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Baiju Parthan

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1956, Kerala, India
Lives and works in Mumbai

Baiju Parthan is known as the pioneer of intermedia art in India. While elaborating the workings of a mysterious inner universe through his paintings, he has combined his painterly concerns with his explorations of cyberspace to produce a series of provocative, richly textured installations.

His passion for cosmography, Buddhist mandalas, Jungian psychoanalysis, and shamanism are all reflected in his works. The symbiotic relationship between men and machines is explored through his artworks on technology and its impact on humans. His involvement in cosmological narratives helps him to chart worldviews which evolve out of a pure existential need.

Education

2007

Masters in Philosophy, University of Mumbai

1991

Postgraduate Diploma in Comparative Mythology

1978-83

BFA (Painting), Goa College of Art, Goa

1976

Bachelors Degree in Botany

VIEW     Selected exhibitions     Text      Videos      Selected images      View all

LIFE AND WORK

MAPPING THE ARTIST

17

Gallery Show Solo

16

Countries exhibited in

0

Museum Show Solo

2

International / national residencies

37

Years in Practice

12

Auctions

2

Special Projects

3

Biennales

0

Museum/public collections

5

Museum Show Group

49

Publications

1

Awards

67

Gallery Show Group

2

Art Fairs

UNDERSTANDING Baiju Parthan

The idea of virtual space pervades Baiju Parthan's artworks

Parthan develops on the theme of a modern idea in his artworks. He engages with two categories of reality overlapping each other- 'virtual' and 'real'. The virtual, as the artist puts it, "is a prosthetic extension of us."

It is true that the realm of the virtual has changed the way we perceive reality. The intriguing information age has rendered the material world intangible. Parthan’s practice essentially revolves around the omnipresent theme of intersection between the areas of the material world, as well as the non-material digital / virtual sphere.

In his artwork titled "Futuristic Geeky Teddy", Parthan uses the soft toy as a metaphor to reflect the technological changes happening around us as well as suggest the fact that this revolution is just at its nascent stage. The teddy bear which normally exudes a cute, charming simplicity is equipped with computer codes giving us a glimpse of the future.

Baiju Parthan, Futuristic Geeky Teddy, 2014, painted fiber glass, 25 x 17 x 13”

Past & Present: The two phases of Mumbai in the artist's works

Parthan uses the city’s iconic presences to describe the vestiges of a fast-changing cityscape. The old structures of Mumbai have been replaced by huge buildings. The popular textile mill or the chawl culture has taken a backseat and factories have closed down. The rapid pace of modernization has taken a toll on what was popularly known as Mumbai’s culture and is responsible for overpowering the old and popular spaces such as those occupied by the mill and its worker. Through his exhibition, “Dislocation: Mill Junction Part 2”, the artist explores the disappearance of the textile mills over time using iconic images and symbols of the chawl culture. In his artwork, “Lunch Break I”, the collapse of the old and rise of the young and new becomes all the more prominent.

Baiju Parthan, Lunch Break (memorial) I, 2010, archival print on hahnemuhle fine art paper, 23 x 66”

The metaphor for personal transformation is shown through alchemical references

‘Alchemy’ is the science of changing an ordinary metal into gold. Parthan’s work ‘Base Metal’ is suggestive of the same transformation process, but in this case it is about personal transformation. Through this reference, Parthan explores the workings of the mysterious inner being constantly being affected by the outer realms such as the social system and environment, culture and mores, as well as different world views.

Baiju Parthan, Eternal Sunshine of the Rabbit Hole Mind, 2004, acrylic on canvas

Confluence of elements becomes a defining feature of the artist's narrative

Parthan's artwork is a confluence of different elements such as math, science, and culture. Trained in diverse streams like botany, painting, illustration, engineering, computer science, and even comparative mythology, Baiju Parthan's awe-inspiring artistic scope inhabits multi-faceted realms. He has deftly created a unique vocabulary based on the complex usage of symbols and archaic imagery. Not only that, he became familiar with the movements of Impressionism, Expressionism, and so forth, and this new knowledge nourished his interest in painting. Parthan's artworks derive their inspiration from philosophers such as Sartre, and artists like Joan Miro, Larry Rivers and various Cubists.

"Engineered Fruit Cosmogram" is among the prominent works from the Cosmogram series. This particular work is a surreal combination of engineering, geometrical figures, athletes, fishes and cupids.

Baiju Parthan, Engineered Fruit Cosmogram, 2007, digital print, on backlit polyester film paper, 35.43 x 35.43”

Baiju's works focus on the instrumentalization of nature

We, as humans, derive a lot of models from nature to design and create technology. The process is not easy as nature is put under surveillance. Parthan uses the ‘fly’ and ‘helicopter’ to make his audience understand the process of instrumentalization, which means the treatment of an idea as an instrument that functions as a guide to action The fly is scrutinized and measured under a cosmological grid. The design of the fly and its uses are then appropriated in order to create a war machine in the form of a helicopter to serve the humans. So, Parthan through the study of the fly’s body hints at the process of metamorphosis, from a harmless creature to a destructive object. Also, it draws parallels between science and violence, suggesting a co-dependence of generative and destructive forces.

Baiju Parthan, Ointment (UnguentumKosmographia), 2010, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 40"

Nature is after all used both for consumption and exploitation by human-beings. So on the one hand, we learn of a science that can create, generate and regenerate; and, on the other hand, science also brings about the aspect of violence where the primary focus is destruction.

Baiju Parthan, Ointment II, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 21 x 33"