About

A Bombastic Post-Plastic Bombay Painter

– Amitesh Srivastava

To witness a laconic bear painted in all those earthy down home colours and to see that animal holding a mechanical screw-like object is both hilarious and social commentary with a difference – the issues are real and immediate. This bear is “sounding” the thickness of the ice with his simple instrument, as if wondering where he will fish, on what ice he will walk in an age of global warming. Painted with a truly fluid brushwork Amitesh Srivastava’s art always has these jarring juxtapositions of man or animal and machine. It all mixes together wonderfully, a bit like India. The experiment is ongoing, just as Amitesh Srivastava’s art is. Interestingly, he has a way of covering the field of painting with a range of dichotomies, as if describing the surfeit, the cornucopia, the Babylon-like existence of a new India where people are prodded as much as cattle to perform, to engage, to produce, and to consume. And it all comes together in a wonderful way in Amitesh Srivastava’s painting. The subject is the object and vice versa. One man seated exhales smoke. The other man sitting opposites inhales the same smoke. Dog Politics has a dog whose feet are standing on four heads…. The dogs are doing the talking, and the man who walks multiple dogs in Breeder does so precariously in a perspicacious and random world that looks more like a series of archipelagos. The dog leads trail through the air in a pattern. These dogs are aristocrats.

And yet there are echoes of a world configured by Mahatma Ghandi in Amitesh Srivastava’s art. We see it in the love of the simple cogs and wheels, the human friendly tools and machines all aerated by atmospheres of landscapes, or cityscapes, the earth brown field-like expanses – all these elements are interchangeable in the imagination of this highly talented and visually challenging artist. Farm is a disquieting painting for the farmer here pushes against the flow with his machine/boat. The price of grain and the man/machine dichotomy all meet up here. Float has women with shawls and a man or two. They are seated yet in and water is the active ingredient. They all floating simultaneously. The simultaneous, synchronous actions taking place are isolated from one another. Mumbai is full of contradictions, and people wash clothes, next to a pipe carrying pollution, while another part man/part machine person is “producing” something. A few strokes can bring to life a whole scene.

What artist comes to mind in looking at Amitesh Srivastava’s paintings? Hieronymus Bosch would be one artist, for the way many scenes are strewn around the place in the same painting. The chaos is basically friendly, ecologically threatened by pollution and waste, but equally the people who people these paintings are inundated by their own circumstances. A man carries too much documentation, and the papers are literally falling on the ground all around him. There’s so much paper he cannot really see where he is going. A victim of the information age, or the age of stupid, perhaps, but this portrait makes for a wonderful subject. The same goes for a man in a car full of books, knowledge being always represented by those books, whether we read them or are illiterate. All those books, like the people and elements selected for each painting are strewn around like litter. This is a trash world that leaves us with no ready response to the states of being brought to life. It makes us question what is sacred and wonder how it all got this way. The books are trash too! Object multiples, space occupiers, definitely not sources of wisdom in this post-consumer waste world. And the books are endless, and go off into the distance. Books are in aisles, in space, winding their way into infinity… The librarians of this universe operate strange brush-like machines and carry off bundles and overwhelming arrays of book-like matter. Time is nowhere to be seen. This overload has nothing to do with knowledge, or insight, for that matter. This is post-apocalyptic reasoning, and the awkward conjunctures are everywhere to be witnessed in Amitash’s paintings. One should remember what Marshall McLuhan once recognized, that clowns are symptomatic of the grief and sadness of the kings. In this art world extravaganza, the kings are nowhere to be seen. And this is what makes these paintings a parable on an art world gone mad. Subjects can go anywhere they want. And so can themes. Reason still lurks somewhere beneath the veil. There are echoes of Goya here that remind us the sleep of reason produces monsters. You turn a corner in these paintings, only to find people who look like sublime offerings.

The weird, slightly strange conjunctions of people and machines make us feel these post-humans are fused together in a post-machine age, and the objects that turn, work, or farm, could be indolent as the people. We are never sure. The ideas are represented by the forms, the forms represent what could be, or what might have been, or what actually is. Amitesh Srivastava’s universes are hypothetical ones, configured not just for the delight of the eye… the visual syntax is inventive and, like the spoken word, music and dance, keeps Indian culture alive. Eye candy this is not! More like brain candy!

 

In a way, Amitesh Srivastava’s paintings are a self-described, visually sophisticated form of elocution about humanity’s potential to not rise above the status quo. In so doing he challenges us to do so. And the challenge is a visual feast, a poltergeist, and a pot pourri of invented scenarios. Someone is sitting in a chair and reading. Water pours out of holes in the chair. Other people are likewise reading. Each is separate from the other and exist in a separate universe. It’s a multi-channel, multi-dimensional world made up of mini-universes. Rare Reading has the readers, a writer, or paper office people all piled together into the same column-like structure there is so little available city space. It’s a fantastic phenomenal place in hypothetical space. What they are reading is no longer book-like, more like appendages made to order, extensions of some synthetic formulaic word fabricator rotor. A shower, a back massage device and other mechanistic gadgets work as the people play or vice versa. With so little time everyone has become a multi-tasker. The tasks look Pavlovian, as if these people were not really making any conscious choices about how they live, or what they do, for that matter. Activity begets activity no matter what. We begin to feel this universal human condition could be sacred or sublime even as it is harried and hurried.

 

Amitesh Srivastava always questions the source while respecting the content. Jesus C. is vomiting words on the newspaper headlines, a cardinal sin if ever there was one. The power of words is challenged, and the sacred nature of orthodoxy. Respect is one feature that seems to seep into all these paintings, a basic respect for the human being, for nature, animals, and the conditions we live in. And there is a love of innuendo; of the way we are drawn into interpretations of a scenario. The scenario asks us to fill in the blanks. Amitesh Srivastava fills in the blanks with his own enigmatic and bombastic, delightfully challenging style. Style is a source, and a river that flows and finds its forms along the way. We can try to interpret these recent large-scale paintings, but there is always enough ambiguity hanging around in them that you have to draw back, do a double take, and re-read the vision and visuality you are being presented with. Yet the scenes are agrarian by nature, human by nature, and the predicaments they describe are quintessentially 21st century. Global robots on a prowl, or animals that have the capacity to reason, or machines as fantastic as they are unrealistic… It’s a mad mad mad world. People and machines, animals and humans, everything becomes interchangeable, like the parts in a body/machine. Everything seems to work in this immense wheel of life, and everything turns, rotates, grows, propels, pollutes, propagates, as if by chance, and as luck would have it, we have a painter with a lot of talent here – Amitesh Shrivastava.

– John K. Grande

www.johnkgrande.com

 

 

amitesh

AMITESH SHRIVASTAVA

Born-         Khairagarh, Chattisgarh

EDUCATIONAL QUALIFICATION

MASTER OF FINE ARTS, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda,                 Vadodara, 2000

BACHELOR OF FINE ARTS, Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwa Vidhyalaya,       Khairagarh, 1997

 

SCHOLARSHIP

1998   National Scholarship, Human Resource, New Delhi

AWARDS

1998   All India Drawing Exhibition, Rajasthan

1996   Kalidas Academy Award, Ujjain

1996   South Central Zone, Nagpur

 

RESIDENCY & WORKSHOPS

 2013 Sandarbh International Artist Residency in collaboration with Creative India

Foundation

2009   Artists/Writers residency programme, The Guild art gallery, Mumbai

 

Solo Show

 

2014           Rage Readers VS Pseudo Readers..Gallery OED Cochin

 

TWO PERSON SHOW

 2009   LIMITED SECURITY / SECURITY LTD. The Guild art gallery, Mumbai

 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2014     “DESH” A group show curated by Paroma Maiti.  Ganges Art Gallery , Kolkata ,India.

2014     “räume für notizen | rooms for notes “wechselstrom gallery Vienna

2013     United Art Fair New Delhi Curated by Heidi Fichtner

2012    Stop making sense , False Ceiling gallery, Bandra Mumbai

2010    PROJECT ARTIGER, New Delhi

2009   The Guild’s Residency Exhibition, The Guild art gallery, Mumbai

2009   KIAF Coex, Seoul, Korea,

2009   ‘Metamorphosis’ – Change and Continuity in Indian Contemporary Art curated

by Radha Chandrashekaran and Meena Vari, Phyllis Weston-Annie Bolling

gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio USA

 

PERSONAL DETAILS

mobile             +91 9869910133

email               amitesh75@gmail.com

Website     www.amiteshshrivastava.com

The artist currently resides and works in Mumbai.

 

Born in Khairagarh, now a part of Chattisgarh State, Amitesh Shrivastava obtained his BFA from Khairagarh University and MFA from MSU, Baroda. Amitesh’s works intensely debate the socio-cultural and philosophical notions of security in his painterly works. Qualified as quasi expressionistic works, Amitesh deliberately chooses an action oriented style to develop his pictorial surfaces. An artist who is an avid researcher on social hierarchies, visualizes a human dram which is related to both the agrarian and technological economy. In his satirically titled work, ‘Breeder’ he envisions a world of dog breeding that in turn not only suggests the social hierarchy of possession but also surreptitiously comments on the issue of social security gained through the possession of ‘guarding’ dogs. In the work titled, ‘Farmer’, Amitesh’s intention is to emphasize the agrarian realities of the today that often submerge in the humdrum of urban growth. Amitesh’s take on the notion of security and the love-hate relationship of human beings with the world of technology becomes palpable in his work titled ‘Rare Reading’. In ‘Metro Dad’, the artist underlines how the notion of socio-cultural security is translated from the past to the present.