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TV Santhosh’s 'Burning Flags' and Ebenezer’s ‘Holy Smoke’
The themes of violence, injustice, and inequality run through TV Santhosh’s practice. Drawing on images and news reports from the media, he combines pointed text and repetitive sculptural forms to make a statement on both the persistent nature of violence and the way it gradually becomes the norm, through recurrence.

His 'Burning Flags' at Aicon Gallery in London takes place in collaboration with The Guild Gallery. This is a suite of paintings in the burning green, yellow, red, and orange hues he is identified with, also incorporating a close-up of a figure gazing at the viewer. Enmeshed quietly in the background, it starkly dominates the foreground as well. With each work mired in the chaos and confusion of war, deliberate referencing of photographic negatives not only comments on the mediation of such frenzied events through the media, but also recreates the drama of the situations the artist is depicting.

An accompanying essay to the exhibition mentions: “The works are hallucinatory; what is it exactly being witnessed by both the protagonists of the paintings and the viewers? Similarly his sculptures gesture towards destruction and waste. They use scrolling neon messages set in what seem imprisonment or torture cells in white. The usage of the neutral medium of white fiberglass directs the pieces towards Hannah Arendt's phrase ‘the banality of evil’ to suggest that most atrocities are inflicted by ordinary people rather than sociopaths.

“TV Santhosh’s watercolors underline this sense of everyday atrocities with their black & white depictions of individuals. It seems a deliberately quieter counterpoint to his work. Evil is both widespread and banal in a world where as the artist points out, utopias seem as distant as they ever have been. His works prompt us to consider the dark side of globalization - the wars fought in the name of religion or nation.” The talented artist from Kerala completed his B.F.A. from Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan, and his M.F.A. in Sculpture, from M.S. University, Baroda.

According to him, his recent works are about how the media presents the world to us and how it has the power and the means to reconstruct as well as manipulate our understanding of reality. They specifically investigate into media generated world itself. He elaborates: “It’s about a strange world vulnerable to manipulation where one brands someone as one's enemy, loots them, and then destroys their nation and culture - justifying the massacre of innocents in the name of religion and nation.”

Simultaneously, Ebenezer Sunder Singh’s ‘Holy Smoke’ is on view at RL Fine Arts, New York. A graduate of the Art Institute of Boston (Lesley University), he treats painting is a cathartic process, drawing from a stream of consciousness. The artist seizes the canvas and creates vibrant paintings that celebrate the art of ‘painting’ as much as they celebrate human energy and inspiration. He has stated: “I collect my memories; put them on my canvas; turn them into metal, all the while using tones trembling with feeling. The past weighs me down. So I use the mode of sensuality to explore the nuances of spirituality. Feeling the tones helps the present to cut open the past, revealing the unseen. My signs are here as open idioms, exposed to eternity and joining hands with the art of the past.”

His new exhibition includes a group of portraits of famous creative ‘artists’, who are pictured with their personal accessory, a cigarette. The posture of each, defiantly smoking, appears to bond them together as some of them return the viewer’s gaze, and others we simply look upon. These artists act as a source of creative energy and focus, each apparently blazing a trail in their respective glowing metiers. In these works, the act of smoking itself as a creative tool, and even, a process, is expressed.

Commenting on the method and thought in the ‘Holy Smoke’ works, a curatorial essay mentions: “The addition of bulbs on the canvas are used as elements of composition and also, indirectly, as homage to the various personalities, much as one would light a bulb or a flame in commemoration. His ‘Dance around the Golden Calf’, though seemingly disconnected from the theme of smoking, abounds with the spirit of creative energy that emanates from the colorful and ebullient portraits. It conjures up the spirit of Matisse’s famous ‘Dance’, and yet brings it into the present world, where possibly, the art world dances around the ‘golden calf’. The artist’s wonderfully loose technique and style leads to brilliant color and bold brushstrokes that produce paintings resonating with energy and life force.”

The two simultaneous shows of works by TV Santhosh and Ebenezer Sunder Singh’s underline the vibrancy and vitality of their respective art practices.