Limning Heterotopias

Whether using his trademark “splotched surfaces” to offer an entry point beyond the spatio-temporal manifestation of images on the canvas, or his characteristically absent backgrounds, or his palimpsest layering of trace outlines, such as tree roots and branches or schematized cityscapes, and human figures, Iranna's visual language turns on the creation of what philosopher Michel Foucault called “heterotopias — the intersections between real and virtual spaces” that function as interstitial vectors allowing us to see ourselves in the “unreal, virtual space that opens up behind the surface.” Iconically resembling a mirror, bridge, or boat, a heterotopic space “is a floating piece of space, a place without a place”[2] that is contained within itself. Subsisting on the margins of society in a self-contained, ritualistic space constituted by shared notions of birth, death, life and transcendence, the Buddhist monk is a self-peripheralized being—a quintessential heterotopic subject.

In Iranna's sculpture works, the rubber nipples protruding from an ornately framed bag of grains; the "veins and arteries" red and blue electrical wiring connecting wooden sandals; and the intersection of iron nails in the sandals of the fakir, all embody a heterotopic "in-between" of connectivity that simultaneously contains separation—the cycles of need and nurture, life and death, intake of sustenance and excretion of waste, or the tenuous space between the bequests of the alms beggar and the blessings he bestows.

To 'limn' something is not merely to ‘depict in painting or words,’ or to ‘highlight’ or ‘outline a form,’ it is also ‘to draw a line’ that functions as a heterotopic space between being and perception. G.R. Iranna's new works do just this: limning heterotopias, they take us on a journey into the liminal space of thresholds, and ask us to go beyond the surface of the canvas and find ourselves in the shadows of the “in-between.”

Maya Kóvskaya, PhD


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$ 10,000 each, a S$ 10,000 people's choice award, and the grand prize of S$ 45,000 (Rs 14.30 lakh). This is the highest art prize to be awarded by a jury in the South-east Asian region. The lo... read more