I want to conclude by saying that Subramanyan is especially interested in ornamental image structures that sustain iconic conventions on the one hand and allow narrative facilities on the other .... But equally I believe this to be a modernist preoccupation, this telescoping of the iconic and narrative by means of an essentially ornamental structure, which is in turn projected into what one may call a meta-structure, of play (p. 10).
There are simply too many questions here: one might even say that the conflict 85 between iconic and narrative is almost the crucial issue for a lot of art forms — cinema and theatre are obvious instances but painting and sculpture are also surely affected. I think the problem would be something like this: narrative necessarily evokes a dialectical relation between space and time, and while we do have access to traditions of spatial sequencing, we are all too often lost with temporal sequence. One faces a crippling hegemony of space, when the temporal mode is simply abducted into the spatial: colour, for instance, would reveal this problem entirely. Now this hegemony constantly extends into other areas: while, for example, there has to be a consistent and necessary transference of meaning between narrative and iconic modes, I think the iconic actually causes a narrative elision, abducting the narrative production-relations into itself. It can take an even larger hue when art language starts abducting art-practice into itself — by which I mean that the 'gem-like compression of a figural motif can start another kind of more abstract illusion-ism which is finally not all that removed from much-despised 'realist subject-matter. Consider how the J.J. School of An moved in recent years so easily from portrait painting to (what they consider) high abstraction; consider how the very people who demand realist cinema also demand folk theatre, prefer the barren sentimentalism of Anup Jalota but want their khayal to be pure, abstract taanbazi.
Geeta suggests that the 'ornamental' might be a way out, and this — along with the decorative — is a recurring thematic in her book. I might be completely wrong here, but the way I understand it, the ornamental largely deflects narrative towards space while it is the decorative which still retains its temporal alternatives. I would even argue that this was perhaps the reason why the early Bengal painters empha-
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K C Subramanyan, Reverie ot -an Armyman's Wife", K.G Subramanyn, 'Still Life with Hying Angel', Painting on Acrylic SheCi, 1981,61 X 44 5 cms Painting on Acrylic Sheet, 1980, 58 5 X 43 5 cms