Born 1963 in Kerala, India
Lives and works in Mumbai, India
Bose Krishnamachari is an artist and curator whose artistic practice includes bold abstract paintings, figurative drawings, sculpture, photography and multimedia installations. While stylistically varied, a common thread throughout his work is a critique of power structures that operate within the art world and more broadly in contemporary society. In his first solo show in 1990, Krishnamachari deployed a minimalist style, producing an abstract black on black with white perforated paper, reminiscent of Braille. As viewers could neither touch nor read the language an ironic comment on contemporary culture, and art gallery decorum in particular could be understood.
In both his art and his curating, Krishnamachari examines the art historical canon and exposes its inequalities. De-Curating – Indian Contemporary Artists, 2003, included 94 sketches and paintings of living Indian artists – both well-established and emerging practitioners. The works resulted from three years of travelling across India, meeting, talking, photographing and drawing. This journey was, in his words, ‘a hand-made tribute to the memory of that “whole-time worker”, the artist’ and undermines the value judgements of art history, presenting the artists as equally significant. Krishnamachari’s desire to support and promote lesser-known artists also extends to his curatorial activities he has previously devised exhibitions that offer Indian artists visibility in larger cities and opportunities for exposure within the international contemporary art world.
Other works by Krishnamachari look beyond the art world, and seek to examine the psyche of the ‘average Mumbaikar’ and make visible what he describes as the ‘ocean of anxieties that have arisen from the everyday question of acceptance’. One series includes six large ballpoint pen portraits of household staff from the artist’s Mumbai residence, as well as 108 photographic portraits of individuals who participant in the artist’s life, keeping alive the encounters he had with them. These works are a reminder of how the wealth and class are still dividers in contemporary Indian society.
The large-scale multimedia installation Ghost / Transmemoir 2008 takes a different approach to mapping Mumbai. The work comprises 108 used tiffin boxes suspended from a frame and wired with headphones and miniature screens. Tiffin boxes play a central role in Indian life, with millions being filled daily by housewives, collected, exchanged, re-exchanged and sorted until the right home-cooked lunch reaches the right office-worker. Overall, the installation captures some of the buzz and chaos of the street, while the small screens present interviews with people from Mumbai. These portray their thoughts, celebrations, frustrations, religions and emotions, and are a reminder of the individual voices and stories to be found amongst a total of 20.8 million Mumbaikar.
In another installation, Krishnamachari takes a more overtly political standpoint, commenting on the press conference platforms used by the perpetrators of war to justify their actions. White Builders and the Red Carpets, 2008, presents 108 microphones on a long red table, poised for a press conference. Behind the table, 13 white chairs with backs shaped like imposing architectural forms, represent the kind of powerful individuals who would address the press at such an event symbolising their ambitions as ‘builders’ - who perpetuate wars for economic gain. The specific number of chairs is also a reference to Leonard Da Vinci’s The Last Supper and a reminder of the frequent role played by religion in the culture of war. White Builders and the Red Carpets is also a commentary on the distribution of information, and how crucial it may be for survival in the new media era where numerous 24 hour news channels operate where once there was scant distribution and access to such media.
Ghost / Transmemoir, 2006-08