Karishma d’Souza ‘History Routes’

Exhibition by Karishma d’Souza from 13th to 27th October 2018. On the 27th the artist guided a walkthrough of her exhibition where she talked about her recent practice and development of the exhibited works.

Text by Karishma d’Souza I’ve been thinking of catchphrases in political speech we’re asked to live with (Alternative facts), and of words as frames in general. These terms and words chart the differences in the worlds inhabited by our ancestors and ourselves – The Atlantic as The Middle Passage or The Pond; the symbol of a River – as the Styx, as the river Siddartha Gautama crossed fleeing the palace towards his spiritual quest, water itself as life giving, travelling along a river that decides the course of ones journey, the anthropomorphized river searching and finding its way to the ocean, something to be crossed over that stays behind then as a sign of a threshold.

I arrived in Lisboa at the end of January this year, and began reading Pessoa and imagined him in conversation with Kabir, a 15th century poet-saint from Benares.

“The poet is a man who feigns
And feigns so thoroughly, at last
He manages to feign as pain
the pain he really feels..”

“O slave, liberate yourself
Where are you, and where is your home,
find it in your lifetime,
If you fail to wake up now,
you’ll be helpless when the time comes.
Says Kabir, listen, O wise one,
The siege of Death is hard to withstand.”

“To be whole it is enough to exist.”

Trying to dig into history led me to the book ‘Black Athena’ by Martin Bernal. Back in India, school history text books are being changed by the government to place a lens that further obliterates nuance and truth itself. Whole generations will grow up on these books…Grief, but things have a way of flipping around. I’ve been thinking of tongue-in-cheek calling-forths in the paintings, depicting spilled blood bursting into flames, each spilled drop coming alive again, phoenix-like, biblical, keeping it’s life-giving power.

A poem of a much loved and honored Marathi poet, Namdeo Dhasal.

To a Friend

Roots come out from the inside, broken apart in such a way
That our kinship in a common soil
Becomes my friend
a distorted relationship.

How did the standing crop
wither in the blink of an eye?
Time squats here chewing its cud
That moist heart filled to the brim with moist black soil
Where has it disappeared?
Blight has enveloped the tree of desire.
It’s a season of plenty, yet its days have only turned
women into widows with shaven heads
And you, my friend, embrace a corpse and cling to it in such a season.
Life is darkness and existence only an accident.

The falcon zooms high in the sky
You feel helpless.
Stop crawling in the sand if you are terrified.

Karishma d’Souza graduated in Painting from Goa University in 2004 and in 2006 completed her Masters in Graphic Arts – Printmaking at the University of Baroda. In 2012-13 was resident artist at the Rijksakademie van beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam, NL, and in 2017 at Skowhegan, Maine, USA. Took part in numerous group exhibitions since 1999. Recent solo exhibitions include in ‘Ancestors’, Xippas Galerie, Paris, 2017; ‘In retelling’, Fundação Oriente, Goa, 2016 and ‘Bridges’, Dapiran Art Project Space, Utrecht, 2015.