T.V. Santhosh - Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale New York Wednesday, March 6, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    The Guild Art Gallery, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Negative images evoke the inverse aspects of the phenomena. As certain elements get deleted and become unrecognizable, they reveal an event’s hidden implications”

    Mumbai based artist T.V. Santhosh is lauded for his provocative body of work which explores the social implications of mass media, politics, and the transmission of images. Specifically negotiating the influence of such sources, their representation and manipulation of global issues, critical themes of violence, injustice, war and terrorism often occupy Santhosh’s magnificent canvases. The present lot, Enemies’ Enemy II, 2008, a vibrantly saturated diptych which cleverly combines elements of photorealism with abstraction, is a prime example of the artist’s unique ability to create poignant paintings full of biting critique and subversion. Executed using his emblematic and iconic solarization technique– in which tonal values are reversed in neon pinks, purples and greens– Enemies’ Enemy II depicts an armed soldier making an arrest in the busy streets of modern-day India. After carefully selecting and appropriating the photographic source image, Santhosh has crossed out the composition with bright yellow brushstrokes in a clear sign of defiance. Much in the same way that Ai Weiwei clashes contemporary concerns with visual cues of cultural heritage, Santhosh invites a degree of dissidence into his painting. Resembling infrared lighting, the artist’s subject matter appears as though under the surveillance of night vision goggles, subverting the authority depicted in this scene. While the source image for this work might be accompanied with captions or photo credits, here, Santhosh’s title positions him as a powerful interloper, capturing the duality at play in Enemies’ Enemy II, 2008. Here, both figures and, by extension, their narrative connotations, almost recede into the background of the work as the shock of yellow appears to burst through the surface of the canvas. The technique involved in this piece as much as its suggestive title highlights Santhosh’s desire to uncover the concealed truths of war and terrorism, foregrounding the notion that there are hidden implications in every image.
    Indeed, belaying the glossy surface of an image is the possibility for recontextualization, which the artist proposes as a negative– both literal and figurative: “More recently, I have been appropriating in my works the logic of turning a positive photographic image into its negative. Negative images evoke the inverse aspects of the phenomena. As certain elements get deleted and become unrecognizable, they reveal an event’s hidden implications. In the process, the elements of ‘local’ lose their specificity, attaining instead a universal significance and vice versa. Marking a shift from my earlier painting and its linguistic concerns, which dealt with a world as seen through the images of metaphors, my recent works deals with the kind of devised ‘glimpses’ of much larger, unresolved stories of immediate happenings.” (T.V. Santhosh, quoted in the press release for false Promises, Grosvernor Gallery, London, 2005) In this way, Enemies’ Enemy II, 2008, is the embodiment of an otherwise vague and yet reinforced presence. Akin to the legacy of Warhol’s Death and Disaster series, Santhosh is participating in a similar dialogue on the prevalence and ubiquity of violent imagery. Warhol’s Optical Car Crash, 1962, and Race Riot, 1963, seem particularly resonant here, the repetitive gesture mimicking a continuum or perception of infinite reproduction and dissemination. Here, the repetition of the image is symptomatic of a trauma in that the traumatic event is being revisited in an attempt to surmount its psychological impact. The resurgence of Santhosh’s imagery, immortalized into psychedelic negatives of prismatic color, suggest a unique and dazzling perspective of his subject matter.
    Santhosh brilliantly captures a moment of struggle and injustice, freezes it, and ignites it into an explosive surface of color. In this way, the artist derails the system of mass-media, suspending a moment in clear defiance of the media’s short-circuiting of events; acutely underscoring the rate at which images are absorbed into our collective consciousness. Here, the artist identifies the transmission of images used to construct and propagate ideology. The artist is the Enemies’ Enemy as he endeavours to operate outside the institutional myth of objectivity, vividly reconstituting an already mediated image for all to observe. Knowing that images possess quotational power, Santhosh highlights his imagery in intoxicating colors of safron orange and India green- arousing our senses and suspicions.


Enemies' Enemy II

oil on canvas, diptych
72 x 96 in. (183 x 244 cm)
Signed “TV Santhosh” on the reverse of each panel.

$150,000 - 250,000 

Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

7 March 2013
New York