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We were sent the work of Santosh More recently. Given its architectural and urban overtones his work resonated with us. Santosh’s work is being exhibited at the Jehangir Art Gallery & Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai from 22nd Jan to 20th Feb 2013 by independent curator and arts representative Shraddha Purnaye.
Here is the concept note for Santosh More’s sculptural series, ‘Prohibited’
Santosh More’s sculptural object, ‘Prohibited’, is a comment on the negotiation between the Urban and the Rural; the Modern and the Traditional; and the Authority and the Rebel. Quintessentially an observer of contemporary social structure, Santosh stands at the rupture where the Urban has barricaded the Rural by fastening its opportunities of exposure and growth under the aegis of preservation.
Made of fiberglass this sculptural object reminds us of ancient step well (Bawadi) architecture found in two northern states of India – Gujarat and Rajasthan. On the surface of this object, we see precariously placed miniature versions of construction site equipments, especially used in urban spaces. Another sculpture in the same series shows a 400-year-old well near Karjat, Maharashtra where instead of water, the base is encased in printed glass of a city’s skyline.
Though the barricade and the well have solid physical presence, they seem to function more as an idea than an object; an idea of an ephemeral city – scale architecture occasioned by, and changing, the social; a lull of negotiation, allowing the Rural, the time to reconsider their allegiances to the Urban.
Barricades materialize in provisional and adaptive forms that seek to force an encounter in the moment, as opposed to the fortress in the truest sense of the word, which offers a permanent or prolonged siege. Here the Barricade becomes metaphor for temporary nature of city architecture as opposed to the ancient step wells which stood test of time.
Water plays a special part in Hindu mythology, acting as a boundary between heaven and earth known as tirtha. As man-made tirtha, the stepwells are not only sources of drinking water, but cool sanctuaries for bathing, prayer and meditation. In Santosh’s sculpture ‘water’ becomes a reflection; symbolic to the yearning of the Rural; yearning to soar up to the surface as that of the Urban, which in turn is ironic.
Traditional and Modern are not two different things as one transmutes into another. Modern is fruit of preservation and cultivation of the tradition. Re-examination of the past is part of the construction of the present. Santosh refuses to stagnate as he refuses to sit on the fence safely. Instead, he stands atthe rift, his art goes beyond being too simple a connection between past and present; the past offers an open scheme while the present is garnered from just being a history lesson.
By Shraddha Purnaye
Read about Santosh’s solo exhibition of paintings at the Jehangir Art Gallery here.