Anup Mathew Thomas
Metropolitan will be the first solo exhibition in the UK by Anup Mathew Thomas. Predominantly producing work in series, Mathew Thomas’s photographs are visually seductive yet conceal an inherent critique of their subject matter. His exhibition at Gasworks will specifically present works that obliquely examine the rule-makers, law enforcers and bastions of ethics and morality within society. It will be an opportunity to see this singular young artist at a pivotal point in his career.
Mathew Thomas will be presenting two recent works and a new series showing for the first time in this exhibition. Metropolitan (2006), presents a series of fourteen individual portraits of the heads of Episcopalian churches from Kerala. The variety of style and colour within their ceremonial regalia expresses the sheer diversity within the denominations, drawing awareness to the remarkably plural social characteristics in this coastal state. More significantly, Mathew Thomas strategically depicts these pillars of society in front of their own large, imposing and rather luxurious-looking official residences.
The other recent series to be presented, Light Life (2005), depicts the empty interiors of Mumbai ‘ladies bars’ where men go to watch women dancing. Presented as a digital slideshow, the slowly changing stills of these evocative deserted venues seem alive with movement though devoid of human presence. Mathew Thomas shot the photographs on the eve of the nightclubs’s forced closure by the state authorities on the grounds that they encouraged crime and prostitution. Light Life questions this decision as many ex-dancers were obliged to seek the very employment the censure sought to discourage.
Anup Mathew Thomas is an artist with a subtle approach to documenting the people and places around him through an inquisitive yet benevolent lens. Merging various genres of photography he appears the impartial observer yet the works presented here subtly elucidate the politics involved.
Mathew Thomas lives and works between India and the UK. He has had solo exhibitions in India and presented work at Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria and at the 2004 Saint Etienne Biennale, France. He undertook a residency at Gasworks in 2006 as part of its International Residency Programme.
TALK: Nina Möntmann in conversation with Anup Mathew Thomas
Saturday 3 February, 3pm
Curator, Nina Möntmann will introduce the work of Mathew Thomas and discuss his projects for this exhibition. There will be an opportunity for questions following the discussion.
Nina Möntmann is a curator based in Hamburg. She is the editor of the book Art and its Institutions: Current Conflicts, Critique and Collaborations. She also recently curated the exhibition Impossible India: Parallel Economies and Contemporary Art Production at the Frankfurter Kunstverein.
This event is funded by the Goethe Intitute.
Sunday 25 March, 3pm
Guided tour of the exhibition by Gasworks' curator Nav Haq