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Hindsight 20/20

October 15, 2020 December 15, 2020

The title of the exhibition alludes to the popular adage describing the crystal clear vision of retrospect.  Despite its suggestion towards a ‘looking back’ of sorts, the exhibition in fact marks, in equal parts, a commencement and a celebration of new beginnings. Hindsight 20/20 is Gallery Ark’s first group presentation with four roster artists, featuring the art practices of  Deepak Agasthya, Mrugen Rathod, Teja Gavankar, and Vimal Ambaliya – all graduates from the Faculty of Fine Arts, at the MS University of Baroda. The show has been a long time in the making, and finally comes to life after several roadblocks. The challenges of the past six months have lent time for learning and introspection, yielding  wonderful results in ‘hindsight’, which becomes a fitting title for this show of special significance. 

The series presented by all four artists share a common thread of personal exploration in concepts of space and form, influenced by their individual philosophical and aesthetic inquiries. Most works featured in the show have been created recently, over the last six months, carrying the imprint of time spent in forced isolation and social distancing; reflections by the artists in their approach towards viewing the abstract notions of time, space, and movement, and as well in how they ascribe value to these notions.

Deepak Agasthya‘s practice is a meditation on the act of creative production. He trains a keen eye on the process and pace at which each work of art is created. This meditative focus on the act of creating traces the process to the final  outcome and bears witness to the artist’s patient exploration of the movement of the line on a surface. Deepak’s works in  this show give physical form to concepts of time and gesture. The paper that he works on, takes on the expanse of the night sky, or the incised surface of a strange planet. His work is also an expression of himself – in finding peace only as he puts pencil to paper (or in this case a glass marker, or a cutter too). The artworks are physical manifestations of quietness, the act of noting saying; of restrain and refrain, in being still. These are acts of great strength amidst the overwhelming stimuli of the modern world. Deepak invites the viewer to look closely, to be still, and be quiet for a while with him, and indeed to look within.  

Mrugen Rathod‘s practice is rooted in the nuanced journaling of his observations, particularly around the impact of human intervention on natural landscapes. Mrugen approaches the individual and society’s relationship with the environment through documentation of cues and markers of sites  of investigation. His process of documentation involves extensive travel, quite often on his signature Royal Enfield motorbike, bringing a quality of nimbleness and immediacy to the documentation style. For this exhibition, Mrugen presents a new series of miniature-format wood sculptures titled Maquettes for Journey to J-Point. These mark a location called “J-Point”, which is a dumping site for industry generated  effluence that bleeds into rivers, located just outside of Vadodara. These miniatures, which were produced as a result of his ongoing research on “J-Point” and its ramifications for the local environment, function as nominal ‘milestones’ to commemorate the location. Mrugen’s presentation for the show also includes a set of drawings and limited edition prints from his  studies for the Avataran series that  trace the journeys and stories of water bodies such as the Vishwamitri and Sabarmati rivers.

Teja Gavankar presents two series for this exhibition – Vision Drawings, a suite of digital drawings on paper, and Conjunctions, a suite of four small-scale brass sculptures, alongside drawings and digital prints. In both  series, Teja questions the ideas of space, form and volume. Her artworks are visual compounds of moving and colliding shapes in their multiple permutations and combinations, that call attention to subversive notions of space, time and form. Circles overlap and intersect with one another on a plane, of what resembles a hand-drawn graph sheet, in an attempt to locate a specific form in space. In creating a background of grids in her works on paper to determine coordinates of abstract points in space, much like a graph sheet plotted to outline data, Gavankar questions literal notions of spatiality. Upon this grid, she arranges circles along with converging or diverging lines that resemble drawings made to determine the focal point of a lens – a take on sight and vision. The brass sculptures are miniature maquettes of larger works Teja has created in the past by putting together two hemispheres in a playful manner that interrogates equations of volume and form.

Vimal Ambaliya’s suite of paintings for Hindsight 20/20 draw upon his fascination with the architecture of homes and urban planning. As he tries to build a visual language embellished with symbols and motifs through his works, he is also conscious of presenting an anthropological study of cities by portraying different views. The materials, objects and experiences that transform a building into a household intrigue Vimal. Through careful observation of lived spaces across cities, he has noticed a correlation between the built structure of homes and the evolution and expansion of cities. With the layering and multiple washes of colour to create these visuals, he presents a detailed and complex structure of the city, communicating the idea of the city as an experience. Vimal presents two bodies of works in this show. The first, Chirsthayi, includes thirty-three brightly hued abstract paintings from an ongoing series that outlines commonly followed patterns in architectural floor plans. The second, Black Series, is a suite of drawings rendered in charcoal, the visceral blackness of the medium comments on the isolation, sometimes experienced even in an overcrowded city.  While the works titled, Chirsthayi present a vibrant and joyous celebration of these forms that are the basis of constructing a home, the Black Series – created during his time spent in isolation through the lockdown – depict a foreboding sense of gloom and his negotiation of the same from within the confines of his studio.

The artists’ exploration of space in their unique style, leads one to dwell upon Maurice Merleau Ponty’s writings on perception and space when he says, “We can no longer draw an absolute distinction between space and the things which occupy it, nor indeed between the pure idea of space and the concrete spectacle it presents to our senses.” Being situated in Ark, a building that takes inspiration from conversations around space and exploring the many possibilities of this word, “space”, is something that has been a part of our journey and conversation from the start. Much like the myth, it is named after, Ark aims to  emulate the significance of Noah’s Ark as a vessel to hold within it many valuable things: a place for multiplicity and diversity, where ideas can converge and coexist in intersections. On this note, it is with great pleasure that we present the artworks by Deepak Agasthya, Mrugen Rathod, Teja Gavankar, and Vimal Ambaliya in their first group show together; Hindsight 20/20, Gallery Ark.