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“Swim”[1,2 Media: pen and ink on Somerset paper. 3 Media: ink on preloved fibreglass bathtub, patinated brass, marble stones, AV] the visitor is literally invited to participate in an immersive experience and to climb into a bath tub, lie back and listen to an audio sound scape and narrative poem whilst watching clouds scudding over head in a dream like sequence. This recreates an experience by the artist who salvaged an old bath tub from the forest in which to grow aquatic plants, such as lotuses and lilies,which was his mental salvation during lockdown when he was living on his own.He created a tiny water garden that made him feel he was in control of this microcosm of fish and plants and empowered him to feel safe in a world made uncertain by the pandemic. However, as Delhi descended into chaos in a second wave of Covid and the city ran out of medical oxygen, the funeral pyres burned day and night and the news was relentlessly negative the artist stripped naked climbed into the bath and immersed his head beneath the water to cut out the cacophony of sirens wailing and the white noise of a megalopolis in panic.
The gesture, one of defeat, bought surprising respite bathed in green leaves, flowers, water and silence. In an homage to the pre-Raphaelite English artist John Everett Millais painting “Ophelia” the artist is faced with a choice, to either descend into madness, like the eponymous Ophelia, and weigh himself down with stones and drown like Woolf in a moment of bleak depression, or to choose life and clamber out of the bath. Gada’s narrative verse, recited by the artist himself, ends with a sibilant “boom” echoing that of E.M Forster’s Malabar Caves. It is left to the listener to interpret whether it is a Francis Bacon’s silent scream into the abyss, the primordial “Om” echoing out over the Himalaya’s orSamuel Beckett’s“..stain upon the silence”. Like T.S Eliot’s “Hollow Men”Gada’s world ends with an echo repeated across time, not an implosion. Fortunately for us the artist choses life and the second pen and ink drawing depict him removing invasive weed from the bath to allow the indigenous fish and aquatic plants to flourish and to let light in to the choked darkness. Gada calls this process “Cloud Pruning”, the title of the exhibition, which refers to just this, the impossible process of pruning clouds to take away their darkness. According to the artist, cloud pruning, Niwaki in Japanese, is a topiary technique of training trees and shrubs into shapes resembling clouds. However, he uses the terminology to imply pruning the dark clouds that obscure his mind and obstruct hisartistic vision in order to let the light in.

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