Pepper Cross E Catalogue

 

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Works by Subodh Kerkar, Organised by ArtEstate, venue Pepper House, Kochi

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Pepper Cross recent works by subodh kerkar

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AND present Pepper Cross recent works by subodh kerkar conceived by anoop kamath www.mattersofart.net at the pepper house, kalvathy road, fort kochi, kochi 682002 may 11 to june 20, 2013

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pepper cross Recent Works by Subodh Kerkar Exhibition at Pepper House Kalvathy Road, Fort Kochi, Kochi 682002 May 11 to June 20, 2013 Conceived by Anoop Kamath www.mattersofart.net Design Anoop Kamath Printing Archana Advertising, New Delhi Catalogue published by and copyright ArtEstate Kochi, Kerala For details contact 91 9496212997 Email: artestateindia@gmail.com www.artestate.blogspot.in

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foreword Ever since the appreciations from the visitors of ‘Small is Big 2012’ started pouring in, ArtEstate has been avidly looking out for the opportunities to bring out excellent art for the people of Kerala. In that context Anoop Kamath suggested we could work with Subodh Kerkar, who has distinguished works and a style of his own. But, what, how, where? were the questions that did not bring convincing answers. When Subodh Kerkar visited the Kochi Muziris Biennale, in March 2013, he confided a wish to do Pepper Cross show at Pepper House. The zeal, enthusiasm and sincerity were there in his voice and eyes, and that was enough for to us to turn our wheels. No sooner had Subodh left for Goa after watching biennale, than we contacted Issac Alexander of Pepper House with the zeal of Subodh on a platter. Issac cordially accepted to be support partner to Pepper Cross. A visit to Subodh’s gallery: Kerkar Art complex in Goa and a shamiana show at Saturday Night Market in Arpora, Goa, corroborated that we are privileged to host Pepper Cross in Kochi. On that Saturday evening, observing passer bys and visitors at the art shed brought me to deeper aspects of Subodh’s works. The visitors spent time looking at his works with awe, amazement, many posed stylishly near the art works for photographs as though they are standing with celebrities. Some people engaged in deep discussion about the works, many enquired about the works, its context, technique, price, availability, etc. These experiences not only convinced me that Pepper Cross would be an art feast to people of Kerala, but also generated deeper respect for Subodh’s works, for its originality and simplicity. This is our maiden solo show. Pepper Cross at Pepper House has photographs, sculptures and installations about a theme from history. There are about forty prominent works that has potential to raise interests in the viewers. We are sure that the visitors to this show will go back with revitalized feelings. Welcome all to Pepper Cross! Sasikanth Prabhu For ArtEstate

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THE PEPPER CROSS As an artist, I have a special relationship with the ocean. The ocean is my master and my muse. Having lived all my life on the seaside, the ocean has nurtured my dreams, my aspirations, my fantasies and my creativity. The ocean is both inside and outside my creations. It is no surprise then that my present set of works ‘The Pepper Cross’ is inspired by the ocean. In these works I have tried to explore the role of the ocean as the medium of intercontinental cultural diffusion. Life originated in the ocean and civilizations flourished on the shores of the seas. The history of human civilization is thus virtually interwoven with the ocean. My works attempt to precipitate that history. Navigational history of India dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization. Ships from Arabian and African coasts visited the port city of Lothal in Gujarat. The port of Muziris had a thriving trade with Roman and Egyptian cities ever since the 3rd century BC. A document signed between an Egyptian and Muziris merchant in the 2nd century BC was used to get a loan from a Roman bank. This document known as Muziris Papyrus is preserved in a Vienna museum. The ‘Age of Discovery’ was a period starting in the early 15th century and continuing to the 17th century during which Europeans explored Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania. Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and other explorers embarked on adventurous voyages in search of alternative trade routes to India, moved by the lucrative trade of spices, gold, silver and opium, while the spreading of Christianity was as well a mission of great importance. In 1488, the Portuguese navigator Bartholomew Diaz reached the Indian Ocean along the Atlantic coast of Africa. In 1492, the Spanish monarch funded Christopher Columbus’s plan to sail west to reach India by crossing the Atlantic. He landed on the unchartered continent America. Columbus however thought that he had discovered the route to India, and in his lifetime never realized his folly. In 1498, Vasco da Gama reached India as the first European by sailing around Africa, opening direct trade with Asia. The ‘Age of Discovery’, also known as the ‘Age of Exploration’, served as a bridge between the middle ages and the modern era, ushering in a new age of scientific and intellectual inquiry, and trade. Objects and ideas travelled to new shores. The Indian Ocean witnessed 60 per cent of the world trade. The Age of Globalization had already begun long before the term was invented. Vasco da Gama’s

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discovery changed the fate of the Indian sub-continent. As the author Manohar Malgonkar puts it, “History itself was a passenger on Sao Gabriel, Vasco da Gama’s ship.” The Portuguese were responsible not only to change the political, social and religious destiny of Goa (and India) but also bring about a revolution in Indian kitchens. Chillies, tomatoes, potatoes, pineapples, cashew and many other fruits and vegetables were brought into the country. The techniques of baking bread and distilling spirits were introduced. A variety of mangoes were grafted. Umpteen other culinary novelties were introduced. Through my installations and sculptures in this exhibition, I endeavor to stir that history. My works are mnemonic devices of history. The Pepper Cross The Portuguese came to Goa for taking over the pepper trade from the Arabs and spreading the Christian faith. When they left in 1961 after a not very uneventful stay of 450 years, over 50 per cent of Goa’s population was Catholic (today, with the population almost doubled, less than 30 per cent of Goans are Christian). Relating to this intermingling of trade and faith, I have created my sculpture of a cross by using a one hundred year old hull of a fishing boat and a pair of oars. The entire sculpture is covered with textures depicting peppercorns. The Chillies The trans-oceanic commerce led to an interesting exchange of plants and foods. Chillies have become such an integral part of Indian cuisine that very few Indians are aware that they are not indigenous. Before 1500, Indian curries were not red. Chillies sailed to India from South America on a Portuguese Caravella around the beginning of the 16th century and spread all over the country and in South East Asia in less than 50 years. Today India is the largest producer of chillies in the world, producing a million tons annually and consuming 90 per cent of it locally. I have created my chilly sculptures using fiberglass and used tyre skins. To use old truck tyres as the surface texture of the chilly, I am connecting it back to trade, since trucks in modern India are an important means to transport goods across the country. The Cotton Pods Cotton from India was very popular in the west from times immemorial. Apart from spices, cotton was one of the major Indian export commodities. In 1350, John Mandeville, an Englishman wrote about a tree which grew wool: “There grows in India a wonderful tree which bears tiny lambs on the end of its branches. These branches are so pliable that they bend down to allow the lambs to feed when they are hungry.” The idea of a “tree which grew wool” is retained in some European languages. The name for cotton in German is Baumwolle (Baum = tree, Wolle = wool). My cotton pods, relating to this aspect of history, are decorated with patterns of crochet since that technique of knitting tablecloths, bedspreads, etc. with thin threads of cotton was introduced to India by the Portuguese.

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I have created a cotton field with 15 sculptures of cotton pods, which are mounted on a wooden podium. One of the sculptures bears the head of a lamb. Chicken Cafreal During the 16th century the Portuguese brought thousands of African slaves in Goa. Slave trade was an important revenue earner for the Portuguese. A lot of Hindu merchants also participated in the trade. As a story goes: The African slaves were also recruited in the Portuguese army. In one such Army Camp the slaves cooked some chicken using local spices and coriander. (Coriander came from Europe). The Portuguese officer liked the chicken and named it ‘Chicken Cafreal’. It was called Cafreal because the black Negros were called ‘Kafirs’ by the Arabs. Chicken Cafreal has become the most popular dish of Goa as well as Portugal. The ‘Rooster of Barcelos’ has become a national souvenir of Portugal. The myth of the Rooster is very interesting. Lot of silver was stolen from the little town of Barcelos. A young Spanish stranger who was passing through the town was arrested and charged with the theft. The Judge sentenced him to death by hanging. When asked what his last wish was, the young Spaniard said that he would like to meet the Judge. There was a banquet going on at the Judge’s house when the young prisoner was produced before him. The prisoner pleaded with the Judge that he was innocent. The prisoner said that the Roast Chicken would start crowing if he was hung. When they put the noose around the prisoner’s neck, the Roast Chicken actually stood and started crowing. The prisoner was set scot free. Since then the Rooster of Barcelos (Galo de Barcelos) has become a symbol of Portugal. The Bread India ate chapattis, the flat bread made with freshly kneaded dough without yeast. The Portuguese taught baking bread “the European way” to the people of Majorda, a small fishing village in South Goa. Most bakers in Goa trace their ancestry to that village. In the early years, before yeast was available, ‘Sur’, the fermented juice of coconut inflorescence was used for baking. For a few hundred years bread was consumed only by the Catholic community, while the Hindus stuck to chapattis, considering fermentation as polluting. This has to be understood in the context of Hindu culture, since food has been a decisive factor of caste affiliation. Thus breads (and other foods, such as meat) were used to force conversions. If a Hindu ate bread he was thus pronounced converted to the Christian faith, because to eat polluted food meant to loose ones caste status. A piece of bread thrown in a Hindu well was enough to “baptize” the water and those who drank it. In Goa breads are made in different shapes. I have created three sculptures of bread which are popular in Goa and have a ‘butterfly’ form. They are called ‘Katreache Pao’. The surface of my bread sculptures bear the sea routes of Bartholomew Diaz, Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama.

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Indigo Indigo is the colour which has seduced the world for centuries. The dye is extracted from a plant Indigofera tinctoria and related species. India grew indigo ever since the Indus Valley civilization, 2000 BC. The pigment was an important part of the cargo on the Caravellas, sailing to the west through the blue waters of the Indian Ocean. I covered some rocks on the seaside in Goa with indigo during the low tide and waited for the high tide to rise and wipe off the pigment. I have also used indigo to create chillies, cashew, capsicum, potatoes and pineapples. In Memory of the Horse Trade The port of Goa was a major port catering to the horse trade with Arabia. The Arabian horses were the most sought after studs for the cavalries of Indian monarchs. Some of them had a fleet of over 1,00,000 horses. For centuries 50 per cent revenue of the state of Goa was acquired through horse trade. The horse trade was of such importance that ships venturing out to buy horses had to leave behind a surety in Goa to guarantee their return to Goa’s port with their precious cargo. The demand of horses was so great that Arabia did not have enough grass to breed horses. Grass was exported from Goa to Arabia to meet the demands. One of the major ports for the horse trade was Goapattanam, the present day Goa Velha, which is on the banks of the Zuari River, not too far from Panjim, the Capital. When the port was silted because of floods in the 12th century, it was moved to Old Goa. The ruins of the docks of the port still exist. In memory of the horse trade, I created horseshoe patterns on the shores of Goapattanam using shells collected from the same beach. Another work of mine titled ‘El Khamsa’ is also connected with horses. There is a wonderful story about horses which involves Prophet Mohammad. The prophet was a great connoisseur of horses. One evening after the day’s hard work, he commanded his horses to run to a nearby oasis to drink water. Hundreds of horses bolted towards the oasis. When the horses were about to reach the water, the prophet blew his horn and commanded the horses to come back. Only five horses obeyed the master’s command. The rest of the horses were too thirsty to bother about the call. ‘Khamsa’ means ‘five’ in Arabic. The prophet named the horses El Khamsa. Arabs believe that great breeds of Arabian horses have descended from El Khamsa, the famous five. The Earth Bowl I found a flat rock projecting into the sea at Ozran, Small Vagator Beach, Anjuna. It was like a ramp for the waves to stage a catwalk. Water had collected in little depressions in the rock. I thought, it was a perfect canvas for an artistic intervention. I decided to carve out a perfect bowl in the rock, about two meters in diameter. The high tide would bring water into my bowl. The oceans of the world have no boundaries. They are true vehicles of universal brotherhood. Life originated in the ocean. History of

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human civilization is dissolved in it. Currents of the ocean carry memories of voyages. The sea water collected in my bowl will carry all that history and all those memories. My work will precipitate history. My bowl is a symbol of one world. I decided to call it ‘The Earth Bowl’ or ‘Prithvi Kund’. The pepper cross is an ongoing series, exploring the ancient navigational history. The ocean has remained a constant source of inspiration to me. My art bathes in the vastness of the ocean. Waves of ideas rise deep inside my conscience and break on the shores of my expression. I love to sit on the shore and watch waves. The waves break and the surf hurries on to the shore, wetting sand. Most waves wet the same sand which was wet before. Then a big wave emerges, and rushes far ahead, wetting new sand. In my artistic endeavors that wave is an inspiration for me. It is most important ‘to wet’ new sand in any creative exercise. In that sense waves become a source of all creative endeavors and I wonder: In my own artistic practice, have I wet new sand? Subodh Kerkar April 2013

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The Pepper Cross - I Hull of an old boat and oars 160 cm x 100 cm x20 cm

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The Pepper Cross - II Parts of Used Boat and Bronze 100 cm x 70 cm s 15 cm

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