Brief Artist's statement for the works collectively titled "LOL":
"It's a state of disillusioning amusement at the revelations of life as nothing is what it actually seems and there’s just no single way to look at or believe in the worldy offerings.
To sum up my state of mind, I would like to say it in popular internet lingo –
I’m lol at the lol….. I’m laughing out loud at the loss of logic…….lol"
essay by Arvind Vijaymohan
A study of Manil's practice over the last 5 years offers a clear insight into how sensitive he is as an artist. His constant concern has remained man's function and his role within the complex machinations of society. The journey from his early works which were bright and celebratory to his recent studies which were entirely bereft of colour is telling of the metamorphosis Gupta has undergone.
Manil’s latest showcase is in continuation of his quasi-pessimist take on man's failure to take charge of his wants. LOL in its multifarious interpretations (ranging from the obvious ‘laughing out loud’ to the inventive ‘loss of logic’ or the ironic ‘lack of laughter’), is a mockingly-apt summary of Manil's detached position on his favored muse - the social fabric of mankind. While the leitmotif has remained common over the years, the manifestation has undergone a thorough, startling transformation. With this series, Manil enters a phase of resigned acceptance of the obvious: that of society heading towards self-imposed obliteration. His protagonist is a form which has no bearings of colour – only black and white. Working with only these 2 tones is suggestive of Manil’s confidence in portraying his perspective with the utmost clarity. With no space of grey, there are only rights and wrongs in the presented environment. The organic forms are disturbing; seemingly descriptive of what lies beneath mankind’s polished, perfect exteriors. The visual vocabulary is enhanced by the interplay between the primary subject which grapples with multi-hued forms, ranging from foliage to mutated living forms to dismembered body-parts. The artist makes no attempt to temper the overt morbidity of the subjects by infusing colour into the otherwise stark visual landscape. On the contrary, colour is used to further enhance the grotesque façade, suggestive of man’s self-serving failings. Manil’s work showcases man as a mutated organism: constantly famished, fickle, unapologetically consumerist, dazed, uncomfortable in his own skin.
LOL is Manil's most ambitious leap yet...a major test where the young artist not only straddles the challenge of working across multiple mediums – monumental installations, large formats canvases and a body of delicately detailed watercolours; but also manages to create an engaging visual vocabulary by pitting his monochromatic protagonists with multiple-hued second players and backgrounds. The most promising component in Manil's dynamic, beyond his ambition, scale and vision is the manner in which practice has evolved. As an artist, he has not stopped asking questions. More importantly, this rare yearning for an answer has been channelised into his works which have grown in all sensibilities, visual as well as metaphoric. There is a sense of maturity one can sense with this show, the lucid comfort with which Manil has put forth LOL is a sharp indication of an artist growing into his environment.
Arvind Vijaymohan is the founder of The Japa Arts Advisory.