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Artist Profile3
‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’ by D Ebenezer Sunder Singh
D Ebenezer Sunder Singh latest series of works, titled ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’ is a study in contrasts, emanating flashes of ‘lightning out of the dark cloud’, shades of grey interspersed with vivid pink, lime green, blue and orange. Ebenezer’s charcoal drawings carry an awe-inspiring sense of depth in the tortuous contortions of the human figures and phantasmagorical in their scope of perception of a mysterious realm.

Underlying his broad artistic philosophy, he quips: “I believe in universality in the philosophies of all religions. The Religious symbols with psychological motifs that marked my oeuvre were based on the same thought. My recent paintings revolve around Humanistic principles. With the Human figure as the central element of my pictures, (my works) shift time and space to locate the psychological characteristics and the principles of life.”

He adds: “I collect my memories; put them on my canvas or turn them into metal, 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.”

Born in 1966 at Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, he received a diploma in Fine Arts from Govt. College of Arts & Crafts, Chennai. His select solo shows include ‘Blindman’s Profession’, Ananat Art Gallery, New Delhi (2005), a solo at Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai (2005, 2001), ‘Senses’, Gallery Bellevue, Berlin, Germany (2003), ‘Memory Compulsions’, Connecticut, USA (2003), Gallery Bellevue, Berlin, Germany (2001), 'Balloon Man’, 'Kayittraravu', and 'The Hollow men The Stuffed Men', The Easel Art Gallery, Chennai (2000, 1998, 1996 respectively), and 'Neti...Neti....', Kingston University, UK (1999).

His select group show participations include ‘Three men show’, Ananat Art Gallery, New Delhi (2004), ‘Navarasa Show’, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi (2002), ‘Inspirationen-Three men show’, Museum fur Indische Kunst, Berlin, Germany (2001-02), ‘Heads and Tails’ with Czech sculptor Peter Kavan, The Easel Art Gallery, Chennai (2000), and National Exhibition of Art, Lalit Kala Akademi, Jaipur (2000).

The paintings of Paul Cézanne and his principles of Art influenced him immensely. He notes: “From his work principles I understood the traditional Indian painting methods. I took notice of the ‘Flat Depth’, ‘the multiple viewpoints’ that existed for centuries in the murals of Ajanta, the Tanjore style and in the miniature paintings of Bundi and Pahari.”

After he was granted a scholarship by the Government of India, he worked on a series of works at the Lalit Kala Akademi, called ‘flat figurations’. These oil paintings were of figures rendered in an abstract mode with a linear figure drawing outlining the flat abstract energy. He was painting my own self in this process. His body became the tool for every work and he mostly painted the sensations of my body.

Every psychological and philosophical problem resulted in an image and these pictorial symbols sprouted from the unconscious. He started to work on life size fiberglass sculptures. By creating a space inside my painting studio for my sculpture works, the artist worked on life size human figures keeping my body as the reference.

He has been quoted as saying on eve of his new solo at the Pundole Art Gallery: “There is a physical and a metaphysical element in my work. The drawings are in shades of black.” Here, the artist doesn’t equate black with darkness. To him, it’s only a gradation from black to white. He works with black for creating the different shades, in the varying intensity.

His new series is dominated by the idea of the superman. It is inspired by Nietzsche’s ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’ that defines and propagates the concept in ‘I want to teach men the sense of their existence, which is super man…as lightning out of the dark cloud.’

Ebenezer thinks that the definition can be employed to denote his work, as ‘a contemplation of myself, my energy growth. Nietzsche had mentioned there is no god to help man; only superman, or Zarathustra, can help man.” This very ethos is captured in his Superman sculptures. Heads are a refrain in the sculptures on view. And tongues of different color sticking out of mouth are another prominent feature. According to the artist, the tongue is a sensory code, and the head is a connotation of speaking in tongues. The tongue is elongated, almost touching the ceiling, in one of the creations. In Hair Grows, he refers to a “contemplation of life and death, of dead cells growing - a very fundamental question in life.

Ebenezer concludes that he tries to understand the world through his understanding of ‘myself, my world, my own being and my energy.’