25 Sep 2022

The August Auriga

The August Auriga

2013

the-august-auriga-01

Riyas Komu
Duroohatha / Condition
medium- aluminium

the-august-auriga-02

Manjunath Kamath
Merry-go-straight
size- 24″x12″ (each)
medium- oil & acrylic on canvas

Chintan-Upadhyay-4

Chintan Upadhyay
When I Clap they multiply
size- 3 feet
medium- brass

Chintan-Upadhyay-8

Chintan Upadhyay
When I Clap they multiply
size- 3 feet
medium- brass

Chintan-Upadhyay-7

Chintan Upadhyay
When I Clap they multiply
size- 3 feet
medium- brass

the-august-auriga-06

Baiju Parthan
Envelope
size- 36X15 inches
medium- lenticular animated print

the-august-auriga-07

Baiju Parthan
S.A.D algorithm
(Search And Destroy)
size- 36X15 inches
medium- lenticular animated print

the-august-auriga-08

Sumedh Rajendran
Escolators
size- 85″X25″X11″
medium- leather and steel

the-august-auriga-09

GR Iranna
Untitled
size- 18×18 inches
medium- acrylic oil on canvas

Chintan-Upadhyay-3

Chintan Upadhyay
When I Clap they multiply
size- 3 feet
medium- brass

Chintan-Upadhyay-6

Chintan Upadhyay
When I Clap they multiply
size- 3 feet
medium- brass

THE AUGUST AURIGA

August

August is the best month to look upwards through the doors of perception because it is in the sky and among the celestial objects that you can seek a leap of faith and wild flights of imagination. The act becomes even more gratifying when the autumnal fall is visible all around us including the Indian currency.

August [1] is a significant month because it was instrumental in bringing about
universal  calendrical adjustments. When the Roman senate decided to name a
month after Augustus Caesar, it decided that since Julius Caesar’s month, July, had 31 days, Augustus’s month should equal it: under the Julian calendar, the months alternated evenly between 30 and 31 days (with the exception of February), which made the month of August 30 days long. So, instead of August having a mere 30 days, it was lengthened to 31, preventing anyone from claiming that Emperor Augustus was saddled with an inferior month.

This change impelled two other changes. The extra day needed to improve the
importance of August was taken from February, which originally, had 29 days (30 in a leap year). This meant that February had only 28 days (29 in a leap year). Since the months evenly alternated between 30 and 31 days, adding the extra day to August meant that July, August, and September would all have 31 days. So to avoid three long months in a row, the lengths of the last four months were switched around, giving us 30 days in September, April, June, and November. Among Roman rulers, only Julius and Augustus permanently had months named after them — though this wasn’t for lack of trying on the part of later emperors. That is the reason the word August acquired a dignified meaning in the English lexicon.

Auriga

Auriga or “the Charioteer” is a constellation in the northern hemisphere, first documented by Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century and remains one of the 88 modern constellations. The constellation’s shape resembles the pointed helmet of a charioteer. In Greek mythology, Auriga [2] is sometimes identified with Hephaestus, the god of blacksmiths and craftsmen, who invented the chariot, and it is also often associated with Myrtilus. Myrtilus, son of the god Hermes, was the charioteer who served king Oenomaus. Another Greek hero traditionally associated with Auriga is Erichthonius of Athens, son of Hephaestus, who was the first person to harness four horses to a chariot, inventing the quadriga, the four-horse chariot, which helped him fight off an usurper and made him the king of Athens. His chariot was created in the image of the Sun’s chariot, the reason Zeus placed him in the heavens. The Athenian hero then dedicated himself to Athena and soon after, Zeus raised him into the night sky in honour of his ingenuity and heroic deeds.

The authors Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend explain in The Hamlet’s Mill [3] that Auriga is associated with the extremely significant myth of Phaethon, the son of the sun-god Helios. de Santillana and von Dechend reveal that the same Phaethon myth seems to appear in the legends of the Native Americans of the New World, including a very clear parallel in the myths told by the Nuxalk nation of the area now known as British Columbia. It is remotely possible that the startlingly similar stories could have arisen in both the Old World and the New World meaning that there was a connect between the two worlds.

It is perhaps this interconnectedness that enhanced the brightness of Auriga from August 1895. Today, the Auriga is seen at its sparkling best in February and March with Capella, its brightest star, becoming the sixth brightest star in the night sky and the third brightest in the northern celestial hemisphere.

The August Auriga is an illustration of the conceptual premise in which we see the “where from” and “where now” of the six contemporary Indian artists – from the Auriga in August to the Auriga much later.

Indian contemporary art in recent years has been prompting speculative conversations about the possibilities of imagination. They have been as Ariel
Dorfman has called them ‘the testimonial genre’: instinctual expressions of social outrage and humorous references, touchstones what is in store for the modern Indian in the future. The cultural production has been imports from the above- mentioned heavenly abodes.

You don’t look but look ahead in front of you in closed spaces. The images are tell all and be all of the human condition and the society in which it perpetuates.

While Chintan Upadhyay uses his stylized babies to capture the cataleptic
annihilation of natural innocence, Baiju Parthan’s Envelope and SAD algorithm
(Search and Destroy) are animated prints, optical cognitive paradoxes, of objects and actions that infiltrate the modern narrative. Sumedh Rajendran’s Escalator like many of his recent works is a representation of his preoccupation: exploring tense ambiguous relationships that exist in urban spaces. Both Manjunath Kamath’s and GR Iranna’s works are brash climaxes of provocative social commentaries rendered in a visual argot at once confronting and witty. The multiple images in Riyas Komu’s Durroohatha/Condition are disarming encounters with mortality in which the rancorous and sinful state of being is the resonating condition of the human existence. You are either a sinner or being sinned upon in a life that oscillates between reflective memoriam and spirited living.

There are six stars in the Auriga constellation, a chariot that is looking towards the future. The August Auriga is an invitation to an intimate experience and introspection in these turbulent times. A constellation, re/presenting an aestheticsof hope, that calls for an extra day August deservedly got.

MANOJ NAIR

2013