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Avinash Veeraraghavan is a contemporary Indian artist who draws on his interest in the visual language of popular culture and digital imaging to create graphic books, layered prints, and multichannel video installations. His interest in visuals extends to images of all kinds, from photographs, patterns in print and textiles, wallpaper patterns, wrapping paper to motifs taken from different cultures. Veeraraghavan has been involved with the practice of image construction through meticulously manipulated digital images that are skilfully layered and juxtaposed to open up new possibilities of meaning. The complex visual collages reflect a deep-rooted and often manic exploration of the structure of emotions and the interstices of the mind.
In 2011 his work was part of a two-person show titled Crazy Jane and Jack the Journeyman at Galerie Krinzinger in Vienna. His work has been selected to be shown at the Prague Biennale in 2011 in a section titled, Crossroads: India Escalate.
Previously Veeraraghavan has participated in many Indian and international shows including Indian Highway, Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark (2010) and Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo (2009); Still Moving Image, curated by Deeksha Nath, Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi; Post Visual World, curated by Gitanjali Dang, Priyasri Gallery, Mumbai, both in 2008. I Fear, I Believe, I Desire, curated by Gayatri Sinha at Gallery Espace, New Delhi (2007); Urban Manners, curated by Adelina von Furstenberg, Art For The World at Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2007); Watching Me, Watching India, curated by Gayatri Sinha and Celina Lunsford, Fotografie Forum international & Kommunale Galerie, Frankfurt (2006); Around Architecture, curated by Marta Jakimowicz, Colab, Bangalore (2006); Indian Summer, curated by Henri Claude Cousseau, Deepak Ananth and Jany Lauga, Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris (2005); Dispelling Asian Stereotypes, Public Art Project, Denmark (2004); City Park, Project Arts Centre, Dublin (2003).
Born in 1975 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Avinash Veeraraghavan did a post-school programme at the Centre for Learning in Bangalore under the guidance of Andrea Anastasio in 1995 and worked for short periods at Studio Sowden and Studio Fronzoni in Milan. He also studied book design at Tara Publishing under the guidance of Rathna Ramanathan in 2000.
In 2002, Avinash authored "I Love My India. Stories for a City” which was published by Tara Publishing, Chennai and Dewi Lewi Publishing, London in 2004.
I Love My India
I Love My India is a visual journey through Indian cities from a rare non-western point of view. (It) celebrates billboards, street-life, kitsch and popular culture. Unusually printed on uncoated stock paper, it is a bright pastiche of images born of everyday urban aesthetics. The material comes from various city streets with their mundane architecture, construction sites, traffic and images from popular culture —from cinematic posters to sentimental literary images, to those relating to archaic myths and to utilitarian signboards. The book moves through the spaces and signs of the city — both imaginative and physical — commenting on the complex and often surreal forms of human arrangements. Using digital as well as manual cut-and-paste techniques, he 'collected pictures from all over and reconstructed an imaginary, generic city'. Divided into three sections – Billboard City, Weak Architecture and Remote City, the book juxtaposes images without any evident hierarchy. In 2007, the artist made a video using select spreads from the book for an exhibition, Urban Manners at Hangar Bicocca in Milan.
The year 2003 saw Veeraraghavan use interesting photographic techniques to produce a large format print on semi-gloss coated paper, titled Osmosis. Manipulating the tonalities of black-and-white inkjet printing and through the interplay of details, he produced a sensuous jigsaw puzzle – densely entangled figures of copulating nudes came together to conjure up a 'paradise' of winged butterflies.
Another solo in 2004 took Veeraraghvan's scrutiny of the strangeness of perception further. This untitled exhibition questioned the limits of sight playing optical tricks on the viewers. The show was made to resemble a fair or playground. White cotton curtains created a labyrinth, while wires studded with coloured light bulbs dangled from the ceilings. The last installation was called How Many Shadows Have You?, and comprised tremulous, multi-hued shadows of viewers on gallery walls. A series of seven photographic prints made from unexposed negatives also reflected passersby in their colourful depths.
In 2006, Veeraraghavan's solo Homesick was exhibited at GALLERYSKE, Bangalore. Working with digital prints, designs and video installations in his show, Avinash Veeraraghavan relied on the camera image to draw into focus the connection between direct viewing and the construction of reality.
Through his works, Veeraraghavan has relentlessly questioned objectivity in photography and has shown how the artist plays the role of a person who stimulates the subjective self-awareness of the spectator. In a two-channel video with sound, titled Home Sweet Home, a close-up of a watchful eye looking through a peep-hole is projected across a video of a layered waterfall.
Homesick was also part of a two-person show at Project 88 in Mumbai. In addition to his homesick work, there were also four prints on display, all titled Sorry, Wrong Number. In the four images on view the artist's torso appears to twist, bend or expand in the frame even as it is hemmed in by a multiplicity of images of apparently inconsequential detail. This is a close up of multiple perspectives of the everyday—the view of the unmade bed, table top, pile of clothes all accruing to a generic disorder.
Gate Crash, 2008
In 2008, Veeraraghavan's work Gate Crash was first shown at Krinzinger Projekte in Vienna. In Gate Crash, Avinash Veeraraghavan has created heavily collaged images that conjure up different realities in their layers. The prints consist of two layers each, the first with images of the artist's old clothes and toys, and double exposed on top are appropriated images of dollhouses. The dollhouses and toys reference an aspect of childhood that is at times childlike and at others childish. They also highlight a desire to live and function in a make believe world, one that imitates and duplicates the world outside but is in reality a private one. An opaque layer of clothes and toys on the surface prevents any further insight, annulling the illusion of depth carried by the photographs of the dollhouses. They are described as “psychic shimmers devoid of narrative, but derived from the images of the flotsam and jetsam of everyday lives.” A video piece entitled Hurricane provides background laughter in combination with snippets of Bach.
Toy Story, 2009
Toy Story, Veeraraghavan’s most recent solo at GALLERYSKE, comprised prints, a video, objects and a little book and had critic and curator, Marta Jakimowicz write,
“Avinash Veeraraghavan’s new exhibition at Galleryske again brings a fascinating layering of images and sensations that ambiguously oscillate between reality and fantasy, childhood atmosphere and adult perception, between literal roughness and poetry, innocent beauty and morbidity, its many elements permeating and reflecting one another with some clash or merely gap and some complementary qualities.”
The show used cheap, plastic toys of the kind that are found on the pavements of India as a central reference. In addition to the ten photographic prints of staged sites of destruction using plastic toys that have been set up, there were also two object pieces – the first a set of five tiny plastic toy suitcases containing different traces of the artist's body – fingernails, hair, coffee, anti-depressants and cigarette butts. And the other an unmade bed, with a pile of tiny cheap toys spilled over. There was also a primarily graphic collection of collages in a book titled, amfastasleep.
For his 2011 show titled Crazy Jane and Jack the Journeyman at Gallerie Krinzinger in Vienna, Avinash used media like wood inlay and embroidery with beads as well as digital prints and a video installation to continue his explorations of a journey of the mind where dreams and reality overlap and sometimes converge.
In 2009 Veeraraghavan was the recipient of the Illy Sustain Art prize presented by illycaffe (in collaboration with ARCO Madrid) for his work The Deafening.
Crazy Jane and Jack the Journey Man, Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna
Indian Highway, Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark
Urban Manners 2, curated by Adelina Von Furstenberg, Art for The World at SESC Pompeia, São Paulo, Brazil
GALLERYSKE for Gallery BMB, BMB Gallery, Mumbai
Toy Story, GALLERYSKE, Bangalore (solo)
Group show, Lawrence Eng Gallery, Vancouver
Indian Highway, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo
For Life: The Language of Communication, Tilton Gallery, New York
Gate-Crash, Krinzinger Projekte, Vienna (solo)
Still Moving Image, Curated by Deeksha Nath, Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi(cat)
CURRENT, curated by Nivedita Magar, featuring works by Avinash Veeraraghavan, Sakshi Gupta, Minam A, and Sreshta Premnath at GALLERYSKE, Bangalore
Post Visual World, curated by Gitanjali Dang, Priyasri Gallery, Bombay
I Fear I Believe I Desire, curated by Gayatri Sinha, Gallery Espace, New Delhi
Urban Manners, curated by Adelina von Furstenberg, Art For The World at Hangar Bicocca, Milan
Project 88, Mumbai
Homesick, GALLERYSKE, Bangalore (solo)
Around Architecture, Curated by Marta Jakimowich, Colab, Bangalore
Watching me, Watching India, curated by Gayatri Sinha and Celina Lunsford, Fotografie Forum International and Kommunale Galerie, Frankfurt
with Love, curated by GALLERYSKE and Tilton Gallery, at Miami Design District
Indian Summer, Curated by Henri Claude Cousseau, Deepak Ananth and Jany Lauga [Ecole de Beaux Arts, Paris]
Recent Work, GALLERYSKE, Bangalore (solo)
Dispelling Asian Stereotypes, Public art project, Denmark
Sakshi Gallery, Bangalore (solo)
CITY PARK, Curated by Suman Gopinath and Grant Watson, Project Arts Centre, Dublin
Portraits, Sakshi Gallery, Bangalore (solo)
- Mathews, Adithi, Toy Story: Avinash Veeraraghavan http://www.mybangalore.com/article/toy-story-avinash-veeraraghavan.html/
- Dewi Lewis Publishing http://www.dewilewispublishing.com/PHOTOGRAPHY/ILMI.html Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- Ravindran, Shruti, The Self, Out There http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?235001
- De, Aditi, A City in the Mind, http://www.thehindubusinessline.in/life/2005/04/08/stories/2005040800130300.htm
- Jakimowicz, Marta, Collage Comes Alive http://archive.deccanherald.com/Deccanherald/jan172005/ar1.asp
- Asian Photography Blog http://chngyaohong.com/blog/contemporary/avinash-veeraraghavan/[unreliable source?]
- http://chngyaohong.com/blog/contemporary/avinash-veeraraghavan/[unreliable source?]
- Jakimowicz, Marta, The Chaos Chronicles, Art India Vol XII, Issue I
- Jakimowicz, Marta, Between the Static and the Dynamic, Art India Vol XI, Issue III
- Sinha Gayatri, curator's note for I Fear, I Believe, I Desire
- Johnson, Mia http://www.preview-art.com/previews/04-2009/contemporaryindia.html
- Interview with Jaideep Sen, Time Out Bengaluru
- Jakimowicz, Marta, Deccan Herald, http://www.deccanherald.com/content/18813/art-talk.html