Monday, November 30, 2009

Art that feasts on Tiffin boxes

Dabbawala acts as a starter to the contemporary Indian art feast, proclaimed writer Silvia Radan of The Khaleej Times in a recent essay.

Talented artist Valay Shende’s Dabbawala was selected as an opening piece in a major show of the modern & contemporary Indian art retrospective, entitled ‘‘Spectrum’, in Abu Dhabi. The dabbawala, the tiffin box carrier is Mumbai’s highly efficient system of carrying and serving lunch to office goers.

The home cooked food, packed in a box is given to a carrier, who ensures it reaches the right person at the right time. The complexity and efficiency of the system impressed even Prince Charles so much that he invited a few dabbawalas as guests to his wedding ceremony.“

The dabbawala has been perfected to such details that some may call it a work of art, but how can it actually be translated into art, worthy of an international exhibition? The news report provides the answer by mentioning, "If you ask talented artist Valay Shende, he will tell you to create a copper and golden looking metal sculpture of a standing man in front of his bicycle, the man “dressed” in traditional Mumbai attire, made out of small watches and his bicycle packed with “boxes” in the shape of a human stomach."

The art exhibition was recently set up in a new improvised gallery at Emirates Palace.The Indian Embassy had organized it in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage as a gesture of friendship and deepening relations between Emiratis and Indians.

Incidentally, Bose Krishnamachari's ‘GHOST/TRANSMEMOIR' includes over 100 metal cans used by the city's famous delivery men of Tiffin boxes. In this compelling installation the lunch boxes are mounted on iron scaffolding and contain LCD monitors. The tangle of wires, hand straps, headphones and metal containers is a play on the indomitable spirit and energy of the people of Mumbai, a city constantly on the move.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Confidence indicator for the Indian art market improves

Art analysis firm ArtTactic’s confidence indicator for the Indian art market has more than doubled, sending positive signals to investors.

In fact, recovery in the Indian art market could occur earlier than expected, according to the latest research report released by the London-based art market analysis firm. The report suggests there is renewed confidence evident in the market that incidentally had dipped to an all-time low only six months ago.

The report holds significance since ArtTactic, set up by Anders Petterson almost a decade ago, is an internationally reputed agency. It comes up with research and commentary by combining both quantitative and qualitative tools. Its studies are backed by an in-depth knowledge of the art market’s .

ArtTactic employs analytical frameworks and methodologies for the art market often employed by economists and the financial experts. Anders Petterson, ArtTactic managing director, elaborates, “The survey sample is a cross-section of key players in the Indian art market many of whom have a long-term interest in it, and hence their answers are not driven by short-term decisions.”

Its confidence indicator for the Indian art market is now pegged just under the 50 mark, at 49. The 50 mark importantly, suggests there are an equal number of negative and positive responses on the outlook for the art market in the near term. In May, the indicator was well in the negative territory, pegged at an abysmally low number of 20.

Clearly, the market is on the threshold of an upswing in terms of investor confidence. This really is a positive indicator coupled with the Indian economy that is showing early signs of revival.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Indian art heritage is as rich as most of the established art based countries like Egypt, Greek, China, Japan, France, Italy and Spain etc.

Indian art heritage is as rich as most of the established art based countries like Egypt, Greek, China, Japan, France, Italy and Spain etc. It has a specific manifestation in the field of Indian society, art, religion and human sentiments. It touches every sphere of human being and its adaptation is so wider even simple palm leaf and rock wall speaks its merits of beauty, aesthetics and pleasure. Each part of the whole nation express the spectromic echoes of art pleasure. It links urban to a rural, layman to a super human, poor to rich but not tired of to lubricate the long passed echoes of Indian artists spirituality, rather has become an integral part of our everyday lives.Indian Traditional Art was remained in the hands of the rural artisans. They used to deal with the indigenous materials, organic and inorganic materials readily available in their locality. Art activities were well linked with our religion, ritual and everyday lives. A group of people accepted art activities as their main profession who were well known as Kalakaras, they accepted the profession from father to the son, mother to the daughter without much variation in form, style, color, pattern, design and the subject matters. They were not only the painters, sculptors and architects but had good depth on literature, texts and allied grammatical resources.
Indian art is understood through its own grammar of Rasa theory, Sadanga(six principles of Indian art), attitude to Indian art principles of image making etc. It was based on India mythology, poetry of romantic love stories, raga-raginis on the value of Indian society, religion. beauty aesthetics and pleasure. Art education is completely based on ones attachment to the process and entirely not accomplished through an art institution said Sir Baladev Moharatha, Head of Deptt. Painting (Indian Style), He said, “ Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of LIVES-LIFE of values and life of valuables, values are left aside and when values are ignored the person concerned gets devalued. While the commodification of art is a slogan all-around, some people are still there experimenting with the values of art which is beyond commercialization”.
Smt. Sailabala Nayak, Instructor Deptt. Of Painting(Indian Style) said, “ The Tradition and culture are the real identity of a civilized status or of a family. Now in the process of globalization it is difficult to protect and preserve the tradition and culture. Likewise when the student of an art institution displays a picture or submits for exhibition or competition, interestingly enough, the beholders or jury members search for modernity, then in facing the remark that the pictorial language is not readable. Such contrast opinion compels a student, sometimes, to be confused and express him/her- self in a vaguely modern way. But this should not happen”.
It seems reasonable to assume that the Indian art has the potential in terms of both artists and buyers to rival the recent gains made in the Chinese art market and to present itself as a real global participant in the international art market. However, there are some key issues that concern the potential players. These issues have to do with India’s moribund art market infrastructure, which is simply not robust enough to support a major art market. India must develop structures and professionals who can bring order to what in many cases is seeming chaos. Its rich cultural heritage should be come out in form of art works. If this chaos is allowed to continue unchecked, the long term credibility of both India's art and its artists could be irrevocably undermined.

Ashok Nayak

Sunday, November 22, 2009

‘Liminal Figures Liminal Space’ by K. S. Radhakrishnan

Celebrated sculptor K. S. Radhakrishnan's work comprises many finer elements, collated together into a giant form. One of the most noteworthy names among the new generation of sculptors he has ushered in a definitive resurgence in contemporary Indian sculpture.

A figurative sculptor, he is renowned for modeling and bronze casting technique. A new solo exhibition of sculptures by the veteran artist is on view at Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA), New Delhi. His sculptures, marked for their immediacy, are an outcome of his quest for the form he spontaneously seeks and constructs, in keeping with the subject matter.

K. S. Radhakrishnan adopts neither a derivatively tribal folk style nor a referential, self-consciously avant-garde approach for his larger than life-size sculptures evoke a superhuman persona. Opting to draw from the mystique and myths of the Hindu mythology, his passion for the potency of ritual performances and dances exudes through his works.

His new exhibition, earlier held in Kolkata, and slated to be staged in his home state Kerala next, focuses on liminality, as the title suggests, “of yearning to be in another space”. It includes figures, like fireflies, that could perceived to be “collectively descending” or even perhaps ascending, from a peculiar barrel-like spot; the artist positions it as a collective wish for “evolving to a landing space” though not “a landed space” as yet.

Over the years, the sculptor has experimented with alternate sculpting mediums - Plaster of Paris, molten bronze and beeswax. The end product emanates from a tactile engagement with the varied mediums as the process of working with them itself becomes a performance.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A new series of works by Dayanita Singh

The passionate photographer acts as the story teller who does not allow a viewer to get too comfortable in what they’re seeing.

Dayanita Singh has attained international fame as an accomplished photographer. Exploring the varied possibilities and inherent limitations of color film seen in the traditional sense, without the assistance of computer manipulations or digital photography, she produced the series ‘Blue Book’.

She showcases her first color images that are set in an industrial landscape. Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke presents a new set of photographic works by the renowned New Delhi based artist photographer. This is her second solo with the gallery.

Born in New Delhi in 1961, Dayanita Singh studied at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and focused on documentary photography and photojournalism at New York’s International Center of Photography. Her largest single body of color work is ‘Dream Villa,’ in which she explores the mysteriousness of ordinary spaces that are obscured in darkness.

It’s one project mostly devoid of human presence from an artist who is associated with black and white portraits of India’s urban well-to-do families. The vacant, quiet, anonymous spaces in the series let the drama of light and shadow acquire centre stage. On the other hand, ‘Blue Book’ comprises images of industrial landscapes mostly shot across the country.

Dayanita Singh explores the color as found all through the day, examining the possibilities of color film in the traditional sense, as mentioned above.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A celebration of Paresh Maity’s creativity

The new exhibit series ‘Montage Moments Memories’ in Mumbai comprises sculptures, paintings and photographs by the prominent artist.

Considered one of India's most gifted painters, Paresh Maity is having another solo show – his 52nd- at Jehangir Art Gallery first and later at Art Musings. In a testimony to his talent, the proficient artist has won several prestigious awards, including one from the Royal Watercolor Society, London; Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata; Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata; Harmony Award, Mumbai; College of Art, Delhi and AIFACS, Delhi.

He describes ‘Montage Moments Memories’ as one of his most expansive shows that spans huge paintings (Mystic City), truly monumental sculpture series (Face to Face), massive black & white photographs (Faces of Life) and a video film on the monsoons (Kolkata to Kozhikode).

In all, there are six paintings and 12 sculptures in bronze and those made from scrap motorcycle parts. Delving into the theme of his new collation, Paresh Maity has mentioned that it goes back to his childhood memories and comprises treasured memories from a coastal town in West Bengal, Tamluk, engulfed by crystal clear water and green fields.

His sojourns across the world also form part of the memories. The artist mentions in an interview: “I have shot a film on tracing the monsoon from Mumbai to Kerala and to Kolkata."A short film that covers his life and art in the last five years or so is another attraction.

Inspired by legendary artist Pablo Picasso's experimental streak in life and art, Paresh Maity has been working with new mediums. In his twin shows, one can see a reflection of his spirit to innovate.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Indian art in recovery mode

A recent article in prestigious publication Financial Chronicle penned by Jhupu Adhikari proclaims that Indian art is on road to recovery.

The writer, a noted painter who has won numerous advertising design awards, points to a spate of newspaper reports, heralding a revival in the Indian art market, and er hastens to add:
“However, this comes along with the other news that state one should not make too much of these reports as the prices of Indian art have not shown any real signs of revival.”As he notes: “The problem lies in the fact that we had this wonderful period when works even by lesser-known artists were commanding high prices. They had been used to selling at high prices and the past year and a half has indeed been hard for them to adjust to.”

This is why we now have many artists who are keen to seek new styles and new venues. They are turning to photography to reach out to newer audiences. The columnist mentions.
"Some have given up on the tried and tested locations and have even moved away to different cities to come across new buyers, the columnist observes. This is to be expected, since an artist can’t be removed from his or her creativity and an outlet must per force be found where this can flourish.”
He also refers to an article on auctions in NY – specifically Sotheby’s recent sale. Legendary artist Andy Warhol’s work of $200 bills painted over a 2.3 m-wide silk screen canvas, went for $43.8 million.

The painting, showing $1 bills painted side by side in grey with a blue treasury seal, had been acquired by, Pauline Karpidas, a London-based art collector in 1986. It went for a price 100 times higher than what he had paid. Christie’s International sale held simultaneously though managed to raise just $74.2 million through the sale of 85 per cent of the lots put up on auction.

In this context, the writer drew attention to a new ArtTactic report suggesting that the Indian art market’s recovery could take place earlier than expected.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nasreen Mohamedi retrospective

‘Nasreen Mohamedi: Notes – Reflections on Indian Modernism’ is the title of a show courtesy Lunds Konsthall, Sweden that presents three simultaneous exhibits offering distinct perspectives on the cinema and art of the Indian Subcontinent in context of recent history and today.

Nasreen Mohamedi (1937–90) is considered one of the most significant artists of her generation from India. Her photographs, paintings and drawings done in the early 1960s until the late 1980s, are recognized as a key body of work put within the modernist canon.

The artist was greatly influenced by an earlier generation of abstract artists like V.S. Gaitonde. She is sometimes compared to Agnes Martin or Kazimir Malevich. Putting her work in perspective, a curatorial note mentions: “Nasreen Mohamedi’s uncompromisingly abstract drawings produced from the 1970s onwards deserve to be considered on their own terms.

"Not only that they also invoke a range of cultural references. This becomes particularly clear in her photographs, in which meticulously cropped details of historical architecture and everyday life create aesthetic links to both contemporary culture and an Islamic visual heritage.”

The exhibition brings together some rarely seen drawings, paintings and photographic works. These are presented along with a set of unique archival material drawn from Nasreen Mohamedi’s studio. The show has been curated by the duo of Grant Watson and Suman Gopinath. It is initiated and organized by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway.

‘Nasreen Mohamedi: Notes – Reflections on Indian Modernism’ was first shown at Oslo office of Contemporary Art Norway and later at Milton Keynes Gallery based in England. This slightly extended version being shown at Lunds konsthall will travel to Kunsthalle Basel in Switzerland.

The works in the exhibit have been lent by the Mumbai based Sikander family, Shireen Gandhy and the world-famous Glenbarra Art Museum in Japan.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Quality is coming back into collecting

“Thankfully, quality is coming back into collecting accompanied with a new drive to display private collections in public spaces. Not every Indian collector is trying to be the next Henry Clay Frick or Dominique de Menil, whose private collections are significant museums. But they are keen on sharing their newfound enthusiasm….”

This is a pertinent observation made in a recent essay, titled ‘Buyers' Market’ by Jyoti Thottam in the reputed international publication, TIME, which goes on to add: “The market has already boomed and bottomed but the serious collectors remain — and their sustained commitment is quietly transforming the Indian art world.”

Clearly, the world is the stage for contemporary Indian art. In keeping with its rising stature, a new breed of art collectors has emerged. Their passion and fortunes seem to have only risen along with India's booming economy. Significantly, the new age collectors are not spending their riches on the established masters - either of India or the West. They happen to seek out young artists including those just out of art school, and gather their works with rigorous, passionate interest.

To understand where Indian art is heading, it helps to look back, the writer notes. The fine arts in the country largely depended on royal patronage - well into the 20th century. Post-independence, the few industrialist families turned the most important collectors. Over the past decade or so, India's economic boom has created a new class of affluent professionals.

As a result, the collector base has really widened. This new burst of demand pushed up prices. Artists, too, started harboring unrealistic expectations. "Everyone wants to be Damian Hirst overnight," states art expert-collector Jai Bhandarkar. On the positive side, more Indians are being exposed to art than ever. To prove the point, Mumbai painter Papri Bose is quoted as saying, "It's almost becoming like a way of life."