Unidentified Soldier

I just took the canvas, stood before the large mirror without clothes, started just doing scratching, scraping with it, and then from morning till evening, I continuously painted... because that had to be finished when it's wet... I was dreaming throughout the night, it was such a tortuous night... as if I was scraping my own body with the knife... to reveal this thing... (Artist statement, Midnight to the Boom, Peabody Essex Museum, New York, 2013, p. 138)

Broota's anguish at the surrounding suffering he saw in society is forcefully expressed in his art both through deliberate technique and subject matter. Broota's imagery shifted from the Gorilla Man to the Primordial Man to the existential Man series, exploring an almost Darwinian study through the ages, charting the struggle for survival. Unidentified Soldier depicts a dehumanized figure in the vestments of war, corroded by conflict. This eerily ephemeral combatant visceral and menacing suffers in silence. Broota's archetypal tendrils contort in agony as they reach out to this anonymous soldier. This figure becomes a monument of mourning, a manifestation of the masculinity and the melancholy that war's destruction brings upon mankind.

Signature: signed, dated and titled 'R. Broota / 90 / "UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER"' (on the reverse)


Sotheby's London, 24 May 2007, lot 118

About Rameshwar Broota

Indian, b. 1941, New Delhi, India, based in New Delhi, India

Group Shows on Artsy

South Asian Contemporary + Modern, Christie's South Asian + Chinese