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ANKON MITRA'S PLEATED POEMS

Dynamically imagining light – the source of cosmic existence – Ankon Mitra crafts lamps that narrate stories with vivid expressions and thoughtful celestial undertones

A source of light is a harbinger of energy. Lighting is instrumental in determining our moods and the characteristics of a space. How a space makes us feel is to a very large extent determined by the quality and nature of light in that space. In this collection, the source of light is additionally imbued with a positive symbolic or iconographic significance, calling to the mind of the viewer a facet of world history or culture, and ultimately calling our attention to our singular, simplest and strongest connection with the cosmos – the light that we receive from the Sun.

At the Apparao Galleries in Chennai, Ankon Mitra's Pleated Poems was about weaving light into pleated aesthetics in goat's skin. An architect by profession and origami maestro, Ankon invites us into a haze of poetic intonations with his brilliance and his resonant rhythms that dig deep into Indian, Japanese and abstractionist expression. A series of lamps talk to us about ideations and synergies in light and space, and materials and the imperative philosophy that decides design spatialities. The great architect and philosopher Louis Kahn said: "Design is not making beauty, beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love." Pleated Poems is about Kahn's reflections.

"The Tungusic Shamanic Lamp converts an idea of powerful reverberating sound into an idea of a shamanic light. The light is a mandala that seeks to imbue the power of the vibrations of the original artifact and transforms them into a visual field emanating from the light," states Ankon.

The Taj Dome Lamp echoes history and tales from yore. "It emanated from a very romantic notion of the architecture dome of the eponymous monument seen on a moonlit light. The luminosity of the white Makrana marble is sought to be translated into an inner light and multiplied manifold. Sometimes, a feeling induced by an external phenomena becomes so soul stirring, that the observer and the observed merge and become indistinguishable," he adds.

The Kassena Burkina Faso Lamp harks to the primal tribal patterns of an African tribe, which on closer scrutiny reveals that the primal is no different from the primeval geometries of the universe. "The Kassena use patterns that repeat everywhere in the cosmos. They tell us that if we keep the doors of our perception open, even a humble table lamp could become a portal to connect to the magic and myths of the cosmos," he elaborates.

At the scale of the Solar System, rather splendid and awe-inspiring geometric phenomena keep taking place, with us inward-looking insular humans hardly aware or even concerned with such cosmic phenomena. The dance of Venus as it revolves around the Sun with respect to the Earth, is one such magical happenstance. In eight Earth years, Venus completes 13 revolutions around the Sun, and because of its elliptic orbit, with the Earth as centre, this cosmic dance can be mapped as a Pentacle. "The Venus Pentaculum Petal Lamp is named and designed after this mind-altering pattern, encouraging those who hear the name of the lamp to become curious and discover a facet of the Solar System never taught to us in school, and then forever have that sense of wonderment, whenever the light of this lamp is switched on in front of their eyes," reflects Ankon.

The Cretan Labyrinthine Lamp recalls an ancient ritual symbol – a maze that needs to be traversed to reach from darkness to the light. The lamp form is reminiscent of a cratered asteroid (albeit with a very structured surface geometry). The form is at once of space, as of this Earth.

The Potloi-Kumil Lamp is inspired by Indian indigenous arts. The traditional 'Can-Can' of the Meitei tribe of Manipur, is the Potloi Kumil, a beautiful barrel-shaped long and stiff skirt with a structured frilly top, which girls wear when they perform the Jagoi. "The character usually portrayed is Radha, the consort of Krishna. As a child, I wanted to become a Manipuri dancer, and even agree to feminine garb, just to wear a Potloi-Kumil. The fascination endures to this day. It is one of the most beautiful and graceful traditional arrangements of India, and its transformation into a lamp was altogether whimsical, fascinating and immensely satisfying," he reminisces.

The Quivering Trinity is based on an old Mandarin story. It denotes the interpretation of three wise men nodding their heads in unison. Another childhood fascination with nodding/bobbing head dolls is translated into Origami reality. It is surreal to see this installation as it gently nods on a spring wire, like poppy flowers in the wind. The beauty of this small but quaint collection lies in the many sensations that it evokes in the viewers and you see that Ankon wanted to create a sense of exploring, to allow people to imagine things that could not possibly have been imagined otherwise, to create an aura of light zones within the shades of pleated poems.

Uma Nair

Uma Nair

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