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The nuances that make a home | Abir Karmakar

The nuances that make a home

Walking into an Indian home can be a sensorial experience with the objects amassed by each family member symbolising a time capsule ripe with sentimental stories and vibrant memories. A dusting cloth placed to cover the top of every electronic device or old cardboard boxes stacked haphazardly above every cupboard betray tales of an owner’s personality, living habits and idiosyncrasies. While for some, sifting through generations of clutter within drawers or a store room is akin to an archaeological excavation; for the common man, these pieces bring together an idea of home. Exploring this familiar domestic imagery of Indian homes, Baroda-based artist Abir Karmakar’s larger-than-life, photorealistic paintings spotlight the social and temporal quirks of modern India.

For his current show, Karmakar has selected two homes to paint. One is of a practising Christian joint family from Baroda and the other is a suburban home of a lone 80-year-old man. “His wife died a long time ago and his son has migrated to a different place. He lives alone, and you see time trapped within the belongings in his cabinets. It reminded me of my own father, who lives in Siliguri, and I’ve been living away from him in Baroda for the last 19 years,” he rues.

Presenting six double-sided paintings of domestic walls in a three-dimensional Trompe l’oeil style, Karmakar leaves the viewer suspended between frozen time and real space. He collapses boundaries between taking in and being, memory and presence, “to enhance the experience of seeing an artwork and becoming an active participant around it. You’re not distancing yourself from it, you’re physically moving into it. It creates a different meaning to the painting. At first, you’re walking into a stranger’s home, but you’re within an illusion—like a memory trapped within a photograph. It is not a reality anymore; and laden with layers and fragments of our own interpretation.”

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