Silent Celebration: Recent Works by Dilip Chobisa

The recent exhibition of art works by Dilip Chobisa titled as ‘Silent Celebration’ was held at Anant Art Gallery, Lado Sarai, New Delhi. The exhibition was on view from March 5, 2010 to March 25, 2010. Dilip is one of the intense young artists who was born in Udaipur, completed art education from Faculty of Fine Arts, M S University, Baroda and practices from the same place.

Installation view of Dilip Chobisa’s work; Charcoal, paper, wax. Image Courtesy: Anant Art Gallery.
Installation view of Dilip Chobisa’s work; Charcoal, paper, wax. Image Courtesy: Anant Art Gallery.

‘Silent Celebration’ or ‘Celebrating Silence’ one can view and understand the art works in more ways than just these. Before jumping into factual depictions of the exhibition it would be gracious to render a little around the edges of perception of the word ‘silence’. The colour of silence is black, the passages between sound and silence encode shades of grey and white, that is how, impetuously it comes to mind while experiencing Dilip’s works. As a viewer would browse through the exhibits it would become evident, that the artist is fond of speaking loads through minimal gestures, where the works are spared, just to their essentials. The works are mostly left without any name or titles except one photo installation.

Dilip mentions that “all the works represent one state/ emotion/ silent state and can’t be differentiated from one another in terms of title… even if you ask me I will describe them as a body and not individually… yes but there can be many titles but I did not think of it”. An honest declaration from the artist, where his understanding of the works comes out as translation of ideas into actions and therefore it could be asked, what is there in a name? The works are neither paintings, nor sculptures they tread the narrow path between the play of light and shadow, recession and protrusion, and mystery and revelation. A fascinating amalgam of relief and painting/ drawing and lighting that is the simplest way they can be described as. The references from cultural past that fascinate Dilip are as eclectic as neo-minimalism, medieval architecture or the artistic enlightenment of the renaissance. All of these are stretched too far and wide for a denotative rack and therefore confusing as one might think; but that would be downplaying the significance of his reelecting more traditional methods of expression, ‘traditional’ in a sense, which is not geopolitically restricted. Like works of minimalist artists Robert Morris, Dan Flavin, or a more recent one like Tim Zuck or may be architect Fredrick Law Olmsted, the works established transit material between the reductive aspects of Modernism and the sublime corroded parallel rationalism of post-modernity, and created possibilities for a line of descendants.

One character of Dilip’s works, precisely for their namelessness is that they are difficult to describe in words, since for the artist himself and partly for the viewer the works are different and yet the same. This in a way is intriguing, because the images are independent enough to ignore words, which would compliment them. If one has to talk about the images, then it has to be recounted like; the one with a chequered foreground, with a dark hollow window opening into ‘nowhere-like-darkness’ or may be one like ‘the empty room where a pole connects the ceiling to the floor and a thin white string in tension between a brick and a nail.’ Colours have been banished from these graphic-o-sculptural-installed spaces. The black and whites are punctuated by grey tones to create simulation of dreams, those which are difficult to recall in a conscious state. Adequately ambiguous as it sounds, the works direct the viewer to homophonic equivocalness where images and forms are concrete but the ideas they predict are sharply abstract.

The austere ambience that the display pattern maintained added extended dimensions to the works. It must be mentioned here that the works framed and display-designed by the artist himself were executed in such a manner that the framings amusingly casted shadows on the two dimensional and often alto relievo planes.

This made the works appear as conversations with ‘darkness’ with muteness, with the unknown, where manipulated perspectives played a device of visual illusion, often employed in set designs and stage craft. Skilled usage of melding drawings, chiaroscuro and electric lighting which followed well chalked schemes had a hypnotic effect and was alluring to glint in with a hope of solving some mystery that lay beyond the dead end wall or hollow depths in the floor of the room.

“In restless dreams I walked alone/Narrow streets of cobblestone/Beneath the halo of a street lamp/I turned my collar to the cold and damp/When my eyes were stabbed /by the flash of a neon light /that split the night/ and touched the sound of silence.”

The lyrics of the song ‘Sound of Silence’ sung by Simon and Garfunkel appeared dead on target while struggling to find words which would closely delineate these works. The numbness of the brick walls which abruptly block the path of sight and directs the gaze out of the dark windows, torn out of soot black backgrounds would throw one into an experience of catastrophic muteness, which could contrive eeriness in any space.

Dilip has chosen the name ‘Silent Celebration’ very philosophically to string up his works which according to him are units of a larger body/idea. This is important for the ‘present’ and for phases of life yet to come when ‘silence’ is experienced at different states of emotional, physical and spiritual existence. Caught by the unknown and the inconspicuous, spaces, experiences, objects and times, Dilip uses the nuances of architectonic images which come out from a surreal land, where the unexpected waits around the corners, or maybe they are so real that we miss out noticing them; say the massive construction that comes up every other day by demolishing tiny old spaces with worn bricks and memories. Corners of architectural spaces and futile objects interplay with light, darkness and space that belongs to obscure are cognitive contents; condensed as a perceptual collection from this exhibition, which at the same time re-approaches sublimated chapters in contemporary aesthetics of visual art practice.

Silent Celebration’, Dilip Chobisa, Anant Art Gallery, New Delhi, March 2010.

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