Indian artist Prabhakar Pachpute is known for versatile work that combines the political, the personal, and the surreal. Born in the village of Sasti in Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district, Pachpute comes from a family of coal miners. Addressing sobering subjects that have impacted his community’s lived experiences, his work is often suffused with pensive, poetic undertones or fantastical elements that are both alluring and unsettling. Pachpute is best known for theatrical, wall-sized charcoal drawings, and his chosen medium is a poetic tribute to his familial history and the principal subject of his critique. The surreal scene depicted in Unfolding of the Remains-II (2022) was, in part, inspired by the discovery of a Roman-era warship in an eastern Serbian mine, where it had been buried for 1,300 years. The ten-metre-wide canvas, displayed on a charcoal-washed wall, positions the viewer on the lip of a mining pit, with animals traditionally used for their labour in mining operations and displaced by the same activities traversing the despoiled landscape. Distant, vaguely mechanical and biomorphic forms – including a scarecrow with exhaust tubes for arms – harken the encroachment of human industry and infrastructure. Collapsing multiple temporalities into a single mural- like image, Pachpute’s painting pays reverence to the passage of time while also testifying to its consequences.
Madeline Weisburg & Ian Wallace