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Artist Profile3
Delving deeper into the inner recesses of self and society
One of the highly promising and talented artists from the young generation of Indian contemporaries, Suryakant Lokhande often focuses on the conflict between the Materialistic and Metaphysical.

In order to resolve the mystery of ‘who I am’, the artist must first dissect his own self to discover the true essence that stays constant and won’t change with passage of time, he believes. A strong philosophical bent is at the core of his thought-provoking work that acts as a sharp commentary on the product driven and consumption oriented modern urban life in which the quest for luxury knows no bounds. Delving deeper into the inner recesses of self and society, his work often comprises the complex process of conscious liberation of the subjects from ubiquitous properties they are invariably associated with; it essentially means simultaneously imparting them with new characteristics, imparting a new meaning to them.

Among the objects that he frequently uses for the purpose can be anything from faded family portraits, self-portraits, metal objects and panels to old books, text, automobile paints, toys, and even cartoon characters. Instead of employing the images drawn from various sources in the physical world as they are, he prefers to rework and repaint them in an instinctive manner. This kind of artistic transition and transformation is critical to his work. In general, it underlines the physical phenomena omnipresent in each individual’s immediate realm. For him, it does not remain contextual only in the present since he absorbs as an artist - even those faded and non-existent memories, as well as the peculiar phenomena of dazed dreams and fantasy – relevant to the present.

Born in 1969 in Mumbai, the young and talented practitioner did his B. F. A. from Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Art, Mumbai. Among his selected solos are ‘War Is Over’, Institute of Contemporary Indian Art, Mumbai (2007); ‘To Whomsoever It May Concern’, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (2005); 'Allegory', Lakeeren Art Gallery, Mumbai (2002); 'Obstacles' Aditya Ruia Art Gallery, Mumbai (2002); 'We Cover You', Alliance France de, Mumbai (2001); 'Metal Meets Mettle', Jamaat Art Gallery, Mumbai (2001). Among the honors and awards won by him are the Maharashtra State Art Award (2001, 1998); Tilak Smarak Trust Award, Pune (2000, 1998); Art Society of India Award (1998); Camlin Western Region Art Competition Award (1998); Bombay Art Society Award (1998,1997); and Oak Smriti Award, Pune (1998).

His work has been featured in several group exhibitions, including 'The Evolution of the Species', ICIA, Mumbai (2010); 'Life is A Stage', ICIA (2009); 'The Young Indian Contemporaries', Suchitrra Arts, Mumbai (2008); 'Portrait of a Place', Rob Dean Art Gallery, London (2008); ‘Young Guns’, ICIA (2007); ‘Satyagraha’ courtesy Afrikhadi, South Africa (2006); ‘Bird on Wire’, an online art show courtesy Arts Trust (2005); and 'Ideas and Images' annual show at NGMA, Mumbai (2004).

The artist was part of an off-air environmental initiative by CNN channel in 2008, and created an artwork using recycled rubbish - a life-size tiger sculpture. The idea was to artistically reinforce the message of inventing creative solutions to deal with environmental degradation and to underline how recycling could be a beautiful thing. On the other hand, his much-acclaimed series ‘The War is Over’ slammed the uncertain situations post-war, and referred to the predicament of a sensitive artist trying to push boundaries. Many of his works in it evoked the iconography of war and effects, playing out in our subconscious akin to that of a desktop computer screen when neutrality twists, distorts its world, whereas his body of work, entitled ‘Koham (Who am I?)’, revolved around the theory of life cycle before birth and after death.

Often a photo is chosen as the base medium. The crux of his artistic process lies in first disowning the conventional notions of photography. For this socially sensitive practitioner, a photo is not merely an instrument to dispassionately record a physical phenomenon in the distant outer realm or to derive a certain aesthetic value. It serves him as a mirror to look into his own self. He picks an image in such a manner that it gets transformed into an objective correlative of sensations, giving a deeper and even a different meaning.

His paintings are sort of a crucible - a throbbing site of transformation, a mystical place wherein objects, colors, lines, and forms undergo a subtle creative catharsis before being transmuted, leading to a tempest of both personal and social impulses. Initially he worked mostly in acrylic on canvas before turning to works in mixed media interspersed with photographic references and the computer-generated images. Entrusting himself to technology, he follows an open practice, often capable of mimicking the surrounding world, a constant search for complicity between pursuit of art and society. A ceaseless search for self, coupled with acute concern regarding the ultimate truth act as catalyst to his artistic sojourn. It is arduous at times to relate the mechanics of mind through images. Suryakant Lokhande’s vivacious and vibrant visual vistas emerge from the unbounded energy of myriad movements and gestures, the incessant vitality of typically Indian – rather dramatic everyday domestic décor.

An elaborate review of his work by P.Martin points out how his artistic vision, efforts and inputs tend to alter the image from its fantastic lifeblood and its libidinal power, its exciting colors and scenes of collective drama, devolving and dissolving the same to a deeper, more disturbing image of uncertainty. The critic-writer has mentioned: “His paintings are feverish; they flout economic laws and are the ‘gratuitous’ energy that defy boundaries. In them, the continuity is tied to the incessant motion of the line, which runs without caesuras, following its flow of awareness and fancy, developing bends and folds, lending weight and concreteness to labyrinthal conflicts with its penetration and coupling, filling all gaps, joining and uniting all bodies.”

His strategic usage of borrowed imagery and source material, devoid of irony, traverses the visual codes and styles made pertinent by his chosen environ, skillfully reworking them in order to re-assess as well as challenge set vocabulary and perceptions of representation. In essence, the sensitive artist strives to maintain an acute awareness of the broad context in which art should be created and presented.