Death in a Rainforest
The present series is, in many ways, a meditation on image making and its relation to representation using the acts of mirroring, copying and tracing. This self-reflexive act brings together the manual (drawing on transparencies) and the mechanical (scanning these and mirroring image over image) marking a new moment in a career that has otherwise been largely associated with the medium of pen and ink on paper.
Woven throughout the exhibition are motifs that have played their parts in previous bodies of work: for instance the hidden antelope in Dowsing – Divining and Red Mask or the gingers in the series Phantom Limb and Wind in the Hall of Mirrors. These images are potent with symbolism. Nowhere is this more so than in the recurrence of the ‘peak’ motif.
Peaks, in the mind of the artist, represent a haunting desire to return home. This notion is writ large in the monumental pen and ink on paper work, Wrest in Peace. They are also infused into other works in more subtle guises as in the drawing of a Galapagos turtle skull (Untitled), the mountain-shaped pebble to be found on a shelf in the gallery, or the video of the Bandra-Worli Sealink (its ‘peaks’ seemingly afloat like ‘Snow hills in the air’ – the title being derived from Melville’s phrase to describe a vision of Moby Dick).
The works tantalise us with their almost there-ness. Like stories on the tip of the tongue, the imagery seems to suggest a narrative without ever submitting to a narrow reading. The trees in the exhibition (not-quite-copies of a found twig that is displayed in the gallery) are echoed, forest-like, throughout the space. Perhaps these are the very same trees that bore silent witness to the death-birth of the malformed baby, the metamorphosed ginger, that was the central character of Apang’s last body of work, How the Wind was Born, and who is apparent in many of the works in Death in a Rainforest.