artist / participant

press release

venue: ARARIO GALLERY CHEONAN

Arario Gallery Cheonan in collaboration with Volte Gallery, Mumbai, is pleased to present a large-scale solo exhibition by the Indian artist Ranbir Kaleka (b. 1953) from 3 July to 19 August 2012. With over 30 years of media art practice, Kaleka is a representative artist of the Indian contemporary art world. Combining painting and video, his works have been exhibited in the last 10 years in museums and galleries in major cities such as Venice, Berlin, Vienna, New York, and Sydney. As his first solo exhibition in Korea, this exhibition explores the unique art world of Ranbir Kaleka.

Ranbir Kaleka developed a unique technique in the 1990s and has been experimenting with the same for over two decades. He projects a video on painted canvas such that the painting 'moves,' allowing for a narrative to develop, rendering the work a layered meaning. The physical attributes of painting, like weight and texture, and the accumulation of colour pigment render the work stability and permanence. On the other hand, video—which has a spatial element as an image made of light—has opposite characteristics of being intangible, fleeting, and temporary. By mixing the two contradictory mediums, the artist amplifies the inherent nature of each medium, at times layering or overlapping them, and forging a new image. By overlaying two different notions of time—the 'still' time in painting and 'transforming' time in video—the artist devises ways of knowing and meaning-making.

The essential focus in Kaleka's work is not just his unique methodology in working with video and painting, but the narrative of the work, which usually focus on daily issues that arise across India. Not From Here (2009) is one of Kaleka's most important works and one that most clearly demonstrates the unique traits of his oeuvre. It is a six-minute video projected on painting which deals with the issue of migrant workers in India. The people that appear in the work are laborers, who are daily wage-earners without a permanent home, with barely noticeable presence and no records of existence. They walk out of their own bodies, vanishing after having left only their physical trace. Their bodies are painted silhouettes but their luggage is depicted in great detail. This deliberate contrast highlights the replaceable nature of these workers whose possessions are their sole mark of existence. As the piece draws to a close, a whistle of the train forecasts their re-appearance.

Kaleka's recent work Forest (2009–2012) reflects the artist's meditation on 'regeneration' in the midst of a period of confusion and turmoil. Kaleka's Forest is full of metaphorical events that have universal resonance. Working with the themes of destruction and rebirth, loss and gain, knowledge and power, Forest encapsulates a world reflecting our own. Black, burnt-down ground is exposed beneath the flowers on the field, on which a man flagellates himself. Shelves of books appear and a lion, custodian of knowledge, guards them. Nature is harnessed to humankind's 'ends.' The library is burnt and the lion is forced out but some books survive in the ashes…

Elliot Goldenthal, an Academy Award winner, has written music for Kaleka's mesmerizing Forest. Goldenthal is a composer of contemporary classical music, known for his intense experimentation, intelligent nuances and willingness to try new and unconventional techniques and processes. Elliot Goldenthal has been composing for theatre and film for over two decades. He has been nominated thrice for the Academy Awards, winning the award for Best Original Score in 2002 for Frida.

Apart form the Academy Award and Golden Globe, Goldenthal's score for Frida was also awarded the Best Original Soundtrack of the Year and Soundtrack Composer of the Year in 2003 at the World Soundtrack Awards. Goldenthal has won at ASCAP Award six times for Demolition Man, Interview with the Vampire, Batman Forever, A Time to Kill, Batman & Robin, and S.W.A.T. Goldenthal's work has received much critical acclaim and he was the finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2007 for the Grendel Opera.

Cultural historian Piero Scaruffi included three of Goldenthal's theatre works in a "Brief history of music through its milestone compositions" and put his score for "Drugstore Cowboy" in a list of "Best musicals of all time."

About the artist Ranbir Kaleka was born in Punjab in 1953. He studied at The College of Art, Punjab University, and at Royal College of Art in London. Following his first solo exhibition at Art Today Gallery in New Delhi in 1995, Kaleka has held numerous solo exhibitions at Bose Pacia Gallery in New York in 2005, 2008, and 2009; Volte Gallery in Mumbai in 2010; and at Saffronart, Delhi, in collaboration with Volte Gallery in 2011.

Kaleka has also participated in many group exhibitions, including Deconstructing India at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 2012; Expanded Cinema, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, in 2011; Back to Basics at the Guangdong Museum in China in 2011; Crossroads: India Escalates at the Prague Biennale in 2011; MOCA Taipei, Finding India, Art for the New Century in 2010, Sydney Biennale in 2009, Chalo! India: A New Era of Indian Art at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, and ESSL Museum, Chalo! India: A New Era of Indian Art, Vienna, in 2009; CASA ASIA, Indian Narrative in the 21st Century: Between Memory and History, Madrid & Barcelona. Amongst other places he has also exhibited in curated shows at Venice Biennale, iCon - India Contemporary, Kunstmuseum Bern, and Chicago Cultural Institute. Kaleka currently lives and works in New Delhi.

In collaboration with Volte Gallery.