“In The Future No One Will Have A Past” an exhibition of new paintings by Kanishka Raja will be on view at The Tilton Gallery from October 12 to November 17. Concurrently, Envoy will present paintings from this new series at the gallery at 131 Chrystie Street. The Tilton Gallery opening will take place from 5 PM to 7 PM on October 12. The Envoy Gallery opening will follow from 7 PM to 9 PM.
Kanishka Raja’s unique blend of pattern and decoration, Op Art and Indian miniature, doubles, mirrors, multiplies and samples a curriculum of surfaces to create complex psychological interiors. Anonymous airport lounges present a world void of inhabitants, yet they are suffused with mysterious signs of human occupation such as tents and army cots, the occasional Playstation or flat screen TV.
It has always been a fundamental aspect of the artist’s work to explore the collision between traditions of Western perspectival space and the particular conventions of pictorial design in Indian miniature painting. Raja takes his cues from the pre-Renaissance idea of rendering space by collapsing and compressing perspective, an idea which is also explored in videogames. He builds on this information, not just in how spaces are stacked, but also in how things operate inside and outside a frame and how elements from one painting spill over into another as part of the larger continuum.
Raja’s current cycle of paintings prominently feature a geometrical pattern that is derived from a photograph of a window grill from the Babri Masjid, a 16th century mosque in Ayodhya, India that was destroyed by Hindu fundamentalists in December 1992. The nationwide riots and bloody reprisals that followed the destruction, culminated in March 1993 when in one morning, 13 bombs ripped through the heart of Bombay.
By using the Babri Masjid pattern throughout the work, it becomes the essence of repetition and allows Raja to emphasize historical repetition as well as our persistent political and cultural amnesia. He takes this even further by creating wallpaper from a drawing whose pattern is generated from images of the destruction after the Bombay attacks.
As in Raja’s earlier work, the iconography of the airport continues to operate as the quintessential liminal space: the place of arrival and departure. By unfolding the images in a panoramic format he develops a narrative that unfolds in time. This allows for a circularity that becomes the structural metaphor for the ideas of repetition, the idea of reflection, showing that what is in front of us is exactly what is behind us.
The exhibition in itself is also doubled. Divided in two parts, in two different locations, the downtown-uptown show is an important aspect that further underscores the thematic thread and allows for the exhibition to remain fragmented, split: complete only in the imagination.