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The power of three

Drama of Becoming, 2013, art powder colour, watercolour and ink on canvas prepared with paper pulp and pages from the Bible, 183 x 366 cm / 72 x 144 in triptych

A meditation on process and implicit faith coheres Baroda-based artist Arun KS' first solo showing, Drama of the Analyzed and the Analyzer. It's populated with triptychs, flanked by panels of concrete and wax. The monochromatic triptychs reveal hundreds of hazy figures almost peeping out of sacrificial smoke. The suggestion is in tune with Arun's questions of existing within a single ideological construct.

The triptychs, some large enough to take up an entire wall, others miniature in comparison and contained in frames, are lavered and painted with a technique Arun evolved in Baroda while assisting Ghulam Mohammed Sheikh. His concerns, however, developed out of his Christian upbringing in Kerala, where he lived until he completed his Bachelor's degree from the Government Fine Arts College in Thrissur. Growing up, Arun was confronted with his religious identity through his mother and grandmother, who raised him with Christian rituals and practices.

In his artist statement, Arun elaborated, "You are marked by (religion), and even if you reject it, you cannot fully escape it, because it is a continuous living tradition, and is tied in with the deepest regions of yourself." In contrast, his father who "neverwent to Church", taught him to question ritual by faith and influenced Arun's interest in Indian philosophy. It is this dichotomy that Arun expresses in his work.

His inability to tackle and reason with these rituals is resonated in the triptychs. In the larger triptychs, especially, a multitude of faces stare out at you, frozen in the moment of Holy Communion. Arun sees this as the beginning of his Christian existence. These faces are painted on a painstakingly handmade canvas made of layers of paper, some painted over, some not. The topmost layer reveals itself to be pages of the Holy Bible passed down through Arun's family members.

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