Magic lands lie all around
Inside, outside, underground.
Looking- glass worlds still abound, all their tales this truth reveal….
(Luka And The Fire of Life, Salman Rushdie)
Over his more than a decade as a sculptor Akhil Chandra Das has steadfastly appreciated the elegance and fact of using limited means to send phantasmagorical complex signals. Akhil gives his new body of work the imagery that has an extraordinary, well constructed look. This has been a feature of his sculpture and installations since mid-nineties. While Akhil's work has always taken a swipe at the cultural decadence, hypocrisy, capitalism and erosion of values which he evokes through surreal and mythological imageries with a sense of the absurd, fantasy, disdain, wit and sarcasm, one gets the feeling that he has been totally seduced by illusionary aspects of his imageries he expresses through wood and bronze. For all its surfaces, incorporated parts foreground ironically the character of a cultural condition rather than the artist's own interiority. The works are structured around the interactivity of disparate body parts and in their tight and sonorous arrangements, project disunities and interpersonal separations as symptomatic of today's unstable times. In the attempt to understand the break- up of unities, the loss and the separation between individuals and between the contradictory directions of the self, a sense of an invasive and turbulent past is also conveyed. What we witness here is a retracing of this memory not to exercise it but to research it for artistic processes and self scrutinies. The phantasmagorical figures are isolated despite the subtlety of their combinations. Many of his sculptures have human associations and are made to relate to human proportions. Far from suggesting purity and benignity, his work for most part is dark and mystifying, a solid which appears impenetrable or perhaps a container whose contents are concealed by a skin.
Similar visual text is an eloquent blend of lucid lines and elegant compositions that does not stop at the border of classics but enables him to recognize the seeds and buds of new life among signs of decadence, bestiality and dark corridors of the mind. It creates for the eye a treat of the visual and literary, and on another level a visual engagement with life. It is to the artist's credit that, while eschewing the rigid limitations imposed by ideological tenets, he has nevertheless retained an honest and concerned humanity. Possibilities rather than to specificities of form and their impositions of a phantamagorical world.
The modern day Alice creates an imaginary world substitutes the external one translating feeling and emotions into a visual language. We shuttle between the different spaces (read culture), dividing into partisan, watching selves as we do: each mode captures an aspect of the idea, and the complementary versions overlap. It is evident in the fact he uses cultural references and keeps the source as a revelation of some kind of the spiritual.
There is a turning, a barely perceptible displacement that joins all the articulations and penetrates all the points welded together by the imitated discourse. A trembling spreads out which then makes the entire shell crack. Schematically his imagery seen with a linear gaze acts as a map of elegant fantasies. What is terrifyingly ecstatic though disparate they are: is the spectre of non-saviour and profound exuberant visual reading which is anguish and disquietude, pleasurable catastrophe. A bended figure in the moment of non-saviour, no repose or appropriation, no comfortable possession is posited, only affliction and supplication meeting at an imaginary point. The allegory in these works register a 'communicator' beyond dissociative metaphors and transposes the subliminal world of his central protagonist into a melodramatic space, which by not answering our gaze directly rivets it, withholds from it, the matrix of departure pulsates with the texture he gifts them with fluent inscriptions allowing these pulsating dimensions to follow the natural folds, Akhil uses them as multiple matrices of motion contradicting nature and this distinct use of lines create a formal contradiction on the sculpture that gives life to the figures, a contradiction that is further heightened by a gesture, a look or an attitude is an inclusive act, unassuming as it is realistic, and it is bound to give a direction as it is realistic, and it is bound to give a direction as many of his works do, to a more sympathetic understanding and makes him our most loved sculptor.
Akhil recreates for the eye, in two dimensions, something of the pleasurable hindrances of a winding progress through hinted mythological realm. At the crucial moment of construction, a few touches of bright colour are added: earlier they would have threatened the tone of an essential eclectic exercise and expresses himself without hectoring stridency surfacing with a surprise. Akhil is intoxicated by the degree to which his own powers can enter the subliminal, our 'ways of seeing' can alter, withhold, made precious the clear view beyond, which they are in danger of shutting off forever.
Sculpture's ability to conjure up experience and mask them through faces and the shape and weight of lines and rhythms of composition are eloquent. Here one senses a working out of pictorial conventions, of attitudes and of free associations that swivel between dream and reality. The work has an exuberant narrative quality, as figures, both wraiths like and robust, take on symbolic weight as they get filtered through liquid swells and flows of lines. His work provides a salutary reminder that identity is always multivalent. One of his sculptures 'migration' has fragments of evocative concerns because what it does not only reveal but provides instead a wholly indigenous renewal of “self”. He attempts to set up a dialogue between our obsessions and private associations. His text can be read as an allegory of the artist's calling, performers all shackled on stage, visible in the wings of fantasy.
There is an attempt to utilize aspects of the language and thought of each that has evolved out of a desire to develop a language that welds together figures and deep space- a tightly knit surface web of interlocking shapes. The language with its subtleties is largely to allow the expressions, which is both simultaneous and unfolds in time, as well as the juxtaposition of elements from more than one narrative. The concept of time is rather of a continuous unfolding rather than a series of static incidents. Akhil's imagery leads to a sort of sensation of meaning and significance cramped and obscured than of the unfolding of meaning through its metal structure. He animates his protagonists with varied layers of slips and glazes and a new resonance that pushes us to the figurative markers. The fantasy acts as metaphor of our self. The sculptures work best when the salient elements are all held in tension on the same plane, with no element appearing to overlap or underline any other. Yet, typically, what seems to be gesture is not; the skin is all contrivance, freezing spontaneity and sensation. On the other hand, brooding, melancholic quality emerges from these distanced pieces, a nervous edge. “An attempt to get a glimpse of that which sees me….gradually, I have learnt to surrender to the process and let the presence emerge...the process of painting creates a twilight zone which bridges the gap between what is visible and what lies beyond the obvious...in between these two zones infinite possibilities exist and it is in that space where art happens to me...”(- Akhil in a recent conversation) These are glimpses of a lost Romantic tradition, and they carry a nostalgia for imagery. This is a not a new territory for Akhil, but is always compelling.
The work in this exhibition operates through humour (or sarcasm) and by stylistic devices such as double entendre, masked humans underneath the mask of a beast. Akhil has cast himself as a goofy, ludicrous thoroughly enjoyable totem with a self-deprecating smile and closed eyes who have achieved some state of bliss. A kind of pun on the vacuity of present living and consumerism. There is something quite surreal about these sculptural works, both in their juxtaposition of quirky, absurd objects and in their representations of a hypocritical society whose desire for objects. Akhil's work does not propose any answers or any way out of this imbalance. Instead, he is wry, dispassionate and somewhat accepting observer of conditions that have replaced our values and nature. Akhil's art practice aims to transcend boundaries imposed by geographies and cultural desire, a practice that dwells in a space free from all bondage to the visible, definite and the finite-most spare and ascetic, referring to his inner world he made in consummate bursts of energy in defined periods of time. An intimacy and decorum that stands as a unique example of the sculptor's verve and language. We do not have much comfortable equivalences around us. The poetic and structural sign of another immersion in an essentially fluid domain will take us a step further in the exploration of Akhil's ingenious future meditations...
Reading/viewing these, we are strengthened by our weaknesses, our dichotomies, our censures, our lacerations-emerging by the crossing of these images. These working artists do not reconcile us but gives us the gift of the irreconcilable. In the present exhibition, there are attempts to compose, to invent. There is no repertory, no classification that's worthwhile. Neither is there any claim to one genre over another. The works measure relationships: grasping the point where the minuscule difference makes a great separation: where the meaning goes backwards, where the human becomes non-human; where the extremes of major-minor, masculine-feminine, prose-poetry touch each other, have a reciprocal need, form the two moments (forces, movements) of the mind and the desire for elevation. On the other there is something to observe in these works, even if it is not what we may commonly think, and even if seeing what we commonly see may blind us to another truth, a 'more true' truth that is none-the-less there, though its mode of being there may not resemble anything like a fixed contemporary presence. In other terms, in another language, this would translate as the minimal hypothesis of logic of the subconscious, that our psychic symptoms have causes, origins even that the dreams do not cheat with metaphor, and so it pays to be meticulous and rigorous.