Profile: Annaray Hangargi / Through the Eyes of a Peacemaker / Sushma Sabnis
As he disarms with his smile, artist Annaray Hangargi creates a metamorphosing world of animate and inanimate objects in his works, which dive deep into a human consciousness to bring to the surface pearls of rare observations..writes Sushma Sabnis
We live in a world which is constantly torn between fences and back alleys of perceptions and reality. These mental blocks often misinterpret people and their purpose. A soldier is a peace keeper not an aggressor, so is a priest; but in today’s abracadabra times, people are mutating and purposes could become vile or manipulative. Among all this looming chaos, nothing stands firm and solid as a positive disposition. It is also known that there is no weapon as instantly disarming as a heart-felt Smile. Artist, peacemaker, Annaray Hangargi is the Chief of this Disarmament Bureau.
Gulbarga based Annaray has a naturally disarming smile and a cheerful disposition. One of those rare kinds in today’s times. What is more interesting is this reason-less disposition trickles down into his art works one precious drop at a time and it places the viewer in the presence of something even more rare, pure innocence. So how does this artist exude a deep sensitivity towards the world around him and induce an even deeper thought in the viewer?
“I see things as they are and then when I am drawing them or painting them, they move and shape shift, become animated and at times I am scared because they appear monstrous, and at times they are just funny and amusing. Objects have a life unlike ours but they do have life.” he says.
Annaray’s works employ two mediums primarily, water colour on paper and acrylic on canvases. Some of the paper works were done sitting in one place, unmoving, while manning his father’s store, looking out. This stationary perspective chosen by the artist helped him to contrast the subject of his works and when the viewer regards these works made while sitting in one place, the details emerge as if in some parallel realm, where chairs and furniture move about, display moods, throw tantrums and embody strong personalities. The bold black lines of the artist are reminiscent of Picasso’s works but one gets a sense of a world which one grows curious about.
“I have painted a series of works which are based on saloon chairs. From my vantage point at the store, I see a row of saloons and to me it seems that people who sit in the chairs somehow leave behind a bit of themselves in it. So some of the chairs appear to be complaining old men who discus inflation, price hikes and budgets, the chairs themselves look haggard and worn out like the old men..”says the chronicler.
What one is made aware of through these works is not the jocular manifestations of an overactive imagination, but a deep concern for people, especially sections who are sidelined by main stream society. The older generations, living off piddly amount of pension or not even that, the expenditures they face towards medical treatments and the support they never receive from the government or their own society.
This humour embedded narrative is taken further in his critique on education systems in a series where the artist paints a number of slates, each with an image or a letter from the Kannada alphabet. Here the artist is trying to illuminate the minds of the viewer to the reality of a lop-sided education system which further segregates people based on their aptitude for word or design. This series is a perspective of the square-peg-round-hole chasm caused between subjects of science, art and commerce (brought by the abacus beads on the slates), and reality of proletariats where none of their actual educational skills get employed. The artist believes that is the failure of the education system.
Annaray also creates anthropomorphic forms in his vehicle series, where scooters and auto-rickshaws, buggies, and jatkas are all likened to animal forms. Giraffes, elephants, herds of deer, peacocks, lions, leopards, tigers with multi coloured stripes, donkeys, horses, snakes, birds, chicken, dogs and cats blend in with the vehicular forms. This multi-coloured series is reminiscent of folk or tribal art forms without strictly adhering to any. The animal and inanimate shapes blend and dissociate as if they once formed a single entity. An environmental issue is subtly brought out in this series aptly titled ‘By default made for each other’. While humankind exploits the ecosystems, we now have animals crossing their territories and moving into concrete jungles. Annaraya portrays the animals and birds as if using motorbikes and scooters to show a skewed perspective of a world of our future.
There is a certain amount of rawness mixed with deep observation in Annaray’s works. With his satirical and imaginative style, he brings focus on in very concealed ways, the situations which do not cross the minds of the urban dweller. There is a concern for loss of natural habitats, rapidly depleting greenery as the artist grapples to hold on to a fast disappearing wispy world through his works. Though the strokes of the works appear rough and at times hurried, the artist at no point trivializes the intensity of the thought. If anything, they show the primal energy employed in making these immense works, while steadily gifting his disarming smile to the world.