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Artist Riyas Komu Is Inspired By The Constitution

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Artist Riyas Komu Is Inspired By The Constitution

NEW DELHI, (IANS) – “For a long time, I wanted to work on manual scavenging by doing a project that engages in a direct conversation with the system, precisely why I chose ‘Swachh Bharat’ to speak my mind and present ideas on multiple levels. It was natural that Gandhi and Ambedkar ‘intervened’ considering their stress on the need to ensure dignity for them (manual scavengers),” artist Riyas Komu says.

Invoking the memory of Dandi March, Kabir, Guru Nanak, and Narayana Guru, Komu has produced Gandhi’s spectacles in gold considering the metal carries memories and travels generations. “I see Gandhi’s ideas having those qualities as well,” he adds.

Komu, for whom the Indian constitution has been a constant source of inspiration, stresses that it is to do with his obsession with democracy in the true sense and fascination for Ambedkar.

“The multi-talented Ambedkar spoke consistently of the upliftment of the poor. I started looking at the Constitution more deeply when there was all this talk of altering it. It has always been part of our struggle on how to go forward with the multi-diverse community. It is not about the sheer legalities in the Constitution but has more to do with art, which talks about its evolution. I can walk through history owing to that. And when you do that, so many different images and the history of the different beliefs that India has been through come alive. One of the images that fascinate me is of Gandhi standing between Hindus and Muslims talking about peace — and it gives us a narrative of history in India,” says Komu.

When Komu was admitted in the JJ School of Art, his father, who left the Communist Party of India after it split, told him that this could be his way of serving people.

Stressing that everything he has done in his life, he has taken it as a responsibility, intervening and changing the way how art is perceived, the artist adds, “It is also a political act as you are promoting the concept of diversity and living together. My parents’ work has greatly impacted my life and the way I view things. I was the ninth child and saw the struggles of the family — living with limited resources. But the kind of ethics that were inculcated were important.”

The artist believes art is an effective tool to mirror contemporary socio-political realities of the times. Responding to major events, including the 1992 Mumbai violence, the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, and the 9/11 tragedy, Komu says he has always wanted his work to be sensitive and ensures that it celebrates the idea of diversity and multiculturalism.

Talking about ‘Sea: A Boiling Vessel’ curated by him in Kochi, which brings together 20 artists, academics, and performers, the artist says Kochi as a shore represents the idea of coming together — of knowledge, beauty, and art.

The artist feels it is interesting to observe the sea in terms of migration. 

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