Yoganathan’s new age Ramayan

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Mortality by Vasantha Yogananthan
An Eye For An Eye, from the series A Myth of Two Souls

In religious festivals and yearly ceremonies all over India, Ramayan’s tales of valour, loyalty, and love are still told and performed thousands of years after they were first written. Drawing inspiration from the impact of this omnipresent cultural myth on everyday Indian life, Vasantha has retraced Rama’s legendary route from north to south India for A Myth Of Two Souls, a photographic reimagining of the classic tale that sits somewhere between documentary, fiction, mythology and reality.

Demigod | Vasantha Yogananthan

A contemporary representation of Lord Vishnu and his reincarnation, Lord Rama of the Ramayana, can be found in Yogananthan’s Demigod picture. This portrait conveys a profound sensitivity and vulnerability instead of painting him as an all-powerful, hypermasculine persona. His skin is dyed a blue colour that resembles the colour of gods in ancient tales, but his face serves as a reminder of his human qualities. The Ramayana describes a sea monster that emerged from Sri Lankan waters and served as a barrier for the gods. The man in the fishing nets holding out his hand in the Sea Monster painting serves as a reminder of the modern-day sea monsters, which are man and his interventions. After destroying the sea, the hand seems to grasp into the atmosphere. In Yogananthan’s works, the blending of mythology and modern India is a recurrent theme.

Dandaka | Vasantha Yogananthan

Dandaka honours the mythological origins of what is now known as Dandakaranya, Ravana’s ancestral home. The picture is made up of forest trees, which stand in for changes in human morality and behaviour as well as the tenacity of nature. A Myth of Two Souls is a contemporary retelling of the Ramayana and, as such, a visual representation of an Indian culture and westernisation transition. The photography of Vasantha Yogananthan represents Indian mythology and the recounting of The Ramayana in a sombre, yet appreciable, new way.

Sea Monster | Vasantha Yogananthan

Vasantha Yogananthan is an award-winning French artist whose practice addresses the space between documentary and fiction. His seven-book project A Myth of Two Souls combines a wide range of techniques, including colour photography, hand-painted photography, collages and video installation. Using theatrically staged portraits, the series interweaves fictional and historical stories, old and new traditions. As well as large colour prints, black and white photographs have been painstakingly hand-painted – a technique traditionally reserved for household portraits of wealthy patrons but subverted in Vasantha’s photographs. Working exclusively in analogue, using large or medium format cameras that intentionally slow down the creative process, Vasantha’s projects are often developed over long periods of time, harnessing a distinctive colour palette based on natural light.

The Return To The Palace | Vasantha Yogananthan

A Tale of Two Souls is on show at Assembly Gallery in Houston, U.S.A. The show started on 9th September and will be on show till 29th of October. The show takes us from the seacoast of Sri Lanka, to the city of Ayodhya, to the jungle of Bihar, India. Ultimately, civilization gradually disappears altogether to leave room for a purely metaphysical space. The Ramayana has neither end, nor beginning. It represents the circle of life, and therefore it will always be.]


Courtesy: Anvita Brahmbhatt

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