Wednesday 11 April 2012

Read about 'I'm thrust... Back to my Childhood' IV (2011) by S. Ravi Shankar

‘I’m thrust… Back to my childhood’ IV (2011) by S. Ravi Shankar
Pen and ink on paper
22 x 29 inches

In this 2011 pen and ink drawing on paper, S. Ravi Shankar shows new diversity in his interest in the conceptual meanings of surface. For the first time that I have seen, surface is used to investigate time and movement. When I spoke to Shankar about this work, he described his memory as a child of standing outside a favourite teashop in his area, effectively killing time and watching the world go by. The teashop owner would shout at him to move on and he instead would take on an even lazier (and in India also disrespectful, particularly toward those senior) pose of one leg cocked up against the other and hands behind the head, as if he had the time for sunbathing. In this work Shankar captures both poses at the same time, the more recent pose being the one more finished, darker in tone and lifted forward with white outline. The previous pose appears to sit behind this pose, leaving a remaining surface imprint like a head would on a cushion. Where past pressure or energy is exerted by the boy, on the extremities of the body, the hands and feet, the drawing is darker gradually becoming lighter and blended in more and more with the surroundings as it reaches the rest of the body which is in ‘the present’. It is as if we the viewer are collecting past experiences as well as more recent/present experience from the image or that the artist is implying that the real world absorbs all happenings. Or perhaps that all past experiences have a relationship to events that follow. This idea in turn is given even deeper meanins when one notes the similarities of parts of both poses to the image of Christ on the cross, an image of past sacrifice for future forgiveness. We can see that Shankar, a Hindu himself, is aware of the connotations of this pose as he writes stigmata into the back of the outstretched hands and accentuates the crossbar of the counter behind the boy and deliberately places a vertical edge subtly behind the child creating a crucifix-like symmetry.  

S. RAVI SHANKAR: BACK TO HIS CHILDHOOD opens at The Noble Sage Art Gallery, London on Friday 20th April 2012, 6-8.30pm. To find out more or RSVP to attend, email  

For more works by S. Ravi Shankar, click here.     

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