George Chakravarthi : Thirteen

Posted by Cheryl Baty on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 Under: Exhibitions & events
If you are in Newcastle and have a spare few minutes I would definitely recommend that you see Chakravarthi’s show at Globe Gallery’s new venue on Pilgrim street (directly opposite Virgin Money) opening on April 30th. 

Although I am not an expert on Shakespeare, (I have possibly read Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, know that Othello is Moorish and that Elizabeth Taylor played Cleopatra alongside her husband Richard Burton’s Mark Anthony), Chakravarthi’s  ‘Thirteen’ for me certainly captures the idea of a historical / iconic figure entombed for prosperity, meshed with the knowledge that you are viewing the portrait of a fictional Shakespearean character.

The not quite real or earthly, staring at us from another realm.

Of his beautiful ‘self portraits’ imbued with transparent layers, which he has created using moulds, cobwebs, feathers, tree bark and precious stones, I think my favourite is that of Eros.  Although Chakravarthi’s portrait as Brutus is questionably the most powerful in terms of the image as a portrayal of a character from Ancient Rome described in Shakespeare.

His guises of Romeo and Juliet seem to resist being dissolved away into the fabric of time. Like a memory with us and yet not.

As Lady Macbeth, Chakravarthi looks out at us from the madness of her murderous actions.

In ‘Thirteen’ Chakravarthi cleverly uses these portraits to mark the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth in a very poignant way to discuss identity politics and contemporary attitudes to suicide.  

I am really much more interested in modern fiction than in classical literature but having seen Chakravarthi’s interpretation I feel a little more inspired to read some of those famous Shakespearean works.

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