Guernica for the Siri-ocene by Indian artist Raghava KK.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Volte Art Projects is currently hosting The Guernica Project by multidisciplinary artist and storyteller Raghava KK (Feb. 16 – April 16).
Presented in the main space of Volte Art Projects’ Alserkal Avenue gallery, Raghava’s 2021 work titled “Guernica for the Siri-ocene”, is a monumental 3.5 x 8 metre long painting that combines a wide range of inspirations, including the artist’s personal research, his encounter with Picasso’s original 1937 masterpiece, and a broad spectrum of his lived experiences. For this phygital (physical + digital) project, Raghava KK draws on his wealth of digital experience that won him a record-breaking $94,500 NFT sale at Sotheby’s last year.
A constantly growing series, The Guernica Project comprises paintings, digital prints and a large selection of NFTs, which retell Indian history through cartoon characters and memes. Harnessing the historical and the uber-contemporary, a captivating story that rejects binary classifications of conflict and harmony, is told. The gallery showcases Raghava’s painting alongside prints of 69 NFT works created based on characters from the painting. Additionally, a screen-based iteration of The Guernica Project will be on show at Volte Art Projects’ booth at the inaugural digital section of Art Dubai 2022, hosted at Madinat Jumeirah (Mar. 11 – 13).
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Raghava KK has pioneered a ground-breaking body of diverse works that explore transcendence through the lens of the current digital era. Featured on CNN’s list of ten fascinating thinkers, authors and provocateurs in 2010, his work traverses traditional forms of painting, installation and performance, while his practice embraces new media (artificial intelligence, neuro-feedback, biohacking, board and video games, crypto currencies, etc), to express post-human contemporary realities.
His lectures, including five TED talks, are known for inspiring audiences to expand their social and psychological selves, through art. Last year, Netflix launched an episode on him in the Creative Indians Series.
The artist’s storytelling migrates among his various disciplines through 50 foot live paintings, interactive books on Apple’s iPad (Pop-it won a Kirkus book award and won best of Singapore Art Fair) and music inspired art for Erykah Badu and Paul Simon.
Raghava co-founded and chaired The INK Fellowship (The TED of India), India’s leading global multidisciplinary fellowship programme in 2010. He was inducted into the National Geographic Society in 2013 as an Explorer, for pushing boundaries of scientific exploration through art. In 2015, he created a new compositional process, part human and part algorithm-driven, through his collaborative project SOZO — a painting machine, developed for him by Artmatr, an offshoot of MIT Media lab. In 2017, he was invited by Jeff Bezos to conduct an art workshop for leading creative minds from around the world. The same year, as partner, he helped set up the vision and strategy for India’s largest venture fund for wellbeing.
He co-founded 64/1 in 2018, an art collective dedicated to blurring the lines between art, art criticism and art education. In 2021, he was the first Indian artist to launch an NFT at Sotheby’s, New York, in partnership with BurningMan - a collaborative artwork created using brainwaves, AI and painting robots at Boundless Space. Raghava also worked on a collaborative AI artpiece created with Harshit Agrawal and 64/1, entitled Strange Genders; the piece was longlisted for the Lumen Prize 2021. He currently lives and works out of New York and Bangalore.
Founded by Tushar Jiwarajka in 2009, Volte Art Projects represents and works on projects with renowned and celebrated international contemporary artists and collectives, including Sheba Chhachhi, Francesco Clemente, Wim Delvoye, Ranbir Kaleka, William Kentridge, Mario Klingemann, Nalini Malani, Humans since 1982, SMACK, James Turrell and Based Upon. Over the past 12 years, it has achieved distinction as one of the most significant art initiatives in the Indian subcontinent. Today, following a move to the UAE, it envisions to become a leading gallery in the Middle East and foster and evoke an experiential and creative milieu within the contemporary art scene.
The curatorial programme will help introduce and realise large-scale and monumental projects by artists celebrated for their pioneering spirit of innovation, pushing boundaries and harnessing latest technologies. The UAE space is the gallery’s headquarters, adding to its roots in Mumbai and projects internationally. Jiwarajka says: “I’ve seen the region’s art scene grow exponentially in the past decade - hubs for contemporary art organisations have emerged, major institutional projects have come to fruition and a community of collectors has developed.
“Combined with the UAE’s proximity to Europe, Asia and the Americas, a gallery here therefore seemed the next logical step for us. Through a permanent space and dedicated programme in Dubai, we have the opportunity to share with cosmopolitan audiences, immersive works by artists new to this market, and to cultivate greater awareness through ambitious public art and private commissions.” Vilma Jurkute, Executive Director, Alserkal commented that “Alserkal has grown to become a blueprint for the region’s cultural economy, with Alserkal Avenue at the epicentre of the UAE arts scene, housing the most prominent art galleries showing both homegrown and international artist rosters. “As Dubai’s art scene continues to mature, our artistic community here is also evolving and growing. Volte Art Projects will contribute to this growth through its ambitious programme, further strengthening the arts ecosystem at large.”
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