Binoy has skin-deep look at people

- Uma Nair (Asian Age)         

Gallerie Nvya’s two-person show is indeed an amalgamation of chalk and cheese. Because Maya Burman’s works have nothing to do with Binoy’s and the issues created speak differently. So let us look at it differently, because Maya has a felicity with line and her works mull over just events and people who are strewn over her frames.

The works that stand out in their intensity in this show are Binoy’s because he creates canvasses from digital prints. Selecting dark or brown complexioned persons or little girls and boys becomes a statement in positioning the power of skin rather than any other process in the epic of life’s leanings. Through the little girls in their burkhas with unidentifiable complexion (however, a burkha clad figure anticipates a brown skinned woman in it), Binoy postulates very subtly for us the human body as information.

Binoy says that the physical body of a person has become the embodiment of information regarding his “dentities”. Had biometric information been used once to locate a criminal, now it has become a tool to control and categorise the global mobility of human beings. Biometric data production, digitisation and informatisation of personal details etc have rendered the human body a “moving passport” according to him. Binoy addresses these issues through iconic placement of dark complexioned persons (a universal marker for criminals, aliens, migrants, coolies, the deprived and the destitutes) in his pictorial planes.

What endears is the reality that the skin tones have a density, and a definite charm and charisma about them. The idea of using titles like “Refugees in their own land”presents brilliantly the political connotations that underly his very sensibility. The temple imagery with the young widow sitting in forlorn loneliness is so much a solitary sign of angst in modern times.

Surreal are the syncopations of the figures-myth and modern history that vie with each other for space on the canvas. The poise and sense of gesture of the maiden innocent looking widow becomes a testimony to the nuances of what life presents and the gap between expectations and reality. Indeed the little girl clad in white sari could be a stigma as well as a stance of life’s rituals and customs as followed so zealously in Tamil Nadu.

The second work with the same name has this series of burkha clad girls sitting with books, which is a phenomenal take on the positing and powerful quest of literacy as well as the lingua franca of empowerment that comes up in its wake.
Then there is the pathos filled image of the little boy who looks into your eyes and makes you want to reach out and touch him, could denote child labour When he had a solo at Palette Art Gallery years ago Binoy’s works reflected an embodiment of substance and structure as well as challenge and redemption.

He challenges the traditionally held views like the body being the abode of soul or black connoting ugly. He challenges the mediatised images of women as ‘timeless’ beauties. He redeems his protagonists by putting them in places they “belong”.

By pushing the very portrait to the lower ends of the canvas, at times, Binoy displaces all what could be called “beautiful” and brings his heartfelt issues to the fore. In his works, Binoy celebrates life, history, home and the colour of skin. Of course one recalls William Blake and his poem of the Little Black Boy and you wonder at how so many electronic years hence, human predicaments haven’t changed because we are still a compendium of “races within races”. Binoy Verghese has grown in evolution as well as his own elegiac renditions of man’s moorings in a world so divided by caste and creed and skin tones.

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