Sarnath Banerjee$ART0012

A boxer whose entire career is built around dodging punches, a pole-vaulter who, just before a jump, realises that perhaps he has chosen the wrong sport, a judoka who learned judo through correspondence courses, a high jumpers who achieves levity by eating light food, listening to light music and reading light literature.

A race-walker's legs cannot keep up with her mind as it moves steadily towards the finishing line, a ping pong player who is suddenly aware of the eerie silence of the indoor stadium and tries to remember how one spells 'eerie', a javelin thrower who accidentally hits a long jumper thus disqualifying himself and destroying the medal chances of the other. A hockey player who faces a wall of bureaucrats sitting before the goal as he prepares to take the penalty shot.

The Gallery of Losers is a collection of dozen graphic vignettes that were recently displayed individually on 48 large billboards across the eastern boroughs of London as part of a public art project organized by the Frieze Foundation, London. The project was part of the London 2012 Festival, a cultural counterpoint to the 2012 London Olympics. Banerjee's contrarian streak found full expression in the study of defeat and dejection at Olympics that has historically been a celebration of the human physical skills and A campaign that celebrates losers, The Gallery of Losers, went against the grain of other Olympics-related advertising that lauds winners. These billboards get in the skin of the loser. They ruffle up the cliches that surround winning and propose the heretic thought that winners can sometimes be vulgar. Often.

That Banerjee's work received uncommonly wide publicity and acclaim in the Indian and the international press shows that his gamble to play the wet blanket, the naysayer paid off: that he has articulated through his work a universally felt need for compassion for the losers, equanimity towards success and failure, and a rejection of the cult of victory that would restore balance and justice to a world increasingly, deeply divided into winners and losers.

On show also are a series of posters designed for the London Olympics and two new sets of graphic works Arboreal Reduced and High Jump that elaborate on the same theme of Olympian losers.