The Moon Bearer - A New Saga: Works by Abhishek Narayan Verma

14 September - 16 October 2021

The Moon Bearer: A New Saga underlines the existential concerns of the artist’s lived experiences during the initial lockdown of 2020. The first wave had turned the bustling city of Vadodara silent, propelling its inhabitants into involuntary isolation. The artist, confined in his studio, frequented the terrace at night for some respite against the heat as well as the confinement, with the moon being his only ally. This new, yet familiar companionship enabled him to revisit his childhood fantasies with the moon and remember the mythologies of Chanda Mama. Furthermore, the cyclic nature of the moon with its many phases mirrored the binding cycle of birth, death and reincarnation for the artist, inspiring the artist to use the moon as a significant visual metaphor in his works.


Narayan's isolated monologue spirals into multiple experiences from his childhood, leading to a complex assemblage of visuals. He becomes the acrobatic performer he saw during his visits to the village fairs, exhibiting dexterity by balancing a precarious time in his life with overflowing creativity. This act of balancing, and its risk of falling or being injured are now juxtaposed with the mood swings depicted by the moon, leading to a satirical depicting of mismatched objects.


The spear, another visual element from his childhood, adds another piece to this visual puzzle. Dysfunctional in its current condition and almost rendered useless, the character in act persistently endeavors to make the best of its situation. Once used as a weapon to counter dacoits in the village, the spears are now used to dry clothes or do assist in menial chores in the artist’s village. These absurdities may be understood as an observation of the efforts that people around the world made to cope with their isolated dispositions.


By eliminating obvious markers of identification, Abhishek rejects an autobiographical representation in these works, divorcing them from his other series, such as Black Stars Shinning Bright, that portray the artist as the protagonist. Dressed in a trouser and a shirt that could identify the character with any middle class man in an office, he represents our collective consciousness, desires and flaws, making him a universal average Joe. His misfortunes entangle him in whimsically absurd situations, citing a candid satire on the real world and its problems. By bringing together elements of myth and reality, the artist creates a dialogue filled with humor and irony in these works.


Text@Aditi Ghildiyal