Memory, nostalgia, and narrative permeate Vasant Nayak's latest body of work, which also has a distinct vein of melancholy running through it. Returning to the studio after a long hiatus from his career as a fine art photographer, Vasant assembles an array of objects for the photographs in this series. Some of the items have been with him always, and some have come to him from family, or are more recent acquisitions representing that other time and place. Together they are as embedded in his homeland of India as they are imbued with deep personal significance. They hint at specific instances and complicated relationships from his formative years, without giving away specifics. The still lives are layered with the written language Vasant was taught in his youth. While intensely personal, there is a clear universal quality that speaks to the history of each of us as individuals - our roots and the branches of our own families and their stories are called to mind.
From his self-imposed exile, Vasant reflects, "My body resides in the United States, my soul dwells in India, and my mind traverses between the two." Although he has lived in the United States since the 1980s, his heart beats to the rhythm of southern India. But the land of his birth has changed in his absence; modernizing and losing much of its simplicity and beauty in a commercial push to become more "advanced" - more like the West - until the home for which he longs can be found only in small pockets of the rural, remote South. While it offers some comfort and feels familiar on his visits, it still does not hold everything he misses when he earns for India. And so, the artist constructs his home from memory and longing. "Before I die, I would like to belong somewhere, again - maybe in the work itself."
December 20, 2018