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Sample Gallery/Dealer Art Work - Galerie Lacen

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Artist: Shanta Rao
Created On: 2008
Image Medium: Oil and Acrylic Silkscreen
Image Dimensions: 76,5 x 106,5 cm
Art work Description:
Right from her initial works, Shanta Rao has staged herself in large format colour photographs. The series Terminaisons nerveuses (Nerve endings) shows her portraying love relationships and playing with a silhouette. She sticks to it, gets rejected by it, approaches it, escapes it, dances around it and one will not be surprised to learn that this young woman was an actor earlier on. It comes across as a generic figure of the woman and more rather than as a self portrait, her own body is used as a receptacle receiving at once archetypes, the imaginary of the others as also her autobiography in spite of everything. In Bang Bang Partner, we can delve deeper into the very matrix of her work. This time, the other becomes a stuffed wild animal. However Shanta Rao does not for all that assume the role of Beauty by its side, but is also the Beast... Her attitude, her positions, her claws transform her in her turn into the panther. The animal is not experienced as being the enemy, the unknown being, the threat. It is her counterpart, conveying the same feeling of fear vis-à-vis man. These two companions of misfortune are raised to the status of a hunting trophy and share their fright in the face of this joint predator who reserves them an almost identical fate. The animal has to be dominated upon, slain or taxidermized, while the woman is iconized or transformed into a doll. Yet Shanta Rao does not stake claims on being known as a feminist artist. She does not self mutilate herself following the example of a Gina Pane or a Marina Abramovic, even though she has carried out a performance wherein she seemed to be injured by an Indian swastika, a cross, from where fake blood flowed. Just as she does not liken herself to artists who place themselves in the rationale of a search for identity, even though she at times takes part in exhibitions showcasing works by artists of Indian origin. And even though she likes to play with this age-old image of the mysterious and impenetrable oriental creature, her work remains primarily self-centered. Her essence resides in the study of her self with respect to the other: regardless of whether the other is of a different gender, a different nationality or a different species. Today in the contemporary art scene, a number of artists display or exhibit dead animals, a referent of traditional fables and of vanities. One of the messages contained therein is the fragile nature of life and the demeanour to retain in the face of appearances and the make-believe. Shanta Rao also speaks of the misunderstanding of the fatal illusionism of the image and its desire to conjure up threats. For this exhibition, she slices into the heart of colour and has created, with the help of a computer, a video and screen prints from old photographs. Translated into binary data, the photographic prints find themselves bereft of all notions of volume and space, before being “rematerialized” in the screen print through thick oil spots deposited in the place of pixels. In the video, these pixels gradually create an image which softly disintegrates. Here, more of other shades other than deep black and white, conferring an appearance akin to German expressionist cinema. The result also flirts with abstraction and leads these new works on towards a more dreamlike world. At least in appearance because the subjects remain the same: policemen, a German shepherd, a riot in India, a view of Berlin bombed after the war… Shanta Rao reveals a forever tenacious resistence. Less visible in appearance, but at the end of the day more radical, simpler, more brutish. Marie Martens

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