Across his new series titled Blind Witness, artist Rajnish Chhanesh takes on the role of a visual archivist illustrating the idiosyncrasies and fallacies of human society. These immensely intricate paintings retain his signature style of entwining contemporariness with traditional miniature paintings, but with a fresh take. Here the artist departs from his quintessential personal narrative and explores a more broadened political voice, embracing human history, mythology, and collective consciousness.
In his landscapes, devoid of human presence, nature takes the center stage and serves as the catalyst for unfolding the narrative. The lyrical compositions visually guide our eyes effortlessly across the purview of each painting, making us take note of every nuance Rajnish has inculcated with fineness. Taking inspiration from a Hindu myth about the ancient Vedic deity Indra, who due to a curse ended up with a thousand eyes on his body, the artist presents the viewer with a multitude of eyes in the sky, water, birds, and in the form of peeking alligators. These eyes stand for the common people who witness injustices in their daily lives and are hopeless about redress. It was intentional for the artist not to illustrate a mouth anywhere to symbolize the voicelessness of masses in the current socio-political landscape.
This series marks a drastic shift conceptually in Rajnish's oeuvre as earlier his focus was essentially personal, intimate and self-introspective. His recent works revolve around the idea of Samay, Samaj and Vyavastha (Time, Society and System) - A trio that, according to the artist, shapes the common man's reality as well as consciousness. The three agencies influence each other simultaneously making an impenetrable loop of cause and effect. His works provide a thoughtful critique of the current political, economic and social systems, pushing the viewer to engage intellectually and question the simulated rut we are trapped in. So that one day we might cease to be blind witnesses.
Text @Aditi Ghildiyal