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Ram Bali Chauhan’s ‘Voice of Violence’ denounces terror tactics
Artist Ram Bali Chauhan has developed a unique visual language, which involves experimentation with intricate arrangement of line and form. His work invariably provokes a heightened viewer response and participation because it deals with their immediate concerns.

Born in 1976 in New Delhi, he did his Bachelor of Fine Arts (Sculpture) and Master of Fine Arts (Sculpture) from College of Art, New Delhi in 2001 and 2003, respectively. His recent solo was ‘Shadow Lives’, The Mint, New Delhi (2008), and shows at Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA), New Delhi (2006 and 2003).

He has also featured in several group shows, including ‘Insider’, Bodhi Art, Mumbai (2007); LKA, New Delhi (2003); All India Fine Art and Craft Society (AIFACS), New Delhi (2002) and has participated in the 12th Yuva Mahotsava Sahitya Kala Parisad, New Delhi (2003); Indo Japan Art Symposium, India (2002-03); and Annual Art Exhibition, College of Art, New Delhi (1998-2003).

Among the honors and awards won by him are one from Yuva Mahotsava Sahitya Kala Parisad, New Delhi (2003); Second Prize, College of Art, New Delhi (2001); Sanyal Award, College of Art, New Delhi (2001); and Merit Scholarship, College of Art, New Delhi (1999-2001).

Ram Bali Chauhan’s latest series of paintings and sculptures, entitled ‘Voice of Violence’, reflects on the threat of terror that has become a vexing issue in contemporary political and social discourse, endangering the value and spirit of human existence. The series first hosted at The Stainless Gallery and then at The Mint, New Delhi revolves around the concept of faceless, global terrorism that looms large.

The theme is reflected upon from common people's perspective by the artist with the help of human skeletons and animals. In fact, animal as well as human skeletons or frames are a recurrent motif in Ram Bali Chauhan’s compositions. The artist consciously chooses to isolate specific contours and configurations of interest to him. He magnifies these in his creations creating a feel of immediacy.

It is important to take into account the implications of such a body of work at this point of time. The terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 are just one in the series of dastardly acts the country has witnessed in the recent times. In September 2008, a series of blasts occurred in the capital city of India after bombs placed in garbage cans at various places exploded.

It is this modus operandi that acts as the reference of ‘Saturday Night’. In it, a young boy is shown holding heart shaped balloons in a deserted corner of the pavement. One can notice the garbage can blown apart bringing to fore the shattered minds and bodies of defenseless people devastated by this tragedy of cataclysmic magnitude.

In an introductory essay to his new series, Deeksha Nath underlines the relevance of Ram Bali Chauhan’s paintings and sculptures. The write-up mentions: “The works stems from particular acts of terrorism (recent Mumbai attacks) but surpasses the particularities of those instances to launch a commentary on the new and increasing form of urban guerrilla warfare that is place-less and face-less but at the same time, universal.

“His art provides alternative readings to popular culture and a public language of fracture, hostility and threat by exploring tactics of fear. His artwork comes from a creative rather than from a scientific, legal or historical speaking position. It explores the new culture of violence from various angles.”

Time, for instance, is omnipresent, uncontrollable and unstoppable, and is often used to lethal effect to strike fear – the terrifying ticking of a time bomb or as in a circular format painting ‘Time’ decorated by watch parts and a human skeletal form, its legs and torso stretched three ways, resembling the hands of the clock, sends us a grim reminder that we are a tad closer to our end with each passing.