AN ARTISTIC ODYSSEY
Multidisciplinary artist Manohar Chiluveru has created a wide repertoire of work in his career of more than two decades. His comfort with both two dimensional surfaces and three dimensional forms reflects in the diverse mediums and materials that have become a part of his versatile visual language. The symbiotic relationship developed between his sculptural projects and paintings provides an interesting insight into his creative process, which is intuitive and organic. The subject matter of his work has evolved broadly around a response to his environment, and a deep exploration into the human condition. While seeking increasing outreach and interaction through his projects, Chiluveru has also experimented with public performance and interactive art over the years.
Currently pursuing the international public art project Odyssey, the artist realized the making of a massive canvas painting in Rome, Italy at MAAM - (Museo dell'Altro e dell'Altrove di Metropoliz), having activated the same at the Pune Biennale in early 2017. Odyssey is a series of art works by Manohar Chiluveru, envisioned as a project that will travel to 24 capital cities around the globe. It is planned as a long term socio-cultural project that will result in the production of 24 large canvases, mapping the world through a metaphorical suggestion of 360 degrees of separation or continuity. The artist has also begun on one of these canvas works in Hyderabad, the city he resides in. Other canvases will be developed in the next 21 cities in collaboration with local artists. Processed during a structured travel plan, the artist will interact and create the canvases that are also a referral to 24 frames; a symbolic framework for motion and moving; it also encases the number of hours in a day. The extended project includes the public performative and collaborative event "The Race" involving diverse sections of people in general and creative people in particular, emulating the experience of a childhood game to spread a message.
Manohar Chiluveru’s opinion is that "Knowledge and creativity has to move and circulate in society in the way blood circulates in the body, otherwise we and society will be lifeless”.
His paintings are usually dynamic, brightly coloured canvases juxtaposing sometimes disconnected objects, locations and incidents into an ambiguous shifting landscape. Often vast in scale, these picture planes reference both memory and contemporary reality, embracing nature as well as the residues of technological and industrial activity and its continued presence in urban visual surroundings. Genderless figures stand against backgrounds that are part surreal, and part abstract, inviting viewers into tactile worlds of creation. The mixing of scale and narrative are devices the artist uses to support a framework of overlapping social commentary – he constantly builds interrelations between social structures, personal myths, collective history and global realities to create collages of fluid intensity. He is able to introduce poetry into landscape, bodily gesture and gaze, and provides the viewer with myriad entry points into the image – of both visual and cerebral nature. Often the paintings become references for sculptures and installations of equally grand scale. There is a layered combination of elements that provides an atmosphere for each painting – studied light and shade on volume, detailing of textures, sophisticated colour palettes and an overall evocation of streams of consciousness that attempt to surpass dimensions of reality.
While traveling with the works through 24 locations, the artist means to focus on meeting and building networks with creative professionals, artists, curators, policy makers, leaders, and the common man, all the while documenting places, art works, and recording interviews with cultural producers and professionals in the field. The context of the research will be directed towards "What Art Can do" in cultural, social and environmental spaces of study, particularly considering platforms like Biennales and Fairs and their meaning to those connected with art in direct and indirect ways. Through the 24 canvases, the artist will explore acts of creativity in the context of geographies, histories, social issues and also simply as a pure act of artistic expression in reaction and response to the experiences that artist will came across.
Brought up within a weaver’s community in the Southern Indian town of Warangal, young Manohar was deeply inspired by its classical heritage in architecture and sculpture – material remnants of the great Kakatiya dynasty that ruled the region. Absorbing from these sources, he went on to finish a post graduate education in fine arts in Hyderabad, a cosmopolitan and fast growing city with an illustrious cultural history. Extracting the most out of his training, he began to practice with varied mediums, not wanting to choose one over another as is the usual norm. In his early years the context of his work was fed by childhood experiences and the pulsating city life around him. Art became for him the means to express and communicate, what he couldn’t in words.
A retrospective view of Manohar Chiluveru’s work provides a view into his innate use of metaphor and symbol in order to create representations of concepts. Both paintings and sculptures contain motifs and forms from an urban world, swirling and dynamic, and movement that constitutes the flux that we live in. On the one hand he elaborated on the use of line in space, creating sinuous space drawings as it were; simultaneously he forged a deep relationship with solid form, volume and rigidity. His orientation also led him towards experimenting with fragile and destructible material like paper and cardboard. Meticulously constructed forms from these materials however did not stand the test of time and extreme climate.
Dedicatedly working with sculptural figuration, the artist has dealt with matters of immediate and universal concern – underlining an understanding of conflict between man and man, and man and nature, using references to classical and popular forms of expression as entry points for viewers’ engagement. Fiberglass, papier mache, cardboard, clay and metal construction, mixed media and human inclusion are all part of the list of materials that he continues to use as mediums, frequently playing with ambitious and overpowering scale. There is a deliberate mixing of metaphors in many of the works that leaves open-ended interpretations for a viewer to complete through personal experience and recognition.
Through his career, Chiluveru has attempted to formulate varied definitions of form and texture through his artworks – whether in canvases, sculpture, interactive performances or research projects. He has also explored digital collaging and other scientific and technological tools as a medium to investigate subjects from his environment. Deeply aware of the socio-political and cultural situations globally, and moved by acts of conflict, migration and dislocation, his current projects aim to create united networks around the globe using art as an interface for dialogue.
His journey has taken him from deep inspiration of Western artistic traditions, to an appreciation and reference of folk art forms from his own native land. He has developed an individualistic philosophy of life and art that allows him to address contemporary issues, and share them with an ever widening audience.
Lina Vincent Sunish
Curator, Arts researcher, Cultural project manager