Originally from Orissa, Jagannath Panda (born 1970) is a Delhi based artist. He graduated from the M.S. University in Baroda, Gujarat, and went on to do his MFA in Sculpture (1994) at the Royal College of Art in London (2002).
Through his art, Jagannath Panda reconciles many of our most fundamental contradictions. The dichotomies of Nature/Culture, Urban/Rural, Traditional/Contemporary and Figuration/Abstraction find both expression and resolve within Panda's paintings and sculptures. Remarkably, the artist usually incorporates these oppositional scenarios into a single unified whole, subtly fused by the deft handling of colors and compositions. A personal aesthetic sensibility functions as both balancing device and interrogating agent. In a single work, Panda posits the existence of stylized gods, culled from the palm leaf manuscripts of his ancestral Orissa, within the skyscraper apartment blocks of the burgeoning, newest India. His Realism believes in the existence of Fantasy.
Social and environmental issues also concern Panda, his subjects are found on the front page of today's newspaper and in his own backyard. The commonplace object is given symbolic stature, asked to represent communities, aspirations or even dogmas. The juxtaposition of diverse materials in a single work enables the artist to speak with multiple voices. Collage and assemblage are divorced from their Surrealist patrimony and function as both memory and mirror, storing preconceived meanings and reflecting a contradictory reality.
Animals play an important role in the artist's vocabulary. Never anthropomorphic, birds and beasts represent the human condition but also a continuum of life. These are the actors in Panda's morality play, his dramatic staging of an enchanted universe on to which modern rationality has only the most tenuous hold.