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Threading fears and fantasies

Artist Pratul Dash’s recent solo show in Delhi, A Bend in the River, showcased an insightful, parallelview of reality and traced the troughs and waves of our many fears and fantasies.

Each artwork brings in abstractions to tickle the mind, unravelling layers within layers and prompting the viewers to decode the intricacies of the thoughts powering the strokes. It is areservoir of multiple personal experiences that Dash draws from, to create a palpable aura around the idea of darkness, his figures, and their ruminations. “My rendition, 24×7: A Global Discours’ is a work that draws deeply from my personal experiences,” he shares. “Rooted in the complex landscape of postmodern thought, this monumental piece, spanning 24 feet by 7 feet, reflects my engagement with the intricacies of our contemporary world. In an era dominated by digital saturation, my artwork explores the overwhelming deluge of information that engulfs us, akin to an unyielding tsunami. It mirrors my own experiences and observations of a world where the very nature of truth has become elusive, concealed behind a tempest of conflicting narratives and counter-propaganda.”

“The title itself — with its playful reference to Pink Floyd’s ‘64 channels of shit to choose from’ — showcases my satirical take on the ceaseless torrent of content defining our times,” he explains. “An expression of my humour and a commentary on the excessive information that characterises our age, the metaphor of the inescapable fish pond within the artwork represents the fragmented and decentralised nature of postmodern thought,” says Pratul. By his own admission, he is engaging with contemporary aesthetics, philosophy, and political commentary, inviting viewers to understand his unique perspective, while getting merged in the rich tapestry of postmodern ideas and inspirations.

Charred blacks and fleeting reds make up his palette, which speaks volumes of the mysteries and vitality he encounters in nature. It is a fascinating world of forms and feelings, bringing in the mysterious nuances in nature, the “unknown depths and complexities of the natural world.” The juxtapositioning with the reds draws in the sharpness of “life’s energy and vibrancy, signifying brief yet vivid moments found in the natural world”. Each inch prompts the viewer to ponder, and then perceive, telling multiple stories within the span.

Call it a riveting, visual discourse. Dash, having grown up in the open fields of Odisha, now accentuates the sense of sheer desperation that suffuses our obsessive existence, ferreting out latent observations, feelings, dreams and memories.“There are moments that encompass everything from the colourful flora and fauna to the ephemeral beauty of landscapes,” he shares. “I intentionally chose this palette to visually convey the emotional and conceptual challenges I face during my artistic journey. Each artwork involves a labour-intensive process, reflecting my dedication to uncovering the intricate mysteries of the environment. The chosen palette allows me to transcend words, creating a profound and visually engaging experience for viewers.”

What has been his biggest learning so far? “My journey of learning has revealed that patience, sincerity, respect for nature, and kindness toward fellow humans are the guiding principles that enrich our lives. These values, like threads in the fabric of existence, lead us towards a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world,” he replies. Up next for Pratul Dash is an exciting audio-visual project titled “Not Known, Not Discussed: Their Story”. With his penchant for dipping into the surreal, this promises to be another thought-stirring visual odyssey.

(Published 21 October 2023, 23:25 IST)

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