To commemorate its 15th Anniversary, The Gujral Foundation is hosting a solo exhibition, ‘The Impossible Bouquet’ by the internationally renowned multidisciplinary artist Raghava KK, at 24 Jor Bagh, New Delhi, from 10-16, February 2023. The new wave of image generating AI promises to be one of the biggest disruptions of the creative space. With the interest in putting forth cutting-edge contemporary art practices, The Gujral Foundation and Volte Art Projects presents and explores the possible engagement between man and machine. The exhibition is an official collateral event of India Art Fair 2023 and a highlight of the fair’s VIP Collector’s Programme.
With an extraordinary new wave of word-to-imagery Al disrupting the art world, the exhibition engages with prompt engineering to ask the question, “Can we shape our collective futures using this disruption as a springboard?” Raghava KK exhibits his cutting-edge series of impossible juxtapositions as a continuation of his pioneering encounter with AI. The image of the bouquet–a gift, a transient composition, a vulnerable arrangement–unifies the show. What is usually perceived as a symbol of aesthetic beauty, thoughtfully arranged and pleasing, comes to life in the artist’s series in the form of strange, even impossible, material; recycled plastic, food, intimate parts of the body, hand-blown glass fused with metal.
The original series was inspired by the Dutch tradition of still life where flowers belonging to different seasons, which can never coexist, are collected into a painted bouquet. Similarly, this playful yet provocative and intimate encounter between human and machine produces paintings of striking compositions that bring together impossible combinations: substances, arrangements, geometries. While giving up control to the machine makes for anxiety, the ambiguity in the process is mirrored in the form of beautiful classical objects made out of private, mostly hidden, impossible material.
The urge to please while provoking – characterizes these bouquets and the artist’s own sense of self. By investigating his own vulnerability and allowing AI to play its own tricks on him and his art, Raghava explores the space of play between concealing and revealing, shame and arousal. The immaterial and non-judgmental AI allows the artist the ability to talk to it in intimate and transgressive ways that would be nearly impossible with a human. Yet, the final painting is beautiful, classical and socially palatable.
Feroze Gujral, Founder and Director, The Gujral Foundation said, “I have a passion for the off-beat and the on-trend. We must always look toward the future, immersing ourselves in the radical and revolutionary. As a concept curator, I am constantly seeking new ways of learning and transforming that allow us to support experimental and innovative projects by curious creators. It is very important to push ourselves into the space of enquiry to prompt critical dialogue about art and the future.”
Raghava KK has pioneered a groundbreaking body of diverse works that explore transcendence through the lens of the current digital era. Featured on CNN’s list of ten fascinating thinkers, authors and provocateurs in 2010, Raghava’s work traverses traditional forms of painting, installation and performance, while his practice embraces new media (artificial intelligence, neuro-feedback, biohacking, board and video games, crypto currencies etc), to express post-human contemporary realities.
“Can we shape our collective futures using this beautiful disruption? This playful series explores the outcome of engaging in real dialogue with AI. My work poses a crucial question about the future of art; can the embodied human limitations of flesh and bone respond creatively, and without fear, to the advances in creative image-making made by bodiless ‘software’?” – Raghava KK
Raghava KK is assisted in the encounter with AI by a team of other creatives. Leonard Pauli, AI Engineer, is a young technologist, given a scholarship in 2014 by Apple to the Worldwide Developers Conference. He has worked with several startups (Flipsicle, Tailify) and co-founded the ed-tech startup Ludu. He is working on an ambitious project to develop alternative tools for thought. Dr. Karthik Kalyanaraman, Creative AI consultant, PhD (Harvard), both teaches AI and is an art critic/conceptual artist working with future media and technologies. He is a trained statistician and a co-founder of 64/1 with Raghava KK. 64/1 curated the first global mainstream gallery show of AI art for Nature Morte, Gradient Descent, in 2018. Aside from articles in Marg and Critical Collective, Karthik was invited to write the headline essay surveying Indian Contemporary Art for Hub India, Artissima in the top Italian Art magazine, Il Giornale dell’Arte.