Moving Images : studies, drawings, collages and paintings by Madhav Imartey

20 Sep 2014

Moving Images
Text by Jesal Thacker, 2014


"Moving Images”, in the field of visual art, is acquainted and associated with a sense of technologically enforced movements. It is intentional to use the term for this exhibition with a multi-layered connotation. Moving Images in its most literal sense means a play of still images flowing in a linear or annular direction. Another abstract implication of the term, defines the images as emotive, dramatic and stirring. Madhav Imartey engages with these various aspects of movement - organic, conceptual and subliminal, and the exhibition attempts to trace this synchronised visual formation.
Imartey’s trajectory begins from 1972 when he arrived in Bombay from his hometown Nagpur. With a harbored interest to understand the elements of art, Imartey joined Sir JJ School of Arts in 1975 and later also studied music, acquiring a Bachelors and Masters from the Bombay University. Never having an interest to really exhibit or perform, Imartey explored both streams of fine arts through an intense unconventional learning with artist Dilip Ranade, Prabhakar Barwe and musicologist Ashok Ranade. He developed a keen interest in writing, and contributed regularly in Loksatta, Navshakti, Maharastra Times, Lokaprabhat and Sakaal, writing reviews for art exhibitions and classical cassettes. Seldom did Imartey exhibit as he profusely focused on seeing, listening, reading and writing.
Moving Images, explores these subtleties that have impressed upon Imartey, which he has eloquently explored through his works from 1990 to the present. Using elements such as typewriter, stove, traditional telephone, home making juicer, household appliances, machines, electrical transmission towers and sometimes actually using the tickets and postcards as collages, he transforms each one into an orchestrated visual image. The redundant object gets a musicality of its own that is not necessarily classical in nature, but instead reflects strokes of pure sound that emanates from the object while being transformed into an image. The formed image is vibration in motion and in doing so Imartey doesn’t melt the image into complete abstraction, but retains the physicality of the object as one complete recognisable form. Unconventional objects muse Imartey, an interest similar to Prabhakar Barwe and Dilip Ranade, also tracing back to Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades who redefined the aesthetics of objects. Duchamp's intention, although, was to extract the general connotation of aesthetic beauty or ugliness and deal with indifference, whereas Barwe’s and Ranade’s approach is visually relational, mnemonic and satirical. Imartey’s oeuvres are quite different, there is a more conceptual and abstract relation with the object and the expressions are spontaneous, as though the sound was acting through them, a concept developed by American artist and composer, John Cage. Cage redefined notions of rhythm and harmony in music compositions and through his studies in Indian Philosophy and Zen Buddhism came to the idea of aleatoric or chance-controlled music. Cage described music as "a purposeless play" which is "an affirmation of life – not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we're living”. 
The exhibition traces these discourses around the aesthetics of composing objects and sound. Including texts by DG Godse, mesostics by John Cage and notations by Prabhakar Barwe and also screening films of Marcel Duchamp, John Cage and Bill Viola, thus creating a dialogue across decades.
Also screening Marcel Duchamp and John Cage directed by Shigeko Kubota and video works by Bill Viola - Migration and The Reflecting Pool - Collected Work 1977-80, through the exhibition duration.