A digital archive of Asian/Asian American contemporary art history

Dave, Vinod


"In general, my recent works are of popular nature. Though there is no 'Pop Art' category in India, all art forms, except so called mainstream contemporary art of art school generation, are of popular nature in some ways. From temple sculpture and classical miniature painting of religious and royal life to movie posters, calendars, match box and firecracker covers, popular acceptance has been a very important factor in Indian culture. In this sense, my works of celestial imagery have roots in India’s popular culture, mainly that of Sivakasi based poster industry. They are also connected to my preceding works of socially violent news photographic images.

However, they carry similar mark making and punctuating surface quality. Direct generalization of statement of photographic works is further generalized here to a point of only referring to the essence of a situation and it is made 'divine' out of the ordinary. This way, the transfigured has unmistakable quality of existing in real world. My Gods are real as they are personified celebrities, generals, even nations and vice versa.

By interpreting popular images of deities into personal statements, I have both paid homage to them and also, like an ordinary human being, 'quarreled with Gods' by viewing them with contemporary sensibilities and turning them into art of social context. Like an ordinary Indian, I have always been fascinated by stories and images of legendary Gods and demons including their miracles, strange wars, incredible flights and their multi-headed, multi-handed heavenly physique.

But my personal statement of social nature via deities is not a revolt and it is not to change or improve anything like in a movement. What I am trying to do more than anything else by painting this is to heighten the tension between superior and the inferior. Though the images painted refer mostly to the superior, their paraphernalia make the invisible presence of the other party felt indirectly. It is about the tension that connects to a sense of violence, a violence that can not be categorized; but it is there. And it is a violence between the powerful and the weak, the controller and the controlled, the master and the slave, the ruler and the ruled, the privileged and the deprived, the star and the masses, the equipped and the helpless, the special and the commonplace.

Whatever the significance of this situation, it is evident in life and society."

Vinod Dave, Artist Statement

Gallery of Selected Works