Ajay Kurian (b.1984) was born in Baltimore, U.S.A and lives and works in New York. He studied painting and sculpture at Columbia University and graduated in 2006. Following this, he became known for curatorial projects before beginning to exhibit his own artworks in 2011.
Ajay Kurian is an artist whose work celebrates the layers of meaning and historicity embedded into the understanding of an object. A wide variety of inspirations find themselves literally and figuratively implanted into his work: from the literature he reads to the streets he inhabits. This speaks of the different methods of communication in the modern world and the deepening assimilation of technologies into quotidian existence.
His artwork centres upon aggregation, sedimentation and metamorphosis. There is a dynamic relationship between the natural and the artificial and these two elements often appear to bleed into one another. The viewer is presented with a strange menagerie of objects that represents the modern individual’s obsession with technology and the slow process of assimilation between physical and digital existence. This is evidenced in Kurian’s work by the contrast between new and old technologies and the conflict between the natural and the synthetic.
Kurian situates his work in an arena in which, “something gets so close to not being, that’s when it becomes radically powerful and evocative. When a shape is just about to take form or when it is just about to disappear, it becomes beautiful. Just as when a bubble pops. Just as when dormant sand takes shape, just as when words appear from mottled and ruddy dirt [...] As long as we approach reality as such – asymptotically – we may be unwittingly bound to the tragic.”
This quote appears to reference the technological advancements of society which limit our organic identity and threaten it with near obliteration. His works reference the hubristic nature of humanity that necessitates belonging to a system that each individual longs to transcend; this is freedom and it is unrealisable. Kurian’s art exists within this strange twilight of virtually unobtainable entities. In one work three trashcans embody the spirits of Want, Need and Care in Goethe’s Faust. There is something distinctly tragic about the organised sterility, coupled with their organic dirtiness, which creates a dialectic. The trashcans, as a depository for the waste of daily life, suggests the marginalisation of the organic, which inevitably decays into refuse, in favour of the everlasting orderliness of the technological. Kurian’s practice is defined by a strange accumulation of items that are forced to coalesce or contrast with one another forming a perverse unity reflective of modern society. In doing so his work expresses the problematic ontology of the modern individual whose identity is increasingly defined by the technology that shapes it.