About My Work - Ranjit Hoskote

Ranjit Hoskote

What form does invisibility take? You stand at the traffic lights, waiting for amber to change to green. The signal transforms itself in a blink, and the invisible flashes past your retina in a new colour.

You state fixedly at the bland face of the clock, but do not catch the change when the minute hand moves to indicate the passage of sixty seconds. Again, remote presences are summoned from nothing when a voice comes to you from ten thousand miles away over the telephone, or when the e-mail protocol brings a far away letter to your computer screen. The invisible is like the wind, which Nagasena describes in the Milindpanha : A force that, though it is without destiny or colour or taste, asserts itself in action.

It is Shridhar Iyer’s project to clothe the unseen, however briefly, in the stabilities of form. And although Iyer draws his images from the lexicon of technology, we see a religious sensibility at work in his permutations of circuit diagram, cloud chamber chart and multiple-exposure plate. If these intriguing graphs seem to trace the trajectories and explosions of particles, the ghosts of meteors and supernovae, they also resemble ritual notations, chants detailed in an arcane script.

Iyer’s central theme is the flow of energy through the universe : Through sky and body, at the most cosmic plane and the most intimate. His works - which judiciously combine inks, natural pigments and acrylics – calibrate this flow across a range of force fields, in which are inscribed the multiple paths of the possible. In the process, this meditative idiom creates a space of play where several patterns of contradiction can be modulated into a network of images. Iyer’s current structures explore the theme of dynamic paradox : full and empty are held in parallel here, as are vector and scalar, regular and random, and at the grandest level of metaphor, the fundamental duality of order and chaos.

Iyer began with a vocabulary of germination and gestation, seed and tendril; over the last five years, he has moved towards this architecture of echoes and resonances. Iyer’s intricate geometries fan open in a series of surprises : Vibrations ripple out from seed nuclei; sudden touches of purple dissolve an austere cathedral of sound-shells into wavefronts.

And occasionally, you sense that the artist has reached the borderlands of experience : He stands in the unstated presence of the sacred. At such moments, an iconic solidity appears behind the hit-and-miss tendencies of the universe : What has been latent makes itself manifest, in response to the devotion of the painter as seeker, as bhakta. Ranjit Hoskote.

Mumbai,
Autumn 1996