Avinash Veeraraghavan (b. 1977)
An artist, illustrator and author, Avinash Veeraraghavan explores the language of popular culture in a practice that spans media and techniques such as digital imaging, video and surface design. His work is typically presented in the form of print publications, collages, layered prints and multimedia installations, which reflect, both formally and visually, his explorations of subjectivity, selfhood and the human quest for meaning. His works are characterised by layering, transposition, repetition and surface ornamentation and texturing — effects that provoke and explore subconscious experiences of interconnectedness as well as disassociation.
Veeraraghavan was born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, and moved to Bangalore (now Bengaluru), Karnataka, in 1995 for a course in art and design from the Centre for Learning in Bengaluru. After completing his training under Italian designer Andrea Anastasio, he worked briefly at Sowden Design and Studio Fronzoni in Milan before returning to run the design studio Beetroots from 1998 to 2001. He also worked for a short while in 2000 at Tara Books in Chennai, where he learnt book design under the mentorship of fellow designer Rathna Ramanathan.
Veeraraghavan’s practice underscores the search for the meaning of life and the desire to seek cohesion even in the face of its continual alteration and dissolution. His body of work is a result of his attempt to document these inquiries by mapping them literally and metaphorically using digital media, artist and graphic books and multi-channel videos. In his first exhibition Portraits: All Prints 6 x 4’’ (2001) at the Sakshi Gallery, Bengaluru (now in Mumbai), he created a wallpaper consisting of thousands of his photographic prints, which changed subtly as viewers replaced its images with their own. The series Toy Story (2009) presents an imaginary narrative that journeys back and forth between childhood memories, adult experience and misplaced longings for his past. The theme of psychedelia continues in Crazy Jane and Jack the Journeyman (2011), which fuses illustrations and digital drawing in kaleidoscopic collages to present dizzying images. The multi-panel installation We do not see things the way they are, we see things the way we are (2014), so named after diarist Anaïs Nin’s famous words, seeks to present metaphorical maps of the psyche. It comprises several large-scale works that appear as a tessellating but disjointed montage of images, largely drawn from popular culture, reflecting Veeraraghavan’s explorations into the fraught relationship between image and meaning-making and its arbitrary nature. His composite work 1024 Names (2016) — the number referring to the basic unit of data in binary — is a visual analogy of the collective subconscious to the internet.
His penchant for surface design is prominent in The Hero’s Journey (2011) and After the End (2017). The former is a set of four beaded panels depicting a figure lying on the ground with another standing above them, in jarring hues of blue and orange, which further distort reality. The latter consists of embroidered and sequined images of abandoned childhood spaces, accompanied by an audio-visual presentation of a forest trail, overlaid with remixed sounds. Veeraraghavan has also authored and produced books, agin employing the techniques of collages, layering and cutwork. The books I Love My India: Stories for a City (2002) and The Phantom Dreams (2018), explore the ideas of collective identity and subconscious narratives, respectively, through his trademark device of visual disjuncture and popular culture.
He has exhibited both nationally and internationally at venues such as GALLERYSKE, Bengaluru and Delhi; PHOTOINK and Gallery Espace, New Delhi; Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi; Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris; and Kommunale Galerie (im Leinwandhaus), Frankfurt among others. He was part of the 2010 group show Indian Highway which showcased contemporary works of art from India in several international venues including Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo (2008); Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark (2010) and the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2012). His works were also exhibited at the Prague Biennale in 2011 and the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2016. In 2009, he received the Illy Sustain Art Prize for his work The Deafening at the ARCOMadrid art fair.
He is represented by GALLERYSKE in Bengaluru, a city where he also lives and works.
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Majid, Amjad, Maya Kovskaya, Neeta Omprakash, Pradosh K. Mishra, and Susan S. Bean. Convergence: Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora. Connecticut: The william Benton Museum of Art, 2013. Exhibition Catalogue. https://benton.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/382/2014/07/convergencecatalogue.pdf
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Veeraraghavan, Avinash. I Love My India: Stories for a City.” Chennai: Tara Books, 2004.