V N AjiV N Aji

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Focused on the expressive nature of painting and on its poetic content, Aji's images have long been liberated from naturalism. Born 1968 in Kerala, the artist has been living and working in Rotterdam for ten years; it is the geographical and cultural space that lies between the two that stimulates his interest. The barren landscapes depicted in his drawings populated with thorny and elaborately contorted plants reference the dead landscapes of Persian miniature painting. Yet whether this landscape is menacing or enchanted is to a certain extent irrelevant because as the artist explains, despite being figurative, these drawings are largely hermetic, withdrawn from subject matter, and principally concerned with a series of formal moves. Aji V.N.'s use of charcoal has the tactile richness of a finely grained, multi-layered surface, the graphite sometimes so intense, so unrelenting as if it were a recording of some endless, existential experience. The blackness extends over the entire paper, as if rubbed in, almost incised into the surface. One imagines there must be cracks and scars beneath the charcoal surface, even arabesques of images that we still cannot see.

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