The socio-political context has been an important dialogue for the artists in
India's neighboring region. Art has always had the ability to voice or sway an
opinion, spread an idea, and try to enact a change within society.
The four artists, Mahbubur Rahman, Pala Pothupitye, Subrat Kumar Behera and Youdhishtir Maharjan, from the South Asian Region have often broached the context of 'belonging' & 'identity', amidst various socio-political issues in their respective regions.
Mahbub uses stainless steel surgical scissors to comments on the political turmoil in Bangladesh and its impact on the social structure. He is known to use his body to create a sense of belonging and identity in a country that has been torn in multiple politically charged struggles- be it the colonial impact, the freedom from Pakistan and the current state of the country. Indeed, much of his works stem from two wars, one in 1947 and one in 1971, which have shaped Bangladesh through partition and forced migration, given the changing national borders between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Pothupitiye's artworks focus on the cast, nation and country he belongs to, and how belongingness perceived by oneself and others lead to social injustice and conflicts. His award winning 'Jaffna Map' and other 'map-works' talk about how boarders and boundaries depict to whom the land belongs to and how it has led to bloodshed. 'Belonging' in a very intimate sense is smeared in his personal, daily sketches and drawings. Love, affection as well as their absence and loneliness seems a lesser issue for him compared to the broader social and political issues that his country face.
Subrat's art has a lot to with the creation of a phantasmagoric world that the spectator enters. He unleashes his imagination and lets his fantasies unfold one after the other in this world. It is a world that transcends the limitations of physical reality; limitations that could become barriers in the expression of his thought and skill. His art is the process of a personal journey of myth making that gives him the freedom, to seek and probe not only his own creative avenues, but also the lived experiences of humanity in general. These elements merge with the daily banal, to create a dialogue between the past and the present. The spaces that he shows in his works are spaces we see every day, spaces we are familiar with but spaces we never want to occupy.
Youdhishtir was born and raised in Nepal, currently living in the USA, while his works are being most embraced in India. His existence as a person and as an artist transcends border, language, and race, yet he is again and again dragged back to his birth identity, constantly reminding him that he cannot escape it. His works and engagement with the process allows him to transcend the world of opposites and labels--and be simply him--charging him with the love and compassion that is so desperately needed to share with anyone and everyone who directs hatred, anger and fear against him simply because he is different from them.
Mahbubur Rehman, Bagladesh
Pala Pothupitiye, Sri Lanka
Subrat Kumar Behera, India
Youdhisthir Maharjan, Nepal