Artists > Abir Karmakar

ABIR KARMAKAR, Shadows of Distressing Dreams, 2012, Single Channel Projection, 90 minutes

Introduction

Inviting the viewer to assume the gaze and role of the voyeur, Karmakar's video installations adopt an economy of means, his palette tending towards monochrome, the austere grammar of the work parsed from the movements made by the figures. In viewing it, we become painfully aware of the depredations of time on the body, of the gradations by which the body casts off security and social propriety, like so many suits of clothing, as it descends into sleep, to reveal the primal motors of selfhood. And as we watch Karmakar's this ad protagonists and become involved in their dramaturgy of involuntary disclosure, we too find ourselves inveigled into dropping the customary defences of adulthood.

Karmakar became known for his voyeuristic self-portraits that saw him place his body in intimate settings. His oil paintings evoked an inward looking world replete with imagined situations and layers of psychosomatic content. His approach in more recent paintings is as sophisticated a performance as his flamboyant narcissism was in the preceding phases of his career. The body's urges and discontents, its shapes and impressions, leak beyond their physical confines and imprint themselves on objects and across spaces. The domestic interior records the extended presence of the bodied self, which claims it as habitation and, indeed, as habitat.

In 'Home', a suite of seven site-specific paintings completed for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2016, Abir Karmakar explores questions of identity, rootlessness and place.

"Karmakar's work resonates with our collective sense of an 'existential emptiness' as represented through an abundance of images", said Sudarshan Shetty, curator of the 2016 edition of the Biennale. He adds, "Through Abir's work I think there is a case to be made for a rigour in 'making'. I believe that making too can be a means to production of knowledge." 

Karmakar is clearly drawn to the primacy of idea; the vehicle of realism and specifics of technique, though honed to a craft-like skill, are secondary. "The measure of success for an artist is how the craft meets or even comes close to the intention of the subject matter. Abir's craft and subject matter cannot be seen in isolation or in binaries" notes Shetty. 

Born 1977 in Siliguri, India
Bachelor of Visual Arts in Painting, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata
MA in Painting, Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda
Lives in Baroda

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2015

    'Uncanny Space', catalogue essay by Donald Kuspit, Aicon Gallery, New York

  • 2012

    'Room, Interrupted in Passage', catalogue essay by Ranjit Hoskote, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai

  • 2011
    'The Morning After', Aicon Gallery, New York
  • 2008
    ‘Within the Walls’, catalogue essay by Gayatri Sinha, Gallery Espace, New Delhi and Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
  • 2007
    ‘In The Old Fashioned Way’, catalogue essay by Donald Kuspit, Aicon Gallery, London
  • 2007
    ‘Whispering Palette’, Red Earth Art Gallery, Baroda
  • 2006
    ‘Interiors’, catalogue essay by Kamala Kapoor, Galerie Heike Curtze, Berlin
  • 2005
    ‘from my photo album’, catalogue essay by Kamala Kapoor, presented by Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, The Museum Gallery,Mumbai

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2017
     ‘Culture of the Streets’, Aicon Gallery, New York
  • 2017

    ‘DWELLING’, 10th Anniversary Show (Part II), curated by Ranjit Hoskote, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai

  • 2016

    'Forming in the pupil of an eye', curated by Sudarshan Shetty, Kochi – Muziris Biennale, Kochi

  • 2016
    ‘Abir Karmakar, Sunil Padwal’, Gallery Ske, Bangalore
  • 2015
    'In the depths of our crater lake, all is silent...' 1 x 1 Gallery, Dubai
  • 2015
    'Three Projects', Abir Karmakar, Sunil Padwal, Unnikrishnan C; Gallery Ske, New Delhi
  • 2014
    ‘Mapmakers III: The Evolution of Contemporary South Asian Art’, Aicon Gallery, New York
  • 2014
    'Residual Remnants' curated by Rekha Rodwittiya, SITE art space, Baroda
  • 2014
    India Art Fair, New Delhi, presented by Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
  • 2014
    'My Sweet Lord', 1 x 1 Gallery, Dubai
  • 2014
    'Reviving the Retinal' curated by Kat Wyma, Gallery OED, Kochi
  • 2013
    'Touched by Bhupen', Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
  • 2013
    'Peak Shift Effect', curated by Gayatri Sinha, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
  • 2012
    'Four Projects', Gallery Ske, Bangalore, India
  • 2012
    'Cynical Love: Life in the everyday', Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi
  • 2012
    'Reconstructing (White) 3' curated by Himali Singh Soin, The Loft, Mumbai
  • 2011
    'Adbhutam – Rasa in Indian Art', CIMA Gallery, Kolkata and India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
  • 2011
    'Window in the Wall: India and China- Imaginary Conversations' curated by Gayatri Sinha and Gao Minglu, Pearl Lam Fine Art, Shanghai 
  • 2011
    ‘Dolls’, curated by Marta Jakimowicz, Gallery Sumukha, Bangalore and Chennai and Rob Dean Art, London
  • 2011
    ‘Of Gods and Goddesses, Cinema, Cricket The New Cultural Icons Of India’, curated by Arshiya Lokhandwala for RPG Academy of Art & Music, Mumbai
  • 2011
    'Yeh Image Mahaan' – India meets Bharat’, organized by CIMA Gallery, Kolkata, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
  • 2011
    'Pills', curated by Avni Doshi, Latitude 28, Delhi
  • 2011
    India Art Summit, New Delhi
  • 2010
    'Changing Skin', curated by Marta Jakimowicz for The Fine Art Company, Mumbai
  • 2010
    'INDIA AWAKENS – Under the Banyan Tree', Essl Museum, Klosternueburg
  • 2010
    ‘Have I Ever Opposed You? New Art from India and Pakistan’, Faye Fleming & Partner, Geneva
  • 2010
    ‘Trial and Error, Abir Karmakar, Debraj Goswami and Rahul Mukherjee’, Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda
  • 2009
    'A New Vanguard: Trends in Contemporary Indian Art', Saffron Art and The Guild Art Gallery, New York
  • 2009
    'Failed Plot', Korea International Art Fair, Seoul
  • 2009
    'New Fables: Contemporary Voices', Gandhara Art Gallery, Kolkata
  • 2009
    'Long Gone & Living Now', Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
  • 2009
    'Threshold: Forging Narratives in South Asian Contemporary Art', Aicon Gallery, New York
  • 2009
    'Shifting Shapes – Unstable Signs', curated by Robert Storr and Jaret Vadehra Yale University School of Art, New Haven, Connecticut
  • 2009
    ‘PANORAMA: INDIA’, presented by Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, ARCO_Madrid
  • 2009
    'Mutant Beauty' curated by Gayatri Sinha, Anant Art Gallery, New Delhi
  • 2008
    Gallery weekend presented by Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke at the Baumwollspinnerei Factory Complex, Leipzig
  • 2008
    'A MAZ ING', curated by Anupa Mehta for Harsh Goenka/RPG Academy of Art and Culture, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 2007
    1st Anniversary Exhibition, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
  • 2007
    'Reality Bites', CIMA Gallery, Kolkata

Public Collections

  • Essl Museum of Contemporary Art, Klosterneuburg

  • Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi

Award

  • 2016

    Asia Society's Future Artist Award