Seeking silence through chaos

 
 
 

South African artist experiments painting at a busy Fort Kochi junction

Seeking silence, he lunged into chaos. Clifford Charles is enamoured with the energy
and space found in Kochi and the subtle mix of what can be achieved when you break
the boundaries of both. “It’s so important to use energy. When you start attacking the painting you are not thinking about the creative process, so you are challenging yourself
in terms of intention. In many ways working on the street today was about that – it was using the spontaneity, relying on the accident, on discovery and the surprise,” says the
South African artist of Indian origin.

Born in South Africa, but now living and working in the UK, Clifford is in the city as
part of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. His task at hand was to capture the chaotic nature of
working with others and minimising “self” before continuing his work in the familiar solitude.

For an artist who usually works in the quietness of his studio the setting couldn’t be
any more chaotic—people bustling around, horns screaming, onlookers murmuring;
some questioning, cameras clicking and all the chaos of a typical Indian junction.

“Art does not have to be something that is locked away and mystified. People can see
what is happening and so in a way it is a challenge to the artistic process. So in that way
what it does is that you don’t make prescriptive type of work,” he says.

A crowd of about 30 to 40 people had gathered to watch the artist at work. The challenge
for Clifford was to “see how you can make art amongst all the creative energy that people
are having – from the scooters, the bikes, the bicycles, the people, the constant noise and everything”. But also to show that “art does not have to be something that is locked away
and mystified. People can see what is happening and so in a way it is a challenge to the
artistic process.”

Clifford will now take the work to his space in Aspinwall House to work amongst the
familiar sound of silence and in the company of solitude, attempting to juxtapose chaos through his search for silence.

—KMB

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