A piece of nostalgia that still has a hold on me is my summer vacations at my grandparents' houses, both on my mom and dad's side where my archaeological adventures during the deep cleaning would take me into old, worn-out trunks from my parents' childhoods that still contained their clothes, pictures and toys from decades ago. The sensorial imagery of those ancestral houses and the history they enclosed is the closest thing to time travel that I have ever experienced.
Any middle-class Indian house is a similar treasure trove of memories and identities that span generations. It is a place where different eras and cultures converge to create a unique, comforting, and fascinating charm that most of us associate with the idea of 'home'. Capturing the same domestic iconography of an Indian household, Baroda-based artist Abir Karmakar highlights the social and temporal idiosyncrasies of modern India through his life-sized, photorealistic paintings.
Abir's, 'site-specific' art paints a non-linear timeline of a family with 'different generations on the same plane'. Through his series, 'Home' which later became 'Displacement' and 'Passage', the artist offers a spatial and experiential understanding of a tender, warm home. The floor-to-wall paintings emerge from the photographs Abir takes of strangers' homes that form the composition of his art. The size and aesthetics of the paintings also emphasize the presence of the beholder; they become not just a voyeur but a protagonist in these homes.
The enveloping spaces that Abir creates through his paintings act as ethnographic records of the people that once lived there but now only exist through the remnants in the space. His paintings are ruminations on identity, memory, and place that go beyond the binaries of ethical/unethical, moral/immoral, and private/public and create “...a certain existential emptiness, a sense of loss, and the feeling that we are migrants even when we move from one state within India, to another", shares Abir.