Eye Massager is the writing shown on the viewer worn by the subject represented by Bharat Sikka: the portrait, which is part of the Sapper series (2019), shows the artist’s father in a moment of rest and fragility. This photograph seems to have several clues that lead the observer to the reconstruction of a character and the relationship that exists between the artist and his father. The strange massager for the eyes, the slightly worn T-shirt that falls softly on the shoulders, the wrinkles that characterize the skin, the well-groomed mustache: these are all the elements that the artist offers us to recompose the physical and psychological characteristics of the protagonist and the relationship that exists with the author.

The artist’s father, an engineer in the Indian army, was away from home for many years because of his work, creating a distance between him and his son over time. With Sapper Sikka he seeks contact, the narrowing of that distance: with an intimate gesture he inserts himself into almost every detail of his father’s life and everyday life in order to be able to rediscover him no longer in the relationship between adult and child, but in a relationship between equals, between two adults who communicate in the same way. And so this image allows us to enter a person’s most intimate routine, imagine or guess what his habits are and we too feel closer and participate in their history and bond.

The feeling of being faced with an enigma is suggested and desired: the hidden eyes of the father by this strange instrument, however, manages to create a new vision in which the father and the artist manage to heal a relationship that was being lost over the years. . Photography and the gaze become the tools to fill the gaps and shortcomings collected over the years. The image then becomes a moment of respite, of rest in which the artist rediscovers the person who plays the role of father by laying him bare and showing his most authentic and intimate aspects. Sapper is the bridge that connects different eras, which allows the child, now an adult, to get closer to his father, rediscover his frailties and share them with him within an image in which there is no longer a portrait subject and a subject that but portrays two mirrors reflecting a very similar image.


Bharat Sikka
Sapper 19, 2019, PhotoRag 308 paper with wooden frame
© Courtesy of the artist and Nature Morte