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     Volume 5 Issue 100 | June 23, 2006 |

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Strange World Indeed

Mustafa Zaman

Four mutant-like figures have turtles as their faces; a burning candle takes the shape of an old hag; A group of mutants, whose body structures imitate the steps of the stairs they are ascending, are known by their national emblem, which is the chilly; these are the unusual takes on a world that Ronni Ahmmed brings into existence to defy logic, laws and ideologies of the world he himself lives in. In fact the world that the artist strives to create is a world that is tangentially related to the "real world", if there is such a thing. In fact Ronni's work calls into question this very idea of living in a world that is knowable as well as definable.

As far as his pictorial language is concerned he has his own explanation. "In each picture I try to freeze a moment in the time of the pseudo world that is the creation of my imagination. They are the myths of a mythical society that runs parallel to the world I live in," says Ronni, who is having his fourth solo exhibition at the Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts.

What is the object of creating a world that runs counter to the world we already have some knowledge about? Do the fantastic features and the strange creatures that are the hallmarks of this created world shoo us away from our own realities? Is it a way to transcend the reality that bites at our conscience? Standing vis-à-vis the latest works of the artist one can only say that these seemingly fantastic images bring us closure to the realisation that reality itself is a very complex proposition and is, in most part, hinged on irrationality, no matter how hard we try to define it or reshape it according to human logic. And on top of that the way we perceive our immediate realities leave us no choice but to bring into play our most powerful sense -- imagination.

Meeting of the Multinationals, acrylic on canvas

It is with imagination that Ronni creates the world marked by hyperbole. In his world creatures create myths, they engage themselves in technological endeavours, they compete with each other in pursuit of unknown goals, they even inflict pain on each other without much consequence. In fact in this bizarre world all actions are futile, they have no fruitful ends. The mutants, that at times look bestial and occasionally look closer to humans, are engaged in absurd exercises and are utterly oblivious of the result that they might accrue. It is this sense of futility that the artist brings to bear on every aspect that he depicts of his strange parallel civilisation. Ronni's world can at best be summed up as a cutting parody of the world we live in.

"I want to pin point the main political ballgames rather than what happens on the surface-level. One can depict Iraqis dying at the hands of the Americans in Iraq that would amount to depicting surface-level politics. What I want to allude to is the

The Supernatural Family Showing Respect to their Natural Neighbour, charcoal on paper

knowledge and ideologies that are being invested in the escapades of the multinational companies. That is why I deliberately strike at the centre of knowledge and try to find an alternative to the usual alternative way of thinking," Ronny throws light on his own logic behind his freakish creations. As he prefers to raise questions about how reality and its interpretations are being thoroughly manipulated by the people at the helm, he avoids making straightforward political comments through his works. It is because of this very reason that he chooses to express himself in sharply absurdist terms.

Ronny calls his recent show, "Tales of Pseudo Myth" and in it he brings together a flurry of images, both small and big, that cross the boundary of rationality to bring to the fore the anarchy that rules over international politics as well as the private domain of the individual.

Nothing is sacred in Ronni's world. All characters and their actions tellingly transcribe an exhaustively dehumanised condition that has been prevalent for very long, or so it seems after surveying most of the images. The epic dimension that the artist is able to defuse in all his pseudo myths makes viewing engaging. The huge canvas of the "Meeting of the Multinational," or the medium sized "The Man Who Can Celebrate His Own Death According to the Lemon Clock," are such overpeopled and chaotic images. They are also the testimony of the futility of the technological advancement, which seems like a hoax to the artist. These are expressive canvases, where the mutants are married to devices born out of strange science.

As far as his ability to probe deep into the unconsciousness is concerned, Ronni resorts to minimisation of elements. However his linguistic note remains as high-strung as it is intellectually loaded in many a complex visual proposition. In this particular show, through many a charcoal drawing, the artist takes swipes into the unimaginable and incomprehensible. "The Supernatural Family Showing Respect to their Natural Neighbour," where circular heads are connected with a cord, or in "Funeral of a Perfect Infant who Never Wrote a Letter to Plato," he is abstruse but highly enjoyable.

His take on human condition too has an absurdist tilt. In "Three Exclusive Specialist Discussing Absolutely Nothing" three monolithic structures topped with human heads come together to discuss nothing. Paintings of similar strain abound this show. A poignant take on absurdist theme is the work titled "The Largest Stone Had an Intimate Pet", where a strange animal with its tentacle upped stands resolutely beside a black stub of a stone. With these kind of works the artist simply challenges our ability to react in a rational manner while vis-a-vis an irrational going on.

First Supper in the Garden of Mushroom, the Night Before the Next World War, acrylic on canvas

To design the show called "Tales of Pseudo Myth", other than displaying works that were done on canvases with acrylic and a plethora of charcoal drawings on papers, Ronni brought together a number of sculptures. They compliment his prominent motifs on the two dimensional surfaces. In fact the most ingenious sculptural motifs were those that the artist concocted by altering the indigenous "da", "curani" and "sarta" into mutants, the former is the traditional kitchen cutter and the latter are used in procuring coconut shavings and cutting the betel nut respectively.

"Tales of Pseudo Myth" does what the artist intends to do, to leave the uninitiated perplexed and the initiated with a strong sense of joy. The sheer power of creativity of this thirty-plus artist has overshadowed whatever borrowing that has enriched his vocabulary. If Max Ernst or Salvador Dali, the two major exponents of European surrealism, provided him with a springboard for his forays of last ten years, it is also true that Ronni has built on the principles of surrealism by annexing a new world to the old one, a world that is undoubtedly his own. In this show he has even devised a script, which no one would be able to read, but which strives to provide a means (only on the conceptual level) to narrate the goings on of his strange world.

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