STILL LIFE - recent works by Karl Antao
Where: Gallery Espace, 16 Community Centre, New Friends Colony, New Delhi – 110025
About The Exhibition
The underlying theme guiding Karl Antao’s recent body of work is the suspension of life and animation, the stillness that pervades a life of fading memories. His anthropomorphic sculptures stand like silent sentinels surveying the world where hierarchies and oppressions exist with a cool detachedness, a quiet dignity and hidden power.
The works are an amalgam of bronze and wood and reach into the realms of the artist’s subconscious mind producing imagery that is fantastically surreal and yet playful without being irreverent. Antao draws inspiration from life but also from memory, dreams and the collective subconscious of the common person, elevating their travails into visual poetry. The sculptures of his protagonists are infused with objects carrying symbolic meaning.
Drawing upon his vast oeuvre, Antao is focusing primarily on the torso as a formal device to convey the nuance and satirical works that touch both heart and head. It may be noted that while the works are laced with a subtle eroticism of the earth mother, the hands of the protagonist reach in beyond the parameters of the garment to touch the heart. The objects stand for what they denote in the everyday but they also become metaphors for the world beyond the physical, that world which is constructed in our memory and consciousness. The emotive charge of a brick, a chair or waterspout carries them beyond the mundane message, when juxtaposed with the astral bodies of his protagonists who are sky clad or forest covered.
Antao is currently living in Ahmedabad from where he came to Mumbai and he has travelled across the world from Cuba and Africa to England and Paris. According to Antao, one carries their sense of home in their head and heart. He graduated in Applied Art from the Sir J. J. School of Art. While in Mumbai, he experimented with advertising, corporate filmmaking and trophy designing, before discovering that it was sculpting that was his raison d’être (reason to be) and propelled by it he went on to create an alternative universe of sculptures that live and breathe as a collective soul.
Most modern-day sculptors choose clay or metal to work with, finding them more malleable. But Antao prefers to work with wood. For him working on wood is more challenging since there is certain finality to it. Once a segment is shaven off it cannot be put back unlike clay, and it takes some time to understand the nuances of this medium. Antao is adept with fashioning his medium to deliver his message.