At Bikaner House, this Tuesday, Art Positive will unveil among its 22 works Framing the Frame by Ankon Mitra. At first glance, it looks like an antique full of vintage vitality. Then you get closer and the tiny curls reflect the age of antiquity. It’s Ankon’s ode to the family album of memories.
The notes state that it is made of wood, cardboard, hand-carved, acrylic paints, gold gesso and a back frame, all created in 2022 for a solo exhibition at Bikaner House The Forest Peacock.
Ankon explains: “The central element of this work is a carved wooden frame, which can be found at any antique dealer. We use these frames to hold photos of ourselves or cherished family photos. In response to the baroque scrollwork and curves of the timber frame, a series of elaborate box pleat “jewels” are developed, surrounding the central frame in an act of mimicry and elaboration.
However, as the periphery becomes more and more grand and filled with elements, the center remains empty. Is it the reality of ourselves – pompous flourishes surrounding an empty center? Or is this the true meaning of life itself – that the pure core of our beings is just Chitta-Aakash, a pristine void, but we forget that and continue to surround ourselves with the artifice of bric-a-brac and trinkets, physical accumulations and traps, which in the cycle of life-death-rebirth amount to meaningless junk.
Fake Fine Arts
In this work, we place in the center of the work a pseudo-traditional, faux-Beaux-Arts, carved wooden frame of European origin, a piece of kitsch everyday product design that is multiplied and consumed by the thousands. The fact that it is a mass-produced picture frame is irrelevant. Geometry and beauty often hide in plain sight, in objects we don’t even look twice at.
Decoration and the hollow man
The jewels are set in the piece in the same way as a jeweler sets precious and semi-precious stones in a designer piece.
While we celebrate this humble, mass-produced centerpiece picture frame by giving it a border so elaborate it blushes a dark gold in embarrassment, the frame itself remains completely empty. The surroundings and surfaces of our lives are so sculpted, decorated and embellished now, but our centers are sadly hollowing out. In the absence of a strong, meaningful core, if someone were to shake us, we would produce a hollow ringing sound, utterly enjoying our own hollowness in our echo chambers of like-minded hollow mates.
Images: Studio Ankon Mitra
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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