Sunday, 22 March 2015

"Hunt For Honour"

"Hunt For Honour"
Acrylic on Canvas
36" x 48"

Here is my latest artwork which was executed during Udaya Bhanu- A North East Painting Camp organised by Lalit Kala Akademi Regional Center, Bhubaneswar starting from 17th March - 21st March, 2015. It was my first National Camp and I had an amazing experience- interacting and sharing thoughts and artworks with my fellow artists from the North-East.

It was a great opportunity to share glimpses of my culture and tradition which are no longer practised, but ideals which are very much relevant today. One practice that comes to mind is the concept of  Thangchhuah. Now, to be a Thangchhuahpa, a man had to go through a kill list consisting of the most dangerous animals one could find in the wild at the time. Being a Thangchhuahpa was the highest position in society that one could earn, and it was indeed a position that every young Mizo boy aspired to. It stood for courage and strength in the face of the most extreme danger conceivable. It brought with it honour, respect, and perhaps the first pick among the bevy of village beauties when the time came to choose a wife.

At this juncture, I would like to note that we Mizos do not have traditional paintings as such, (though we do have an amazing array of traditional art in the form of textiles, weaving, stone carving-monoliths etc.), and my work is neither a form of traditional art, nor is it meant to represent our tradition. In truth, my work is in itself the hunt for the honour of being a Thangchhuahpa.

Having prepared my hunting ground, the hunt for heads began. I did not merely paint these animal heads over a textured background, but actually hunted them down within the patterns on my canvas.

The forms and textures found within the base of my painting provided ample opportunity to actually seek my prey. The process of seeing the animal forms coming to life before my eyes proved to be a most exhilarating experience.

Even though the actual thrill of going after my quarry and capturing it, the oh so exciting moment from the kill, to the mounting of the head over ones mantle, to crossing the game off the list cannot be compared with, I must admit the chase was nonetheless rewarding.

In my hunt, I encountered several animals formed within the confines of my canvas. It appears that even a few strange and unexplainable creatures have made their way over to my hunting ground like the one seen below. Mizo folk tales too are rife with these sightings and form the story lines for some of our most beloved stories- but that is a subject for another blog post :)

What do I want people to get out of viewing my work? The answer is quite simple. I want them to join me in my search/ hunt for heads. Like any other hunting expedition, some prey are obvious and easy to capture while others prove to be elusive and take some work.

My body of work have always leaned heavily towards relational aesthetics where one is invited to be a part of the painting- the viewing itself being a part of the artwork; my latest piece too has proven itself to fall under this category. Let's hunt for heads, a hunt for Honour.

A few pictures from the camp with fellow artists: