Spaces of the ‘self’
The very first impression a viewer gets of Ch. Manohar’s works is the amazing sense of space. In this space that the works span, the artist treads to make opposing polarities within the self and in nature confront in a dialogue. The dichotomies begin at the physical level with the scale of works being either very huge or very small. On the conceptual plane it gets reflected through historical facts or fiction of the myths and fantasies.
Manohar’s sojourn into these contrasting realms begins at the ‘Keerthi Toranas’ or the gateways of his native*. This piece of history, the space, that once was, is recollected and desired. It often then returns in fantasies or private myths, until an encounter with the ‘real’ brings in a deep sense of loss. The burden of this is carried by the human form shown with a hollowed torso or a head with empty eyes at once representing a threshold and a void. Taking a positive stance Manohar attempts at realizing the ‘self’. This perhaps manifests in the sculptures of faces wherein the oval/ circular shapes are enclosed and entangled by criss cross threads in rectangular/ square frames. The artist also draws inspiration from various international art movements and trends.
To break away from the matrices and monotony that life imposes, Manohar moves on to create sculptural installations where the possibility of re-experiencing oneness with an immediate environment or the hazard of losing oneself in a boundary- less expanse augments. In a recent endeavour, called ‘Trance Existence’, spectators along with the artist partake in such a nebulous situation. One of these installations showcases life size human forms packaged in aluminum foils inhabiting a topsy- turvy world represented by the real tree branches and wooden tables etc. Here they are sometimes shown as caught up helplessly or at times moving ahead towards unknown horizons.
Manohar’s freestanding fiberglass ‘heads’ and ‘human forms’ resonate with vitality. In one of the compositions/ installation a set of male forms are rendered with a slight expressionist tinge. These figures reach out with high expectations to a large blue synthetic bag that is suspended from above. These along with other standing male forms are poised to display introspective spirituality with their larger than life scale and the iconic stature.
The sculptural ventures nevertheless metaphorically portray the quest of a ‘self’, while the paintings offer possibilities of explication of the search through kinesthetic psychological narration The overall compositions leave the brush marks indicating the labour and energy invested in the process of painting them. For, Manohar believes that art like life and the self is a process, which unfolds, like his lengthy paintings, with every passing phase. Therefore his paintings like the installations are spontaneous and open ended.
Dr. B.S. Rohini Iyengar
Art Historian/ Critic
*Ch. Manohar was born in Warangal district, of Telangana,(a new state)India. The place was ruled by the Kakatiyas(1083 CE to 1323 CE), who patronaged several temples. An important part of the architecture is the Keerthi Torana or the gateway.