Terra Incognita ? BW Series, the Vivek Karmokar exhibition, opens at Alliance Francaise this week (see A&E Guide). Terra being a Latin word meaning region, and Incognita meaning unexplored.
A play on words; seems to be a skill prerequisite in art expression. Not only is BW an acronym for Botswana, only black and white paints are used in all his exhibited work of human figure paintings.
Karmokar has come to realise that like Indians, Batswana are really attached to the soil, be it natural resources or animals, ?from cows to game reserve animals, there is a direct connection to ?Mother Earth,? said Karmokar.
?My work is figurative. The whole exhibition deals with the human form which,? he explained. ?is the most important, as well as the most dangerous forms on Earth,?
Smiling in irony he quipped, ?Not only do we solve problems, we also create them. The problems that exist on Earth are because of us.
?This particular exhibition shows the immense strength present in Botswana, her people and region of Southern Africa.? he depicts this with paintings that are impressionistic and violent application of colour.
In the BW Series, he works on acid free handmade paper sent from India. ?Acid free paper is obviously bio-degradable and does not yellow with time. The yellowing is caused by the acid content in the paper.?
He will be dealing with how the mind roams free regardless of how the body may be confined to a geographical space, he explained his theme ?Globally concerns are becoming similar, and cultural difference between civilisations are becoming smaller,
He teaches art and design to students at Rainbow Secondary School and aspires to explore, and understand art and culture of Botswana, Southern Africa and as a whole that of the African continent.
Most of his exhibition have been hosted in India, Australia, East Asia and European countries. Recent exhibitions include Allliance Francaise, Botswana National Museum and SIney Grammar Foundation.
?Karmokar, who is from New Delhi, India, currently has work in collections belonging to the Indian Government, Public and private sectors. One of the most memorable being a Colours of Benetton-esque heads of a Buddha, which he created when a statue of Buddha was destroyed in Aghanistan, ?I call my work a response to stimuli.?
Botswana is the very first experience with Africa, ?I saw an advert in Delhi, where I lectured at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, placed by the Ministry of Education seeking art teachers.?
? For seventeen years, I have been in the sphere of visual arts since 1990 after graduating from Masters degree in Fine Art in 1990 and bachelors in 1988.
He is also a fellow at the Sidney Grammar Foundation, Australia. Around 1998
Karmokar, often holds dialogue with his student, they always ask how they are to translate given topics into artworks, and different meanings always surface in the absence of text to explain the given topics. I think this is why other expressions such dance music visual arts and cinema and of course poetry exist. The role that visual art plays in bring people together
Didn?t get a cultural shock when arriving in Botswana, when he landed in Gaborone, you have people from all over the world interacting.
I had an enlightening experience in Letlhakane in 2004, on what is considered a village in Botswana in contrast to the concept of a village is in India. It was an enriching experience working with the form 4 and 5 students in the country, now I teach children who live in the City.