Masquerade and Other Apologues: Anant Joshi
A weathervane that hangs blow-torched plastic toys that enact the divisions of the headlines of a broadsheet, surely critiques an aesthetic. Anant Joshi is an artist who keenly archives the change in broadsheet design, and the use of images that reflect a neo-liberal turn in politics. In act of precision, satire melts brightly coloured toys into formations of a broadsheet to hang on a weathervane - that shows no particular stone and is burdened by a boulder of despair. Joshi's weathervane has been reflecting a certain change in weather and an orchestrated move by the media towards the right, changing colours and opinions, and from stands it took a decade ago. Joshi constructs images with toys based on a vast archive of images that he collects from newsfeed and then abstracts them by painting them with his ‘Ben-Day dots’. These are carved onto the canvas using colours that contrast violently; not allowing easy access to their content.
How does the artist negotiate life in a city that is the constituency of a politician -who has led a cavalry charge towards political success using social media and aligned corporate media interests his war-horses? Joshi entertained himself over the slide in support for the last government scouring for cartoons that critiqued dynamics of party meetings, to the personal scandals of politicians, and the changing power dynamics within parties. Cartoons have their origins in the preparatory surface of frescos and paintings from the Renaissance. Joshi's egg-tempered paper board are changes to cartoons he takes from Kureel, Mika, Shreyas, Surendra, Ninan, Keshav and Manjul: erasing their speech balloons and distorting them with watercolour. The watercolours celebrate the authorship of the cartoons, though copies, they allow artistic freedoms of dissent in form, colour and politics. Joshi's awaited solo 'Masquerade and Apologue' that sees him masquerade as an investigative journalist leafing through newspapers is an apologue of an unfortunate change in India's history.
Joshi's installs his paintings like a set of comic strips: choreographed to be discursive to the viewer, while letting his watercolour cartoons jut out like museum displays of frescoes. In his show he revisits the history of the cartoon in newsprint. It is a meticulous study of a peculiar visual vocabulary very pertinent in a period where a political leadership offers satire in plentitude through irresponsible statements, perverse ideologies and views on science devoid of any rationalism.
-Sumesh Sharma (2014)