For me, life breathes in moments when the accretion of experiences start to rupture and permeate any given sense of order or grid. Like the growth of moss in between the fissures on a sidewalk; the temporary use of fences to dry clothes on; or the mysterious reappearance of graffiti on wall surfaces after persistent attempts at covering them; I think that these are the instances that push up against the grid and make it porous. It is with these concerns in mind that ‘found’ objects often perforate my creative output despite me identifying myself primarily as a painter.
The use of blue tarpaulin, for instance, is a common feature in my work. It has symbolic value as an industrially produced fabric. Its transnational function of covering up under-construction sites has an added metaphor that plays on literally obscuring urban grids, and thereby obscuring a kind of spectacle-oriented (and homogenized) presentation of cities in the global milieu. But looking more closely, the rifts in its weave function as a metaphor of ruptures in the concealed grid of production that binds urban life.
If I am to translate this into my own experience, it reflects a sense of ambiguity, dis-identification and homelessness that is now vested in the nature of all things as well as spaces, despite illusory familiarity. I Initially struggled to orchestrate these instances as a way of my practice, particularly through the literal accumulation of material. However, I found it impossible to sufficiently represent those moments. Subsequently, constructing a single horizontal and vertical line on the canvas gave me a way of grappling with the grid through painting. The spatial configurations and accouterments surrounding my paintings, therefore, tend to have a dialogic relationship within my work, because virtually, a grid is all-inclusive.
So, how is any of this relevant to making art? Through Covering, Obscuring, and Uncovering; Making, Adding, and Negating; I attempt to figure a (non)system that opens up the act of making and seeing painting in today’s time, and moving beyond (rather, in between) the obsession with citation and reference which has been the preoccupation of Indian art since at least the past two decades. I want my work to lend visibility to such minutiae that often tend to get overlooked in the course of grandiose representations and narratives of the pasts, presents and futures. If visual art is a way of representing life, I am concerned with where the two meet, i.e., the act of identifying, and more importantly, not being able to identify.
Tanya Goel, 2011