(Manjunath Kamath starting the project Conscious-Sub-Conscious with Rain Clouds over Delhi)
Then it rains. Clouds break open and heaven thunders down with rage and fury, and make each citizen in
think about their past sins and do atonement. Delhi comes to a stand still when it rains. Here none curse none anymore. People have learned to take ennui with equanimity, sitting inside their vehicles trapped in traffic jams they look wistfully at their fellow sufferers on the road. Vagabonds take shelter under the half built flyovers, mad men and women urinate in public exposing their private parts to shame the sane ones in the vehicles. Child beggars enjoy the bulldozers and drills penetrating the earth of Delhi , repeatedly raped by the Public Works Department (PWD) and the greedy contractors. Delhi
Dead bodies don’t float in waters here; they float in television screens and newsprint wet with water, ink and desire oozing out of advertisements.
If you think about absurdity of life, it is here, it is here, it is here.
And from that thought of absurdity starts the ‘spontaneous drawings’ of Manjunath Kamath at the walls of Gallery Espace,
. New Delhi
Rain or no rain, Manjunath couldn’t have missed yesterday’s morning. He was there on time, while his friends including me spent hours in traffic jams.
With no particular thought, Manjunath dipped his brush in a bottle of black poster color held out to him by Krishna Naik, Manjunath’s faithful studio manager and assistant.
From the ceiling of the gallery, a hand came out and it turned a huge knob on. The right hand of God. “Indra has gone on leave,” Manjunath chuckled later on. “Delhi PWD head has taken over.”
(Rain makers- L to R- Murali Cheeroth, K.M.Madhusudhanan, Babu Eshwar Prasad, Manjunath Kamath and Chintan Upadhyay before the Rain Clouds)
From the knob pipes started growing into different directions, jutting themselves into clouds pregnant with rain; some pipes were leaking. Then there was rain, drenching the vast area of nothingness with nothingness. Then suddenly you realize that everything is submerging; a traffic signal post, an apartment building, an upturned car, unidentified objects and the finger tip of a memorial sculpture, showing no direction.
A befitting image for a rainy day has born out of Manjunath’s brush, within no time. One who remembers the videos and paintings of this artist, they would obviously know from where these images come. The real memory drawing.
(Chintan Updhyaya, KM Madhusudhanan, Babu Eshwar Prasad and Murali Cheeroth at Gallery Espace)
Manjunath, however, does not stop there. On the left corner of the wall, he draws a wire plugging into an actual socket, as if the whole scene was electrified or was an electronically manipulated vision. And on the right hand lower corner, on the floor, he draws a bathroom drain cover and paints the ‘white’ water flowing into it. “There may be seeping in the lower ground floor,” Manjunath raises panic amongst the gallery staff, at least for a moment.
Yeh…Dilli hai meri jaan (My dear, this is
Delhi)….The Delhi of today; a rain soaked . “We need to call some plumbers,” pointing at the image of the leaking pipe near the ceiling, Manjunath tells us. Clouds spread all over the ceiling, one by one. Delhi
A man with a goat’s mask appears on the left side wall. Then, a masked figure with a dark spot of his eyes, then they multiply.
(The Goat...oh that is not the title or something....but it starts like that- Manjunath Kamath at Work)
Manjunath’s protagonists have come to visit him, finally, not in a retrospective, but in a moment of spontaneous drawing. The characters come in search of the author. We have seen them in his different paintings, sculptures and in videos but in different guises. Now they are here together, collapsing into each other, vying for the viewer’s attention.
(A host of protagonists from Manjunath's repertoire of images come to manifest in his drawings)
Pallavi Paul of CNN-IBN sits silently in a corner and watches a frenzied artist working on. Artist Babu Eshwar Prasad ruminates on the images and tells how Manjunath is spontaneous in his works and totally un-intimidated by the prying eyes. Renu Modi, the director of Gallery Espace admires her protégé’s work and wonders how he could just create a bubble of loneliness around him while working.
(Pallavi Paul of CNN-IBN conversing with Manjunath Kamath)
(Renu Modi, director of Gallery Espace admiring Manjunath's work)
By evening, the rains had subsided, but still it reminded its potentials through the occasional darkening of the sky over
. From Mumbai Chintan Upahdyaya had flown in to see his friend working. From Delhi , Murali Cheeroth came in to be at Manjunath’s side. Film maker and artist, K.M.Madhusudhanan braved the rains and traffic jams to reach the gallery by nightfall. Bangalore
(Murali Cheeroth comments on Manjunath's works while Chintan Upadhyaya looks on)
(Babu Eshwar Prasad, JohnyML, Pallavi Paul and Renu Modi at Gallery Espace)
By that time, Manjunath had progressed to other walls with the images of foliages that obviously came from his Mangalore memories. And a huge figure appeared in another walls with hydra like hairs.
(My memories begin here...amongst these foliages......Manjunath Kamath)
’s topography, at present Manjunath’s drawings look disparate and non-narrative. But any trained eyes could see how it is going to develop into a narrative on the city of Delhi Delhi tinged with colors and smells of a beautiful childhood spent in Mangalore, Mysore and . Bangalore
(Man and the Masters of the Universe- Manjunath at work)
If I say, it feels like Istambul by Orhan Pamuk, oh my dear Lotus Eater, will you be offended? Or will you laugh?