Basel diaries: Tripura born Rathin Barman

Basel diaries: Tripura born Rathin Barman

Rathin Barman's works are a mirror of an architectural atlas. Take the rural and the urban and couple it to the impact of globalization, technology, and materialism. For art lovers in Basel, you can step into the artistic realms of this brilliant artist in the statements section at Art Basel: Experimenter's Booth N5, Hall 2.1.

Architectural elements become the leitmotif when you see how he addresses the constant cycle of building – destroying – rebuilding and the intersection of art and architecture; as he raises questions about the life of materials and the potential value of detritus in the modern millennium. Two series spell the domain of dynamics in memory and time - 'Notes of altered space' and 'Yes this used to be a verandah'.

Notes of altered space

'Notes of altered space' consists of a suite of works created with materials such as brass, coarse pumice, welded steel, board and paint and ink and brush on paper.

It is the litheness of lines and the skeletal structure of the artwork that forms the crucible of his visual practice. Expressions and concepts vie with the visual landscape of tangible and intangible in a series of minimalist renditions.

Barman's brilliance is seen in his ability to weave in his engineering knowledge to create drawings and sculptural pieces that break moulds and force us to look at novel ways of translating idioms.

Yes this used to be a veranda

In his 'Yes this used to be a veranda' series, he creates unique structures that belong to the mosaic of memory. These architectural modules work on his fascination with the past/old buildings and their fate in rapidly changing urban spaces all over the world.

In these works also, he explores making moulds out of brass, concrete, steel, charcoal and board even as he subtly weaves in the value of decadence interconnected with humanity's habitation and roots.

Recontextualised architectural spaces

Welded steel, GFRC Board and paint come together to create stunning series of sculptures that vivify the arches and long columns an architectural detail that has been recontextualised to speak of the past as well as the present. What ensues is the brilliance of composition as well as the minimalist edge that breaks down embellishment and decoration to only give us sleek lines that speak of the dictums and dictates of design in architecture.

Tripura born Barman possesses a deep understanding of rural as well as urban dynamisms in development.

According to the Experimenter Gallery, Barman examines the nuances of the modern built environment as a tool for understanding socio-political history.

The project uses architecture as an anchor to explore the consequences of the political and economic upheaval of some 50 years. It also proposes a possible future for the structures built and occupied by migrants.

Collective recollection

Architecture is characteristically perceived as a fixed entity, central to validating history yet simultaneously existing outside it. To Barman, however, the architectural firm has also served as an anthropological tool, in building a collective recollection of a place and its people.

His understanding of rural elements within urban environments become a corollary of juxtaposed counterpoints in conversation.

Meticulous moorings vie with delicate rigidity. Within the construct of the linear dictates of the line are hidden multiple stories.

These works are both site-specific and universal: they invite ruminations of time and space as they speak to us about consumer indices and the thirst for development at the expense of shelving and destroying vintage vitality.

Art Basel in Switzerland runs from June 14–17.

Uma Nair

Uma Nair

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