'Halo x body two' by Tallur
The traditional Asian votive figure at Frieze has been inviting attention and awe – as it opens out commentaries that go back and forth in time and history
A votive figure at Nature Morte's booth at Frieze, New York has been drawing in the crowds. One look at LN Tallur's 'Halo x Body Two' created out of bronze, concrete and iron and you sense that the sculptor, the thinker and the creator, Tallur, revels in re-writing the past in the perspective of the present, as he skims through the threshold of commentaries that flit across the borders in time.
The circular serrated iron plate has an uncanny sharpness as it makes us think of Tallur as an artist who sheds light on the boundaries in between ideal yet fundamental ideas deeply rooted in human life, such as life and death, thoughts and words, icons and bodies, and past and present.
Over the years, he has been using sculptures, wall-pieces, interactive works and specific installations to expose daily life absurdities and anxieties, characteristic of contemporary society. Tallur's complex sculptural works reference subjects as wide-ranging as Hindu iconography, popular culture, as well as broader political and societal issues, such as the nature of value and the globalized economy. Tallur studied art and museum studies, and his sculptures frequently appropriate classical Indian works of art or reference museum displays and the institutional presentation of objects. His work incorporates handmade crafts, found objects, organic and industrial material; symbols of the development of India, often creating a correlation between traditional and contemporary customs.
The traditional Asian votive figure at Frieze has been inviting attention and awe – as it opens out commentaries and references that go back and forth in time and history. In 'Halo X Body – Two 2017', Tallur has created the figure as an ensemble of materials. Measuring 36×20, 6×64 inches – Tallur says: "A body is the personification of a being, but the image of that personification may or may not fit within that body… there is always a tension between these."
Tallur's series of a man with halo began in 2002. "My series began with 'Man with Halo 2002', 'Man carrying Halo 2008', 'Man carrying Hole 2010', 'Man with hole 2012', 'Halo X Body 2014 & 2018' – born one after another! For all these works, the first trigger was in Baroda Museum, where I saw a bronze sculpture, in which, the halo was fixed to a protruding rod from the head of the sculpture. It was a technical solution to hold a halo in the sculpture. That lead me to all these works. Shellac is excreta of an insect (Lack). I covered the sculpture with shellac to hide the halo, but Halos are difficult to hide. They come out to show their existence. So now, I have tried to hide it under the concrete. Still, the halo has come out."
Tallur contrasts the parallel vernacular traditions of folk artisans who are less lauded than their classical cousins by employing traditional craftsmen to create his stand-alone sculptures. "History is about traditions that go beyond time, and we are so closely linked by it," says Tallur. He points out the situational irony, "We might view our evolution through technological advancements – but when we look closer we realize that culture does not progress chronologically."
Tallur the artist uses materials and tools to create sculptures that have a keen technological edge. He also weaves in historicity into his creation to state that ultimately our creativity is an amalgam, constantly reinvented and inspired anew by overlapping layers of archaeological history, born from the bedrock of cultural fragments distilled over time.
Tallur explains, "History is not just a mirror for our past. It is a mirror for both our present and future. Sometimes, this past has more mobility than our present or future. That is why history is always re-written to suit our present needs."
The New York Times eloquently described Tallur's work: "Each of his pieces is like a miniature curiosity cabinet, hand-assembled down to the smallest detail and packed with charmed and puzzling surprises."