Truth in One’s Life

G. R. Iranna’s work at the Venice Biennale is a call for mobilizing the Gandhi waiting within each of us. Premjish Achari discusses his practice.

G. R. Iranna. Navu. Wood

G. R. Iranna. Navu. Wood, metal, objects and paint. 60’ x 15’ x 1’. 2012. All images courtesy the artist. 121.3 cms x 121.3 cms. 1994. Images courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai.

Since the last few years, the national political discourse has centered around the criticism of two crucial figures of modern Indian politics – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. While the former is considered as the Father of the Nation, the latter is regarded as the Architect of Modern India. The range of criticism against these figures spans different political persuasions – from the Left and the Right and from Ambedkarite sections. Gandhi’s own display of racism and his contempt for blacks during his stay in South Africa have been invoked recently to question his stature as an icon of peace. Back in India, organizations that have an antagonistic relationship with his political ideology have left no stone unturned to dismiss and discredit his politics of non-violence or ahimsa. This virtue, which according to Gandhi, should be valued by society above all other important tenets, has been condemned as the characteristic feature of a coward who is unable to defend his country.