I am sure that if one were to briefly summarize Satyam’s art work, it would suffice to ponder on the hidden meaning of chemist Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier’s aphorism “Nothing is created, nothing is lost, all is transformed”. I say this because, for the artist, such inescapable transformation shows how all of the world’s truth and tangibility, even when apparently destroyed or abandoned, for man, can take on new meanings – if they are symbolically redressed to usefulness.
Satyam clearly goes beyond the concept of mere ecological recycling and actively focuses on the influence that exhuming wasted materials has on the inner psyche of humans.
This helps us imagine new uses or shapes of existing objects and materials, and especially wonder about their inherent social, historical values. Thus, they form a pretext for our intellectual and spiritual considerations: starting from the memorial context, these reborn natural elements and objects facilitate our capacity, as humans, to delve deeply into our memories, into our anecdotes, and recall sensations and evoke new emotions from which to glean future teachings.
Therefore, these elements and objects stimulate our inner searching for lost times, or rather, lost thoughts. This happens on both the collective and individual plane (lets take an everyday item, like a coffee pot – its historical context, when it was made and used, as well as those pleasantly familiar personal-sensations of times spent having coffee with those dear to us). Satyam is not simply evoking the past, he is stimulating our inner-search, to regenerate ourselves so that we may evolve for tomorrow, well aware of our renewed moral strength.
And so the artist’s will, both social and enlightening, is conferred – geared to act on the self more than on society as a whole – a will that is also therapeutic, as transpires from his works. If removed from their sombre modern-art setting they are all about interpreted transformation.
Such intellectual conception stems from the artist’s accrued maturity, which he has reached by passing through various stages, like young figurative gender paintings, the study of great artists, which translated into a robust cycle of their portraits, the use of collages with paintings, of pictoral three-dimensionality by affixing objects to the canvas, not to mention the rounded agglomerates.
Let us remember that all these artistic progressions do come from studying art but also from professionally practicing psycho-therapy and mask making; and from a keen interest in foreign cultures and peoples born out of his extensive travels. A biography of synergies featuring a sensitive and introspective personality and the culture and craft of the artist.
This extension of thought proposed by Satyam leads us to meditate beyond appearances and think differently, unconventionally, to decipher our self, by regenerating our sensitivity, freeing it from any contingencies and bestowing it with new meanings.
It’s a sort of resurrection of objects and natural elements degraded to waste by society, to which the artist instills new life. A new dignity, so that they may resuscitate our dormant subconscious emotions.
This historical revisiting not only changes inanimate objects into vital ones, but also enriches them with a symbolic worthiness meant to lead spectators into reflection but also to help their minds escape. In fact, the natural elements, like stones, leaves and sea shells, as well as the anthropological ones, like discarded industrial household products, are transformed into direct, comprehensible allegories, as well as into cryptic, nebulous ones that the artist combines to create varied miscellaneous and balanced agglomerations. The exemplary dimension of such three-dimensional heaps is wreathed in the containers that encase them: the boxes.
The boxes are meant to isolate the objects and elements from their original surroundings, where they were taken for granted, and fit them into a new ideal timeless space that enhances its visual and perceptual and thus introspective force. These works are the summa of Satyam’s biographic references, of his cultural and life-time anecdotes, that come from his travels, his cultural and religious associations. One gleans this by observing, for example, the iconographies of different creeds or strokes of black pigment that recall indigenous spirituality. Often too, the works even evoke the artist’s ironic pondering over events that marked his existence in one way or another.
But there is more. These agglomerations, for Satyam, also become partisans of art therapy: the intellectual effort and the craft work they require, transform them into a therapeutic means for the artist too, in that, while making them, they help regenerate his body and spirit from his work and restore his inner balance.
Clearly these works, even if complex in many ways, are not Satyam’s goal, but rather stepping stones for ulterior experiments of his artistic creativity and intellectuality, so much so as to become, as he puts it “…a constantly evolving expression of multifaceted truth” to spur our understanding, and therefore our growth, in terms of the smallest of our intimate, personal situations as well as of those both collective and universal.