Riyas Komu has arrived at what is perhaps the logical recourse for a practice that has spent many years preoccupied with representations of Mahatma Gandhi. It is an arrival best described by the triptych Dhamma Swaraj (2017), where three successive panels overlap portraits of Gandhi and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. The first panel holds Gandhi in louder focus, while gradually moving to the third, where the portrait of Gandhi is overwhelmed by that of Ambedkar. The work is contemporary in a self-conscious way - representative of the fact that critical discourse too, has veered from Gandhi to Ambedkar, yet continues to obsess over a relationship (and comparison) between the two. Komu does not resolve the conceit, but merely presents it: should the two continue to be paralleled? Perhaps the critique is in the commission - one must fade from view for the other to emerge.
Komu works with a variety of medium: woodcut, sculpture, video, and archival print. The work is confrontational, and unresolved; what might be seen as a remote aestheticization of an otherwise active public discourse.
- Skye Arundhati Thomas