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Artist Profile1
An artist who documents historical reality in contemporary context
Artist Hindol Brahmbhatt’s practice hinges on his painterly style of constructing iconic imagery. The resultant mixed media works often blend different times and spaces as well as diverse elements from the various cultures, to present a mesmerizing and mystical milieu. They tend to traverse the narrative space of ubiquitous conventional realism wherein time, space and subjects that inhabit pictorial space combine to form a congruous whole. To express the incongruity and resultant chaos is a formal device employed in his storytelling technique.

With a wide artistic range and broad visual vocabulary - based on soothing colors and an uncomplicated treatment of the core subject - he brings out the complex reality of urban life. Despite a restrained usage of colors and forms, his work is striking in terms of composition and content. The artist chooses to distil his visual vocabulary for a maximum impact. The works resonate with an outward simplicity of the subject matter. They subtly hide and progressively heighten complexities of the inherent drama.

His technique involves starting with an image in photographic emulsion, and later adding acrylic, shellac, clay, sand etc. to build textures of incredible variety and sensitivity, and in the process, unpacking mythic pathos and historical ironies. The artist meticulously experiments with the images culled from past and present reference points until he is able to deduce the desired effect. He often uses cheery visuals of urban life for depicting one side of life, whereas iconic portraits carved on dark charred wood, represent the hardships endured. His pointed observations coupled with his imagination give a contextual touch to his art that looks not only to please the viewers’ eyes, but also to touch their souls.

Hindol Brahmbhatt’s practice revolves around attainment of thematic and stylistic unity. Its broad objective is to form a language that calls for continuity and intuition. This infinity of composition reminds us that each work is a part of a greater body of images and ideas. These are schematic images of evolution, growth and creativity. The messages need not be ‘analyzed and solved’; they simply just exist. Beyond the visual appeal it may exude, the subject matter essentially underlines that history has now become a display item, as conveyed through the portraits of historical figures. In fact, he treats his work as a documentation of historical reality in contemporary context, and looks for clues of social changes. Thus emerges a universe that the viewers can identify with, albeit from a new perspective! He leaves it to them to interpret it and draw their own conclusions.

Born in 1974, the artist did his B.F.A. from the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S.U. Baroda and also completed a Post Diploma in painting there. A receipent a scholarship from the Ahmedabad based Kanoria Center for Arts in 1998, he also received the Gujarat State Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA) Award thrice (1987, 1995, 1996). His solo shows have been hosted at several leading galleries in India and internationally, apart from select participations, including the recent Art Expo New York 2010. ‘His Story’, a new series of works by him at the New York based Tamaraind Art Gallery, amply unveils the unique facets of his oeuvre.

His large-scale multimedia paintings or ‘painterly installations’ on view depict portraits of some great artists from the past. Why has he opted to paint them and what do they stand for? Providing a clue to them, the curaorial note states: “Famous artists throughout history depicted in speculative portraits are reduced to their vulnerable cores suggesting a critique on how a glorious past becomes a ‘product’ of contemporary time. In this context, the images serve as incisive commentaries of perception and experience. Meditative yet visually dramatic, they allude to the unpredictable confluence of torched wood, etched text on plexiglass and oil on canvases.These large, contemplative works created in a unique and personal idiom reveal an acute awareness towards pushing Mediatic Realism to the next level.”

During his formative years, Hindol Brahmbhatt was a witness to the contemporary art scene when Mediatic Realism seemed to be the norm among the Indian artists. He adapted his style to incorporate the mediatized images, but soon grasped how the same images could easily be employed with different techniques for developing a unique personal idiom. Elaborating on his working philosophy and thought process, the artist states: “I believe in truth of opposites. For every argument, there is bound to be a counter argument that can be equally valid. I try recreating & relocating the known and the imagined visual references, filling them with alternative meanings.” In the process, he manages to distil complex processes to their essential elements, which define the crux of his art.