When everyday sound inspires art

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Published: May 26, 2019 12:37 AM

An art exhibition which takes viewers to the streets of Chandni Chowk and the Middle East via aural cues and sounds.

Music has been the most prominent among all the art forms since it reaches the masses and that’s why Pathak went to Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi to record some unfamiliar sounds.

As one walks through the by-lanes of Hauz Khas village to reach Art Explore gallery, chances are that you can spot an artist painting a woman with 10 heads. “The Kurdish woman sketched here is a symbol of power and grit as the demon king Ravana depicts in India,” quips Delhi-based contemporary artist Rajesh Srivastava as he envisages the bold image of the women community in Kurdistan. His artworks are part of an exhibition titled Visual Aural portraying the culture and history of the Kurdish community. The exhibition is on till May 30 which also includes abstract line drawings and video art by Abhijit Pathak.

Srivastava’s expertise lies in portraiture, figurative and semi-figurative art from around the world. This time his art is inspired from Sulaymaniyah — a city in Iraqi Kurdistan depicting their life, culture and history. Some represent audio sounds (Kurdish men and women interacting in the market) in an unfamiliar language.
Being the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East, the Kurdish community, is divided into four regions — Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey and yet do not have a land to call their own. According to Srivastava, despite their own political struggles and identity crisis, they are curious and appreciative about other cultures which includes India. “The Kurds were curious about the culture of our country, and festivals like Durga puja and Kali puja,” he says.

For Srivastava, the interpretation of his current work revolves around the people of Kurdistan and is more cultural than religious. “It feels as if I am related to the struggles of the Kurdish people and hence I have tried to explore the treatment of women and the tough lives led in the Middle East,” he adds.

Co-artist Abhijit Pathak seeks Varanasi as his muse interpreting the music and sound of his surroundings that have played a major role in creating his sound-inspired artworks. Music has been the most prominent among all the art forms since it reaches the masses and that’s why Pathak went to Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi to record some unfamiliar sounds. Interestingly, he found similarities between the markets of Varanasi and Old Delhi that further fuelled his imagination.

Pathak, who studied both visual arts and music in Varanasi, started recording sounds during his outdoor sojourns. He has been practising abstract expressionism for the past 12 years. One of his works which is full of monochromatic grey and white lines, has a sudden dash of pink highlighting the contrast and dimension of the traffic noise that he heard in Chandni Chowk. He uses sound as a medium to guide the viewer through the labyrinthine of his abstract monochromatic work. “Sound has both negative and positive aspects, a particular sound can attract and distract you. I have used this contradiction in my work,” he says.

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