Santhosh works with pictorial ready-mades. Drawing on magazines, television, art history and world cinema for source images, he renders them on immense canvases. One painting in this gallery cites a black and white news photo. Another uses the negative of a colour photograph, dramatically altering the viewing experience.
Where One Hand Claps/ Signs That Betray Its Meaning is the earlier work, executed when Santhosh was working with images with straightforward historical references. It is based on a journalistic photograph of sadhus or Indian ascetics captured at the Kumbh Mela. An event like the Kumbh Mela which occurs once in twelve years attracts an international media presence and the images of naga sadhus coming for a holy dip in the sacred river, Ganga, becomes an stereotypical symbol of Hindu spirituality. Santhosh amplifies as well as mocks the mediatic portrayal of such popular events through this photo-realistic work.
Santhosh almost always introduces some incongruous elements to his images. Contrasting with the sadhus’ image is a brown strip of colour covering almost one-fifth of the canvas. The winged creature that cuts across the work, possibly suggests the ancient Indian association of freedom and liberation attached to the swan in Advaita philosophy. It thus becomes a symbol for the ascetics, who are liberated while still alive in this world, by virtue of having realized the eternal truth.