Praneet Soi | For and Against Narrative: D-53 Defence Colony, New Delhi

30 September - 29 October 2016

For and Against Narrative emerges from a conversation the artist posits between the constructed image and the gestural. Having immersed himself for years in working with media imagery, he shifts back to the hand in this new body of work to rethink political praxis. It is a detour, designed not to create a hierarchy but to question the countless communications and exchanges that punctuate the space between.
Earlier this year Soi was awarded a residency at the Mondriaan Foundation's Pompgemaal Atelier in Huisduinen. The cold winter light of Northern Netherlands inspired Soi to use silverpoint, marking the return of the landscape to his oeuvre. The process of silverpoint is irreversible and forces the hand to respond to the vista in a very particular way. The artist approaches the landscape as a motif, a tradition that traces its lineage to that of landscape painting from Santiniketan in Bengal.

Moving away from the landscapes are the larger canvases in which a multiplicity of subject matter creates a narrative of flux. In the two canvases, Still- Life and September, Soi brings together different registers of image, scale and narrative intent. The larger, monumental imagery, blocked out in chunks of color and filled in with painted lines, is reminiscent of the artist’s earlier works and points to the works of the Progressives. These images are activated by their proximity to the smaller, iconic images that proliferate on the canvas, wrought crisplyin miniature format. What this juxtaposition achieves is an articulation of the artist’s gaze that looks both to the media as well as his immediate surroundings in search of narrative ground.
In the work Ashraf Ghani outlines his Vision, the artist creates an atmospheric rendering in charcoal upon canvas of the current Afghan President surrounded by written excerpts from a speech Ghani delivered in the US last year. In March 2015 the artist was a Smithsonian Scholar at the Sackler and Freer Galleries in Washington DC where he was studying ancient Islamic paintings. While in Washington Soi also attended lectures at think-tanks such as the Council of Foreign Relations, The Brookings Institution, and the Carnegie to name a few. An understanding of the currently disturbed geopolitical reality of the regions, whose exquisite paintings Soi was researching, aided Soi in making a link between the miniature format and his use of political imagery.  The Bauhaus inspired display system points to the High Modernism that has in part ignited the thinking that lies behind the new body of work that is on display here.