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Anant Joshi

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1969, Nagpur, India
Lives and works in Mumbai




MFA Painting, Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai, India


BFA Painting, Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai, India

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His mastery over space helps him project three-dimensionality even in flat surfaces

Anant Joshi makes an interesting conglomeration of forms in his paintings. Although the artist works on a lot of multimedia installations, it is in his paintings that this logic of space and form become the most apparent. There is a very deliberate attempt at three dimensional coloring in his paintings. For instance in Long Happy Hours; Thereby Happiness, 2005, the painting is an actual depiction of architectural space, through different shades of red, orange and yellow to demarcate elevation, tunnels and pillars. The door at the extreme left is painted with soft yellow to show the light emerging from it. The dark brown is used to depict the hollow space at the centre, indicating an underground tunnel. This seemingly flat surface of a painting which contemporary artists have outgrown in this era of multimedia art, takes centre stage in Joshi’s works where his expertise in showing different planes through a flat medium becomes prominent.

Another work that shows this characteristic is Manorama, 2005, where the frame is divided into six panels, with a large architectural painting and a little figure at the bottom of each panel whose looming shadows cover the planes. Here the colour palette is similar to the previous painting, except the little fairy dolls wearing clothes of a variety of colours. The dolls are also in different colour palettes like purple, yellow, green and so on. It is the six large shadows encompassing the whole painting that the play with three dimensionality comes to the fore.

Anant Joshi, Long Happy Hours Thereby Happiness, 2005, oil on canvas, 60.51 x 60.51”

Anant Joshi, Manorama, 2006, oil on canvas, 250 x 84”

Identity and belonging is a recurring theme in the works

Anant Joshi makes use of ordinary bodies and faces that deal with a notion of anonymity. Often calling these works untitled, he embodies these faces and bodies into the space of a crowd leaving no trace of specialty. For instance in Untitled, the woman looks like a model for the suit she is wearing, posing with a certain black stare at the audience. Likewise Untitled 2002, there is another model possibly from a newspaper or a magazine column who has the same kind of empty pose like the other.

Another interesting series of comparison can be another “Untitled” series, with passport size photographs within large frames of middle class women with two little spots drawn inside. This too is a painting series that focuses on the notion of the passport photo and its generic quality of reducing these women as homogenous or a type, who have differing identities as individuals.

Anant Joshi, Untitled, acrylic enamel, canvas, 36 x 60”

Anant Joshi, Untitled, 2002, acrylic colour reversals industrial point and rust on canvas, 39 x 64" 

Anant Joshi, Untitled, mixed media on paper, 13 x 13”

He articulates the darker side of development in his works

By using found objects and toys to create huge numbers or give the installation volume, he makes a very important argument about the sinister side of wars, urban change and a western notion of development. The artist is very well aware of this political turbulence around the globe and uses his medium to make it prominent. In the series May Look Closer than they Appear, 2007, installation, wood, epoxy paint, iron roads and glass small figures of toy buses and humans and binoculars are violently enmeshed within a big pile of hard cement. Some of them are falling off, some in mid way. It makes a very important point about progress pushing down number of lives and livelihoods under the ground making only the powerful stay afloat. Some other miniature figures in black lies on the ground like lifeless bodies on top of each other, almost as if discarded

The title of the work also demands a closer inspection and once that happens there is a possibility of being able to look beyond the surface. This idea is indeed a political gesture of unmasking high rises, road development, and highway construction into violent silent histories of subversion.

Anant Joshi, May Look Closer Than they Appear, 2007, toys, cement, wood, epoxy, paint, iron rods and glass, variable dimensions 

Anant Joshi, May Look Closer Than they Appear (detail), 2007

He works with an eclectic mix of toys and cartoons

Joshi's affinity for toys and cartoons is remarkable. He discovered this affinity while attending the residency program at Rijksakademie in Netherlands. In his Happy New Year 2013, 12 boxes with 12 sculptures on top of them, he makes little boxes resembling a mini world of its own. The work from a distance looks like TV screens; however, they are little boxes of cartoon like objects. His use of mini readymade objects and the colourful patterns painted over each box marks a resemblance to still animation or puppetry. Each box is lit up while the room is darkened, creating a museum like space within a single work. The box containing an aspect of display like display windows adds to the visual aspect of the work.

Anant Joshi, Happy New Year, 2013, fiberglass box, mirror, steel, resin, acrylic and industrial paint kite paper, led lights and readymade objects etc, 19 x 15 x 18”

Anant Joshi, Happy New Year (detail), 2013

His dotted paintings add to the perspective illusion that he has mastered in his works

Joshi uses dots in his paintings to give an illusion of pixilation causing the painting to seem blurry. In his exhibition “Masquerade and other Apologues”, the works titled untitled, use this dot technique which appear as glistening dots on closer inspection. The works resemble a kind of psychedelic quality with the use of colours and the lack of perfect bodies and forms. They in effect appear as poor quality images, created in deliberation to throw off the perspective. The dots like in Neo-Impressionism of the late 19the century are not used to camouflage but rather become the central focus in the painting. The images resemble the quality of spray paintings.

Anant Joshi, Untitled , 2014