Nikhil Chopra's Yog Raj Chitrakar, Memory Drawing X, Part I combines the different artistic mediums of theatre, drawing, film and photography to explore the many layers of the city, mediate troubled histories, excavate personal memories and challenge the boundaries between the refined and the prosaic. Yog Raj Chitrakar is a turn of the century Victorian draughtsman based loosely on the artist's grandfather Yog Raj Chopra who was a landscape painter. The character has many faces: explorer, draughtsman, cartographer, conqueror, soldier, prisoner of war, painter, artist, romantic, dandy and queen. These are signified by elaborate costumes.
Like the early explorers the artist carries his belongings on his back venturing into the world to seek his fortune by chronicling the tenuous moments of ordinary lives and quotidian actions which are played out against the imposing grandeur of the city's historic edifices and its frenzied streets. The city itself becomes the set against which a variety of tableaux are staged.
Chopra begins his journey by first engaging in a transformative ritual which involves cleansing and tonsuring himself as if embarking on a pilgrimage. Each action is thoughtful, deliberate and meditative. These are recorded through video and photography blurring the lines between the chronicler and that which is chronicled, between the artist and his material.
In Memory Drawing X, Part II, the artist takes on the persona of a Queen. An elaborate dress was created especially for the performance and the artist will make a drawing of the Museum which was originally built in honour of Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert. Irony, humour and a gentle pathos inform his journey through the Museum and the gardens as he contemplates the objects and intentions of a bygone time.
The Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum would like to acknowledge the support of Chatterjee & Lal, Shivani Gupta for photography, Loise Braganza for costume design and Starlyn D’ Souza and Aarti Sunder for production assistance.