Pais – Vacuum and the Sense of Self in Painting Solo Exhibition – Curated by The Pais Polity

by Bhushan Bhombhale

Bhushan chose ‘Pais’ as the title of his show to represent the vacuum that this disconnect holds.  The disconnect from rural communities whose lives are interwoven with nature such as the vagaries of weather, agricultural cycles and politics of the nation.  ‘Pais’ in Spanish means the country, in Marathi it arrives in popular use through the poetry of a saint, Dnyaneshwar.  Sant Dnyaneshwar was a 13th century Marathi saint who used poetry to espouse the oneness of spirituality with human existence.  He opposed caste and class and the limits they imposed on spiritual exercise of humans.  His poems ponder on the dualities of hypocrisy that man imposed through the emotions of anger, arrogance and jealousy.  Bhushan Bhombale comes from a long lineage of collage and decoupage making, he extends the work by making papier-mache on flat services.  The search of an aesthetic seeking the void is typical of Bombay artists, of the most famous being Anish Kapoor.  Bhushan paints plants and landscapes that take on elements of abstraction.   Gabriel Orozco is a vivid art maker of aesthetic arguments – a decolonizing modernism in a world where temperatures are not mild. Heat in the tropics has myriad plays with metals. Even concrete takes on patinas of fungus. In degradation there are tonal hues of colour. How are people forced to accept colonial aesthetics, repair and appropriate languages of visuals? We begin with an amnesia of the origin to these vocabularies of sculpture making and painting, bring out colours and make efforts at – tongue and cheek conceptualism. Bhushan Bhombalemakes sculptures in Paper and Food; he follows an aesthetic line that emerges from his paintings.  

Placing paintings alongside objects such as sculpture for me often is akin to the act of Indian shrine making. A strange element of magic arises when you place in conversations visual vocabularies in tangible ways. Orozco was born in a colonial city -Xalapa that is encased in tropical forests. Colonials could not tame forests in the tropics nor could we by using concrete.  His paintings with bright forms in colour are often enclosed in grey surfaces mimicking the green patina concrete takes on during monsoons. We see papayas, ferns, trees and fruits growing among the algae in the cracks of concrete in the buildings of Bombay, this is a ‘Pais’ –   a space emerges to accommodate nature. Discussing the practices of these artists we arrive at an understanding of Bhushan Bhombale’s practice, one that is still experimental and emerging.  

Aesthetics is an unknown, within the Indian school of thought there are two remarkable focal points of discussion here.  One is ‘ Shailikar’ – author of a style and the other is the ‘Apbhramsh’ or the accidental.  Conscious innovation and invention of an individual style in poetry or literature or the beauty of arriving at something accidently in music finds resonances in Indian painting.   Bhombale uses accidental forms through experimentation in techniques of painting and surface and thus arriving at an authored style or shaili.  He picks up from here and uses papier-mache in sculpture and arrives at canvases that resemble the ‘Gondwana’ a tectonic plate that formed India when it broke away from Africa.  This is his ‘ Pais’.