Dark Clouds of the Future


Prabhakar Pachpute

The drawing which appears on the poster for the 31st Bienal, made by Prabhakar Pachpute, is a fragile structure shaped like the Tower of Babel or a shell containing a group of human bodies only visible by their bare feet and calves. This image might make us think about the relationships between the visible and invisible, collectivity and conflict, the traumatic and the sublime or the strong and the weak, as it equates the poetic resistance of art to the adversity of the world.

The same motifs recur in Dark Clouds of the Future, the work Pachpute has made for the exhibition. Wall drawings reach out into the space around them, incorporating with a light, nonchalant humour its characteristics and particularities. A rusty nail, damp walls, an electric socket – all evolve within his drawings into intense, unforgettable metaphors. The use in other works of three-dimensional sculptures made of clay and paper pulp and stop-motion animation film, which owe much to artisan set devices, add conceptual and formal dimensions to Pachpute’s drawings.

The adoption of charcoal as a medium is intentional, and relates to the activities of coal miners. Still, the medium acts not only as a bridge between the physical, the literal and the political; it is also a platform for thought.

Pachpute’s work seems to exist on the border between immobility and movement, which places the concrete nature of the charcoal strokes in confrontation with the intangible and the dreamlike world in which people live ‘faraway and below’.

The coal mines depicted by him hark back to the city of his birth, Chandrapur (Maharashtra, India), also known as the City of Black Gold, and seem to negotiate the personal and political conflicts revealed in the artist’s cautionary warning titles, such as Canary in a Coalmine (2012), The Land Eaters (2013) and Save Us From Tomorrow (2013). With each work, Pachpute searches new ground, new ways out, new ways of collective being, which he discovers, often, within the intellectual life of the miners themselves. – MM