Radhika Agarwala’s works take form and direction from her upbringing in India and her cultural experiences in western cities in the years since. Her works are a fusion of classical techniques with a vast visual vocabulary born out of east-west mythologies and her travels to form their own neo-reality that make a playful gesture towards a complex history. In her work hybridisation is actual and represented, actual through the conjunction of divergent cultural vantages that exhume the sacred with the secular and the figurative with the geometric.
Her use of gold – with all its rarity, beauty and brilliance – shows how in contemporary practice, the traditional associations of the metal with wealth and might are being explored through non-conventional themes, and styles.While exploring and expressing a number of simultaneous realities through a highly integrative and creative synthesis of forms, she consummately straddles the divide between so-called high and low art.
Her works make a point about an aesthetic with all the concomitant complex networks of perceptual, presentational and even political rules that determine the strength and relevance of an artistic statement. The use of images borrowed from a wide variety of sources ranging from botanical watercolors to astrological charts and processing them into a cogent and coherent image suggests a detachment and depersonalization which owes much to the philosophy behind Pop Art. Some of the works are unapologetically decorative and delve into areas of popular taste and kitsch that opens them up to multiple aesthetic and philosophical inquiries and to search for the real within the fantastic.
Everything appears real and yet unreal in these bric-a-brac stores of the senses. The fluidity of the manipulated image within the artistic or even social context seeks to point out to the viewer that the thrilling, the innovative, the banal and the mundane can all come together to show how processes impact on our perceptions of reality. There is a great deal of complexity about these works but also a sense of their malleability as ideas and concepts as well as the notion of ephemeral fantasies turned into convincing works which are, nonetheless, intimate and personal.