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I found I could say things with colours and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way”. GEORGIA O’ KEEFE

A time honoured symbol, the square has occupied a prime position in the plethora of symbols that have gained prevalence since time immemorial. It’s ordinary image- a simple closed form bound with four straight sides meeting at right angles, donned religio-philosophic overtones, since ancient times, when, mortal beings endeavoured to interpret the unfathomable limitless unknown, in the language of the known - and the square relegated a quintessential role in explaining the esoteric within measurable terms. Ancient religious thought assigned the natural order of the Universe; explained the vastness of the Terrestrial globe through this humble shape occupying a dynamic space. This immutable structure has kept the thinkers, metaphysicists, artists and mathematicians pondering alike. The grammar of the square rises above all other symbols with it’s multifarious interpretations and re-interpretations. From a two dimensional shape on the ground through which the faithful offer oblations, it ascends into the three dimensional domain of the antari­ksha as the holy temple, as the Mount Meru: as the Great Pyramid. Mathematically speaking, square refers to an increase in magnitude when two individual units of like values conjoin. Relating to it’s proportion to the square is also the perfect measure of man – the Vitruvian man or Purusa.

These factors and more have led this high-spirited artist group, hailing from Kerala to name their new artistic venture as THE SQUARE. The square once again becomes a dynamic domain for intellectual and artistic discourses through which they seek, to discover the potential of this alternative space. They propose group activities – the conclusion of which will be single creations – resulting out of a fruitful coalition of like minds working together as a single entity rather than as individuals. THE SQUARE, seeks to address eco-political and geological issues through the language of land art, earth works and installations and create works that question, debate and ponder.

L (V) A S T T R E E
"But, lo! After the beating rain and fierce gusts of wind that had endured through the livelong night, there yet stood out against the brick wall one ivy leaf. It was the last one on the vine. Still dark green near its stem, with its serrated edges tinted with the yellow of dissolution and decay, it hung bravely from the branch…" Last leaf by O' Henry

An exploration of the Post Modern idiom of Land Art , this site- specific work 'L ( V ) A S T T R E E' - a monumental creation , emerging from void rather than the solid, was launched as the prefatory work of the emerging artist group, THE SQUARE. This maiden venture was unfurled in the pristine, natural landscape of Vagamon – a location of great import in the Indian sub-continent as a biodiversity spot. An enormous man-made tree climbing a height of 330 feet with wide-spreading branches spanning a spread of 400 feet, etched deeply into the verdant grasslands, pronounces itself into the undulating lines of the rolling topography. The trunk bears a cross-section of 13 feet at its broadest end and narrows down as it ascends. The 'Tree'- significant as the sole representative of its kind on the summit, invites the viewer to participate within its framework- to traverse the etched lines and be submerged within its body, generating a positive energy from within an otherwise negative space.

Of paramount importance is the procedure through which the work is materialized. The modus operandi involved the use of an age-old practice employed by the workers in this locale, commonly susceptible to natural brush fires during the hot summer months. For fire-proofing these hill summits , strange in its absence of trees and replete with the lush presence of tall grasses taking on unprecedented heights, fire belts are scored into the grassy mounds, thereby separating the foliage groups with intermissions of bare ground, to prevent the wide- spread damage by the inferno. 'L ( V ) A S T T R E E' utilizes this significant means, through which the rest of nature is safeguarded through the transformation of the land; through which the Tree becomes a symbol of hope – the last leaf painted on the fabric of time – imparting hope to mankind in the face of a dwindling canvas of nature – making its presence of crucial, vital importance in its absence .

But, this dynamic work transcending a brief span of time is ephemeral, transitory and is hastily reclaimed by Time ; by the transformative power of Nature , where the green sprouts back with the first sprinkle of the monsoon showers , the eco-bio stasis restored and the miniscule presence of man leaves all but a faint trace .

Preeti Joseph


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