Halcyon Gallery is proud to present The Trance Narratives, an exhibition of new works by Indian artist Jagannath Panda. The forthcoming solo exhibition, his first at the gallery, sees the artist juxtapose mythology and spirituality with the harsh realities of globalisation and rapid development in his home country. In 12 large mixed media paintings and 2 sculptures, nature collides and coalesces with the manmade.

“Jagannath Panda is as much a marker of an evolving urbanscape as he is a participant in it,” Bhaarati Chaturevdi (art critic and columnist for Business Standard newspaper)

As well as being deeply affected by the traditional culture of Odisha in India, Panda cites the Japanese conceptual artist On Kawara and the French-American artist Louise Bourgeois as influential in his densely figurative work. In his earliest works, he experimented with different media on paper, mixing collage and drawing techniques to explore the role of iconography in communication and to comment upon socio-political situations in contemporary India. His signature technique, used in both painting and sculpture, is to incorporate traditional brocade fabrics into their surfaces, often becoming the skins of beasts, the bark of trees, or the garments of mythological figures. On both paper and canvas, his detailed drawings recall the palm-leaf manuscripts of Odisha, while the characters in his works are often lifted directly from the epic sagas of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

“In 2005 I moved to Guragon – which was a really surprising space for me. When I had conversations with my neighbours I realised that they all come from a different utopia, and that everybody has their own ideas of living life. In my works, through the landscape I try to create a human space. We live together but you don’t know your neighbours. You don’t meet/talk with them. I play with all these ideas together, but rather than giving a serious meaning to them I enjoy them.” - Jagannath Panda

In Panda’s Immortalise, the figure of the owl - a recurring symbol in Jagannath Panda’s most recent work - is displaced from its natural habitat, perched on a suitcase. The displacement of animals is a common feature in Panda’s work and is an allegory, representing the displacement of both people and nature as the country becomes increasingly monopolised by corporate interests. The painting can also be read as an autobiographical self-portrait; the objects and scenes in the background almost all relate to Western art traditions, possibly inspired by the artist’s time spent on a scholarship at the RCA between 2000-2002.

Jagannath Panda often uses animal forms in his paintings. He paints and sculpts animals with an innocent wonder, usually embellishing their surfaces with metallic fabrics or shimmering colours, as if to amplify their inherent magical powers. Panda’s animals function as icons, albeit those we recognize from Hindu mythology which constantly transmogrify, in their infinite form and variety.

The exhibition literature will include an essay by the prominent Indian art writer and curator Deeksha Nath.