Artist Norbert Gonsalves’s work reflects a distinctly diasporic consciousness. Having moved to North America at age 29, his vivid, large-scale, mixed media works on canvas are still very much anchored to his Indian homeland and tribe. The rich, cross-cultural philosophy that shines through in his work is layered and ridden with moral and philosophical tensions. East and West, tradition and modernity, the material and the spiritual straddle twin poles in his dynamic compositions.
Indian aesthetic sensibility – its rich heritage spanning folk and classical art – lingers in his painterly rhythm. His work offers a conflation of painting and drawing, realism and abstraction, with found objects such as fabric incorporated for texture and density. Determined to meander in and out of two culture systems of variably conflicting values, in his work Gonsalves applies a visual language to the disparate perspectives latent in his practice and process.
Keen to make sense of the violence against women, the sheer brutality occurring in his homeland that he now must witness from a virtual distance, his works often play with motifs one can liken to creation and destruction. Shifting with ease between abstract and representational registers, his works throw fire and slip across borderlands. Scorching flames, smoke, tears, spills and splashes crowd his canvases like psychological scars. Images are forced into grids, chopped and cut, trimmed and yanked as if the artist were enacting a type of symbolic violence with his subject matter.
Meanwhile, longing and tender nostalgia for his home operate at a deeper level. The homesickness, horror and hope the artist faces each day bleeds through like a shining jewel of truth. In the his latest series, Dowry Dreams, Gonsalves goes to the heart of a disconcerting practice in India to expose the underlying threads of abuse against women it entails.
“Dowry Deaths,” is a common practice in India whereby young brides are set aflame and killed with kerosene in order to extract additional dowry money from the bride’s family. In this gripping series, Gonsalves literally scorches and burns women’s traditional sarees, bangles and chains to fashion misshapen forms that allude to the legacy of these victims of male patriarchal violence. Layered with his critique of this dark social phenomenon is the artist’s exposition of global cultural materialism. Gonsalves terms an over-valuation of the material “a sacrifice of love.” His passionate work addresses doubly the sexism, greed and quest for status that motivates these and other crimes against humanity.
Norbert Gonsalves has a background in Graphic Design and studied at the JJ Institute of Applied Art, Mumbai India. He has been making art since a very young age under the influence of his artist father J W Gonsalves.
For more information about Norbert and his work please visit www.norbertg.com