Gopikrishna, Summer Night, oil on canvas, 204 x 214 cms, 2020 (1)

Anything Can Happen
15 Sep – 26 Nov 2022

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Art Musings presented a solo exhibition of Kerala based artist Gopikrishna after a hiatus 9 years. The exhibition entitled Anything Can Happen featured paintings in oil and watercolour, done over the last decade. Presenting an immense body of works, the show was divided into 2 chapters, Chapter I, In the Land of the Never-ending Story, from 15 September – 14 October ‘22 and Chapter II, The Everlasting Spell of Mutiny from 20 October – 26 November ‘22.

A consummate storyteller, Gopikrishna peoples his universe with myriad creatures and characters, each conveying their own subtle wisdom.  In his surrealistic artworks, one can witness the ordinary and the impossible, unity and solitude, illumination and darkness. To enter the pictorial world of Gopikrishna is to be plunged into a pageant of extraordinarily animated fables. Gopikrishna’s vocabulary draws on a multitude of sources – on the occult manuscript, the folktale, the Tamil theatre backdrop, and the Kerala temple painting tradition.

Ranjit Hoskote, the curatorial advisor to this exhibition, wrote: “Gopikrishna is a painter of rare visionary power. His works evoke brilliant, phantasmagoric fictions in which hybrids of human, animal and machine inhabit radically disturbing scenarios of social transformation, political turmoil, and cultural conflict. Gopikrishna takes up the perennial themes of the epics – war, love, duty, loss, and quest – and transposes them to futuristic landscapes that are, at the same time, allegories of our troubled present. We come upon chimeras of various kinds here: traffic policemen who direct fates rather than vehicles, robotic guards, assassins, brigands, and interrogators. A number of the paintings assume the form of hallucinatory choreographies of warfare. A recurrent motif in Gopikrishna’s art is the infernal machine, the contraption, the embodiment of a larger-than-human consciousness that is committed to control, torture, surveillance, and war. And yet, set against this unsettling menace, there is also a profound tenderness in Gopikrishna’s work. Witness, for instance, the human figures who cling to the branches of a frangipani tree, asleep. Or the owls who transfix us with their quizzical stares, guardians of occult knowledge. Everywhere, in these paintings, we find the impulse to connect across disjunction: humans reach out to animals, plants to animals, machines to other machines. At the core of Gopikrishna’s art is the belief that the world is generated by twin natures that have been set asunder by historical circumstances, and must be brought together again: the animal and the angelic, the civil and the military, the civic and the feral.”

(Extract from catalogue essay by Ranjit Hoskote)