Two way Mirror

March 19, 2010


When is a table lamp not a table lamp or a squirrel not a rodent? When does a handkerchief become a cat, Schrödinger notwithstanding? When is the Truth a half-truth?

Debraj Goswami’s acrylic on canvasses have that sort of sleight of hand quality; blink and something else might appear in its place.

“It all started with small 1 square foot canvasses of symbols and forms that would not go away just as the Godhra nightmare still comes back to shake us up”. Debraj’s close proximity to Godhra both in geography, he lives and works out of Baroda, and his ‘socio-political’ bent made him investigate the reality and illusion of war, its carnage and its weapons. The accusatory, finger-pointing hand of Michelangelo’s god is omniscient and ubiquitous. 20 small canvasses mosaic-morph into My experiments with Half Truths.

In Godly Fingers, that hand is being hurled at an Adam, who could easily be replaced by you the viewer, standing helpless against a pegboard. The hand-dart intentionally misses the target with some divine magic. Adam lives another day to tell more lies or not reveal the whole truth.

The spin doctors and six-pack muscular media-politicians protect themselves from a barren, nuclear polluted word with rose-tinted gas masks pretending with a magician’s candor that war does not exist, Guernica however is leaking from under the table like a bribe. There is a childish boast – realization in ‘See I’m growing up mummy’

The squirrel in the divine equation is a hapless innocent creature, a bhakti, the common man oblivious of the Ram-politics.  It travels through several matrixes and emerges unwittingly at the other end as Alice in the looking glass. Now you see me now you don’t.

Patho(s)logical, the painting, is graphic and narrative, what goes in does come out albeit altered. But you don’t quite know which is the beginning or the end, do you read the work from right to left as in the Islamic world or the other way around. Does the truth become a falsity or do lies interface with the truth, the animate becomes the inanimate. The linear – circular.

All Goswami’s work leaves you with a feeling of déjà vu. The title to the show a take on Gandhi’s – Experiments with the Full Truth, the symbols, the metaphors, the surrealist genre, Rene Margarite, Salvador Dali, Picasso are all there lurking or spilling out perforce. The surprise element therefore is a bit dampened.  The work A Brief Mystery of Time reverses scale and mass in a Hawking-Einsteinian way, a nuclear mushroom cloud diminishes the global atlas to an amniotic puppy, and you don’t need conventional weapons of mass destruction, market forces and an insurance plan can do you in.

The intrepid quadruped has a Fallacy of Four Terms, is it a dog? is it a horse? The illuminating table lamp that is supposed to shed light on the subject obfuscates the reality with a fork-filament, enlightenment is about survival and your next meal. Yet mysteriously the headless, creature-beast moves onwards to the sound of a distant drummer.

If you went in grim you’d emerge with a half frown-smile.