– Ringing the bell with artistic images inspired by stock market power. Sanjeev Khandekar’s exhibition opens in London’s West End – By James Brewer
In the last couple of years, the financial market “has become a kind of demigod in India, ” says the Mumbai-based artist Sanjeev Khandekar.
Liberalisation has freed big business to exert huge influence over the Asian powerhouse and elsewhere – for good or for ill?
In his new exhibition in London, Sanjeev Khandekar rounds up the markets of the world and rounds on their underlying chaotic nature. The viewer has to draw his or her own conclusions from his intriguing images, and to speculate whether the show’s title, Triumph of the Market, is drawn out of approbation or mere observation.
The tangle of markets and money has rarely been interpreted as graphically as this, and Sanjeev has not yet finished with the impact of the financial gyroscope – he is preparing yet more works on the theme in his studio back home.
Like the celebrities and company chiefs who are often invited to ring the opening bell of the New York stock exchange, a tradition taken up by the Mumbai exchange, Sanjeev issues a summons, in his case to awaken us to the contortions of the bizarre bazaars.
Bombay Stock Exchange or BSE, hosting 5, 000 companies with a total market capitalisation of $1trn, is the oldest and largest stock market in Asia, but Sanjeev looks far and wide to the might behind the other acronyms such as NYSE, CAC Mid 100, NASDAQ, DAX, TSX etc.
Given the dominance of screen-based trading there is no longer much the naked eye can see of physical activity in the markets, but Sanjeev takes as his starting point in his acrylics and marble inlay work the historic symbol of the ticker tape, which was in use in paper form for a century until 1970. In electronic form, the tape is a recognisable representation of the pulsing life of equities and commodities, and for Sanjeev it takes on sexual overtones: he sees the corporate jamboree as resembling a brutish mating game. He parallels the desire for accumulating power, as found in corporate board rooms, with sexual lust.
In this montage of market muddle, he expresses the twists and turns of naked capitalism, and seeks “to understand the internalisation of society’s obsession with money, power and consumerism.”
It is six years since the prolific painter, writer and poet found himself plunged into a freedom of expression battle. In a provocatively titled exhibition at Mumbai’s top Jehangir Gallery, one of his installations relating to the impact of market driven societies was deemed too steamy by the city police, who ordered the exhibits covered up and later took them away. A case was brought against him and another artist for allegedly “exhibiting obscene painting and sculptures, ” but he succeeded in getting it thrown out of court.
Triumph of the Market. Works by Sanjeev Khandekar, in association with Carola Syz Art Projects, at the Selma Feriani Gallery, 23 Maddox Street, London W1, until December 10 2012.