Degrees of dissent presented in artist Riyas Komu’s work 

The fear of ‘the other’ that is cultivated to steer the narrative in a certain direction works in the background of many of his works. Glimpses from a recent show

As an artist Riyas Komu is in tune with his times. He responds to recent political developments where the Indian constitution is being questioned and some politicians are ready to undermine it, even nullify it altogether if possible. He utilizes different mediums to do this. In one of his works in a recent show Holy Shiver, he pits two Indian national icons – MK Gandhi and BR Ambedkar – against each other. In this triptych they merge and Ambedkar comes to the forefront while Gandhi recedes. The sculpture of Dancer from the Harappan times stares at the chair which carries the emblem of the Ashoka Chakra.

In a series of woodcuts, victims of various communal riots since 1947 have been memorialized. A human figure that has collapsed, cast in black rubber, reiterates the reference to the victims. The fear of ‘the other’ that is cultivated to steer the narrative in a certain direction works in the background of many of these works.

Komu's works have been part of at the Venice Biennale in 2015 and he is the co-founder of the Kochi Muziris Biennale in India and is now the director of programmes for the Kochi Biennale Foundation, developing projects focusing on Art Education in India. In this capacity, he has also initiated the Children’s Biennale, Students' Biennale and other projects. He is the curator of the Young Subcontinent project which brings together young artists from across the sub-continent at the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa, and is the Founder of URU art harbour, a cultural hub, in Kochi.

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