ಬೂದಿ | BOODI (Ash)
G R Iranna
February 27 – April 15, 2021
“Boodi” (“ash” in Kannada) brings together recent works by G R Iranna that crystalise his sustained artistic engagement with the tree. Ash, an integral part of his recent practice, is at the centre of Iranna’s conceptual concerns in these works – not just as medium and a rich source of symbolic meaning drawn from ideas of philosophy and spiritualism, and social practice, but as the very residual matter of life, indeed of all nature and the consciousness that pervades it.
Laden with blossoms, their dense foliage etched against the sky, Iranna’s trees are the very image of nature’s beauty and vitality. But it is a beauty harnessed to a core of strangeness, to contemplation of the mystery at the core of life.
About the Artist
G. R. Iranna’s (b. 1970) practice, comprising painting and sculpture, manifests metaphysical dualities — nature and human artifice, spirituality and materiality, permanence and transience, heavy and light-weight, dark and light – through formal juxtapositions of mediums, colours, textures, and forms. Several of his recent paintings depict trees looming over the canvas like sentient beings. Iranna paints these in layers of acrylic or pigment mixed with earth materials such as ash, coal or brick dust, giving the surface of his canvases a textural, palimpsest-like quality. His fascination with ash stems from everyday ritual and also its symbolic affinity with birth and death, and the return to nothing-ness. Iranna went to art college in Gulbarga (Karnataka), followed by a post-graduation from the College of Art, New Delhi. He has shown extensively in India and abroad. Notable among his recent solo exhibitions are ‘Ether is all there is’ (2017), a solo at Gallery Espace, New Delhi; and ‘And the Last Shall be the First: Works 1995-2015’, at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru. ‘From Ash to Ash’ a giant sculpture of an egg-form by the artist, was part of the 2016 Kochi Muziris Biennale. Iranna is a recipient of the ABPF Foundation’s Signature Art Prize- Singapore Art Museum Jury Award ; Harmony Show Artist of the Year Award, Harmony Foundation, Mumbai ; Charles Wallace Scholarship between 1999 and 2000; 40th National Academy Award from Lalit Kala Academy and the AIFACS Award in 1997. Iranna represented India at the 2018 Venice Biennale with ‘Naavu’, a large-scale sculptural installation of paadukas (traditional Indian wooden clogs). His works form part of several distinguished Indian and international collections.
“What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish?”
Iranna’s bronze sculptures of tree logs and branches enact a close parallel with reality such as to deceive most viewers at first glance – a reaction of surprise and wonder leading to a more immersive contemplation of the works’ significance. Nature and art, wood and bronze, lightweight and heavy, commonplace and precious – Iranna’s works suggest a series of contrasts juxtaposed to underline their metaphorical possibilities and elicit meaning. There’s yet another degree of duality hinted at – the ‘dead’ log finds renewed life as art, redolent not just with the artist’s consciousness but also with the log’s own life story, and the exigencies of place, weather, and experience which gave it shape.
“One of Iranna’s chosen vehicles of articulation is the allegorical tableau. He takes advantage of the critical and even adversarial stance that allegory permits, while nourishing its potential for all that cannot be decoded, cannot be named: the expressive and the sensuous.”
-Ranjit Hoskote, Catalogue Essay, “And the last shall be the first:
G R Iranna, Works 1995 – 2015”
“What I find interesting is that there is in this exhibition a solidity of material, but it translates into very metaphoric and metaphysical content which takes us into a consciousness which is much more spiritual, much more to do with wisdoms that come from ancient times….”
—Roobina Karode, Curator and Art Critic