A visceral energy that is brought on by torment and the struggle against it, Iranna’s Art portrays agony as an intangible force that is conveyed visually, Iranna uses the uncompromising, typical and modernist language of Indian contemporary Art to portray scenes of resistance. Upon viewing his work one feels the vibrant energy that permeates from his frames. His contemporary art comes across like a breath of fresh air.
Born in 1970 in the Sindgi, District of Bijapur, Karnataka, Iranna currently lives in New Delhi. In 1992, GR Iranna acquired his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the College of Visual Art, in Gulbarga. Two years later, he got his Master`s degree in painting from the College of Art, New Delhi. Between 1999 and 2000 he acted as artist-in-residence at Wimbledon School of Art, London.
Brought up in the surroundings of a humble ashram to a family of Shaivaite devotees, GR Iranna retains a moral compass attainted at a young age in his art. This is evident in his acrylic works done on tarpaulin, titled “Ethereal Tree” and “Lofty Tree” where he engages with ash as a substance in his works. In Shaivaite traditions, a new born child is smeared with ash to mark how central, mortality is to our existence. His use of the medium is also in essence homage to this thought.
In Iranna’s earlier works, one can trace the development of certain central themes in resonance with modernism in Indian art. He deploys adeptly the metaphors of tree, globe and carpet to depict the aspects of human condition and survival. The tree has been integral to his work because it embodies life in its silence and its tranquillity. The cut tree, with its veins and its sprawled branches recurs in his work. He explains that the stump of the cut tree is still connected to the larger humanity through the elements, and this is an inference to how even when one transforms into an anti-social element they continue to be a part of the society.
Through this gradual organic movement towards abstraction where metaphors became more subtle, Iranna moved on to the third dimension and started working on sculptures. This move came from a yearning to express himself in a more physical medium, involving in touching and moulding the form as well as in creating actual interventions in space. While his earliest sculptural innovations were an extension of metaphors from his paintings, he later on consciously developed a different language for his sculptures and installations, independent of his paintings. His installations and sculptures alert us to the pervasiveness of violence and how all of us are permeable to violence in our lives
The best moniker given to GR Iranna is perhaps the one coined for him by Ranjit Hoskote, ‘The Dancer on the Horse’. This epithet reflects how Iranna balances his inner spirituality with the technical demands of the artistic medium, producing work which is both moving and aesthetically pleasing.
Iranna has received national and international recognition throughout his career. He was one of the seven participants of the last Venice Biennale, one of the most prestigious Art events in the world where India, for the first time, was given a full pavilion. His awards include those at the All India Exhibition in Mysore and the College of Visual Art, New Delhi in 1992-92, the Bansi Parmimu Memorial Committee, New Delhi and the Delhi College of Art in 1993. In the same year, he won the MF Husain and Ram Kumar selection award at `In Search of Talent` by Vadhera Art Gallery, New Delhi. He has also been honoured in 1997 with a National Award from the Lalit Kala Academy and the AIFACS Award, at the show `50 years of Art in Independent India` in New Delhi.
HIS SELECTED SOLO SHOWS:
2017: The Primordial Ash; Aicon Gallery, New York.
Ether is all that is; Gallery Espace New Delhi, Essay by Roobina Karode.
2016: And the last shall be the first: G R Iranna, Works 1995-2015; National Gallery of Modern Art Bengaluru, Bengaluru (India); curated by Ranjit Hoskote
2014: Tempered Branches; AICON Gallery, New York
2012: Limning Heterotopias: A Journey into G.R. Iranna’s Shadows of the In Between; Gallery Espace, New Delhi
Thought of the day; Kashi Art Gallery, Kochi (India), curated by Tanya Abraham
2011: Scaffolding the Absent; the Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai (India); Essay by Maya Kóvskaya
2010: Ribbed Routes; the Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai (India); Essay by Deeksha Nath
2008: Birth of Blindness, the Stainless Gallery, New Delhi (India) and Aicon Gallery, London (UK) and New York (USA); Essay by Donald Kuspit
2007: The Dancer on the Horse; Berkeley Square Gallery, London (UK); Essay by Ranjit Hoskote
2006: Disorder and Early Sufferings; Gallery Müller and Plate, Munich (Germany); Essay by Ernst W. Koelnsperger.
King of Clay; Gallery Arts India, New York and California (USA)
2005: Early Works; Gallery Müller and Plate, Munich (Germany)
Threads of Humanism; Bodhi Art Gallery, New Delhi (India) and Singapore; Essay by Uma Nair
2001: The Enigma of Departure; the British Council, Mumbai (India) and The Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai (India); Essay by Girish Shahney
1999: In the Shadow of Buddha; Gallery Martini, Hong Kong
1995: Edge Dynamics; Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi & Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (India); Essay by Suneet Chopra