MumbaiBijoy Jain/Studio Mumbai: Abhaya In the palm of our hand
Bijoy Jain returns to the gallery after his first solo exhibition in 2013. A practicing architect, Bijoy also has a functioning art practice, and Chemould Prescott Road has had an engagement with him ever since. Abhaya: In the palm of our hand is Bijoy Jain’s second solo exhibition at Chemould Prescott Road.
Art/Architecture or Architecture/Art: What comes before, what comes after is not a question that Bijoy Jain addresses and he has never felt the need to do so. His work as an architect has always been layered with artistic approaches: land art, conceptual practices, abstraction, expressionism, figuration, gestures, where form and formlessness merged into seamless areas, unfettered by boundaries.
Space, for Bijoy Jain, is a ‘container ’ rather than a challenge to “taming” and controlling it, and this exhibition, Abhaya: in the palm of our hand is an attempt to articulate this approach. The result could be ‘art objects’, they could also be architectural structures. Or they could be relics that have been collected over time. Memories, collective and/or collected is also a large part of what defines Bijoy’s art making process.
Studio Mumbai is a hub of activity at any time, and not just in terms of architectural drawings and design thinking. It is equally a space of materiality where experiments with construction, form, with pigment colour, with texture, with surface, with depth, with excavation, are constantly played out. If on a certain day you spot a structure which has taken a certain form, that form could have changed innumerable times by the time
you return. There is a sense of continual processing. Finality is not the purpose, and indeed there is not a systematic series of actions directed towards an end.
Abhaya: in the palm of our hand, is an exhibition whose concept has evolved over time. It began as a structured model, which over the past months has re-configured, re- structured a hundred times over – not just the space, but the way the objects would be viewed within it.
What Bijoy Jain has conceived through this exhibition at Chemould Prescott Road is not a mise en scène, but a mathematical configuration. In fact Bijoy has conceived this exhibition as he would approach any space – that of a landscape. Yet this is not a soliloqui. There is a constant outreach to the viewer, to become a part of the experience, where his or her own collective memories are embedded in the objects, the space and the way one views the space. If there are objects that dominate the space with scale, he would also counter that with objects that diminish – so as to give it humility, never to overawe or overtake the experience felt at that very moment. He sees the exhibition as a cosmic map, a mandala if you will, where the viewer’s movement within the space is circumambulatory – making his or her experience their’s to own in the hope that every time one took a different path the experience would change.
The viewer will also move in the ‘space of time’. Memory is essential. It is experienced not just through the various forms or spaces present in the exhibition. It is also the way that materials are recalled: like lime plaster, or the karvy plant, cowdung, basalt, ash, clay, banana fibre. Would the familiarity of these materials and forms (re-) construct the viewer’s own stories, one’s own recollections, own spaces?
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)