Vishal K Dar’s art practice is diverse in terms of medium, where transformations and the nocturne are some of the more visible themes. In Maruts*, the artist continues his investigations with site specific works that create experience territories and hallucinatory zones. In this new work, he re-imagines Maruts, the storm deities, as computer controlled oscillating beams of light set to varying metronomic meters over a vast reflection pool.

*Hymn 66 of Mandala VI of the Rig Veda is an eloquent account of how a natural phenomenon of a rain-storm metamorphose into storm deities. Maruts, a troop of young warriors, are Indra’s companions. They were widely regarded as clouds, capable to shaking mountains and destroying forests.

Maruts: The Experience by Pooja Shah
Unconventional. Gargantuan. Off the Grid.
Watching an entire production come together from the point when it was conceived to the night when we stood at its helm taking it all in one last time, because it wasn’t going to exist the next day, gave me a perspective and an experience that will persist as an intriguing memory. But, it was unfathomable how this sprinkle of conversations with its multitude of doubts and the basic raw materials albeit industrial in size would culminate into this magnificence. As I stood near Vishal on the Opening Night at the giant entrance, that framed this spectacle in front of us, I finally sensed the jitters fade away and a fantasy come into play.

Maruts, as we now know it, came to life at Dynamic Logistics in Pune at the end of October ‘15. Continuing his experimentation with light, Vishal breathed life into a 40,000 sq. ft. incomplete industrial space; with 200,000 gallons of water and 9 computer-controlled lights. The reflection of these oscillating lights, set at varying metronomic meters over a placid reflecting pool, created an extraordinary immersive experience. A contemporary avatar showcased through the mystical dance of lights gave body to the Marutas; the storm deities as referred to in the Rig Veda.

Despite the statistics giving a sense of space, place and time, it falls short of capturing the sensibility that gently dominates the viewer. The depth of the dark glistening water juxtaposed with the fleeting movement of brilliant white light renders an etherealness that is hard to grasp. The work unfolds itself and gains depth as you spend more time with it, bringing one to a meditative state. The dreamlike imagery of flexing diamonds and the reflecting moons against the backdrop of the cold steel framework add a meta-structure to the already expansive space. The transition from dusk hues to the moonlit sky provides a natural context to this otherwise orchestrated project. Finally, the walk through in the water, satiates a curiosity taking away the barriers that exist between the artwork and its viewer.

The scale of Vishal’s work is unprecedented in Pune and as young patrons, Trishla and Roshan Talera of TIFA Working Studios have taken a big leap in shaping Pune’s contemporary and public art culture. Art such as this, which brings into question the ideas of physicality, ownership and private collection has trouble seeing the ‘light of day’; but given a platform, is able to engage with the larger community and create room for cultural dialogue.

About the Artist
Vishal K Dar is a Delhi based, US educated artist. Dar uses satire and scale to address deeper personal issues, and his practice often extends outside the gallery and into the public realm.
Through mythmaking, Dar instills a sense of dreamlike quality in his works while still allowing them to address contemporary issues. In 2009, Dar started a series of mysterious glowing insect sculptures made from stolen car lights, sourced from the Old Delhi grey markets. These are uncanny totemic creatures that could be conceptually connected the ‘post-human’ theory. Light continues as a recurring motif and was powerfully harnessed in his ambitious 2013 public project ‘Prajapati’ which refers to Louis Khan’s texts on silence and light as well as Hindu mythology. In 2012, he produced ‘NAAG’, a site-specific sculpture which came to life through cutting-edge projection mapping technology, aspiring to deconstruct the notion of sculpture.

Photo Credit: Sagar Shiriskar