MUHANNED CADER in
2nd Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kochi, India
December 12 – March 29, 2015
Galle Fort, Fort Kochi presents a series of 29 seascapes, intricately rendered in graphite on wood panels. Originally created as an installation at the 2014 Kochi Muziris Biennale, Galle Fort, Fort Kochi engages with an environment, the seaside, that is both specific and, as Cader points out, remarkably universal. His lifelike drawings are ostensibly a response to the topography of his own hometown, Galle Fort, a port city in Sri Lanka – and yet they seemed also to be natural extensions of the environment in Kochi, a town on the west coast of India with a similar history of colonial maritime trade. The two cities became intermixed, fused in Cader’s installation, just as his drawings drew in the seascape glimpsed from a window in the gallery, or incorporated the grain of the wood of their support. Like so much of Cader’s work, the small drawings of Galle Fort, Fort Kochi expand far beyond what their scale or serene appearance might imply, creating an atmosphere layered with personal and political weight. Although recognizable as reflections of the ocean, the drawings still challenge and complicate our viewing, casting off the traditional rectangular frame in favor of more idiosyncratic forms. Those works drawn on square wood panels – the works in the installation that were kept, like a collection of vibrant, uncut jewels, on shelves behind glass – have an air of magnetic intimacy to them. The drawings on the wall, meanwhile, which appear within rippling, organic shapes, take the artist’s idea to its lyrical conclusion, allowing an atmosphere of strange mystery to envelop the room. Galle Fort, Fort Kochi offers a multitude of perspectives, hinting at the beauty and diversity of possible views – even views of that most universal of subjects, the wide open ocean.