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Kissing Movies (Rear View Mirror series #59)

Panchal Mansaram (b. 1934)c. 1970

Royal Ontario Museum

Royal Ontario Museum
Toronto, Canada

This work features a lenticular print of red lips that shifts between a pucker and a smile as it is viewed from different angles. This image is placed by a newspaper clipping showing a cartoon of two figures kissing and the words "Kissing Movies." Both are placed in frames ofred and pink/orange/yellow colour. To the left in impasto white paint are the shape of stenciled letters, and a patch ot black paint that formally balances the newspaper clipping.

This work refers to the taboo of kissing in the Indian film industry, established in 1952 by the Cinematograph Act ruling on-screen kissing as indecent. This work was made soon after the ban was seriously tested in 1969 when the song "Roop Tera Mastana" from the film Aradhana became one of the steamiest scenes in the Hindi film industry. It prompted a special commission inquiring into the representation of sexuality in films, which concluded that "If, in telling the story it is logical, relevant and necessary to depict a passionate kiss...there should be no question of excluding the shot, provided the theme is handled with delicacy and feeling...." By 1973, the blockbuster hit Bobby showed Dimple Kapadia, scantily-clad throughout the film, bestow an on-screen kiss to Rishi Kapoor. [https://mrandmrs55.com/2015/01/04/the-history-of-kissing-in-bollywood-timeline-of-a-taboo/ accessed 20200601]

This work reflects the artist's interest in low tech media forms--newspaper print and postcards (the lips are a postcard the artist picked up in India)--and collage. He likens his approach to art-making to jazz music, improvising on an inutitive level between abstraction and realism, colour and monochrome, paint and ephemera.

Panchal Mansaram (P. Mansaram) was born in 1934 in Mt. Abu, Rajasthan, in western India. He studied at the Sir J. J. School of Art, Mumbai and later at the Rijks Academie, Amsterdam. In 1966, he migrated to Canada with his artist wife Tarunika and three-month-old daughter Mila. He formed a friendship with Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan that would last throughout their lives. Mansaram’s series Rear View Mirror, based on McLuhan’s writings, relates the fragmentary experience of contemporary life. It is a perspective through the rear-view mirror of a car: moving forward but with one eye on the past and seeing the world through small fragments akin to contemporary media-saturated culture. Interested in media, daily life, and cultural signs, Mansaram experimented with various techniques from printmaking and painting to photography, textiles, xerox art, and video. The technique of collage pervades much of Mansaram’s work, serving as an artistic approach that mirrored his experience as a diaspora artist. His later work employs computer manipulation to combine different techniques that Mansaram describes by coining the term "mansa-media."

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