Cement Carriers on the Back of a Truck, 1988

oil on canvass, 125×110

The Cement Carriers is a portrayal of hopelessness, resignation and an almost willing bondage to a life of poverty. This is conveyed through the expressions on the faces of the cement carriers and the ropes that they tie around their bodies. I depicted them frozen in time, denoting their acceptance of the lack of progression in their lives. The carriers are suspended in space to project the almost nomadic nature of their lives and the insecurity of their circumstances. The grey figures of the cement carriers have been merged with the truck and the backdrop to emphasise their lack of individuality.

This painting is one of only three monotone paintings that I have ever made. I did not use my imagination for this painting. This is exactly what I saw numerous times on the streets of New Delhi. I worried for these men who were sometimes so covered in cement that they looked like sculptures. I despaired and asked myself,  “if this is what they look like from the outside then what about the inside! What about their lungs?”