If certain chromatic preoccupations have travelled with him over a period of three decades, so have certain emphases on informal pedagogy, the library, and the space of mutual intellectual and affective nourishment between artists and audiences. During the early 1990s, an entire generation of Bombay artists, then students or recent graduates, benefited from the suitcases full of books that Bose would bring back from his foreign travels. Through a project like LaVA, a giant reading room dedicated to the visual arts and art history, Bose reached out to draw potential viewers into a space of education that was welcoming rather than alienating. Through the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Bose realised his vision for a festival of the arts that would meld the local, national and international art scenes into a new, dynamic and unpredictable constellation. In his current body of work, ‘The Mirror Sees Best in the Dark’, Bose returns triumphantly to art-making. In these marvellous experiments with form and material – in which he shuttles among word, image and assemblage, between an austere minimalism and an opulent maximalism – he confronts the increasingly extreme discourses that shape our consciousness. In Bose’s handling, these discourses crystallise around keywords that then become slogans, deployed in the witch hunts and debased debates that characterise a polarised society. Bose explores the thresholds at which potentially unifying concepts like nationalism can become unhealthy obsessions, dividing the world into Us and Them, injecting toxicity into collective life. What we see in Bose’s recent works is a portrait of what we have done to ourselves today, at the level of the individual, the community, the religious group, the nation-state. Sometimes, this portrait is manifestly clear, as in the works where he uses a traditional Kerala metal mirror. Sometimes, as when he uses Braille in his graphite works, we may have to decode the portrait. The seriousness of the artist’s intent communicates itself through playfulness as well as sombre irony. The sighted can sometimes miss the obvious truth, while the visually challenged can read it with precision. The times are dark, and Bose’s mirror is designed to see – and reveal – better in such conditions.
Poet, Curator and Cultural Theorist
About Emami Art
A destination for Modern & cutting- edge Contemporary Art, Emami Art is a one-of-a- kind art space built in keeping with international standards. Positioned as a key destination for artists, visitors and art collectors, the gallery aligns with the Emami Group’s mission to support artists & artisans and contribute to society’s wellbeing. A regular programme of curated exhibitions, includes the works of new talents and eminent masters of regional, national and international repute, that aligns with the promoters’ ideology that while the popular contributes to the academic, the academic uplifts the popular. Spearheaded by Richa Agarwal, Emami Art’s new 10,000 sq.ft. art space is located in the Kolkata Centre for Creativity (KCC), a state-of-the-art multi-disciplinary interactive art centre, off Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, Kolkata, India.