Anjuli Rathod: The Unbelievable Truth

Apr 26 - May 25, 2024

30 Orchard St, Gallery 1



The paint that covers over the thing itself, historical sealant of re-presentation, has become indecent in Anjuli Rathod’s works. It is bare and exposed. There is nothing for it to cover over. For loss is both no-thing and simultaneously the mark of the effaced (mark or otherwise). The latter, however, nearly dissolves in itself—a water-based mixture Rathod paints with which occasions a wispiness—vulnerable to time, as in visibly effected temporally, and materializing into the mutable, if not forgotten, trace. So, the image falls away. Fallen, but not to nothing. In such ruins what remains is loss of world and of self in this doubling inertia of representation of loss and of representation itself. The latter is another always already lost: infinite mirroring. Just as Rathod hazards to not impose meaning, perhaps more emphatically, she does not impose cathartic, mythological processes that imply reverence nor pathological processes that inspire reprehension. Regarding meaning, however, the crushing weight of that singular heaviness that belongs to the tradition of painting remains a burden. It bears the remembrance and forgetting of such weight. In other words, the works, inescapably within the history of painting, still make see—but against and with the impasse.

A legible psychic vocabulary, impasse and beyond, is made seen by the recurrent content in the paintings. There is a directed fecundity to the psychic economies within Rathod’s works in terms of the reproduction of specific forms (arguably symbol and symptom) and imagery associated with birth and its aftermath—including mortality and the cosmological. Tubular forms recall the bodily of umbilical cords, intestines and blood vessels, while barred receptacles that evoke both the nautical and an infant’s crib navigate omnidirectional passages. The tubular and the nautical signal containers of/for dynamic passage with both forms quite literally carrying and framing the maternal, loss or trauma. In various paintings, the blood vessels transport caterpillars, cocooned caterpillars and butterflies in progressive sequence while in Ruptured Vein, the veins carry what appears to be blood cells. At the point of rupture, the ends of the veins, blood cells included, connect to severed heads. Elsewhere veins are converted into tethers joining animals to a baby mobile. In other sites, the crib-ship’s bars take on a viscosity that mimics the gelatinous of the tubular forms. Are they all one dis-continuous line—the same veins that pulse through our bodies? Metamorphoses take place interior and exterior to the tubular form as do breaks and continuity. There is no definite external to the internal and marked borders are porous if not, at times, merging through these events of transformation. In A River Runs Through, the break is not named (in the title), and yet a butterfly leaks out from the tubular vessel that goes into the crib-ship structure. The butterfly floats in the rushing river that seeps into the crib-ship through its gaps. Porous, viscid and malleable forms parallel the uncertainty of the temperamental translucency coloring the canvases. Susceptibility drives the painting and loss marks it.

It is the point that cannot be fully reached and yet what we drive towards and with. In Stitched, a far more abstracted work, numerals float while three pliable sewing needles’ eyes pass through the same thread that intersects a “3”. Other threads cut throughout the frame while a face emerges from a rounded body of multicolored water. The face is pierced through with another sewing needle while the colored sections of the water somehow do not bleed uniformly into one another and create clean sections of color. Cuts, passes, varying thresholds abound as the painting comes into focus as a viable portion of a clock. The threads function as clock hands that do not exclusively indicate world-historical time, all its violence concentrated from instant to instant, but reference a longer cosmic time as well. The clock does not measure. Rather, it acknowledges various timelines including that of forgetting, masking and memory. It is from what is effaced, then, that Rathod rebuilds and ever towards that lost origin.

—Perwana Nazif