Ashutosh Bhardwaj





“Ashutosh’s works dramatize both the symbiotic relationship as well the representational distance that exists between desire – here a realm of symbolic, ‘ideal’ forms, gathered mostly from the world of advertising, whose commodity-fetishes occur frequently as signifiers of an endlessly deferred promise - and the world of everyday life whose social structures have, in the light of his own experiences proved to be deeply divisive. They foreground the ways in which social iniquities are elided in both these orders under the artifices and conventions that govern them; in the process he also speaks about some of the problems inherent in representation itself, which in its imperfect and incomplete mirroring of the truth is an unstable enterprise that is also potentially deceitful. The sheer excessiveness of his pictorial language, its layer upon layer of detail, and the episodic, shifting clusters of collage, quotation and fragments suggest, at one level, a lifeworld completely dominated and governed by the ubiquitous media industry, - in these works a kind of dream factory disseminating a proliferating economy of images which produce and regulate our desires, which are embodied in his visual world in objects and in the social values ascribed to them in their function as indicators of class and class aspiration. The organization of this visual world also evokes what Frederic Jameson calls the schizophrenia that marks consumer culture, in its extensive use dotof disconnected and discontinuous material signifiers and is a further reminder of the ways in which affluence has, in our time become a virtue in itself. If the principal thematic focus of his visual - conceptual universe is the way in which social relationships are mediated by the communications industry, he is also simultaneously trying to draw attention to deep-rooted forms of intolerance and violence that exist underneath the normalcy of everyday life. This disconnect, between a lived experience of social strife, and the chimerical constructions of the media industry is a recurring theme, one that he pushes into more ominous territory in his frequent coupling of capitalism and religious fundamentalism, which figure here as inverted images of each other, - one reproducing existing inequalities in its single-minded pursuit of  profit and power, the by-products of which are, among other things, the uprooting of populations, the disruption of traditional social orders and the widening of the divide between the haves and the have-nots, and the other its expected consequence, born of real grievances and wounds, but by itself representing a reactionary worldview and agenda.”

(Extract from an essay on Ashutosh Bhardwaj’s work written by Sathyanand Mohan)



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