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January 15, 2015 – February 28, 2015

Artworks in Exhibition

For the course of over a hundred years Indian artists like Raja Ravi Varma, MF Husain, and to a lesser extent Abanindranath Tagore and Manjit Bawa
have wrestled with a knotty question: how do the bodies of the past shape those of the present? How do they become the bearers of shared narratives,
even as they embody the rigour of the truth of their own time?

To this line of enquiry, of the remodeling of the classical Indic body, Manjunath Kamath adds regional nuance, and an ironic, self reflexive
investigation. In vitalizing the truth of his own experience, of the childhood memories of temples in the Udupi area that he visited with his father, and of
the deep study of classicism, he slips into the mode of an internal soliloquy. In the course of several months of work, the artist touches and pries open the
zygot of the idea: can the classical remain at the heart of the contemporary and yet accommodate spectres of mutation, or bear the marks of a fractured

The exhibition proceeds with the steady rhythm of a diarist in gentle play: of sketchy notations, doodles in terracotta, miniaturized models and curious
accretions .Because Kamath is also a satirist, working in clay and video to iterate, mock and distort, there are odd resemblances, disruption and
moments of unexpected recognition. In the remaking of bodies and forms we see the working of a digital imagination and the play of possibilities.

I am however most taken with what can be seen as an envisioning of South Asian masculinity, a form that seems to have been initiated in recent years
by contemporary artists. The “leonine chested body” that art historian Sivaramamurti writes of may suggest the embattled tirthankara figure, or else
the contorted yogi, standing at the edge of the world. There is also the ‘ideal boy’ of the school textbook, the new hope of an aspiring nation. In Kamath
these forms merge with all their ironic contradictions, to inhabit the body of the artist and the dreamer, in a poiesis of the self.


Gayatri Sinha


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