(the ever performing ‘Linearity-Line Syntax’)
Puneet Kaushik, through his current set of artworks, disagrees to the agreement of difference between the cultural objects and their ‘effects’—be it that of aesthetics, politics or merely perceptual nuance. The common sense perception that there comes the object first, creates the cultured impact like a torch emitting light, further stays as object-in-itself, even after such a trace and impact gets over, like an emptied perfume bottle*1*. Puneet’s works treat this premise as the area of contestation but not that of confrontation.
Through these entangling drawings, along with installation, Puneet draws and draws on, offers ‘a presence’ that ‘surpasses’ its originary i.e. the objects that produced it in the first place. The expected view of the display, the specificity of the objects, the gravity and solidity of the display white cube—all in all, are negated and negotiated but never guaranteed. What is left is this presence-in-the-making, not a metaphysical one, but that which raises doubts about such a dichotomy, dialectical ‘refusal’. By refusal I mean two varieties:
(a) Metaphysical (similar to the like of an aesthetic experience, empathy, gestalt) presence itself as a refusal; and
(b) meta-physics as a refusal of ‘in-itself’ of its own ‘presence’. These two, I believe ‘makes’ his current works.
He doesn’t make up an ‘apparatus’ (to construe art) like say a wire, a corset, a transparent wire of light or even a crayon (and more), though these are inevitable part and parcel and media-varieties inlaid into his works. They are configured together—that definitely evoke an awe and regard for the craftsmanship, the smartness in handling various materials and their intensely rendered configuration, though–to create an apparatus whose primary nature is a set of acts in creating (a) a certain ambiguity and (b) willful refusal to culminate at/as a object for representation.*2*
His apparatus, no matter how sophisticated and unpredictable it might appear to the eye, is a primordial aspect of visual representation—the mutual play, interactivity and dependence between line and light.*3* The ‘line-light’ combination attempts to make light of the (yet evident) disagreeable, differable materials engaged in the show and those, ironically, that ‘will’ and pretend to repeat, be parallel and thus erase any differences in between (the innumerable variety of lines produced by all of them). The utopian desire of political homogeneity and ideal world might be an analogue to such creative occurrences.*4*
Be it his installations or drawings, there is a mutually interchangeable quality to them. While the former is a set of lines that have gone creatively astray by falling into an order, the latter is not only the basic ingredient but also an agent that, finally, refutes the sight’s focus upon itself (both sight and linearity). This could be explained differently: In this show there are no objects that are yet to occur, always in the future:
Light melts the physical objects and all the deviant discourse evoked by the variety of the objects used in the show, both metaphorically and more so visually. As it happens with the pre-modern visual context, there is a memory that defeats any technical visual apparatus’ capacity to capture, or even withhold, its essence (a la Walter Benjamin’s aura). Puneet dislocates the premise of objectivity and material quality used to make objects, by consciously inserting ‘repetitive’ manners and patterns (a la Deleuze’s argument) into a secret pact: the repetitions, parallels, recurrence, similarity in shapes, the ever prevalent ambiguity of emerging out of or/and forming into human forms, all in all, is an integral infrastructure of this process of liquidification.
While photography is the ultimate apparatus to capture light and its play on the visible world, it also has a limitation of being a sort of infrastructure through which the visible world is defined and hence availed to those who are physically absent as well as to those in the future. Puneet’s works, that borrows a point or two from this, by evoking light appear on-its-own-term and not as a catalyst to illuminate the ‘presence’ or the idea of art-object, makes the physical presence of the audience almost compulsory, ironically, only to realize that there is nothing like an absolute syntax to such presences! That’s why I said that this show is the de-objectification of materials, objects and their linearity through light, which in turn accumulates such processes into an appearance-of-those-objects, not as themselves but as a part of light all through, that finally displays the objects as a ‘double-presence’, that too as a residual effect.
The notion of ‘linearity-light’ proposed by/via/through/as Puneet’s works make the whole display light hearted, so to say through the resultant display, discourse, effect and play of light, two varieties of ‘refusals’ of metaphysical evocation to it (as is already mentioned). By this I mean the refusal of the light to be subservient to the object articulated, accumulated, assembled and appropriated by the artist. These four ‘a’s (in the previous sentence) form the main ‘foray’ of the current discourse. Hence these objects refuse the bifurcation between the convention of inside-outside and the surface-content. This is done by laboriously discarding the quality of solidity of an object; by the way it is made, displayed and thought over. With that, there is a loss of/negotiation into a whole lot of historicity: of colonial, academic, perspectival and finally the very perceptival attitudes. His objects thus posses an objective of loosing its ‘objective power’ in the common sensible mode.
Thus we have objects (if that kind of identity can be given anymore, so that it contains the likes of outline, a dimensionality, a frontality, a space of display and a hidden side as well) that Puneet has come up with that problematise the very thing that makes and object—the subservient light specific to his works. Instead of engrossing, light enables his work from within and without. As a result there is something it produces: the linearity. (a) It is not lines in the visually confined sense, (b) it is not a drawn, redrawn line, (c) it is not lines framed as corsets, wires and solid lines on paper—though it includes all these in his works.
In summary, Puneet Kowshik’s installations redefine the white cube in terms of a single equation that he draws from the dichotomy of linearity-light syntax. The surface, the shadow and textures of all the objects he has used, in totality, first of all, ambiguously diminish the mass-volumetric-like material reality of the objects he produces. Even the resultant objects, thus produced, forms deviant, simulated identities: they are not the sum total of the materials they are made up of, some are almost invisible but not invincible. Objects, in this show, evoke that which they are not made up of or for.
At the same, alternatively, the ‘designed shadows’ (that are not the resultant but the intended effect), ambiguously, conceptually sway and every time this occurs, the whole gamut of the quality of materials used, the objects formed and the relation evoked keep altering. May be, the content of the previous sentence is to be read in the reverse order, as well. The skeletal infrastructure (in Rodolphe Gasche’s sense) re-modifies the appearance and there is nothing behind and beyond it, to the surface. The presence stays sincere to its conventions. The past one and a half decade of Indian history, its identity and its overall image thus underwent such a puncturing, as far as its identity is concerned. The historic events and dates of this period—that we starkly remember–are those that we want to forget rather than remember! Its objective solidity is what has been squeezed, its shades/shadows and its surface has all been jeopardized more dramatically. This, that the current artist draws analogies from, is a fact that remains with this show, whose experience meanders through various presences evoked by this and such readings/writings, as and when the shades, shadows, surface quality are permanently frozen as ambiguous identity, by the linearity-light syntax, perhaps even in the future.
*1* art Objects in the museum store room while not at display and those shown in a slide-lecture are two instances of proof to this fact: there are moments when they are emptied of their essence, in our natural understanding of an art object.
*2* This is similar to what Rodolphe Gasche says/thinks that Derrida defines infrastructure of discourse means. (Read: his article ‘Infrastructures and Systematicity’, “Deconstruction and Philosophy, The Texts of Jacques Derrida”, Ed: John Sallis, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1987). It is not like an armature upon which something is built, wherein often the armature is uniform, consistent and that which is built upon is subject to variable metamorphosis and is subject to mutually deviant identities from its skeletal structures. In Puneet’s case the armature ‘is’ a part of, is ‘the’ and hence self-refute its identity as armature itself! The main reason should be the mode in which light-and-linearity operates in/as his work rather than ‘enlighten’ his works as if it were an external, subservient twin-agent.
*3* Though it seems absurd and abstract, the inseparable yet ambiguous combination of light and linearity is the formidable subject of his works. The current physicality of the Indian art circumstance—the ‘post’ of a lush market and the recession–somehow recalling the mindset of the artists in the early 1990s (controlled by the then economy or the lack of it) and Puneet’s deliberate subtle play of non-objects, by making objective presence an absence, seem to relate. The notion of the ‘shield’ and ‘content’ as separable are parables of only the recent visual culture.
*4* The recent campaign for conscientious voting and conscientiousness of compulsory voting in the Indian context is the one immediate example for this. Not that it didn’t exist earlier, but the notion of conscientiousness has been refined due to its affiliation and re-definition (acquired due to) to the mass media. In Puneet’s work, the analogy is to unleash the physical reality of the created form as not a shield within which the content lies, but dissolve the notion of shield as an external and independent appearance to what lies beneath. Ironically, as against the mass media, here, the relation between form and appearance of the media is what is at stake.///