Dream and Other Stories: Solo Show by Kartik Sood

By Prapti Mittal

The tradition of oral culture has been one of great importance in the transmission of histories and cultural practices in India and other nations. Not just historically, they remain crucial even in modern times, where the art of storytelling has taken various different dimensions. Kartik Sood, in his solo exhibition, explores the art of storytelling- folktales, hearsays, anecdotes, popular wisdom. He has been awarded a place in the prestigious ’Forbes India’s 30 under 30’ as well as awarded residencies in Switzerland, London, Bangalore and Pune.


‘Witness’, Archival Ink, Gouache, Water colour on Archival Paper,2015

The artwork bears a dreamlike and tranquil quality of deep subconscious and internal thoughts. The hazy painting style along with an array of faded colours with an archaic sepia look emphasises the age old nature of intangible heritage and takes the viewer back in times and spaces corresponding to the specific imagery.

Story Teller under the Tree’, Archival Ink, Gouache, Water colour on Archival Paper,2015

Kartik has done an immensely great job of combining visual and literary cultures as all images are accompanied by a folk tale that synopsizes the painting and gives it a context. The tales are works by writer Manoj Nair and incorporate dramatic elements from different parts of the world in different times.

Sample ‘The Bartleby Syndrome’:

“A blank page stared at him as Raman struggled to put down a line on it that would begin a story. It was something that he had always wanted to do but always stopped short of doing. He would visualize all the characters and events involving them emerging from the page but just was unable to string together sentences that would take it to his readers’ mind. It was almost as if his mind was telling him that it preferred not to narrate any of the numerous stories that he knew, most of which were tales of sadness and suffering. As if his mind had been seized by the ghost of Bartleby, the scrivener, the central character in Hemran Melville’s story who preferred not to write anything…….”

One of the most titillating work from the show is the audio-visual piece, named ‘The Lonely Tune’ in front of which I stood for a good ten minutes. It has the same colours and style as his works on paper, but additionally, the visuals of a miniature pianist in the centre of a vast desolate field with no audience visible and no movement except his own playing arm, give it an especially captivating character. The mild music that plays is like a tune you hear in a dream, but don’t remember having heard ever in reality. What gives it an even more subconscious feel is the occasionally flickering screen that reminds one of moments of consciousness in a dream.

In the artist’s own words, “Everyday I write, draw, shoot videos or record sounds. My art works are stories developed from these diaries. Subtle in colour and painterly in approach, they are autobiographical, inventive and dislocated. My stories are about reality as I perceive, but often they lose the essence of reality (just like reality does) and turn into fictitious tales.

Stories are knit out of my interactions with people around me from conversations silly and profound,

from my surroundings, from music and art, all influencing my thoughts. My works are process-based.

They start intuitively and grow organically.”

Foreign Lands , 36×36,Archival Ink,Gouache, Water colour on Archival Paper,2015

‘In Search of a Dream’, Archival Ink, Gouache, Water colour on Archival Paper,2015

 ‘Shame’, Archival Ink, Gouache, Water colour on Archival Paper,2015

People reveling in the celebration of all things artistic, historical, pertaining to literature, culture and fine aesthetics must take out time and view this mesmerising show…

The Show is running at ‘The Latitude 28 Gallery’, Lado Sarai, New Delhi

Dates: 20th January- 5th March 2016

archaicculturefolk taleliterarysepiavisual