Our ambiguous identities

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This year marks the 70th Independence day for both India and Pakistan, drawing attention to the biggest migration of all times in human history, where 12 million people crossed the borders from both sides and approximately 1 or 2 million lost their lives. So it seemed but natural for one to notice at the India Art Fair 2017 the work of a young artist Girjesh Kumar Singh,  showcased by Rukshaan Art Gallery, from Mumbai, which talks of evolving individualism.

Belonging to the land of Gautam Buddha Shravasti, a town on the Indo-Nepal U.P. border, approximately a 4 ½ hr drive from Lucknow, this artist did BFA in creative sculpture from Benaras Hindu University and completed his Masters from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda.

One day enroute to Banaras from the airport, he got inspired by the stone quarries of Chunar, in Mirzapur Dictrict. Like in a friction of a second, in the real world, innovation or creation happened for him too. The well-tempered bricks uniting with cement shaped a relationship. He named the work – ‘Laaga chunari mein daag’ is an annotation to 15th-century Indian poet and saint Kabir’s poetry. Taking from the famous couplet herein he narrates the migration of innumerable ambiguous human beings instead of just a young girl through heads, portraying identities from the world over.

The mystic’s words

“Daag lagal mori chunri, padal mori chunri,

Naihar mein Daag lagal mori chunri,

Pahan odh gori chali sasural,

maike ke log kahen badi phuhadi,

De chunri dhobi ghar pathayi,

bahut dhulai kari per tabahu na bhayi ujali bhai baretha door basat hai,

us nagri ke sabun bahut mahang bikai”

and the artist, both highlight distinctiveness despite of being a part of a crowd, which surfaces as per their circumstances in new lands of migration.

It talks of unity of humankind, which seems to have been caustically split by religion and geography. Picked from construction sites these nicely fired bricks are faces shaping the topography of our world. While the plucked roses denote manipulation of gods for our desires to be fulfilled.

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Girjesh’s talent was nurtured at Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Bahraich, a government boarding school where only gifted students from rural India are chosen and educated. The young, tall, ectomorph body type, dewy soft-eyed, overgrown hair pulled back with a hairband remembers fancying clay, decorating during annual functions and the appreciation he garnered from an early age for his drawings.

Settled in Baroda, exemplifying his alternative mindset of a poet he states “whenever I draw I never feel sleepy or bored, infact can easily drown myself in it”.  And as for the other time he finds himself engrossed in Hindi-Urdu literature or seeking Sufism.

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