goes towards the electric meter box where there is a red bulb and a God’s photograph; blessing him and energy emitting from his palm makes a picture perfect to get inspired from it. Piles of clothes ironed and crumpled before ironing and after effect of clothes has been amusing for me- It represent human personality which is crumpled and later on well presented with ironed clothes on. I see a veiled man in it. These clothes are generally ironed for office goers which are light in tonal values with stripes or checks on it and a woman, who is his wife lives with him there in that tiny space covering her whole face & body with a bright colourful sari with flowers on it.  This whole contrast shows the importance of this business. It talks several things about human life in a nutshell and his continuous act of ironing is a similar practice of Zen master who keeps on repeating things to witness the energy within; which is again centre of interest for the artist

J.K.  2 .Were you always inclined to be an artist? What inspired you towards it?

P. H.  I am not only inclined to be an artist but I am following a source which is directing me to be an artist, to witness life and influence of art on it. It is an inspiration or may be the way I develop to look at it over the years has been guiding force and inspiration to paint

J.K. 3. Huge installations are trendy; do you plan to venture this genre?

P. H.: Installation is not trend but it is a need of an artist to extend his vision while he lives in this world. His life is full of visual experiences connected to brain which emits certain chemicals to give pleasure and it is an immediate need of an artist today. I have been doing installations but I don’t pre-plan because what happens at the very moment is life, while we are busy making plan.

J.K. 4. Surfing art world on net, we find many artists across the globe creating almost same painting, installation or sculpture. What do you think? Is this copying of art or just a coincidence?

(Iron    12 X 18 ''   installation metal) 
P. H.: Previously it was difficult to get in-depth perspective of art field but now due to internet we can find out if there are any similar creations around in the world; there may even be co-incidences too. But finally it is artist’s own integrity which matters a lot, since this is a journey of self exploration.

J.K. 5 .Looking at the flood of artists from art colleges every year, how would you analyze on art for today’s artist- passion or profession?

P. H.: An artist for whom art is passion need to realize that it is a profession too and for artist for whom art is profession should realize that this is a passion in real sense. But even if it is purely passion, it will certainly bear fruits sooner or later even if he is does not follow professional norms. Finally he has to decide or may be destiny decides this for him.

J.K. 6.Do you think such virtual exhibitions will erase the existence of galleries and curators?

P. H.: Virtual exhibition will be an additional support to artist. Importance of galleries and curators will always be there, as we had books before and we have books even now in spite of having handy electronic media. Finally, it’s whole blooming nature of existence to reach at the peak of perfection.  

J.K. 7.How does city life influence artists? What are the positive and negative aspects of urbanization?

P.H: City life does influence artist. Rapidly changing social political situation tends to influence artist.  Changing social political situation tends to influence on the psyche of urban man. He is bombarded with new change all the time. Rapid change is the only permanent thing in the city. New architectural sites, fashions, interiors, an aesthetical advancement demand artist to fit in the global race; to fit in the new stream. Digital art, Photography, Installation, Video installation ,Site specific works, Gallery performance are the new forms of expressions come forth, some follow as the trend some do it as genuine need. But finally zeroing down to your creative statement attracts more appreciation. Negative side would be being in the rat race of the trend that may deviate from the right direction of inner instinct. Inner journey which witness and creates history sets some milestones in any field. Positive side of urbanization is that works are truly evaluated on global plateau.  It takes you closer to the pinnacle which is indispensable part of any growth.

J.K. 8.Tell me something about your upcoming project and if you have plan to have online exhibition or in a gallery.  

(Iron    8 X 12 ''  wood and metal)
P. H: I have been working on form of iron(istri). Once I focus on one thing, recurrently I find innumerable possibilities within that area. So to streamline patiently following them to execution at the same time witnessing other ideas derived from other forms is a great task. But persistence and consistency has lot of strength and respect. I want to create whole show of installation based on iron. I am hopping to deliver the best from it. I will always like to have online show because there is enough freedom of  selection of works to exhibit, you also have liberty of time, one doesn’t have to follow deadline of the time. Through online show we reach to busiest people in short time, where there is major possibility of appreciation and understanding. In gallery one can see works physically but it is an old form of presentation just as we used to see actual actors on the stage in a play later we accepted their presence on celluloid screen. Advancement of the technology adds convenience to everyone. Art lovers always come to artist’s studio and see the works physically. Gallery would be old form like an opera but still deserves it’s due respect because it invites social gathering and some show must go on there. 

To conclude, I had a conversation with a very unbiased artist who is just engrossed in innovating and developing his creations. After such light talk there was no need for ‘cutting’, a cup tea but in his casual manner he asked me for one and I couldn’t deny it; just thinking of the labour class ‘Istriwala’

more about artist and his 2nd blog show view on :