Sanjeev Rao Guthi’s structures of desire, longing, expectations

The artist examines how competing and winning have become integral to contemporary life, one in which there is no place for losing

Most of us are caught up in the daily struggle of balancing between various things that need our attention. Our lives are crowded and become a complex juggling act. Along with balancing, there is a whole lot of belief in competing and winning that has become part of the contemporary ethos. There is no space for losers here. One is constantly comparing oneself with others and trying to gauge one’s position and the success achieved in acquiring material wealth and position of power. There are feelings of superiority, inadequacy, frustration and jealousy. As an artist, Sanjeev Rao observes all these emotions which he sees around him with a keen eye and responds to them in his narratives. In his work, people carry stars on their heads to show off or carry extra long tails to prove their point. These are people who are caught in their elusive search for success and fulfillment. They are hemmed in these dense, suffocating structures made of desire, longing, expectations, superiority and tentative fulfillment. Dreams of acquisition are so widespread that they leave no room for anything else and fill all available spaces. Visually, these emotions manifest in Sanjeev's work as brick structures, objects of desire crammed in, with small and big star symbols appearing repeatedly. This endeavor is so fraught and delicately balanced that any moment the structure can come crashing down. Still, the protagonists, who are participants in this struggle, fail to see the ephemeral nature of this activity. As an artist, Sanjeev takes an ironical look at these people and lampoons them. But he knows very well that he is not above them, so he becomes one of the characters in many of the works. Though the tone is of sarcasm, it is also laced with empathy. The images suggest that it is not just an individual who is caught in this futile act but it becomes a common destiny.

Sanjeev Rao holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Andhra University and a master’s degree from Bangalore University. He has done solo shows in Chennai and has shown his works in several Indian cities as well as in Singapore and Switzerland. He received the Lalit Kala Akademi’s National Award in 2014. Born in Andhra Pradesh, Sanjeev lives and works in Bangalore.

Sunil Kumar Sree: Non-linear exploration 
Chandrahas Jalihal’s landscapes of hope
Visual chants: Prabhu Harsoor
Editor’s Pick More