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Artist Profile3
Vivacious artistic vistas of Venkat Bothsa
His art intends to make neither stark statements, nor effusive expressions. It does not exude a particular stream of thought or pass a judgment. They are the reflections of what Venkat Bothsa witnesses and observes, absorbs and records from his surroundings. Even as ecological balance is deteriorating, a new material or materialistic culture is fast being invented under the garb of development. Some aware people are understandably worried and are making an effort to reverse the process and also caution the world of an inevitable disaster and this impending catastrophe. Yet one or the other species faces threat of extinction every day.

Expressing his sensitivity to the environment and broader social conditions, he states, “Inventions are welcomed whether they’re threat to our environment or not. Some say life is simple; live simply by looking at nature, whereas some argue the more you’ve the more civilized you become. Some fear that the world is going to end. And some say this is the (new) beginning. I’m witness to such divergent statements.” Maybe, the truth lies somewhere between the two contrasting realities. This is the niggling awareness that shapes the socially conscious artist’s practice.

Marked by a kaleidoscopic play of colors, laced with a mélange of forms, his sculptures seek a closer scrutiny of sensually woven, ‘enigmatic’ tales that he imaginatively narrates. They often include bright, green lush vegetation, lusty landscapes, flowers, fruits, and vast expanses of enchanting sky, dotted with city skyscrapers and catchy cinematic stills from Bollywood, the advertising world, technological gadgets or even images from abroad, among others.

The artist’s mystifying mix of brightly colored fascinating fulsome figuration is invariably inlayed with bewildering embellishments of all different kinds and forms. It is derived from either natural elements or drawn from media and photographs. It’s a curious mix of mythology, cinematic reverie and contemporary realities. The intriguing collation of diverse influences appears familiar, light hearted and fun filled outwardly. But it grips us with slightly strange and surrealist streak on further inspection. Venkat Bothsa’s larger-than-life sculptures leave behind an exuberant dramatic effect.

Born in 1961, the artist first did his BFA from the University of Andhra Pradesh (1977-83) and later completed MFA from Benaras Hindu University (1983-85). A solo his works comprising three-dimensional objects was arranged at Gallery Sumukha, Bangalore (2007). In 2009 his solo show, entitled ‘Steeped in Sanskriti’, at Canada’s Gibsone Jessop Gallery was held in conjunction with the Seagull India Arts Foundation. His work has formed part of several other important shows, such as 41st national exhibition in New Delhi by the LKA (1998), Ksetra Art Gallerym, Visakhapatnam (2004).

Apart from executing sculpture projects for public commissions, he has participated in International artists' workshop in Orissa in 1995, 10th Triennale international sculptors' workshop courtesy Lalit Kala Akademy (2001) in Chandigarh, Sculptor's Workshop organized by Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (1998), and All India senior sculptors' camp in Visakhapatnam (1998). He is also credited with conceiving and designing a tribal art and life museum, called Museum of Habitat in his home state.

The talented practitioner has evolved a unique methodology of narration placed in a contemporary context. His time consuming and finicky processes amalgamate sculpture and painting. The deft manipulation of the visual language adds a mass appeal to his works, which juxtaposed with his peppy pop colors and catchy kitsch images, bring them within the post-modern genre. His three-dimensional figures are mostly cast into fiberglass. Simultaneously, he makes independent collages with newspaper or magazine clippings to convert them into slides, beamed onto the sculptures by an overhead projector. The artist paints the ensuing reflection with enamel colors, before applying a coat of melamine.

Elaborating on his artistic methods, critic Martha Jakimowicz has mentioned: “He paints his heads and figures with a spectacular, if at first glance perplexing, enmeshment of lush blossoms and foliage, ripe fruits, birds and scenic motifs, which juxtapose, overlap and permeate with the shapes of cars and motorcycles, fragments of technological gadgets, skyscrapers and cinema billboards, besides fast-flowing expanses of color and acute linear slashes that look abstract but have been sourced also from magazine photographs. On the edge of a loud, obvious superimposition of alien images and of metaphor, an emotively charged poetry is generated. It penetrates the observer almost without words, through the sensuous tactility of the statues that are covered by a crowd of other images, through the sheer intensity and immediacy of strong, contrasting hues.”

Creating a perplexing parallel yet believable reality, he infuses elements of kitsch, albeit with a latent touch of lyricism, mapping a completely new, composite reality. The artist, in the process, defends and dodges many obvious compulsions of his own characters and the tumultuous clash amongst originally disconnected forms. His polychromatic realm of sculptures is soaked in spectacular dazzle. The viewers, as if, are drawn into an alluring phantasmagoria.

Evidently, there’s loose layering of and an apparent pervasion between real beauty and kitsch, feelings and perhaps their staged version, between nature and its glossier metamorphosis. According to art writer Uma Nair, his sculptures - all appropriated from a cultural mass image bank – denote the perverse strains of pleasure and endless consumption urban life must accept, critique and embrace in order to live with. He presents us the post-modernism of simultaneity and the disappearing context that moves the works into a global arena. The illuminated or painted sculptures convey his varied artistic concerns like the fast deteriorating ecological balance, engendered species, global warming, and the materialistic culture. They translate into apt metaphors for resulting tensions and anxieties within society even as the artist makes bodies sites of conflict.