Quintessential Ashok

March 19, 2010

The timing has never been better for photographers who want to explore the creative world of fine art photography. The market is in a nascent stage but if art is currency then the 1400-point sensex should be a good omen too. There are some photographers who have been commercial photographers only because the market was ready to have them, but some of them felt restricted working to a brief often shoddily thought through, directed oftener by wet behind the ears advertising ‘creative’.

With fine art photography as with painting, sculpture and print making the buck stops squarely on the individual photographer, there is no where to hide and no client, no agency to answer to. It’s you and the jungle. Ashok Salian’s debut solo show on at Jamaat  9 Jan to 2 Feb is like a pathfinders compass, while he himself is searching through five separate subjects, the viewer has to align themselves to magnetic north then journey to the centre.

Each of those subjects have names, for Ashok the beginning is where it all started, with the black and white series of four images called Surrealism. The title is a bit loaded and ambitious for all the art history baggage that that brings. ‘It was the pressure to make images for the Exhibit A show’ where commercial photographers showcase their own personal work, and what Ashok calls, laziness, that prompted the exploration. While laziness is often associated with lack of physical get up and go, like some travel photography, you don’t necessarily have to leave home to indulge in it. The ramshackled gala next door to his studio became the scene of ‘organised’ chaos. In many ways you want to return to the scene of the crime, there are elements and a backward Secundrabad stencil along with a woman whose lips are sealed. You have to unravel the secret yourself; it’s a dark world there, rich with texture and light peers through meaningfully. This quartet is the best work in the show, stripped of the realness of colour and 3D, the work is real and surreal hauntingly, brutally, honestly. Much of the work is projected, photocopied, analogue, each work independently and collectively is superb, and where in one photograph there is enough black space around the subjects to minimally speak to you without a concert.

The next Exhibit A 2001, prompted Introspection, the tools and chaos from the gala are all visible and in colour this time. Ashok restricts himself to a limited palette and the ink jet prints come off contrasty and dense. The image with the stark androgynous face has reticulated paint that entices you to touch but like the floating Daliesque watch dials, without hands.

The next series is called Exhilaration the images in vermillion and blue predominantly have a female figure waft across it Garden Varelliesque. The work seems two dimensional, less engaging with much less mystique.  The primary colours do all the work, immediately, form runs away with content.

Masks, the fourth series is a trilogy, they reveal or conceal very little, the slightly fuzzy focus does not add to the intrigue, they are what they are.

Tribute to Yoga is Ashok’s most recent work shown also at the last Exhibit A 2006, Ashok is passionate about yoga and how it has rejuvenated him, the work is some sense is formulaic and the technique improved and more precise, somehow while you are discovering new positions and decoding hidden manuscripts you are left with less surprise and magic.

After you are done you will retrace your steps and go back to the beginning. It shall be called the Saliant (sic) quartet.