Sunday, February 5, 2023

C.S. Venkiteswaran about the book ‘The Liquid Gallery’ by Pushkin E.H.


L GALLERY 2014 (1)In a world seemingly reeling under excess – of words, sounds, images, narratives, information, responses.., one soon loses touch with oneself; we tend to lose ourselves in this teeming/seeming absence/presence of life, losing one’s hold over scale and proportion, priorities and attentiveness. Gradually everything turns into their apparitions, and apparitions begin to engross and envelop us in an endless play of presence and absence, immediacy and seeming engagement.

Pushkin E.H
Pushkin E.H

But some artists ‘re-sense’ the world for us, rewiring our connections with the outside to create new circuits and flows. It is a struggle to reclaim our senses by giving the world its human scale, emotions their proper intensities, relations their gravity, in other words, giving back objects their reality, and the world its humanity. It is what Pushkin does in these short etchings about home, people, objects, animals, buildings, certain undead memories, ‘mundane’ experiences, and undying relationships.

In a way, these ‘stories’ are about the process of art, or in’sights’  into the workings of an artist’s mind, or outline sketches of his relationship to the outside.. Here, you find a deep yearning and relentless struggle to erase and resist the ‘otherness’ of the world, both the object and living world, things animate and inanimate,  processes within and without. Each etching is an attempt to cover the various distances we cultivate in our lives and to re-discover them, it is an act of reclamation and reassertion of human/e space and time, by re-pacing and rescaling them to their proper intensities. For instance, death and separation, departures and losses, are a recurring motif in these ‘stories’, where people, events and things remain undead or are reincarnated, asserting their very real presence in the present. They con’front’ us in the form of memories left behind in the form of various layers and traces; this is a world where objects and spaces carry their footmarks, fingerprints, smells, fragrances, all those un-erasable marks of ‘the wear and tear’ of lived (and dreamt) life.. These sketches remind us that when we utter, create, or even gaze, we leave behind such ‘stains’ of life, our life, behind (or ahead), like messages waiting to be delivered to its rightful addressee, unrequited emotions that overflow the present;  the undying yearnings, unexpressed attachments, and unacknowledged whispers into the void that the other is.. only to re’surface’ and resur’face’ in another life, another plane, another space, another time.. these images and texts ‘un-others’ those ‘anothers’ by scratching the surfaces of life, our all too real surroundings we make ordinary, the most mundane of objects we handle without care, the seemingly evanescent memory-thoughts we constantly evade, in the process revealing the void/fullness that they are/can be. Here, everything is potentially animate, organic, teeming with dormant life; they only need the touch of ‘sraddha’ (care and also, attention) to spring back in all their visceral splendour and inexorable immediacy. Which is where lies the chasm between life as we seem to live in and life that is or could be or ought to be..

The images that accompany each text, realises them at the visual plane: they mix the reality traces of photographic images with colours of emotions, layers of memory, in a way, blowing life and breath into those apparitions of life to make sense of our life in the present. Here, art is the process of memorialising and memo’realising’, recognising and re-cognising the umpteen faces/facets of life teeming around us, screaming out and reaching out to us, which we very assiduously and systematically refuse to listen to or look at.. Pushkin takes us back to the founts of life we dare not confront, for any such interface, recognition, attention, will make us ‘answerable’ to the world and our’selves’.

Editorial Team of Indian Ruminations.


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