Samit Das Uses Detritus to Examine Memory + History in ‘Bibliography in Progress’

One of the oldest adages known to people is often just a simple line: ‘Art is what artists do’, because art is valued in its own right, separate from the personas of artists themselves. But Delhi-based artist, Samit Das, returned from a 10 year hiatus to prove otherwise.

In his latest show ‘Bibliography in Progress’, Das, also a scholar on the histories of art from South Asia, blends archaeology, history, ethnography and legends to create his own visual voacbulary to express how personal ‘archives’ interact with space.

The collection, showcased, at TARQ and at the Clark House Initiative Colaba, exhibits work that belongs to the urban and the ruin, evoking the past even as it deals with the present. As such, it is an examination of the development of Indian art, as well as his own artistic journey.

Image Credit: Verve Magazine

In an interview with The Hindu, Das explains that his pieces are “personal archaeology” used to study “one’s own personal history and archiving.” Through the showcase, Das is creating multiple level of dialogues, one between the artist and his art from the time the art was conceived till the execution, the second is between the art and the space it is brought into. The third is between the art, the space and the viewer.

Das is a firm believer that nothing lasts forever, and yes, the irony of that fact does not escape him. Even though his work stems from history and ruins that have lasted through the passage of time, Das says that even archival material, is bound to perish with time. However, born to migrant parents from Bangladesh, he prefers to see the more positive side of things, explaining that that there is a lot to learn from new cultures – even if the opportunities to so don’t come from choice.

Das uses a variety of materials (iron, paint, archival images, found objects and wood) collected form the left-over bits from an art studio, to create a stunning culmination of the various threads of his practice.

Written by Sumit Dasgupta

Featured image source: Verve Magazine


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