Man and machine
Reji Arackal puns on the technology-surrounded human body, in his first solo exhibition in the city.
Sans Divine Machines, the current show at Sakshi Gallery displays a set of 14 drawings by Reji Arackal.Most of these were created over the last one year, including some from 2008. "Drawing is a simple material, but the subjects I chose to talk about are contemporary and complex," says Arackal.
Black and white drawings on paper, executed in Arackal's style that he has been working on for over four-five years, has bulged, exaggerated human bodies — compositions that may seem calm on the surface, but layered with humour and satire on further introspection.
The charcoal drawings speak about relations of the body and mind, and the mechanised world around us. Human figures merge into machinery and are surrounded by machine-like grids. "Due to technology, our bodies have become inactive. It seems like the body is only carrying out the function of carrying the brain," he laughs.Arackal's spontaneity in executing the drawings comes through his use of fingers that, he says, is his relation with his art as an artist.
Known for his peculiar human figures, the stylisation found way through traditional dances, and people around him."South Indians have typical anatomical features, being plump is one of them. When I first created these figures, it got a good response; they caught the viewers' eyes and so I stuck to this style," says the Delhi-based artist.
"The bodies filled with air seem to be light, but are heavily loaded with socio-cultural concerns," he says. Arackal has practised painting, drawing and is now creating new media works in video and site-specific works.One of the drawings in the show, Making of a Frankenstein, is inspired from Mary Shelley's novel called Frankenstein or The Modern Promenthus.
The title of the novel refers to a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who learns to create life and creates a being in the likeness of man, but larger than average and more powerful. "It's in a fun manner that I use this reference into my drawing— a human creating a human," says Arackal.His works— Inactive Activeness and The Emperors New Mind— satire on the result of technology on human body and mind.
The 31-year-old artist, born in Kerala, studied painting at Government College of Fine Arts, Thrissur and at Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan, followed by a nine-month internship with l'Ecole Nationale Superieure Beaux-arts, Paris, France and has had several solo shows since 2004.