Kafka meets Freud on canvas

By: | Published: April 15, 2018 1:09 AM

With Navigating Mindscapes, Mehndiratta takes a novel and multilateral path, marrying Freud’s ideas and Kafka's works on a canvas.

franz kafka, Sigmund freud, canvas, painting, kafka meets freud, metamorphosis When Gregor Samsa, the protagonist of Franz Kafka’s 1915 novella The Metamorphosis, wakes up one winter morning, he finds that he has turned into a monstrous vermin.

When Gregor Samsa, the protagonist of Franz Kafka’s 1915 novella The Metamorphosis, wakes up one winter morning, he finds that he has turned into a monstrous vermin. What follows is a state of complete alienation, which eventually leads Samsa to breathe his last. The story has been adapted several times over the years as a feature film, opera, play, etc. Very few, however, have tried to decipher the reason behind Samsa’s
metamorphosis.

And this is what New Delhi-based architect-turned-artist Rohit Raj Mehndiratta explores in his collection of artworks titled Navigating Mindscapes. “I was interested in what actually led to Samsa’s transformation into a vermin. Was it a dream the previous night? Or was it just a manipulation by his subconscious? I wanted to find answers to these questions through (Sigmund) Freud’s concepts. It’s much deeper than just a dream,” the 45-year-old says.

With Navigating Mindscapes, Mehndiratta takes a novel and multilateral path, marrying Freud’s ideas and Kafka’s works on a canvas. He uses the visual medium for a close examination of existential concepts such as alienation, sub-conscious identity, among others. “I have used three different mediums—pen and ink, oil and acrylic, photograph and digital media—to do so. The idea was to show as many forms as I could. Each medium gave me the freedom to express the concepts differently,” the artist says.

The Unconscious—a colossal work of oil and acrylic, resembling the bark of a century-old oak tree—is one of the more interesting artworks of the collection. “A lot of people have said it looks like the bark of a tree. For me, it’s more of a journey between the ‘id’, ‘ego’ and ‘super ego’ (three agents in the psychic apparatus defined in Sigmund Freud’s structural model of the psyche) to find that perfect balance of the mind,” the artist tells Financial Express, adding, “The ‘id’ is the narcissistic bit. It’s always selfish, self-centered and consumed in its own gratification. The other two, ‘ego’ and ‘super ego’, try to balance out the actions of ‘id’. That’s how conscious actions and morality come into existence.” Mehndiratta’s Navigating Mindscapes was displayed recently at Arpana Caur Art Gallery in the national capital.

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