At first glance the Scorpio that Delhi-based artist-brothers Manil and Rohit Gupta have driven down in looks like a blown up toy straight out of a comic book. Look closer and the spontaneously drawn organic forms, graffiti, speech bubbles, street art, language from everyday life, all come together like a thoughtfully executed painting that has converted the car into a public art project that the duo are cheekily calling The Holographic Love Machine.
“The imagery on the car is just the same as we make our canvas,” says Manil, “but the difference this time is that we are taking our art to the common man instead of inviting people to a formal gallery which is often intimidating.” And while they are also currently participating in a group show called The Nerves Under your Skin at Nature Morte, Oberoi, Gurgaon, their “travelling art show” is what is making heads turn wherever they go.
It was in the end of April that they began painting the black Scorpio car with acrylics and spray cans and it took about 15 days for them to be ready to take the car on its first journey from Chandigarh to Delhi in early June. “In Delhi, we have already taken the car to Khan Market and India Gate, and it’s amazing to see the public response. People read what’s written inside the blurbs, connect to the simplicity of the childlike human forms and the everyday language we have used. It’s great to see people laugh and smile as they touch the car or get themselves clicked with the vehicle,” they say, sharing photographs of two traffic police constables posing next to the car. Encouraged by the response, ManilRohit – and this is how they wish to be known as artists – have also created a Facebook page for the car, where they update the car’s next location. They are also using social media to record people’s reactions on two Facebook pages — https://www.facebook.com/manilrohit.art and https://www.facebook.com/TheHolographicLoveMachine.
While Manil has exhibited as an independent artist with private galleries in the past, and has shown both paintings and sculptures, Rohit is a photographer by training. The brothers decided to work together as ManilRohit when they wanted to “do something radical with our art”. “We shared the same studio space and we realised that our working styles complimented each other beautifully. His visual understanding of the medium fits in perfectly with the free forms in my work,” says Manil. “I was petrified of painting earlier,” chips in Rohit, “and my crooked lines just jelled with Manil’s spontaneity.”
While the brothers’ first art outing together was in 2011 with a provocatively titled show Ecofriendly Hornification, the brothers have been careful not to go explicit in this project. “We find sexuality to be a very natural thing. We don’t want to be pseudo in our approach to art. But we knew we couldn’t be too overt with the car.” So instead on the car, we find quirky phrases such as Watever Dude, BYOB, Bingo et al.
As they zoom off to yet another location, waving past the crowd that has gathered near the vehicle at the Siri Fort crossing, they leave me hoping that they find the sponsorship they seek from Mahindra to take their ‘labour of love’ to other cities too.
Poonam Goel is a freelance journalist and has covered the arts for over 15 years. She contributes on visual arts for various newspapers, magazines and online media. More about her on Story Wallahs. Write to her @firstname.lastname@example.org