Art that utilizes words as its 'paintbrush' is particularly intriguing: as opposed to an abstract stroke and a symbolic color, text is codified, sending great big brainwaves of pre-conceived associations. Its foundations lie in a system of signs and signifiers, with sounds and symbols that represent each word, syllable and letter. (See what all those 's's did to that sentence, visually and aurally?)
When written, these letters contain a shape and form; when spoken, they carry a certain rhythm and character; and when strung together in a deliberate order, they assume a concept, a meaning and an effect.
Indian visual culture is stamped by signs of language: writing occurs not only in the form of books, but also manifests as graffiti, religious and political slogans, spiritual statements, law and order, advertisements.
This is perhaps the limiting and the thrilling aspect of word art: from the fountain pen on paper arrives a story but this is only the source, through which multiple layers of craft meander.
Our text art issue addresses that writing which extends from pure functionality into the aesthetic realm. This issue spans the shapes and fonts of letters, tattooing poetry and ideology on one's skin, utilizing text from pop culture within a canvas and writing self-conscious fiction through ball-point graphics. Words are nurturing as they are dangerous; they are mysterious as they are lucid; they are of the mind, body and soul simultaneously and they are nostalgic as they are alienating.
Nikhil More revives the analog artist with the creation of a print-only font that transforms Western calligraphy into the Devanagiri script.
Isha Manchanda writes a personal story about her own tattoos in order to evoke the ideological staking of territory amongst the Ramnami people, who, banned from entering temples, have inked 'Ram' across their bodies. The image of skin writing is as beautiful as it is painful.
Hema Upadhyay utilizes tiny images to tell big, public stories. She plays with scale, and with painting and collage to reflect the constant against the dynamic.
In Extra Ordinary, strips of text (on urbanity and thought) are bundled, as a bushel of grass, against a distant, industrializing horizon. A breathless story about our cities, their industrialization and the suffocation of natural life unfolds.
There's a lot going on both formally as well as in narrative, but this is her ultimate message: the cityscape is hard to grasp.
Ravisha Mall interviews the makers of Them Pretentious Basterds, a graphic magazine that is arbitrary and very pretentious in its nature and philosophies, self-conscious, self-published, ironic and satirizes everything through quips, sharp wit and rhetorical dialogue.
How does the shape of a letter somehow inform the meaning of a word? How does the form of a poem create the plight of its subject, how can a title change its image, how does the craft of stringing words together mimic the craft of painting a canvas?
As usual, all our artists, as our writers, are below the age of 40. The are all seeking new, sublime ways to tell a story.
Search for the bends, angles and sounds in the stories we put forth: a meta-textual atmosphere of word art and all the signs that we have created in order to understand.
Wishing you a slow read,
Every sunbeam, every strain of music, every sapling and starfish is ultimately the regeneration of a previous something, a collection of somethings, taking on new shape. At the most indivisible level we can comprehend, all life is nothing more than atoms and molecules dancing their way through various forms. And if everything comes from something, it stands to reason that everything must go to something as well.Read More