Riyas Komu, a Mumbai-based artist who showcased his collection, ‘Agampuram’ at the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa last year, talks to us about art and politics and how they collide in his works.
My creation titled ‘Agampuram’ is part of the project ‘A Tale of Two Cities: India and Sri Lanka’ curated by Renu Modi. It represents the confluence of two ancient cities that were crucial centres for Buddhism—Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka and Varanasi in India. In addition, some facets also draw inspiration from what I consider the history of life, the Sangha poetry.
The aim was to juxtapose the virtuous history of Buddhist teachings with the present-day political scenario, where one can see polarisation of society driven by religion, and an increasing fear of the sense of surveillance amongst people. At the same time, one can witness the awakening of the downtrodden and the ascent of suppressed languages. We are realising that the diversity in the subcontinent can’t be mobilised for a fascist ideology and my work depicts a hopeful future.
Present, Past, And Future
A lot of my work is centred around Gandhi, and the diabolical interpretation of him as a subject that seems to change conveniently with time. My work ‘Gandhi From Kochi’ at Kashi Art Gallery in Fort Kochi illustrates the agendas of political parties that oscillate between condemning and praising him.
I am deeply fascinated by Kochi. It is evocative, expressive, and full of surprises.The festival titled ‘Forming in the Pupil of An Eye’ features a total of 97 artists from 31 countries including Raul Zurita, Aanand,T Shanaathanan, Gary Hill, and many more. The Student’s Biennale, which is part of the main event, has on display 465 works of young students from 54 art institutions from the country.