Gaman Palem’s social critique through Graphic Art
Education in Mass Communication took Gaman Palem, Chennai, to procure a doctorate degree in the same subject from the Madurai Kamaraj University, Tamil Nadu. However, Palem’s mind was not glued to academics. A true graphic visualizer and an avid follower of graphic novels from all over the world, Palem decided to set sails into the larger ocean of graphic visualizing and today he is one of the highly acclaimed graphic designers and an artist who uses graphic novel format as a medium to express his ideas. With a deep understanding of Indian mythologies as well as their regional versions and interpretations, Palem makes use of his knowledge for creating a series of works that blend the mythical characters to contemporary contexts.
Mythology is a potent area of ideas and also it provides subtle metaphors to interpret the contemporary world, says Palem. In an age where discussions on atrocities against women are quite relevant Palem’s way of addressing such issues is delving deep into Ramayana and Mahabharata. Both the epics stand on the crucial crimes committed against women despite the presence of very powerful male heroes. Villainy of epic proportions is still rampant in our daily lives and Palem in his works critiques irrespective of the locations where works get exhibited and published.
Graphic novel format, for Palem seems to be the most conducive medium through which he could educate the younger as well as the seasoned minds for cryptic words and powerful images that are a part of our cultural consciousness works much better than art historically accepted ‘modern art’ language. According to Palem, art has a large purpose of educating people. Graphic novel medium is a powerful tool as it entertains and educates at the same time, he observes.
Irony and humor are two strategies that this young artist uses in order to forward his ideas. He takes pivotal incidents from mythologies and juxtaposes them in contemporary situations creating a visual paradox that leads to a larger interpretative zone. This kind of meaning production, for the artist is an absolutely necessary ploy because he feels that the sudden introduction of a mobile phone in graphic letters in a frame where Ravan is attacking Jatayu who has come to defend Sita who is being abducted and similar visual interpolations would instantly take the viewer to a different context of meaning generation.
Palem lives and works in Chennai. His works have been published in major graphic magazines, journals and he has exhibited widely in India. His forthcoming exhibition is Freedom to March slated to take place in Ojas Gallery, New Delhi, where he would be interpreting Mahatma Gandhi in his unique graphic novel format.
(by Sushma Sabnis)