Chandrahas Jalihal's artworks, paintings as well as drawings, first of all, evoke the feel of a consistent abode of trial and errors. More than the sight, it's the feel and touch that decides and designs his artistic images, owing to his decades-long involvement in the monochromes world of printmaking.
His art works are like the Indian joint family, in a metaphoric sense: graphic elements, painterliness, a yearning for the collaboration of colourfulness with monochrome, themes 'from' and 'because' of literature, art history, subaltern and genealogy and last but not least, the nostalgia of local myths, all in all, stay in the same beautiful house Chandra has pictorially construed. And this house is also a trading table-top model of cultural riddles. A typical Indian family would be an amalgamation of several couples, of three to four generations, with deviant professions, a single kitchen, and a co-operative of economic management. Chandra is availing an aesthetic-metaphoric life to that social structure which is fast fading in the Indian context. This is how representational aesthetics can overtake harsh realities.
It is not easy to live next to the pictorial house he has construed. Neither can you be sure about how the author resides within it.* (*maneyolage maneyodeyaniddhaano illavo--is a Kannada phrase meaning weather there is the owner inside his abode, with a lot of metaphysical undertones. Chandrahas has been familiar with this concept of "home away from home" since his childhood days). In his paintings, a wall built around a natural tree also bears that tree as a picture within the picture, on its own (surface) skin, so to say. The shift from living with nature to living with its memory, within a couple of decades, is unique to Chandra's generation. His paintings are also his autobiographic representation of being an Indian in the beginning of the new century. He studied art amidst the nature at Santiniketan (1990s) and had been dealing with the urban creative circuits like Gulbarga, Bangalore and throughout India, as a professional and professor of visual representation.
What is painted, no matter what, always remains 'that which is constantly being painted' in his works. Remember that Chandra's pictures are houses of trials and errors. He paints what he had 'felt' and that which has 'touched' him, often literally. The landscapes, the exaggerated perspective, even the refined lengthy human-limbs, and the ground within the picture on which everything is grounded, makes the viewers to bifurcate memory from their sight. The artist's intention herein is to make sure that what is seen and what is remembered do not always co-relate. Hence, each of his pictures, even while remaining as independent image, also readily visually mingles with similar ones.
This sight is synonymous to Chandra's experience, as a visual seeker, since 1980s. The flat rendering of the bright colours are so brittle that their emotional
evocation is kept to the minimum. Chandra's paintings, a continuation of his graphic representation (observe the drawings of cowries shells acquiring various meanings, complemented with titles like "Rejection Weight") are houses of metaphorically lived memories of the artist, in the background of the fact that his artistically evolving years involved experiencing various cultural diversification of India.
If you stare a bit harder at his images: generally you see a painted frame within the real canvas made up of objects, memories and passing time--the three important elements of his artistic biography which do not easily agree to be together as well as pose together in a group picture, since they are three different entities, like, to stress again, the members of our essentially joint families. Since he has pictorially ties them together, now he needs to hold on to, say, the painted real tree, which, when a house gets built around it, agrees to become a second layer and faint memory of a painted tree on the painted wall, that too when its original lies within the same picture plane. Chandrahas, in his early late 40s now, has lived in an age where in the real huge trees all around his mundane life, has been converted into the wall papers of trees. More than environmentalism as an issue in his works, he is more concerned about how 'unsettling' are things around us: because the surrounding has change, we have changed, our modes of representation is also being altered in an unbelievable speed. The collateral effect of his works is that it also reflects that fate of narratives in painterliness all around him.
Through his artworks, Chandra constantly jeopardizes the definitions of visual representation, through its own self, by bringing together lived events, remembered images, in his own world wherein the space-time configuration is no constant one. It is a visual magic realism of Chandra's kind; and a very engaging document of an aesthetic kind. Two important meaningful lines, scripted by two poets with a difference of eight centuries, have been 'heard' by this artist as an insider to that culture; and this artist 'feels' and 'touches' his pictures while facilitating his viewers to 'consider' what he is upto: 'maneyanendu kattadiru' (never make a home) and 'sthavarakkalivuntu jangamakkalivilla' (that which moves lives while that which is static will perish). Chandrahas' current series of art works become important not because they avail appropriate visual imagery to those phrases but also interpreted them differently and re-represent them.