Shailesh Br | tarka

13 July - 12 August 2017,
Vadehra Art Gallery, D-53 Defence Colony, New Delhi

FICA presents the solo exhibition of Shailesh BR, as part of Emerging Artist Award Programme. Shailesh was the EEA 2015 recipient for which he received an international residency in Switzerland.

Shailesh BR did his Bachelors in Fine Arts from CAVA, Mysore before going on to complete his post graduation from Faculty of Fine Arts, MSU, Baroda. His practice is grounded on the nature of processes – of philosophical thought, art and rituals as and through a material vocabulary of the everyday that allows for re-imagining the purpose and function of everyday objects around him. Like in Tarka Shastra, a philosophy which analyses the source of knowledge and its verification through the art of debate, Shailesh goes further on to decode the very politics of such a debate that is deployed as a validification tool. ‘यत्र यत्र धूमः तत्र तत्र वन्हि:’ - translated as: ‘Where there is smoke, there will inevitably be fire’, a proverb that exemplifies the methodology of such an analysis, becomes a point of contention for Shailesh as he explores the established connections and connotations between ‘smoke’ and ‘fire’. His works become visual counterpoints towards understanding such pre-conceived notions.

Shailesh envisages his works as addressing the very complexities of this philosophical system and the contingencies built into them, which are not always explored in the set notions of religious practices. By deploying the characteristic process of purposeful repetition, Shailesh imbues his drawings and ‘machines’ with a similar quality. He describes ‘studio practice to a form of chanting’ that allows him to realise and decode the meanings of things through a continuous engagement with the materials used.

Most of his works display an element of 'playfulness' and metaphors to deal with the philosophical thought through mechanical means. His repetitive drawings reference ritual-like actions and movement where the process takes primacy over the object. The ordinariness of materials and simple mechanisms push his enquiries further even as they rework the pious/devotional connotations ad religious references.

In this particular body of work, his first ever solo exhibition, Shailesh explores common practices that are used in rituals as metaphors. Kshir Dhara (Milk Thread) looks at the act of rubbing as a means of creating friction to produce something. Using paraphernalia that is commonly part of religious ceremonies, his kinetic structures question the notions of practice, the physical body and symbolic meanings that are often given.  The ‘Tongue’ series is another set of kinetic sculptures that explores various bodily functions of taste and sensations that the organ evokes. It also explores the various speech acts – from a satirical dig at the hollowness of political rhetoric to the excessive jargon that often circulates in contemporary art world to the role of aural as opposed to the textual.  

Also on display is the Philosophy Machine, a rotating disc installed with a ring of lamps, with a pipe on either end – one functioning to light a flame and the other to extinguish it. It speaks of the cyclical nature of things - of birth and death of knowledge, philosophies and theories –along with the sense of absurdity and play.  Also on view are a series of drawings, blueprints, notes and sketches that accompany the mechanical contraptions that provide insight into the artist’s thinking process.

About the artist:
Shailesh BR has received his Bachelors in Fine Arts, specializing in painting from Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts (CAVA), Mysore and has a Post Graduate Diploma from Faculty of Fine Arts, MSU, Baroda. He has participated in various group shows, CIMA Art Award Show, Kolkata (2014); Drawing 2014: Seven Decades of Indian Drawing by Gallery Espace, Delhi (2014); and Student’s Biennale, Kochi 2014, a parallel event to Kochi Muziris Biennale 2014. He has been part of the Khoj Peers 2015 as an artist-in-residence and was invited for the Khoj Peers Share in October 2013. In 2014, Shailesh has received the Inlaks Fine Arts Award and was also invited to Sandarbh Art Residency, Partapur as an artist-in-residence. In 2016, he was awarded the FICA Emerging Artist Award and travelled to Switzerland for a residency. In March 2017, he was invited for the Khoj residency in Goa. Shailesh BR lives and works in Vadodara.