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June 23, 2015

On The Wall: The Mirror Has No Heart

Text by Huzan Tata

View Indian politics through the eyes of artist Balaji Ponna

Thought art and politics didn’t go together? A New Delhi show, The Mirror Has No Heart, will prove you wrong. A series of paintings by artist Balaji Ponna, who holds a Gold medal and MFA in Graphics from Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, revisits contemporary Indian politics and its dispersion of power. The artworks use colour and imagery to bring out the artist’s views – and the clever captions make one ponder over his ideas as well. Says artist and researcher Sathyanand Mohan about the exhibition, ‘It is a comment on the ways in which the state is interpellated by the desires of a business class that has no allegiance to it, but to which it is in thrall. For Ponna, this manufacturing of artificial desire, in which the common man cannot find his aspirations reflected, is emblematic of the moral and ethical quandaries of the present…’.

5 Questions with the artist, Balaji Ponna

  1. Artistic Motivations “Responding to the socio-political and cultural realities of the time is a mode through which artists engage with society. My expressions and the kind of rhetoric that I construct on the surface of a picture is one of those responses. At the same time, these are not politically neutral, but visually interesting objects. They are implied with a sharp consciousness that is critical to the established cultural and social imaginations in society.”
  2. Inspirations “I am more concerned with the way I deal with colour, form, image and lines. I am also interested in how others have similarly responded to situations through their work.”
  3. On the wall at home “Marcel Duchamp and Vincent van Gogh, because I believe they both represent two different attitudes in art – one is emotional and the other intellectual. I feel my work deals with both these aspects in a balanced way.”
  4. Concerns that find a place in your art “Different human conditions, from the mundane to the celebrated. These two extremes would probably sum up the real contradiction of human existence today.”
  5. If not an artist, you would be…“without any second thoughts I would prefer teaching as my profession.”

The Mirror Has No Heart is on display at Art District XIII, New Delhi (F-213C, Ground Floor, Lado Sarai, Old MB Road) until June 30, 2015.  

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