Millennium Post

Unveiling crystal Cities in Mumbai

Panda’s ideas of realism and his brilliance of evocative patterns are seen in the manner in which he weaves human behaviour with islands of existential fantasy, writes Uma Nair.

Echoes of resonance and intensity come to the fore in Jagannath Panda's solo unveiling Crystal Cities that travels to Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum from Vadehras in Delhi. Odisha born Panda who hails from a family of pundits is a voracious reader and his realistic brilliance is used for creating works that have a satirical slant. At Vadehras his sculptures though only four in number have a salient story to tell.

Bird Heads
Monumental bird heads of fibreglass created out of mixed media are a mélange of acrylic, fabric, plywood, glue, fiberglass, rexine, iron, plastic, and crystal. "When I create these fibre glass sculptures I'm making a statement about society and the little gaps that exist in our everyday life," says Panda. Profiteer is a magnificent crows head that has infinite details-while the naturality is attractive in a domineering way it has an intriguing lower side that mirrors a metropolis. "The many elements of this metropolis is the reality," says Panda. "What you see on top is the ugly face of domination and greed and evil. The metropolis is dark and it is created out of toys that I take from my son and his friends. I find that toys give me an architectural advantage and they are able to speak at many levels, about different levels of society."
'The Custodian of Untold Truth' is another riveting creation that seems more of a spectacle. It is the bottom created out of a spade and a mirror that speak to us about equivocal echoes. "I have always tried to mix mythology with reality," says Panda. "So when I create details from my sculptures, I use motifs from traditional Indian art, and interiors and décor with images from Western and Indian contemporary culture, to explore the effects of globalisation and rapid development of our country. I feel in the name of exploitation and greed and selfishness there is one part of society that gets left out and no one addresses these issues of untold truths."
Metropolis on wooden boards
The ground floor at Vadehras has a small room dedicated to his wooden works that run like a recurring series in architectural articulations. Panda posits many generations and their existence, there is an overlap of his deepened understanding of the religion of stylised gods, culled from his connections with ancestral Orissa, and the many chaotic indices of the skyscraper apartment blocks of the living habitations, in a developing high rise settlements of India. His ideas of realism and his brilliance of evocative patterns are seen in the manner in which he weaves human behaviour with islands of existential fantasy.
"I like to work with the juxtaposition of diverse materials, I have used photographs taken all over the world, drawings and small toys again from my son's collection, they become the found objects that create stories at many levels," he explains. "When I use so many elements in a single work it enables me as an artist to speak with multiple voices. I have always had a great deal of interest in architecture and design and I use the standard technique of collage as well as assemblage to create these little works that speak of dwelling in a metropolis." Interesting how these collages are so seamlessly assembled that they become testimonies of urban dwellings, they become surreal statements that serve as functional and fictitious vessels of both memory as well as a mirror to a life of challenges, in which experiences and dreams are stored even as it reflects contradictory realities."
Paradoxes of Crystal Cities
In his paintings, Panda has a knack for making the natural and the manmade collide as well as coalesce. Panda illustrates not just the everyday paradoxes that are inherent in India's development and prosperity and profound destruction of the environment, but he also tells us how human beings, and traditional value systems are eroded by modernisation. In his 'Alchemy of Dwelling I and II' he creates a corollary of contextual conversations in the interiors of a home — the cross section shows souvenirs and objects that become collectibles, but these two canvasses are also a poignant commentary on the continual cycle of destruction, construction, and regeneration at play in modern-day urban households.
"I tried to create a scenario in which the interiors of a home can actually tell us that it can reflect the personal journal and patterns of livelihood among India's new and visible metropolis dwelling communities," says Panda. "Its the story of how the modern has come to be equated with the urban and we have steadily constructed a language of alienation that is contained paradoxically within images of our settlement so there is no sentiment, there is only consumption and excesses."
This show that travels to Mumbai is a testimony of how easily Panda moves from sculpture and installations to painting, as he effortlessly exploits the possibility of narrative unfolding that the mediums afford.
Irrespective of small or large format, Panda works through the patterns of opposites, the enforcement of structures and the evacuation of life forms, where time is contemporary but is defined by the imminent loss of value systems. Panda's understanding of the matrix of the shifts of power gives us a modern-day commentary of contemporary, economic and social tensions that arise and awaken a new dialogue of political poetics.

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