Confessions of a Thug: Pakiveli is a multimedia exhibition which is best appreciated in the flesh. On Sunday 16th February 2020 I visted the Tramway to see a much recommended exhibition and I wasn’t disappointed. The exhibition title has been taken from the pulp fiction of 1839 ‘Confessions of a Thug’ by the Oriental writer Phillip Meadows Taylor. Pakiveli has been linked to one of the artists rap monikers.
The exhibition focused upon heritance through performance and discursive practice. The artist explored his vision of identities and how they are subject to change given the conflicting realities over time and place. Pandhal investigated the word thug which came from British-India to identify a religious cult of murderers. Pandhal illustrated throughout this exhibition how the word thug had been misappropriated and sensationalised by the British. Drawings, textiles and sculptures have been embued with demonic symbolism.
My favourite part of the exhibition was the range of untitled textiles on display by the artists mother and Pandhal himself. The embroidery on each knitted sweater seemed to be personalised to the garment and representative of a demonistic thug as part of the narrative of lost and changed identities through different generations. The embroidery was expertly applied with a bold colour palette and a range of stitches and technique. I liked the use of conflicting ideologies and juxaposed themes through the use of knitted cricket jumpers and embroidered thugs.
Each drawing strives to represent versions of this original thug myth with various references entertwined throughout the cartoon caracatures including his own muse of a British Indian colonial soldier.