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Artist Jagannath Panda’s creations effectively explore several of most fundamental dichotomies
Artist Jagannath Panda’s creations effectively explore several of most fundamental dichotomies inherent to individual and societal psyche – pitting urban against rural, traditional versus contemporary. He juxtaposes Nature/Culture, Figuration/Abstraction and so on – the divisions that have no plausible explanations and carry no easy solutions.

He sensitively portrays issues related to urbanization and politics, trying to convey them as objectively and dispassionately as possible. His personal experiences, both as a rural inhabitant and as a migrant, represent the artist's imminent projections about the not-so-distant future, having their origin largely in the contemporary and related phenomena of mass exodus, urbanization, and the resulting dislocation of life.

His creations deftly reflect the conflicts we knowingly or unknowingly create and confront on a daily basis. Importantly, these are not exclusive to humans. As Jagannath Panda understands them, not only do they involve nature, they are also pivoted on the constant tussle between environment and development, nature and technology.

The artist explores the diversity of expressions and symbolisms through curious animal forms and images in his new series of works, entitled 'The Action of Nowhere'. This is the talented artist’s second solo at Nature Morte, New Delhi, and his first solo in his home country after nearly two years. It comprises his recent sculpture and paintings.

Putting his art practice in perspective, an accompanying note mentions: “Jagannath Panda pictures animals at odds with the burgeoning urban environment, while their skins are partly articulated with brocade textiles, something which has become a signature material for him. The artist’s newest paintings envision the scenes of car crashes as they begin to revert to a natural state, tree branches crackling with the violence of the impact. Overall, he looks to convey a universe where the distinctions of Animal, Vegetable and Mineral seem increasingly irrelevant.”

Born in Bhubaneswar, Orissa in 1970, he did his B.F.A. from the BK College of Art & Crafts in Bhubaneswar (1991) and later M.F.A. from the M. S. University, Baroda (1994). He also studied at the Royal College of Art, London. His solos have been held at Berkeley Square Gallery, London (2006); Nature Morte, New Delhi (2005); Gallery Chemould, Mumbai (2000); Za moca Foundation Gallery, Tokyo (1998).

He has also shown his work at many prestigious international venues like Hockney Gallery, RCA London, and has featured in significant group shows at Daimler Chrysler Contemporary, Berlin (2007); Galleri 27, Oslo, Norway (2004); Royal College of Art, London (2001); and ‘The Sight of Asia’ show, Fukuoka, Japan (1997), among others. His works have recently been displayed at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo and the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul as part of ‘Chalo! India’ show of new art from India.

Jagannath Panda’s Realism tends to believe and reside in the existence of Fantasy. In a single creation, the artist within the high rise apartment blocks of the burgeoning India can posit the existence of stylized gods, apparently culled from the old palm leaf manuscripts of his home state. Assemblage and Collage get divorced from their Surrealist patrimony. Acting as both mirror and memory, they store preconceived meanings and reflect a contradictory reality that has always intrigued him. He keenly observes the highs and lows of a fast changing society and expresses them either on canvas or other media, drawing on the ambiguities of contemporary life. He states, “You can understand life in many different directions, and that is what I want to paint.”

His deceptively simple visual imagery consists of linear drawing and/or a rendered form or two that appear to float on the surface. Though his drawings are realistic, he refrains from offering a direct reference to the subject’s existence. On occasions he employs tracing sheets, silver foil and thread, to emphasis the reality of the material he uses. Color plays a limited albeit vital role of highlighting form.

His subject matter and ideas are often sourced from the events that unfold around him. As part of his creative churning, the commonplace object acquires symbolic stature, representing aspirations or even rigid dogmas. Environmental and social issues greatly concern this socially aware artist. Summing up the spirit of his art practice, he mentions: “I’m aware of the fragility of coexistence and also the fact that physical and emotional spaces sometimes act like quicksand.” The ironies of life visible in his surroundings greatly interest him and the unanswered questions arouse his curiosity.