WhereNothingGrows-Aftermath (Open studio)

“The idea of limitation”; an intimate experience by Deepanshu Joshi provides an insight into his visual art practice, while also serving as a response to the structures through which art is viewed in our contemporary world.1 It questions how we as a society consume art and tries to subtly intervene in its modalities. The genesis of this experience lies in the his own experience of traversing through the world of art. It speaks to the difficulties and failures of reconciling with and refusal to fitting into the structures which govern the contemporary art complex. It reveals a coming to terms with the darker parts of art journey and an attempt to reach an articulation that can not only capture the challenge of the situation but also provokes  potentialities in the practice of making and viewing art.

These building blocks also create a condition of self-sufficiency in the process which offer new possibilities of expression. Expressions curating the liminal, found in ordinariness. Deepanshu sees the genesis of his art in synchronicity(ɹ̩tam)—i.e. meaningful encounters—found in the course of everyday life according to Carl Jung.  It is a procedurally generated expression derived from an acute observation of  everyday life and as such projects an aesthetic of bricolage2 arising from free play. By refusing to be particular about his materials, and choosing instead to improvise, Deepanshu’s art engenders a playful uncertainty that articulates its expression.

[1] The usage of “view” here refers to a specific theoretical formulation. Views are specific perspectives actualised from all possible ways of seeing and are responsible for rendering particular aspects of the world visual. In other words, the appearance of anyone and anything at all is governed by the views available to arrive into. The nature and availability of views is malleable and can be governed by operations of power and ideology. 

[2]Bricolage is a French word referring to the creative activity of a bricoleur. Jacques Derrida, paraphrasing Claude Lévi-Strauss, notes “[The bricoleur]… is someone who uses “the means at hand,” that is, the instruments he finds at his disposition around him, those which are already there, which had not been especially conceived with an eye to the operation for which they are to be used and to which one tries by trial and error to adapt them, not hesitating to change them whenever it appears necessary, or to try several of them at once, even if their form and their origin are heterogenous—and so forth.”
Ref: Jaques Derrida, “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences,” in Writing and Difference trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 6.

Presenting themselves as objects of synchronistic bricolage, the art objects beckon the viewer to acknowledge their irregularity. The irregularity evolves the expression of the artwork in a way that allows it to be seen in a different view outside standard modalities present in more conventionally curated art. It tries to reignite the same sense of synchronicity present in its discovery to extend the grammar of seeing in ways that reorient the viewer’s gaze to new possibilities about the art they are viewing. A satori unveiled to the artist.

Keeping with the spirit of obfuscation, his work disproportionately tilts towards the darker side of the visual palette. Part of it is down to his default choice of medium. It was predominantly a practical choice keeping with his improvised aesthetic, but it brings something more to the table. Its jet black hue(Black Oxide) uniformly informs the space with void-like energy, accentuating the motif of darkness. Combined with the instances of strategic concealment, the studio projects a sensation of negative space.3 A void that simply absorbs the viewer’s gaze and negates any reflection. He humorously recounted how once a critic had told him to “stop spreading the darkness.” But that was precisely what he was trying to do, except not in a spirit of disillusionment, but rather with a constructive method.

[3] In Japanese art practice Ma (間) refers to the concept of intentional negative space as a conduit of generating an absence where potential possibilities of perception may arise by the virtue of foregoing any presence.

This darkness is reflected in the sum of these creative decisions which end up generating a space that simply absorbs all views and reflects nothing. All pre-existing views are denied to generate an emptiness. An emptiness that can stage an intervention. The space beckons the viewer to become negative with it. This becoming does not require a meeting of the minds nor does it constitute a shared political project. It only requires a mutual respect. The “I” disintegrates in this emptiness leaving a sense of non-being in its wake. In this state of total imminent negation, there emerges a possibility of new views outside the ordered bounds of pre-existing structures. This is the pact offered to any viewer venturing into the space.

(Notes by Arghya Chakraborty on a visit to the studio.)

WhereNothingGrows-Aftermath”   Open Studio 3,4,5 March, 2021.

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