508 W 26th Street , 11C
May 14-June 27, 2009
Ranbir Kaleka Reading Man marks Kaleka's much-anticipated return to gestalt painting. The artist has continued a vocabulary of figurative painting which crosses from realism into whimsical, fantastical narrative. By marrying realistic figures and passages with intense coloration and uncanny juxtapositions of objects, the artist creates contemporary tableaux of subconscious visions and fanciful dreamscapes.
In recent years Kaleka's works have explored notions of space, tactility, and temporality through a combination of video projections onto painted canvases and other surfaces. In this new body of paintings several of the works employ large-scale sculptural installation components such as mirrors, window panels, found and fabricated objects, and metal armatures. Kaleka's previous video works reflect the artist's fascination with cinema, in which canvases become animated and activated surfaces. The works featured in this exhibition continue to point to a cinematic undercurrent through the fabrication of absorptive mise-en-scène installations.
The largest work in the exhibition is a multi-canvas installation entitled Reading Man. Three canvases are stacked, one in front of the other, creating a three-dimensional painted landscape. Extending from the canvases are several sculptural components such as a clock, jacket, table, and wire figures. This combination of elements suggests a stage set that is not quite complete, and rather, remains open to further exploration. The other major works present similarly lush narrative scenes imbuing the exhibition space with the experience of walking through a fairytale.
Ranbir Kaleka was born in 1953, raised in the Punjabi city of Patiala and studied at the College of Art in Chandigarh (1970-75) and received a Masters Degree in Painting from the Royal College of Art in London in 1987. Reading Man is Kaleka's third solo exhibition with Bose Pacia (2005, 2007). The preview of this exhibition marks his second exhibition with Nature Morte in New Delhi (1995). The artist's works have been included in most of the major museum exhibitions of Indian contemporary art taking places over the past decade, including: Chalo! India at the Mori Museum in Tokyo (2008); India Moderna at the Institute of Modern Art in Valencia, Spain (2008); New Narratives at the Chicago Cultural Center (2007); HORN PLEASE! at the Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland (2007); Urban Manners at Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2007); Hungry God: Indian Contemporary Art at Busan Museum of Modern Art, South Korea (2006); Art Video Lounge at Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami (2006); Edge of Desire at Asia Society in New York (2005); iCon: India Contemporary at the Venice Biennale (2005); Culturgest-Lison, Lison (2004); Zoom! Art in Contemporary India, Lisbon (2004); and subTerrain: Indian Contemporary Art at House of World Cultures, Berlin (2003). In 2007 Kaleka was commissioned to create a permanent video installation for the new Spertus Museum in Chicago and in 2008 his work was included in the Sydney Biennale. Ranbir Kaleka lives and works in New Delhi.
Ranbir Kaleka, Ochre Dust in a Delusional Paradise, 2009, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 102 x 54".