Societies may view history as the chronicle of progress toward an improved state, with the need to defend the validity of progress and argue against other fundamentally different understandings of the course of history.
My practice explores themes of globalization, emigration, and destruction of tradition - intentionally or otherwise - through development and modernisation.
Detailed drawings of Indian Hindu temples coupled with a delicate use of paint create an alluring relationship between drawing and painting.
The Hindu temples in the work are examples of Dravidian architecture looming out from the undergrowth, (drawing parallels with early colonial photographers in a Asia, eg; Linneus Tripe, Henri Mouhet or Samuel Byrne ) but these are not ‘ruins’, they are active places of worship. The works are reminiscent of late Baroque works of Claude Lorrain and Salvatore Rosa and their romantic and fantastical depictions of ruins.
The drawings are made with graphite pencil on MDF board. The board is prepared along the lines of the temple Gopuras, layers of white paint sanded down to create a smooth surface. Offering landscapes that at times resemble Piranesi’s ethcings with regard to documenting ‘monuments’ fictious or otherwise.
If these works are structured according to tradition, then modernity enters through vector-like routes. Over the top of the images, I have inscribed – etched into the surface of the wooden support – a series of precise lines. These lines are, in fact, based on the airline flight paths. They are mapped on to the works and, in the process radically scar them – an act that cannot be undone – using a scalpel, before finally painting into the grooves using Humbrol paint, thus melding together two quite different iconographic registers.
Commercial flight paths are, of course, also migratory routes. The ‘paintings’ are maps that pick out the routes of contemporary Tamil culture. Originally maps were intuitive and symbolic rather than cartographic: they were drawings that expressed an idea of place rather than a definition of space. There is a conceptual continuity in the work between the idea of drawing and the concept of making one’s mark, of recording and inscribing one’s subjectivity. They may also be seen as lines that threaten to turn the surety of national identity into the shifting, nomadic identity of transnational cultures.
Drawing relates to other processes of cultural mark making, including the introduction of a international style of modern architecture that inscribes itself on age-old landscapes and cultures. I reference such structures in the paintings through a series of thin lines that suggest a tension between the old and the new, between the architecture of ancient temples and modern skyscrapers, offices and apartments. These vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines (scaffolding of new buildings) have the quality of an invasion.
The delicate lines of gold leaf are abstracted views of construction cranes. The arms that help raise the modern buildings of todays wealth. Gold is a very important commodity with historical importance whose use is a part of many life moments. Births and marriages for example, in the form of sovereigns and pendants.
The addition of scattered dried oil paint visually reference petals on temple floors and the metaphorically the scattering of diasporas. The application also has some resonance. Rather than being as haphazard and random as it appears the pieces have been placed specifically.
Through the exploration of the iconography of Sri Lankan and Southern Indian temples, I try to investigate the social agency inherent to any cultural choice.
The pieces oscillate between drawing and painting. Drawing is the moment, the present with reference to past histories and painting is the revisiting of the moment, together creating an anticipated future.