B V Suresh
Weights and Rolling Gin
B V Suresh, an art teacher and a practicing artist, is continuously negotiating the visual fields of the contemporary – that includes everything, from art practice to our immediate surroundings. He has acquired his language and his strategies from his training first from Baroda and later from the Royal College of Art, London. His work is a take on the issues of realism where he employs multiple realisms, questions of history and narration and even the engagement with the circulation of mass media images. He represents a range of images from diverse sources including comic books, hoardings, newspapers, television, films, advertisements; the images that constitute everyday visual experience of many people.
His works are combined of videos, installations, paintings and digital prints through which Suresh explores distinct themes and employs certain narrative strategies in the process. In his recent works, Suresh gestures towards spaces where the private and the public seem to fold into each other while staging diverse violence. His works are more oriented to the surface where the figures are dispersed and the works become more abstract. Through this he enters into the implications of visual language and the questions of representation – representations of social and psychic violence.
B.V. Suresh first moved away from a predominantly painterly language in the late nineties, shifting to mixed media assemblages held together within a framework resembling domestic furniture. Preetha Nair, who worked on the text for one of his exhibition catalogues, describes her excitement: "Getting used to some of that indefinable darkness that pervades them, eyes shifting, searching and resting only briefly, moving from one form to the next mark, from a bunch of cherries to a golden egg, the saffron bait, a hand grenade, miles of rope, embroidered forms, holes, crevices, a virginal sewing-machine...".
The personal and the confessional had always characterized his work, even as a student in Baroda, when the overtones of the kind of language used by the British painter R.B. Kitaj, widely discussed at the time, was very much in evidence. A subtle shift had occurred within this larger concern while studying in London. The immediacy of the day to day which had earlier served as a focal point of reference seemed "too foreign and too superficial" to actually move him deeply and the only meaningful source seemed to be the universality which binds the experience of suffering, transcending as it did geographical and cultural constraints. Whether it was the slaughter of contaminated reindeer in Norway or the rise of fundamentalism in India, it affected the innocent and culpable alike. Working with dense overlapping layers of paint, he created vast ambiguous areas which could accommodate the personal within the more definable configuration of the event in question, the latter conveyed through the use of recognizable symbols.
Free-standing or hung, his work bears the familiar premonition of oppression and guilt: the viewer becomes one more component, frozen in passivity and an unwilling partner to crime; "not allowed the release or the glory of martyrdom, but only the eternal pain of the weight."
In his more recent works, whether digital prints, video, or painting, Suresh offers a nuanced exploration of some of the key issues that confront us today, most prominently, the growing culture of communalism and violence we are faced with. Through these works, the artist questions history and its modes of narration, and also, the circulation of images engendered by mass media.
The artist lives and works in Baroda.
Courtesy of vadehraart.com, saffronart.com, artfoum.com