Wim Delvoye, Bijoy Jain, Arun K S, Unnikrishnan C, Hamra Abbas, Mark Wallinger and Michael Stevens, Vsauce

Brick Landscape \ Bijoy Jain
Bijoy Jain is an architect internationally known for buildings that seamlessly inhabit their natural surroundings. After practicing for several years in Los Angeles and London, Jain returned to India in 1995 to found Studio Mumbai Architects, an architectural firm that works directly with a team of artisans, technicians and draftsmen to create and execute designs that draw from traditional and locally available materials and skills.
'Brick Landscape' (2014) is a series of meditations on the history and materiality of brick – an architectural medium which has been in continuous use since antiquity. To Jain, bricks are manifestations of a direct, almost corporeal link between man and the Earth. A versatile material equally suited to the humblest of structures and the greatest of architectural monuments, bricks represent a material transition of civilisational dimensions – that of raw earth into a form we understand as architecture.
The landscapes that Jain has created out of miniature bricks resemble archeological ruins–from excavated subterranean cities to edifices that still stand. They simultaneously evoke constructions taking shape, and demolitions going on all around us. The installation unfolds like a journey in time, tracing the evolution of the built world through the history of one of its fundamental units.
Another work on display, 'Tar Studies' (2014) is composed of a number of ambiguous forms encased in tar. The outlines that are visible through tar only hint at what is inside – seemingly the remnants of a settlement entombed in lava.

The tar that covers the objects renders them simultaneously still and dynamic, engaging the viewer in a myriad of ways – from precise material study to metaphysical contemplation.

Untitled \ Arun K S
Arun’s paintings look like mottled abstractions from a distance, but on closer look reveal figures or fragments of text and a canvas thick with layers that fade in parts to reveal images underneath. Minuscule caricature-like figures with gaping mouths — a gathering of initiates singing at their first holy communion — crowd the surface of the large panel of Untitled (2014) exhibited at the Biennale. Each face is near-indistinguishable from the rest, as if to suggest the loss of individuality within a religious collective.
To Arun, who grew up in an orthodox Christian family in Kerala, depictions of this and other Christian imagery are not an affirmation of religious fervour but an expression of his misgivings about religious indoctrination. “You are marked by it (religion), and even if you reject it, you cannot fully escape it, because it is a continuous living tradition and is bound up with the deepest regions of the self,” he says.

In Arun’s works, religious initiation as a theme points to his recurrent engagement with the idea of time.

Through his richly layered painterly pursuits, Arun seems to caution us about time as the duration of waiting; where the present is surrendered for a future moment that never arrives – the religious promise of the afterlife.

Untitled \ Unnikrishnan C
One of the youngest artists to exhibit at the Biennale and a recent graduate of the Government College of Fine Arts in Thrissur, Kerala, Unnikrishnan was born into a family traditionally engaged in basket weaving in Pezhumpara in rural Kerala.
His art draws heavily from his surroundings, especially the imagery he encountered at home. “There was a lot of superstition and fear around when I was growing up. One of my aunts is an oracle. As a child, I was often told terrifying stories about spirits. All of these unconsciously appear in my work,” he says.
It was due to the encouragement of his high school art teacher Sushma Devi that Unnikrishnan took up art education. While an art student, he started painting the terracotta bricks on the walls of his home, creating one painting a day as if making entries in a visual diary. The first image he painted was that of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, an artist he identifies closely with; drawing from the blend of autobiography and magical realism in her works.

Many of the early images Unnikrishnan painted appear in his untitled installation (2014), a freestanding wall composed of more than 300 bricks.

They reveal the artist’s urge to archive objects and ways of living that face extinction in an invisible wave of crises unleashed in rural Kerala by the collapse of traditional economies centred on activities such as weaving; abruptly rendering useless once-valued skills and implements.

Oil and acrylic paint, carvings on terracotta bricks \ Dimensions varibale

The installation also presents a chorus of imagery, including relief sculptures, inspired by the artist’s interactions with Kochi during a three-month stint in the city leading to the work’s creation.

Textual fragments in Malayalam culled from books or overheard on the streets also appear amidst the images.

Kaaba Pop-ups \ Hamra Abbas
Hamra Abbas works extensively with photography, performance and multimedia art. Raised in Lahore where she studied Visual Arts at the National College of Arts, Abbas is best known for works where she appropriates and (re)deploys iconic images from popular visual culture that carry religious or art historical significance.
'Kaaba Pop-ups' (2014) is a series of 24 handmade sculptures in various shades of blue composed of paper that has been folded into intricate Islamic stalactite patterns. At their centre is a three-dimensional box-like element modeled on the ‘Kaaba’, Islam’s holiest site — a cuboid structure at the centre of the mosque in Mecca. Images of the Kaaba are a familiar sight in Muslim homes, including those in the artist’s native Lahore, the reproductions being popular souvenirs brought by those who make the pilgrimage to Mecca. These images serve as everyday embodiments of the ritualistic seven-fold circumambulation of the Kaaba that is performed at Mecca.
'Kaaba Pop-ups' builds on several recent projects by the artist that draw on popular images of the Kaaba. One of these is 'Kaaba Picture as a Misprint' (2014), for which she distilled this familiar shape into a minimal form before rendering it in the three primary colours of offset printing that converged in prints to produce black. In 'Kaaba Pop-ups', the artist explores the contrast between paper, a fragile medium, and the monument it seeks to evoke.

Printed paper \ 24 X 28 X 8 in

According to her, “The title, ‘Pop-up Kaaba’ and the fragility of the material suggest temporality and impermanence, which is at odds with Kaaba as an iconic, timeless structure.” Seen through shifting hues of blue, the installation acts as a signifier for nature, faith and the infinity of the sky and the seas.
Construction Site \ Mark Wallinger
Mark Wallinger is known for artworks that offer a subtle yet penetrating commentary on British politics and culture. In 2007, he won the Turner prize for State Britain, a replica which he enshrined within the Tate Britain of anti-war activist Brian Howe’s protest camp in London’s Parliament Square that had been demolished by police under a regulation restricting protests.
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