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02 October,2009 - 06 October,2009
Curated By: Khanjan Dalal
Manish Modi
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“I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and Non-violence are as old as the hills.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Scrawled along the insides of an 18th century English writing desk, and painted in a hand that is evocative of its famous speaker, these words reflect the magic realism of Manish Modi’s ‘Rehashed’.

Modi’s recent paintings and painted furniture address contemporary issues such as violence, misuse of power, freedom of speech and political oppression, through the medium of visual archives from the Gandhian era.

In Modi’s works, popular photographic images and text from our collective history become a tool rather than a style to portray contemporary crisis. The artist uses various new media tools to create a unique technique that includes digitized half tones and image superimposition of multiple photographic images till the familiar travels beyond the realm of recognition. The result is a highly sophisticated abstraction which questions the very nature of these images and pushes the limits of media tic realism.

Modi’s selection of furniture is extremely thoughtful: the look, make, time and feel is a conceptual exploration that confirms certain Gandhian thoughts in the artist’s eye. The art-deco cupboard from the 1930s has an image of Pablo Picasso giving the finishing touches to his famous painting ‘Guernica’. Guernica was commissioned to Picasso after the Spanish civil war and is globally considered an anti-war symbol, a perpetual reminder of the human tragedies of war. Inside the cupboard, is an image of the Mahatma standing behind a barbwire fence during a prayer meeting at Juhu beach, Mumbai: another global symbol of perseverance against brutality. Both images embody events that are timeless symbols of peace and humanity.

Born in 1977 in Himmatnagar to a family of newspaper merchants, young Manish was both familiar, and inspired, with the power of the print media and its mechanics. His eye for the small print, and its ability to act as an indelible post-script on world issues, is reflected in his early works.

Some of his works on canvas are an attempt to dematerialize the recognition of a popular and historic photographic image through superimposition, resulting in the creation of a certain imagery that serves as an abstract pattern purely dedicated to aesthetical pleasure.

At once modern and historic, evocative and whimsical, Modi’s expressions are based on a potent perception: one that allows the viewer to straddle the threshold of time and reality, and look into two eras at once - disparate in their feel, and yet inextricably linked by their lessons.

Khanjan Dalal

Aditi Shukla Fozdar
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