T.V. SANTHOSH (B. 1968)
T.V. SANTHOSH (B. 1968)

Your Terrorist, Our Freedom Fighter

T.V. SANTHOSH (B. 1968)
Your Terrorist, Our Freedom Fighter
twice titled, inscribed, dated and signed ''YOUR TERRORIST OUR FREEDOM FIGHTER' / T. V. SANTHOSH 2004 / OIL ON CANVAS / SIZE 5' X 8' (DIPTYCH) / T.V. Santhosh' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas; diptych
59 3/8 x 95 1/8 (150.8 x 241.6 cm.)
Painted in 2004
Private Collection, New Delhi
Phillips London, 14 April 2014, lot 16
Private Collection, UK
T.V. Santhosh, Unresolved Stories, exhibition catalogue, Mumbai, 2007, pp. 35-36 and 122 (illustrated)
New Delhi, Nature Morte, Unresolved Stories, 2004

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Lot Essay

T.V. Santhosh paints in vivid neon colors, recreating the effect of a photographic negative to interrogate our perception of war and terrorism. He explains, “It all started off from a casual observation while working on my computer. While manipulating an image I accidentally inverted the colours and turned it into a negative and was amazed by the transformation, because though everything of the original image is encoded in the negative you cannot recognize the specificities. That was an interesting twist. If you turn the image of an enemy fighter into a negative, all of a sudden you can no longer recognize him though it is still the same image. I found that the negative image acquires some kind of neutrality that makes it travel beyond its local meanings and become something universal” (Artist statement, N. Adajania and B. Parthan, T.V. Santhosh, Unresolved Stories, Mumbai, 2007, pp. 16-17).

In Your Terrorist, Our Freedom Fighter, Santhosh underlines the idea that every image carries multiple layers of meaning and can be interpreted differently by each of its viewers. Like the double-image, the title of this work references this fact: the same actions, and the people that carry them out, can be seen in diametrically opposing ways depending on the context and perspective of the observer. In repeating his subject, a figure in a position of surrender, with only differences in palette on each panel of this diptych, Santhosh acknowledges that very different fates could await this man depending on whether he is seen as friend or foe. Although painted in 2004, this series of images gained further poignancy following the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, the artist's home, showing how an image can continue to gain new meaning as the world around us changes. This fact is highlighted again when we look at the face covering Santhosh's subject wears, perhaps intended to conceal his identity, but today a timely nod to a very different kind of terror spurred by a global pandemic.

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