Arts Illustrated

July 28, 2020

Brightness > Contrast

In ‘Tales of our Times’, an online exhibition hosted by Emami Art gallery, Anwar Chitrakar’s pata paintings take on the contradictions we live through everyday

Godhashri Srinivasan

The pandemic has brought us all to a strange place. We are at a crossroad where the old normal and the new normal struggle to take the helm; and at this unfamiliar pitstop, we try and fill the gaps in the future with a peculiar mixture of both. We fashion makeshift routines, adapted responsibilities and attach new meanings to what were once everyday objects – all in a flailing attempt, spun around a dry sense of humour, to hold together a familiar way of living. In Tales of our Times, an online exhibition hosted by Emami Art gallery, Anwar Chitrakar’s pata paintings embody this humour, whilst capturing the universality of everyday situations.

Chitrakar’s subjects, straddling the familiar and the unfamiliar, shed light on the contradictions, contrasts and role reversals – the unforeseen outcomes of the pandemic – in comical, but keenly observant ways. Animals take on human faces and thrive in the wilderness; humans are caged in their homes; old hierarchies and marital roles get flipped to amusing, refreshing effects; and love, too, gets a new avatar.

In Tales of our Times, cars morph into date spots, masked lovers slip past a suspicious adult or neighbourhood vigilantes, and a couple squabbles just to stave off boredom. The world has gone through an unprecedented shift in communication, relationships, law, trade, travel and leisure. Besides the obvious changes, a million little changes ripple through the spaces and dynamics that were once unquestioned and taken for granted. These smaller changes are what Chitakar’s paintings pick from the stormy, restless sea that the pandemic has set boiling.

The uncluttered lightness of each painting lends beautifully to the dichotomy of our times, drawing attention to the bizarre nature of it all. The dry humour in everyday situations is preserved in the clean, colourful lines and patterns. With satire at its heart, Chitakar’s paintings offer a different perspective to the pandemic. It juxtaposes the bizarre with the banal, artfully drawing out how these situations depict humankind’s attachment to the familiar while also its willingness to improvise.

All Images are courtesy of the artist and Emami Art Gallery.

‘Tales of our Times’ is on view till 31 July, 2020. Click here to view.

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