Post Postmodernism and Pseudorealism

September 27, 2011

In 1972, Luis Bunuel had made a film called The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie, which had immediately acquired the status of cult film even though the film neither had a conventional plot, nor even coherence of a narrative. In the absence of any category for such a film, which was first of its kind, critics referred to it  as a Surrealist film. Surrealism was the dominant ism of the time and people like Salvador Dali were also making films which they called Surrealist.

Luis Bunuel's film only showcased the world of the bourgeoisie which differed from the real.

Nonetheless, the film of Bunuel was hardly surrealist. To start with it had a clear message, a satire aimed at the bourgeoisie, who lived in an unreal world, oblivious of what was happening outside their secured homes.

4 decades later all that world has changed. Bourgeoisie is the most sought after class in the post-soviet era. But something else is also changing now. The world view which was once exclusive to the Bourgeoisie is today being injected into every man’s mind through the media largely controlled by the corporate big houses. Independent think which used to be the hallmark of the working class even a few decades ago is being replaced now by mass hysteria spanked by the media-corporate-nexus.

Pseudorealism is based on the premise that mass opinion in 21st century is shaped by what the Bourgeoisie want it to be.

Also there had been unprecedented technological explosion in the past 4 decades, so much so that it is today possible to create an image entirely in studio and made to be appear like reality. This is Pseudorealism. The movie world no longer depends on locales and actors to create moving images that are as believable as reality.

This technological explosion, and the domination of the corporate houses over mass media has created an unique 21st century situation where any idea however fantastic can be projected as reality and the masses may be made to believe it.


A recent exhibition of Devajyoti Ray’s 26 paintings all seem to tell this. The exhibition titled “the Discreet Charm of Pseudorealism” is one of the best to have come from Ray, perhaps the most original, articulate and powerful artist from India today.

Pseudorealism as distinct genre of art, though has an Indian origin, is fast becoming the most acceptable art-style of 21st century for its on-the-face expressive elements, simple narrative and uniquely beautiful.


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