Moving Images : studies, drawings, collages and paintings by Madhav Imartey

20 Sep 2014

Moving Images
Text by Jesal Thacker, 2014

"Moving Images”, in the field of visual art, is associated with a sense of technologically enforced movements. This intentional use of the term “Moving Images” for this exhibition unravels multi-layered connotations. In the most literal sense, it means a play of still images flowing in a linear or annular direction. An abstract implication of the term defines the images as emotive, dramatic and stirring. Madhav Imartey engages with these various aspects of movement - organic, conceptual and subliminal, as this exhibition traces these synchronised visual formations.

Imartey’s trajectory begins in 1972, when he arrived in Bombay from his hometown Nagpur. With his harbored interest to understand the elements of art, Imartey joined Sir JJ School of Arts in 1975. He also studied music, acquiring a Bachelors and Masters degree from Bombay University. With the absence of an interest to exhibit or perform, Imartey explored both streams of fine arts through an intense unconventional learning with  fellow artists Dilip Ranade, Prabhakar Barwe and musicologist Ashok Ranade. He developed a keen interest in writing and contributed regularly in Loksatta, Navshakti, Maharastra Times, Lokaprabhat and Sakaal - writing reviews for art exhibitions and classical cassettes. He profusely focused on seeing, listening, reading and writing.

Moving Images”, explores these subtleties impressed upon Imartey, which he eloquently explored through his works from 1990 to the present. Using elements such as typewriters, stoves, traditional telephones, home making juicers, household appliances, machines, electrical transmission towers and sometimes even tickets and postcards to form collages - he transforms each component into an orchestrated visual image. The redundant object gets a musicality of its own - that is not necessarily classical in nature, but instead reflects strokes of pure sound, which emanate from the object as it transforms into an image. This image vibrates in motion. Imartey does not melt the image into complete abstraction, but retains the physicality of the object as one complete recognisable form.

Unconventional objects not only muse Imartey - an interest similar to Prabhakar Barwe and Dilip Ranade - but also trace back to Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades which redefined the aesthetics of objects. Duchamp's intention was to extract the general connotation of aesthetic beauty or ugliness and deal with indifference. In contrast, Barwe’s and Ranade’s approach is visually relational, mnemonic and satirical. Imartey’s oeuvres are different and unqiue; there is a conceptual and abstract relation with the object and the expressions are spontaneous, as though the sound is acting through them - a concept developed by American artist and composer, John Cage. Cage redefined notions of rhythm and harmony in music compositions. His studies in Indian Philosophy and Zen Buddhism came to the idea of aleatoric or chance-controlled music. Cage described music as "a purposeless play" which is "an affirmation of life – not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we're living”.

This exhibition traces these discourses around the aesthetics of composing objects and sound. Including texts by DG Godse, mesostics by John Cage and notations by Prabhakar Barwe along with screening films of Marcel Duchamp, John Cage and Bill Viola – this project creates a dialogue across decades.
(Also screening Marcel Duchamp and John Cage directed by Shigeko Kubota and video works by Bill Viola: Migration and The Reflecting Pool - Collected Work 1977-80, through the exhibition duration.)