Krishnaraj Chonat / Bangalore

Photo : Natasha Vuillon


The practice of Bangalore-based artist Krishnaraj Chonat is developed through intense periods of research and long-term projects. Working in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, ins- tallation and collaborative projects, his works explore the multitude and complexity of challenges within our contemporary society. Often delving into his own experiences and the profound changes occurring in his home country as well as in the Western world, he displays an inclination for skillfully combining the thoughts of ancient philosophies and modern attitudes and speaks about a wide range of sensitive issues in their political, cultural and environmental scope. Many of his recent pro- jects have also explored olfaction as an artistic tool for evoking an emotional response and creating a strong resonance with the audience.

His works have been widely exhibited around the world, most notably at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Mori Museum, Tokyo, Essl Museum, Vienna, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Devi Art museum, New Delhi and other prominent venues

Photos : Jean-Michael Seminaro

First rain

Engaging with the idea of how our small actions and everyday choices have far-reaching consequences for our own future and the future of our planet as a whole, I’ve conceived a project that calls upon the rarely discussed enormous potential and abstract dimension of smell and how it can be harnessed in an art project. Subjective and contextual in nature, the human faculty of smell and its importance in our perception of the world is only now beginning to be researched and fully understood. It simply speaks to how our individual and collective perspectives are formed and underlines the fact that if there is anything we all have in common, it is that we ARE all different.

First rain seeks to beckon audiences through a combined experience of olfactory resonance and tactility of form and material, evoking deep-seated personal responses to both perceived and imagined smell memories. While the primacy of sight over all other senses is a given in our contemporary society, smell remains the last bastion of materiality still resisting digitization. The tenuous embrace of the natural and the artificial is explored here through the use of industrial and post-industrial materials, such as refrigeration and air conditioning, that have become remnants of paradoxes and systems and contribute significantly to global warming: cooling the inside while warming the outside!

Melding sculptural elements with the ephemeral and the invisible, this project seeks to appeal to each individual’s highly personal olfactory memories in the firm belief that the resonance produced by art does have the power to effect change [however subtle], as each breath taking smell deep within us travels straight to our hearts to choose between affection and contempt, disgust and lust, love and hate. How we put our collective subjectivities together in the service of the greater is perhaps one of the greatest challenges facing mankind today!

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