Now showing: Asian Express

In Places of Rebirth, Indo-Thai artist Navin Rawanchaikul takes you on a fiction-meets-reality journey across the places he calls home. Take a look at his works at Sakshi Gallery

For artist Navin Rawanchaikul (40), juggling identities is all in a day's work. The Hindu Punjabi artist's parents moved from Pakistan to India and ultimately settled down in Thailand where Navin was born. His wife is Japanese and he frequently shuffles between his adopted homeland Fukuoka (Japan) and his hometown in Chiang Mai (Thailand). The various lands he belongs to and the complex identities he juggles have inspired his latest exhibition -- Places of Rebirth.

Places of Rebirth is a billboard style painting that juxtaposes scenes
from life in India and Pakistan

The exhibition showcases acrylic and oil paintings that wander between imagination and reality and bridge generations and locations. Through the medium of billboard-style paintings, sculptures, video and sound installations, the exhibition tries to engage the viewers and encourages them to share their own tales in front of a camera at the gallery.

Mission Navinland is a sculpture that depicts Navin and his daughter Mari
waving the flag and passport of the fictional land, titled Navinland

Back to the roots
"Places of Rebirth was inspired by my visit to India and Pakistan a few years ago. I observed the people, visited various locations, browsed through old photo albums and tried to make sense of what I experienced. I hope the exhibition leads to a dialogue between different communities and makes them think about the future of society," says Navin. It took him close to two years to get this autobiographical odyssey in place.

According to the artist, the title of the exhibition is not to be taken literally. "Rebirth doesn't mean life after death but indicates the various places we migrate to and set up a new life for ourselves. It is a universal phenomena and during the exhibition I have met several people who have experienced such a rebirth," states Navin.

Quiz him about his obsession with billboard style paintings and he blames it on Bollywood. "I grew up watching Bollywood movies. Personally, I found them very kitschy but I internally assimilated it. Bill-boards announcing the movies were a large part of my growing up years and I am impressed by how they can bring art to the masses. Sadly, they are losing out in the digital era and this is an attempt to pay homage to them."

Wall of fame
Highlights of the exhibition include The Places of Rebirth which showcases Indian and Pakistani soldiers at the Wagah border and people from both countries lined up on either sides of the border. Navin's daughter, Mari, also features in several of the artworks including A Tale Of Two Sisters where she is offering a flower to Navin's mother who is working on her sewing machine, thus bringing two generations from the past and the present together on one canvas. Mari also features in Mission Navinland where Navin and his daughter are shown marching as soldiers with a flag and passport for Navinland, a fictional place where the artist's diverse identities, at last, blend seamlessly.

Did you know...

* The artist is known for establishing Navin Prod-uction Co. Ltd, through which he produced numerous projects in collaboration with creative people thus indicating that art need not be a solitary venture. The production company makes paintings, portraits, designs and scripts for inhouse projects. 
* One of his earlier projects, which was shown from 1995 to 1998, was titled Navin Gallery Bangkok. For the project, the artist colla-borated with a local taxi driver and converted his taxi into an art gallery where artists from Thailand and around the world could exhibit their works.
* He established a Navin Party in 2006 for fun where people named 'Navin' across Asia could claim membership. They would then swap stories from their lands. 
* Navin's family name was Rawal which his father changed to Rawanchaikul when they opted for a
Thai citizenship, three decades ago.

Till: November 22

At: Tanna House, Nathalal Parekh Marg, Colaba.
Call: 66103424

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