A man with wings like an angel, crouches to chase after a snake.
Set against dark shades of blue, this picture is grim. A fish bone, and few severed heads watch him. In another painting, the fish bone is hung against an earthy background sporting elements that could represent myriad meanings. The odd clock stands as a reminder of the passage of time.
A single glance at artist Krishna Setty’s new series of work fills the viewer’s head with questions. As one sifts through the ideas represented, seeking familiarity, disturbing but powerful imagery hits home, raising more questions. They are unapologetic and sharp — demanding attention.
Real and Ethereal, currently on display at Art Houz Gallery in Nungambakkam, shakes your conventional notions.
Krishna Setty, who has been in the field for over 45 years now, says he fancied a shift from his usual style, which led to this series — fragmented and intriguing.
The collection, which has work done over the past three years, looks at “real and ethereal things that exist at the same time”; a hint of Salvador Dali, cannot be ignored in these surreal pieces. Setty, has worked with almost all media, including printmaking, experiments with pastels and ink on paper, and even pen and ink. He says the idea was to induce an “eerie” effect. “Being a printmaker I love texture and patterns along with stylised images,” Setty explains, adding that the concepts he is dealing with demand this sinister setting.
Though he initially used the images, as metaphors and symbols, over the years they have surpassed their limitations to become generic symbols with multiple meanings, the artist observes.
For instance, the frequent snake stood for sexual desire, the chair for political power and the dead fish for the common man. Ultimately the artist believes that it is up to the viewers to read them in any which way possible. “I don’t want to restrict the thinking of my viewers. They should create their own stories,” he says, adding, “These images play a different role according to situations and positions, like in chess.”
He continues, “In the society we live, there exist many contradictions. What we normally preach, we don’t follow. Most of my recent works look at sexuality (libido), where almost everybody wears a mask and pretends to be different. Whether it’s in our family or social life, political or any other situation.”
Real and Ethereal will be on display till April 25, at Art Houz Gallery, Nungambakkam, Monday to Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm.