For Treibor Mawlong, an emerging artist from the Khasi hills of Meghalaya, people’s relationships to nature and its elements are as personal and potent as they are to each other. Theirs is a closed-circuit world nurtured by the pride of belonging, inner revolution and necessitated self-sufficiency. Guided by autobiographical events, Mawlong relies on a kind of telescopic observation – first separating, then internalizing – to depict larger stories about the human condition, which he explores in expressionistic frames of passion, honor, love, pride, grief, loss and change.
Once Around the Sun is a solo exhibition of Mawlong’s wood-cuts and drawings that recognize the dignity of labor amidst the unevenness of development in contemporary reality alongside systemic issues like poverty, lack of education, inaccessibility to healthcare and infrastructure and a disconnection from the modern world in the Meghalayan village of Mawbri, situated in the remote district of Mawkyrwat.
Inspired by forms of the graphic novel and comic books, Mawlong’s wood-cuts are sequential stories that unfold in narrative time even within a flattened, often dramatic cropping. A jagged and persistent darkness glitches in his wood-cuts. Rampant though it is, the inky blackness of his mise-en-scène compositions is interrupted by slivers of white, a kind of anti-space that reforms the dynamics of negative and positive space, creating an eternal, spectral appearance. A source of light is self-generated perhaps from a screen, a tree or a caged chicken and travels through the composition with an enigmatic radiance that encourages a textual reading of his work, and often enough, Mawlong includes text himself – a desirous gesture that begets understanding, acknowledgement and most importantly, human witness. Mawlong also creates intricate graphite and ink drawings that impress upon the paper the weight of the story being told, rendered with thoughtful details and layered, as are his wood-cuts, with distinct plots about the extraordinariness of an everyday existence.