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Artist Profile2
Interview with G.R.Iranna
What I see, experience and perceive, it unconsciously transcends into my figurative language, says artist G. R. Iranna, who is known for his sensitive portrayal of socio-political issues, affecting common people. The artist looks to strike a chord with the viewers through his works. He cherishes their response as much as the critics’ pat.

G. R. Iranna is currently busy conceptualizing large sculptural installations for an upcoming show in New York. His work will also feature in a group show to be hosted at Mumbai based ICSA gallery later this month. Excerpts of an interview with this down-to-earth artist from a modest rural background, counted among the leading artists of his generation in India and internationally.

Q: What are your overriding concerns as an artist?

GR: My thought process has undergone a subtle yet definite transition over last few years. Of course, this is a natural process associated with any artist’s evolution and maturing process. To begin with, my work was largely based on my personal memories and experiences. Now, my oeuvre has expanded immensely, and encompasses broader social concerns and issues that affect common people. This, I believe, has given my work an added depth and intensity. My concerns regarding the present socio-political scenario find an echo in my work.

Q: What are the imminent influences on you as a painter?

GR: Critics have often observed that my work weans away from postmodern logic, and that it subscribes to the idealistic, representative language of Indian contemporary art. My way of working and the material, which I employ, may indicate so! But I personally think my approach as an artist goes much beyond the terms such as modern and the post modern. My work and my figures are illustrative of the spirit of human experiences that is timeless and immortal.

Q: You hail from a farmer's family. How do you perceive issues like growing urban-rural divide and increasing inequality? How do they affect you at a sub-conscious level as an artist?

GR: I was born and brought up in a rural environment. When I migrated to a city, I could relate my experiences of urban India with my childhood life in a village. This gave me an entirely new perspective of life and its extremities. My artistic growth would not have been complete, and my art would not have reached its present point of maturity and understanding without either of the experiences. I can relate to both the worlds – urban and rural. Having been a witness to the diametrically opposite lifestyles, my art has attained a new dimension, and an added sensitivity. Frankly, I feel that the two (worlds) and the people belonging to them share similar personal and social philosophical concerns.

Q: What are the challenges of various mediums that you opt for?

GR: When I started as a painter, my work was largely two dimensional. However, I felt the urge to ‘touch and feel’ the direct physical presence of things under scrutiny, and turned to sculpting simultaneously. Each medium has its own challenges. For e.g., by using gunny bag in some of my works, I have been able to change the meaning as well as the language of the object in different artistic expressions.

Q: How would you sum up the spirit of your artistic processes?

GR: ‘Make sure you are breathing’, one of my latest sculptural works, well sums up and denotes my concerns as an artist. The sculpture is a life-size nude figure that has its face covered with a bag made of jute. On top of this jute bag, words ‘Khuda Gawah’ are inscribed. This work signifies innocent people being victimized in the name of faith and God. Another of my recent suite of works ‘Retired King’ represents a character who supposedly has all the power in the world, but it camouflages his state of helplessness and powerlessness. The subject matter holds relevance in the context of today’s political scenario. My figure has become more representative of contemporary human experiences and concerns. I treat my work as a documentation of historical reality and look for clues of social changes through it.