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In the Land called Mind | The Indian Express

In the Land called Mind | The Indian Express

In the Land called Mind

Artist-architect Rohit Raj Mehndiratta explores the writings of Franz Kafka and Sigmund Freud on the conscious and unconscious mind through art

Written by Surbhi Gupta | Updated: March 21, 2018 12:06 am
Rohit Raj Mehndiratta; (left) his work titled Chimera

A photomontage titled Doors almost looks like a painting. Looking at its colours and texture, architect-artist Rohit Raj Mehndiratta observes that he associates doors with “the many memories locked up in one’s consciousness as time passes us by”. Likewise, knots symbolise repressed desires. “Hurt, repression and abuse at a personal or societal level leaves a mark, literally knots us up in the flow of time,” says the artist. In the photomontage titled Knots, he has worked with a trunk of a tree he found in a village in Himachal Pradesh.
The works are part of Mehndiratta’s second solo, titled “Navigating Mindscapes”, where he explores the theory of the conscious and unconscious mind and captures everyday landscapes of the mind, through photographic prints, pen and ink drawings and acrylics and oil on canvas. “I am interested in psycho-analysis, so the subconscious mind appeals to me greatly. I want to question our perception. The IT and social media boom is alienating humans from their real selves,” says Mehndiratta, who runs Studio VanRO, an interdisciplinary firm that focusses on architecture, art and urbanism.
In his first solo show in 2016, titled “(Un)fettered”, he had presented similar “innerscapes” depicting constant struggle with the external world. He has also co-authored a book, The Structure – Works of Mahendra Raj, on the life and works of his father, who is an acclaimed engineer. “The book was a success and I had my first exhibition too, but my practice suffered. For some reason (Franz) Kafka kept coming into my thoughts and I decided to go back to what he wrote. It was liberating,” says Mehndiratta, who also referred to Sigmund Freud’s writings.
In the exhibition, we see some direct influences. If The Conscious, in ink , is inspired by Freud’s psychic observations — of the ego and superego that acts as a moral police, constantly raging a battle in the unconscious space — The Metamporph is the artist’s take on Kafka’s novella Metamorphosis, a psycho-analytical tale of a salesman who transforms into a giant insect overnight. While the work that delves into the ideas of the conscious mind, time and ego has shades of yellow, brown and black, the deep unknown land of the unconscious mind is depicted through vibrant colours of shades of crimson and orange. It is through these colours that Mehndiratta links the body with the space of the mind. “The reason I chose these colours is because we find on our body the colours of our skin, hair and blood,” he says.
The exhibition is on till March 28 at Arpana Caur Art Gallery, Siri Fort Institutional Area
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