Even if the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is a thing of the past, an almost permanent feeling of insecurity will remain, he says.
“So many illnesses, so many deaths… This has been a long period of everyday tragedy that has left no one indifferent. In the time before Covid, people, especially young people, could never have imagined that life could be so unpredictably short, “says New Delhi-based artist Gigi Scaria, whose latest solo exhibition” No Stone Unturned, presented by the Vadehra Art Gallery as part of Edition 6 of In Touch – a digital exhibition platform created in collaboration between galleries in India and Dubai, recently opened (May 28th to August 28th).
In his latest watercolors on paper, the artist’s ecological concerns are expressed as he ponders the systemic friction between natural and man-made spaces. “All of the work was completed in a month,” says Scaria.
The artist, who has long been concerned with environmental issues, says that while the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns have deeply affected people and the artist community, he doesn’t want to believe that it has heightened his concerns.
Scaria, who recently taught for a semester at Shiv Nadar University, adds, “One subject was art and ecology. Effective teaching guarantees that you will delve deeper into the topic through extensive reading – that’s why I went into more detail on ecological issues. In the face of phenomena like urbanization, one seems to think that everything is going haywire. However, when you study in detail, there are bigger concerns that there is not much we can do about and that will affect us immediately. Aren’t we seeing a multitude of changes in our own lives that have drastically affected us? The immediacy in everyone’s psyche is something that I have observed closely, an immediacy of the nature of the problem we face – changes will inevitably take place in our social system. “
While eNo Stone Unturned ‘explores the idea of restricted movement, Scaria says the initial lockdown left everyone completely isolated and stressed out, and it had a big impact on artists like him. “There’s this notion that because of the general nature of creating art, artists need complete isolation. But let’s not forget that we all draw energy from society. “
Talk to him about his fascination with spaces, and Scaria, a chronicle of urban spaces, says he’s intrigued by social interactive space and how it works. “Suppose that you perceive a multitude of social factors on a Sunday or Monday market. At the same time, however, cramped, man-made spaces are created because there is no planning or structural understanding. Nor do they boast any financial stability – be it a slum area or a lower-middle-class settlement. Different segments can be seen in architectural spaces. A lot of social information can be gathered by looking at these structures and how the citizenship of the people works in all of these different spaces. So, these are the things that interest me. There are endless acres of land around Delhi. Right now I’m in the Noida metropolitan area. The type of land, the layout of the subways, the way things work, everything has a very tragic story to tell at times because of the way the land was taken, how it was built and how it was given up … “
Talk to him about his video art, which he started pretty much in his career – in the 2000s, and the artist claims that he has always been fascinated by it because of his interest in cinema. “So there was some kind of aesthetic shift when this medium was taking place. Besides, I can never distance myself from the cinema. Video certainly added more layers to my practice. I take it as seriously as painting and sculpture because every time I express myself through this medium it opens several interesting doors. “
He adds that since the advent of Instagram and other social media platforms, many avenues have opened up for video art. “There are so many interesting videos in Tik-Tok format, with a lot of artistic sensitivity. You can see the reorganization of the popular understanding of culture in a twisted way, which I find very interesting. “
The artist, who also has plans for a feature film, is looking forward to some future projects. “A major exhibition was planned for July-August, which may be postponed. There is also an environment-related project with Khoj. “