Tuesday, September 28, 2010

‘The Surface of Each Day is a Different Planet’ by Raqs Media Collective

Raqs Media Collective has treaded a dynamic and diverse terrain—from, text image to assemblages, video to installation, from encounters to online media objects, and performance and. The trio of Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta and Jeebesh Bagchi see different disciplines and forms.

Raqs is a Persian word. It describes the state that ‘whirling dervishes’ enter into when they whirl. It’s also a term to denote dance. At the same time, it could be an acronym for ‘rarely asked questions’...! The members have exhibited extensively in the context of large-scale international exhibitions such as Documenta 11, the Venice Biennial, and the Liverpool Biennial and in major art spaces such as Serpentine Gallery, the Walker Arts Center and Taipei Fine Arts Museum among other international venues.

Their talks began manifesting themselves as a way of sharing notes from research and back stories of artworks with their publics in various parts of the world: in order to tell stories, and leave them half told, with space and time for listeners to fill them in as they fancied. In conjunction with this exhibition, Shuddhabrata Sengupta’s lecture-performance was also held. Their new project at New York based efflux is titled ‘The Surface of Each Day is a Different Planet’. An accompanying note mentions:
"What happens when you layer one time on to another time? Do you get two times at once, or, do you register some other, singular temporal experience, analogous to the mysteriously singular 'composite' portrait of many individuals, which is neither a sum of the parts of the photographs of many faces, nor an average but a 'new' different face, which looks as if it belonged to a unique life.

A life never lived, but made manifest as a photographic accident. Can there be a time made of juxtapositions, a time never experienced, but made serendipitously manifest by interpretative accidents? By the careful cultivation of chance encounters in scattered archives..."
By blending elements, observing mutations as and where they happen, and keenly watching on the way in which the world navigates through their triangular consciousness, they generate motives for its continuity and its pleasure.

Monday, September 27, 2010

'This too shall pass' by Sudarshan Shetty

The Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum presents a new show, entitled ‘This too shall Pass’ by Sudarshan Shetty.

It’s the first of a series of exhibitions planned by the Museum to re-establish its historic connection with the Sir J. J. School of Art. During the 19th and early 20th century the position of curator of the Museum and the principal of the School of Art were held by the same person. Many of the objects in it were produced by the JJ school students. The museum is a rich repository of the history & culture of the city.

The exhibition series is planned as a residency where artists respond to the Museum's collection and engage with its history and archives. The works in the series by Sudarshan Shetty engage what he refers to as "memory at large," playing on the viewer's encounters with the quotidian worlds of the city, home and street as they incorporate everyday objects, machine parts and readymades, easily available in the streets around his home and studio in Mumbai.

However, his practice takes these origins as points of departure for a rigorous investigation of concepts of self and nature, things and beings, effect and affect and absence and presence. Drawing on a world of shared meaning, the object-assemblage materially incorporates and disperses those shared meanings into the viewer's experience.

Sudarshan Shetty is best known for his enigmatic and moving sculptural installations has long been recognized as his generation's most innovative conceptual artist in India. Working with the mechanical animation of objects and the philosophical implications of the quest for mechanical life, he draws on a terrain that centers on the social life of things and their capacities to offer new kinds of subjective experience.

While inviting the viewer into an uncanny and seemingly occult universe of objects, this language also puzzles by embedding contradictions in the forms themselves and playfully parodying the possibility of a ‘natural' order of things and a ‘normal' order of humans as makers of meaning.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

‘In The Waves And Underneath’ by Pooja Iranna

"Don’t be absorbed with the waterwheel’s motion.
Turn your head and gaze at the river. You say,
'But I’m looking there already.” There are several signs
in eyes that see all the way to the ocean. Bewilderment is one.
Those who study foam and flotsam near the edge have purposes,
and they’ll explain them at length!
Those who look out to sea become the sea, and they can’t speak about that.
On the beach there’s desire-singing and rage-ranting, the elaborate language-dance of personality, but in the waves and underneath there’s no volition, no hypocrisy, just love forming and unfolding."


The above verse sums up the spirit of Pooja Iranna’s new show. Her exploration of the human psyche has been a long-standing one.

Curator Ina Puri’s note on nww show, entitled ‘In The Waves And Underneath’ at New Delhi based Palette Art Gallery points out how the artist recalls having witnessed, in her formative years, the ultimate submission of a generation grappling with the bewildering demands of a consumerist, modern society, their illumined hopes and dreams of the past era consigned to memory. The silhouette of the city’s skyline—once a spangle of minarets and tomes being replaced by an ugly tangle of multistoried constructions reaching up to claim the skies—also made its imprint in her conscious memory. The architectural spaces, in her work, speak of the human condition.

In the artist’s pictorial realm, images appear from past and present times, capturing her impressions of the city she calls her home, as it metamorphoses into a metascape she barely recognizes. Standing at the edge of this precipice, part-real, part-fantasy, she seems to say to the viewer, ‘Come, travel into my space and inhabit my world. Listen to the unspoken voices of the walls whispering their secrets to you…’

In Pooja Iranna’s world, there is the feeling of cosmic loneliness, the spectre of ‘an abandoned world encased in glacial solitude…’ Who is more alone? He who feels his own seclusion or he who feels the solitude of the world? In the waves and underneath, there’s no volition, no hypocrisy, just love forming and unfolding.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A new show that maps artistic ‘Digression’

‘Digression’ is the title of a new show at New York’s Hendershot Gallery, featuring works by Divya Mehra, Justine Reyes, Chitra Ganesh, Liz Magic Laser, Mary A. Valverde, Simone Leigh, and Kenya (Robinson). It marks the inaugural exhibit at the gallery’s new venue.

The exhibition draws its title from a talk with Kara Walker in which the artist states ‘I’m sorry. I just digress. That’s all I do.’ In fact, digression is something that we apologize for in everyday speech; it’s construed as a problematic accident, a divergence from the main point, which weans away meaning and also dilutes the concentrated ‘essence’ of an artwork.

Elaborating on the theme, an accompanying note states, quoting linguist Sandra Schor that digression is something that we encounter along a carefully networked, formally composed route of discourse, which holds our attention, attracting us by how powerfully it tends to arrest us in its own form, its own argument hidden within an argument. The write-up adds:
“Just as a map does not always bring us to the most exciting place, digression can thrust us into a space of the unknown, the unfamiliar, a place that is unexpected and perhaps even a bit frightening simply because it is alien. Within digression lie the hidden stories, those that only come to light by an act of moving away from ‘the subject at hand’ — whether that is a conversation topic that one wishes to avoid or the entire accepted canon of literature or fine art. Digressers are like dreamers, creating imaginative acts without censors. Here, in the realm of digression, anything is possible.”
The artists access the hidden tales of their identities and their cultures through digression, thus pulling the viewers away from the fiction implicit in social norms. They enable us to interact, even play, sans the proverbial map. We end up somewhere unexpected, rather surprised, having followed their alternative paths.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lehman's corporate art collection to go under the hammer

The auction house Christie's has published the catalogue for the sale of "artwork and ephemera" collected by the former bosses of Lehman Brothers, which will go under the hammer on 29 September, to mark the second anniversary of the firm's collapse.

Among the 300 lots on offer as part of Lehman's corporate art collection from Christies, there are pieces, which might set the hearts of art lovers a flutter. British artist Matthew Ritchie’s abstract oil & marker work is slated to fetch roughly £70,000 and £100,000; a painting by Gary Hume, titled ‘Madonna‘ has been listed for over £80,000, and a drawing by Jim Hodges ‘All To

One‘ is expected to touch the price mark between £30,000 and £50,000.
Some of the pieces are rarities. Among those on offer include the late 19th century ornate giltwood overmantel mirror (£1,000-£1,500); and two Chinese barrel-shaped garden seats (£1,500-£2,000). There are dozens of Victorian prints plus several sets of books.

Administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers expects the event to raise £2m, just a dent in the billions sought by its European creditors. An auction of artworks possessed by Lehman in the US will happen at Sotheby's in New York in the last week of September. This auction event boasts a quality contemporary collection, with artworks from Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst, John Baldessari, John Currin, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Roni Horn and Gerhard Richter.

The events offer a glimpse into the mores of the failed banking world that has been collecting excellent art for several decades both as an investment and to display wealth in its offices. Commerzbank sold a Giacometti sculpture earlier this year. It had inherited it when the bank took over another financial institution a year earlier.

Deutsche Bank has in possession one of Europe's best collections. RBS is believed to boast of the largest corporate collection of art in the UK, owning over 2,200 pieces, including work by David Hockney, Patrick Caulfield and LS Lowry.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

National Art Week of New Media in Chandigarh

Leading artists have gathered for the first National Art Week of New Media in Chandigarh.

The event is a joint initiative of Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi and the National Lalit Kala Akademi. The six-day panorama will include some of India’s most important art personalities - critics, historians, editors of art journals and artists, - — get together. The event, which will take place from September 21 to 26,

According to its chairperson Diwan Manna, the art platform has been conceptualized for viewing, discussing and understanding specific concerns of contemporary artists. It will also try to explore new avenues, mediums and intrinsic possibilities within visual arts with art connoisseurs, art historians, scholars, critics, and even students. He has been quoted as saying: “Lectures, panel discussions, slide shows, exhibition of works from the collection of LKA, Delhi, will make the event absorbing and interactive. Art lovers will be excited at the myriad possibilities in art practice and appreciation.”

Keeping in view the Akademi’s work in Chandigarh, National Akademi has supported and funded the event. Among those participating in the event is Bharti Kher, an artist who works with a wide range of media from installation to painting, and digital photography to sculpture. Her practice interrogates the relationship between ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’, to address issues of identity, feminism, consumerism, race and class. Sudarshan Shetty has long been recognized as one of his generation’s most innovative conceptual artists.

Founded in 1992 in Delhi by Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta and Jeebesh Bagchi,, the hybrid practice of Raqs is as expressively poetic as it’s rigorously analytical. The Media Collective has curated exhibits, edited books, collaborated with architects, writers and theatre directors, and staged innovative events, founding processes that have greatly impacted contemporary art in India. Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra’s collaborative work in painting, sculpture, video, graphic design, installation, product design, websites, music and fashion has been equally appreciated.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Who won and who lost in the art market churning?

The art market has apparently recovered and regained its momentum in the first half: 71% jump in revenue from Fine Art auctions alone! This market fact has been quickly grasped by the top auction houses now predicting annual growth in close to 3 figures in order to assuage a still slightly hesitant market.

In line with the current market trend, Sotheby's and Christie's have posted impressive first-half revenue figures - up 140% and 67% respectively versus their 1H 2009 Fine Art revenue. In today’s dynamic market context, the figures appear perfectly natural. However, when compared to their previous growth benchmarks, the picture may not look that rosy.

For instance, the latest combined revenue figure for the auction houses is almost 25% lower than 2007 1H and almost 20% below the combined figure for 2008. A news report by Artprice elaborates:
“Between 2002 and 2008, the Christie's and Sotheby's duo never left more than 30% of the Fine Art auction market to their competitors. Since July 2008, this figure has been rising and in 2H 2009 the combined market share of the competitors amounted to 46% of global auction revenue. While the Chinese auction houses account for most of this increase, the other Western auctioneers have not managed to take advantage of the gradual dilution of the duopoly’s market hegemony and the emergence of a highly globalised art market.
In the second half of this year, it is quite possible that the two global auction giants(Sotheby's and Christie's) will re-affirm their domination. This is because their fine art revenue in first half of the year was much better than their combined 2009 total. But if they manage to, it will be against what now seems like a well-defined global trend. On the other hand, Phillips de Pury et is in constant decline, behind the Chin’s Poly and China Guardian.

Phillips, was acquired by Bernard Arnaud between 1999 and 2003 apparently to compete with Christie's has failed to generate more than even 4% of the global art market share since 2001-02. Their aggressive and seductive strategy does not seem to have yield. Simultaneously, the French auction companies have lost market share. Artcurial is in ninth position behind Dorotheum and a long way behind the English and Chinese houses. Apparently, China is the biggest winner from the present global art market crisis.

Arunkumar H.G.’s new series of works

Gallery Nature Morte presents Arunkumar H.G.’s new series of works, entitled ‘Tract’. The solo show in New Delhi continues with many of the themes the artist explored in his previous solo ‘Feed’ in 2006.

The new series is primarily composed of interesting sculptures in various forms and materials, along with some photographic work as well as wall reliefs. They together explore the core concept of Land and all it entails and then elaborates upon: mystical metaphors for the ensuing human and social bodies; issues of ownership and use; rural population migrating to urban centers and cities; environmental degradation and consciousness of its abuse; the production/distribution of food and the inevitable consequences of health, markets and waste management. Curator and cultural activist Himanshu Desai states in his essay:
“The term ‘Tract’ is pertinent to many of the artist’s concerns including environment, land and body. Dictionary definitions of the word stand proof:

1. Geography: An expanse of land or water (pertinent to the artist’s upbringing in agricultural environs that make him question the very nature of land or water ownership).

2. Anatomy: A system of organs and tissues that together perform a specialized function: e.g. the alimentary tract or a bundle of nerve fibers having a common origin, termination, and function (suggestive of Arunkumar’s interest in the effects of consumerism on nutrition, health and environment).

3. Liturgy: An anthem consisting of verses of Scripture (analogous to Arun’s lament on the loss of ancient agrarian wisdom in the face of capitalism).
The show gives no single message. It’s intended to give multiple layers of speculation and a sense of discovery to the viewer. Though this particular manner of storytelling might induce a degree of unease and ambiguity, the very idea is to coax speculation and keep any or all sermonizing at bay, as the curatorial essay concludes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The 20/21 British Art Fair

The 20/21 British Art Fair, the only fair specializing exclusively in modern and contemporary British art, will take place at the Royal College of Art, London SW7, from 15 to 19 September 2010.

It has come to be recognized as a quality platform for modern and contemporary British art. Art lovers get to see some of the great names of 20th century art: Bacon, Freud, Frink, Frost, Hepworth, Hockney, Hodgson, Lanyon, Lowry, Moore, Nash, Piper, Riley, Scott, Sutherland and Spencer. Alongside is a large selection of work by both emerging and established contemporary artists – Hirst, Emin, Grayson Perry et al together with others who may be the stars of tomorrow.

Ed Vaizey, the culture secretary, opened the event. A UK Telegraph report mentioned: “With artists petitioning like mad against the proposed spending cuts to be announced next month, he will not be expecting an easy ride. But as it’s a trade fair, he will have the opportunity to appeal to the wealthy collectors present to follow Lord Sainsbury’s example in supporting the nation’s institutions – and its dealers too, of course.”

The art fair, now in its 23rd year, not only offers an enormous variety of art under one roof but also an opportunity to tap into the expertise of the 60 leading dealers. Whether your taste is for the earlier work, Scottish Colourists, pop art or the contemporary, the breadth and depth of over a hundred years of British art may well surprise. With prices from the low hundreds to hundreds of thousands, it is not to be missed!

Visitors can check artworks by Henry Moore, Elisabeth Frink, Allen Jones, Barbara Hepworth, SJ Peploe, Wyndham Lewis, William Roberts, Matthew Smith, Albert Irvin, Banksy, Howard Hodgkin, Ceri Richards, Graham Sutherland, Jacob Epstein, and Mark Gertler, among others. It provides a sneak peek into the latest and the best from the British art scene.

A study on creating new markets for Indian art

Mukti Khaire, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School and R. Daniel Wadhwani, an assistant professor at University of the Pacific, have looked at the emergence of modern Indian art as a category in the international fine art market between 1995 and 2007.

Their study, entitled ‘Changing Landscapes: ‘The Construction of Meaning and Value in a New Market Category - Modern Indian Art’ defines the core premises of market creation for modern Indian art in the following three broad steps:

Redefinition of the category: Art academics and historians started the process of redefining as well as reinterpreting 20th-century art from India in modernist terms, underling its originality and bringing out its aesthetic value. This essentially implied that the art had a much higher economic value than ascribed before.

Creation of valuation metrics: This particular part of the process occurred among the commercial role-players in the entire ecosystem. Auction houses opted to translate the academic discourse into straightforward constructs that not only simplified the new category to key stakeholders, but also enabled comparison and consequently proper valuation of the works. The idea was to generate meaningful trade in the art arena.

Broad acceptance and precise understanding of the category: These constructs employed in auction texts helped define the precise value of modern Indian art. Western galleries and museums started taking notice of the new genre. They began to hold special exhibitions and retrospectives, to further establish it as a legitimate fine art category.

In essence, the researchers underline the importance of co-opting changes in the broader context as timely opportunities to create new markets. While the ability to create valuation metrics for new market categories holds the key, entrepreneurs should also realize that no single actor can generate the broad, inter-subjective agreement in order to the establish a new market. They must take cognizance of the role played by other commercial and non-commercial actors in the ecosystem.

For instance, while non-commercial actors like academics create the foundation for modern and contemporary Indian art market, the media and auction houses enhance its dissemination for a widespread understanding. The conclusion sums up the core of this extensive and enlightening research on the construction of meaning and value in Indian art as a new market category.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What does it take to create and sustain a market for art?

Mukti Khaire, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School and R. Daniel Wadhwani, an assistant professor at University of the Pacific, in a new research project have looked at the emergence of modern Indian art as a category in the international fine art market between 1995 and 2007.

The former, an Assistant Professor at HBS, has done her PhD (Management) from Columbia Business School after completing her Masters in Management from IIT, Mumbai. In appreciation of her academic excellence, she has received a special award from the Eugene Lang Center for Entrepreneurship. She has undertaken an in-depth study of the role of entrepreneurs and incumbent firms to construct a market for products comprised of subjective attributes as well as intangible value.

The study deals with the creation and consolidation of a market for modern and contemporary Indian art. Elaborating on its purpose, an accompanying paper states:
“Before 1995, fine art was produced in India sans little demand largely because it was considered provincial or decorative (in nature). To create a market for art, it was redefined as a new product category, i.e. modern Indian art, by a variety of participants including academics, artists, critics, and commercial auction houses. As Western museums and individual collectors started to take notice, prices for pieces rose, from a few thousand dollars to as high as millions of dollars, in some cases.”
This forms the background against which the two have contextualized their research work on a highly insightful study of genuine value construction as detailed and meticulously laid-out processes in a new dynamic market category. The observations of the HBS analyst is based on a premise that the Indian art market is a unique case to understand how entrepreneurs may well take advantage of fast-changing contexts and build on the actions of other players in the ecosystem to benefit from new market domains.

Tracing the growth trajectory of Indian art

When the HBS analyst Mukti Khaire first wrote a case study on an Indian start-up for online auctions of modern Indian art, she realized an interesting story of market creation was at play. Elaborating on the concept, she states in an interview to the HBS Working Knowledge:

“The case was particularly relevant to the study of market creation owing to three reasons. First, the art itself (the ‘product’ so to speak) was produced since the late 1940s in India although it had not been systematically traded in a sustained manner in international art markets until the early 1990s, which indicated that a market for the art had had to be actively created. Supply alone did not generate demand.

“Second, this was a case in which actors other than the producers (i.e., the artists) interpreted the product to explain and construct its value to consumers, allowing us to examine the entire ecosystem of players important in creating expectations about a new market category. Third, the processes of reinterpretation and value construction are particularly explicit and overt in the art world, where critics and reviewers etc engage in public discourse that compares works and discusses the attributes underlying their relative value.”

She along with Daniel Wadhwani tries to follow the growth trajectory of Indian art. Until the early 1990s, it was largely characterized as ‘decorative’ in international art circles. Since it was identified with that category, its value remained low. It was after 1995 that Indian art was classified as modernist and therefore ‘fine art’. It was then accepted as having more aesthetic and economic value than ascribed earlier.

Several prominent auction houses translated the changing academic discourse into fathomable constructs, enabling a larger group of participants and lay consumers to follow finer points of modern Indian art. As the understanding of modern Indian art spread, its value automatically increased.

This resulted in a greater media coverage, which naturally expanded the circle of interested stakeholders that converged on the better understanding of modern Indian art.
Despite the recent correction, the positive upswing is expected to continue. The momentum clearly suggests a sustainable rally.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Can art derivatives revolutionize the market?

The Financial Times, UK published an interesting article by Matthew Vincent on a peculiar sidelight of art buying, yet unexplored: future and options. This point was raised in the context of a ‘Self-Portrait with a Palette’ by Édouard Manet’ sold for a predetermined price before it was put on sale in Sotheby’s London auction in June.

Throwing light on the art investor selling at Sotheby’s, the news report mentioned:
“He is someone who should know all about the advantages of using options, futures and other kinds of derivatives: Steven A. Cohen, founder of the $16bn hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors. “Instead, though, he trades art at auctions driven by market sentiment, and in private sales prone to comical accident. For instance, he got the Manet self-portrait from a Las Vegas hotelier for $35m-$40m, but had to cancel his $139m deal of ‘Le Rêve’ by Picasso after the same vendor inadvertently stuck an elbow through the canvas. Had he been buying and selling derivatives, making profits and avoiding losses would arguably have been much easier.
Meanwhile, a hedge fund manager seems to be combining both trading and art investing. The Paris-based hedge fund Quant Hedge CFO, Victor Lebreton, is also listed as the investment manager and president of the Art Hedge fund, which engages in both foreign exchange trading and investments in ‘fine art & art derivatives to sustain cultural creation’.

However, neither Ferguson Solicitors nor the French fund is likely to generate enough buzz to give anything resembling a sustainable futures market. The article concludes:
“In theory, art derivatives sure would bring far greater liquidity as well as enhanced efficiency to the market that would mean potential cost related benefits for both
collectors and investors. Art derivatives certainly can revolutionize the art market by offering an easier and simpler way for managing the risk and return of art."
Fund managers, dealers and index compilers would first be required to get together. According experts, there’s nothing to stop this. To have in place a ‘true’ hedge for art, what needs to be developed are derivatives with art as the ‘underlying’.

Can art dealers act more like hedge fund managers?

If art, it is said, imitates life, why has it taken such a long time for those ‘high art’ purveyors to follow the practices of those practising the high life norms?

The above pertinent query is raised by Matthew Vincent of The Financial Times, UK. To put it plainly, the writer wants to know: Why is that art dealers do not act more like hedge fund managers? The idea has struck the columnist having come across two peculiar transactions in the world of art, recently: the sale of Tom Saunders’ work for a predetermined £1, and that of artist Édouard Manet’s ‘Self-Portrait with a Palette’ for $29m-$43m (It was put on sale in Sotheby’s London auction in June.)

The later (dated 1878) is one of the two rare self-portraits available. It’s considered by a section of experts to be his most valuable artwork still in private hands. Had it reached its estimate’s bottom end, the loss incurred could have been a substantial one for its owner, based on what the media reports stated he actually shelled out in a private sale.

On the other hand, the Saunders work doesn’t even exist yet. Being sold, via the London based murmurART gallery, is the right to buy this Camberwell College of Arts graduate fellow’s art for £1 in a decade’s time. But that is going to cost £2,000, based on what UK law firm Ferguson Solicitors, thinks is the right price level for an ‘option’ contract. Analyzing the case, the FT writer mentions: “
And in this, as in much great art, there is an exquisite hidden irony. According to Rupert Beecroft, the corporate lawyer at Ferguson who put together the Saunders deal, it is arguably the first art derivative of its kind. Last year James Layfield, a UK entrepreneur, offered a 10 per cent stake in his future lifetime earnings for £1m, but this was more a private equity proposition than an options trade"
Beecroft explains the idea, adding it’s like an option. The strike price is £1 and the premium is £2,000. It can only be exercised in 10 years’ time, at maturity. Certain contractual issues are: Which future work would be (treated) ‘optionable’ and what exactly would happen if the artist was no longer working in 2020? But these haven’t deterred prospective investors, who have expressed ‘a serious interest’ in the idea.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A new group show at Berlin based Nature Morte

‘Treacherous Path’, an exhibition at Berlin based Nature Morte, features a site-specific project by Julia Staszak, as well as installations by Raqs Media Collective and Radhika Khimji.
It focuses on different artistic methods of collage, layering and appropriation.

The centerpoint of Julia Staszak's installation is a structure derived from the facades of Hindu temples in South India, which incorporates works by diverse artists. Blurring the lines between conceptual art, painting, decor, collage and curating, the painter often integrates her own paintings, other artists' work and found objects into original and unfamiliar configurations. Her penchant for toying with political correctness becomes particularly poignant because it complicates the cultural expectations involved in such an invitation.

In the past few years the Raqs Media Collective (Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula, and Shuddhabratta Sengupta) have become increasingly visible on Europe's cultural platforms, participating in museum and gallery exhibitions as well as academic forums and symposiums. Their sculptural work, ‘The Reserve Army’, appropriates the Modernist sculptures made by the Indian sculptor Ram Kinker Baij, who appropriated Yaksha and Yakshi, two mythological Indian figures, to grant legitimacy to the newly independent nation, while Raqs' re-presentation of these figures speaks of India's convoluted entry into the world of advanced, multi-national capital.

With the addition of accessories for the figures, a digitized, futuristic backdrop and dramatic lighting, Raqs Collective employs a theatrical mise-en-scene to manipulate meaning, similar to the program of Julia Staszak.
Last but not the least, Radhika Khimji’s multi-media works create an unstable constellation of reactions between gesture, drawing, negative space, and architecture. Created for the exhibition ‘Progress Reports: art in an era of diversity’ at INIVA in London in 2009, her ‘Corner’ articulates the subtle shifts between an object and its support, the frame and its boundaries, an abstract motif and the representational meanings we project on to it.

‘Material Witness’ pairs unconventional subject matter and medium choices

‘Material Witness’ is the title of a new joint show at Bose Pacia, New York. It denotes an individual containing real or alleged information, or ‘material’, which is important to criminal trial. As such they get bound to the event irrespective of intent or interest. The works in this exhibit explore this very concept related to the artist’s subject and medium choices.

The exhibition includes large scale ‘paintings’ made with a variety of non-traditional substances. Historically a painter, Bari Kumar started to experiment with fabric constructions around 2007. These can be considered to mimic the pixilation aesthetic seen in many of canvas paintings done by him. His work on view is largely comprised of fabric constructions. He depicts segments of nude bodies with the material used conventionally to cover bodies he emphasizes the shifting contexts of the human body and its covering as well as the miscommunications, which arise when such distinctions do not follow a set trajectory.
By using the fabric (sari lining fabric) intended for a sari’s inner lining he also brings to the fore a material frequently seen, albeit rarely adored. He lends a voice and position perhaps to an ‘unspoken variable from visual culture’. Other participant in ‘Material Witness’ is Buenos Aires-based collective, Mondongo. Both Bari Kumar and Mondongo in their works have explored theories of voice and deft representation of materials and subjects. A press release states:
“By using materials that are intrinsically linked to the message of the work the objects become complicit with their message. The works themselves become both the perpetrator and the perpetrated creating a vacuum of intense representation. By using a commonly acquired and viewed material to depict a related but far more contentious form, the artist emphasizes questions of voice, marginality, and inherent meaning. Mondongo's work has followed a similar path."
An insightful pairing of subject matter and medium in works by both Bari Kumar and Mondongo builds a sort of visual meditation on the agency of certain common materials and the moments of prescribed or purposeful meaning.

Monday, September 13, 2010

An artist inspired by his legendary father's legacy leaves his own mark

Owais Husain’s just concluded exhibition, the first solo show in Mumbai for nearly a decade, has drawn critical applause. Putting the series in perspective, the artist reveals how he has been silent or quite a while, before feeling an urge all of a sudden to vent the thoughts bottled up inside his head. It’s an echo of the silent phase he has suppressed all this while.

The new set of work revolves around an ensuing battle between one’s heart and the mind. It displays the various facets of relationships. He is currently working on an
experimental opera, having just finished shooting a film that will mark his directorial debut. Spelling out the difference between painting and filmmaking, he narrates that art is a solitary act whereas film involves a different kind of mathematics where one can get more experimental.

He is an artist boasting of probably the most recognizable surname in modern and contemporary Indian art history. His father is undoubtedly among the country's most internationally renowned and respected painters, unfortunately mired in controversies ever since he ruffled the religious feathers of touchy morality brigade. Having accepted citizenship of Qatar after a prolonged exile, MF Husain is unlikely to revisit his homeland.

The master painter, known as the pioneer and trendsetter of Indian modern art in the post-Independence era, was forced to give up on his Indian citizenship after a spate of protests. For record, Husain was forced into an exile in 2006 after a spate of criminal cases were slapped against him across the courts in India. Owais was supportive of his father's decision.

Meanwhile, he has also enhanced his reputation as a talented and dynamic artist. He does not carry that baggage of being an illustrated father's son. His deft brushstrokes create thickly delineated forms in constant movements. He prefers abstraction than pure forms. Notably, the element of the narrative is strong.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Progressives score over the contemporary artists

The celebrated Progressives continue to thrive on the long-lasting adulation that they have enjoyed over all these years. Reputed collectors of Indian art internationally, including Rudy von Laden, Emmanuel Schlesinger, Kito de Boer, and Charles Herwitz have preferred these artists.

Even collectors, who have recently arrived on the scene, follow suit. As a result, the Progressives’ hold on the auction market has been rather firm. They occupy a large chunk of the secondary sales market, according to analysts. However, it is disconcerting that several deserving names have only remained at the peripheries of popular perception.

Thankfully, many Indian contemporaries have seen their fortunes worldwide take a positive turn. For this, they must thank the maverick London based collector, Charles Saatchi. It’s not that India does not boast of such influential names. For example, Anupam Poddar has certainly made a very vital contribution to the development of Indian contemporary art. But the media somehow is not so vigorous in pursuing and sharing his passion. Elaborating on this tendency, The Business Standard art writer Kishore Singh asks in a recent article:
“Can you recall the reticent collector (Devi Art founder) feeding the media interesting information about his recent buys? Sugar baroness Rajshree Pathy might well be more flamboyant (and also a bit more eclectic in her selection), yet her buys seldom make news (She owns a fantastic collection in her Delhi home and intends to set up an art university & museum in Coimbatore). Other known collectors like Rajesh Sawara and Ashok Alexander also have refused (or been deprived of) the spotlight.”
What the Indian art scene probably needs is a pool of collectors that will drive the media attention towards new artists. Someone clearly needs to take up the mantle on their behalf. The time has come for the new shift…

Friday, September 10, 2010

Experts foresee a good demand for quality art worldwide

Here are some facts and opinions to substantiate the broad belief that the art market is recovering:

According to ArtTactic, average auction prices and volumes for modern Indian art are now back to the June 2008 peak levels. Emphasizing the recovery, its recent release mentions: “The current year has been very good for the Indian art market. It’s a remarkable recovery after volumes dropped 63% and prices fell 46% between September 2008 and March 09. The Modern market recovery is also rubbing off on the Contemporary Indian art market, which has remained subdued.”

Anders Peterson, who runs the London based analysis firm, thinks that auctions are now much like a filtered version of the art market reality. Works of high quality, rarity and proven provenance are more likely to sell. And those that do not demonstrate these qualities will continue to fetch lower prices or none at all. According to him, the focus is back on selective established modern artists such as Gaitonde, Husain, Souza and Akbar Padamsee with ‘proven historical value’.

Another report from Art Radar Asia concurs that a significant change from the earlier trends is the consistent sales of established Indian modern artists rather than the contemporary ones. However, the overall push in the market performance has helped contemporaries’ sales as well. Art expert John Elliott mentions in an essay: “Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Saffronart sales suggest that the top end of the modern Indian art market is firmly on the rebound after the 2008-09 crash, showing a considerable improvement for India’s leading modern artists.”

Castlestone Management specializing in alternative assets foresees a 40 percent increase in art prices over the next couple of years. It correlates the trend to rising equity prices, terming it a key indicator for analyzing the art markets trends.

Significant features of the current art market scenario

After enduring a prolonged and painful correction, contemporary art is now gradually advancing. Experts feel that the market is currently under a consolidation phase. Here, we list down some of the noteworthy aspects of the ongoing recovery in the market, based on media reports and the expert opinions.

Seemingly listless at the beginning of the year, the auction scene has gathered momentum. The primary market is comparatively still looking sluggish. Also, there is hardly any visible trickle-down effect to many of the emerging art forms. In a quest to target the discerning and choosy buyer, the auction houses are choosing to focus on quality works. Incidentally, most top lots at recent sales are dominated by traditional and modern art.

The artists with strong international backing and visibility seem to have greater scope and speed of recovery. For example, Bharti Kher and Subodh Gupta have staged a comeback faster, even as many of their counterparts await resurrection. Progressive modernists such as FN Souza, VS Gaitonde, Tyeb Mehta, SH Raza and MF Husain are witnessing good demand. (Surprisingly, their works were on offer for a steal, a year ago.)

Reflecting the slightly cautious mood, a section of buyers remains wary. In its first quarter report of 2010, the Mei Moses art index of marketable artworks, has registered a decrease of nearly 5 percent. Echoing the cautious sentiment, Sharmistha Ray asks in a recent Economic Times essay whether it’s all happening too soon. A shallow market is much more susceptible to predatory speculation, a lesson we should have learned well by now. If ever we needed the voice of reason, it’s now, the expert observes.

Summing up the situation, Kelly Crow of The Wall Street Journal reveals in a news report: “So far this year, the clash in attitudes - one cautious, the other giddy - has created an unpredictable marketplace in which artworks tend to fly or flop without warning!”

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Troubled businesses are selling art to raise funds

When companies fall, it can result in an art market bonanza. For example, bankruptcy administrators of Italian airline Alitalia disposed a collection of Futurist works for more than 1 million euros. Sotheby's sold nearly 1,000 photos by lens masters like Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange in June during a bankruptcy court-approved sale of defunct camera-maker Polaroid’s collection.

The trend of corporations purchasing artworks in good times and disposing them off in bad is quite an old one. IBM president Thomas Watson, Sr. gathered works by artists like Frida Kahlo for decorating the IBM pavilion at New York’s World Art Fair in 1939. Decades later, the cash-strapped company sold its rich collection for $31 million through Sotheby's.

Judd Tully, art expert and editor-at-large of Art & Auction, felt it was unlikely to see big firms selling off works in bulk owing to the negative publicity such events would generate, as it clearly raises a red flag that they obviously must be going broke.

Germany's HypoVereinsbank disposed a blue sponge painting by artist Yves Klein in June from its collection for 6.2 million pounds through Sotheby's. When Commerzbank took hold of Dresdner Bank, it also acquired an Alberto Giacometti sculpture ‘Walking Man’ that became the most expensive work ever when it went for 65 million pounds at Sotheby's auction in London earlier this year.

Lehman Brothers auctions at Sotheby's (New York) and Christie's (London) are expected to raise over $10 million for the creditors, only a fraction of the debt worth $613 billion held by Lehman after it collapsed in late 2008, leading to a global financial meltdown. The underwriter expected interest in the sale to be good not merely owing to the quality of the art on offer, keen to see if the Lehman provenance would increase the intrinsic value of the collection - memento mori of the great global credit crunch.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Corporate looking to offload their artistic riches

Corporations rather concerned about the falling bottom line are looking at their office walls, literally. Over last few decades, the world's wealthiest companies and banks have created art collections, which are the envy of many leading museums. However, some are now keen to sell off their precious possessions, adorning office walls and boardrooms, to pay off creditors.

The category of such sellers includes Lehman Brothers. The collapsed bank’s multimillion-dollar art collection boasts works by Gerhard Richter, Damien Hirst and others. It’s set to go under the hammer. Saul Ingram, The European corporate art services head at Sotheby's, has been quoted as saying in an AP report:
"Over the last five or six years we've dealt with more and more corporate as well as private clients. Obviously there have been economic changes in the last couple of years, and I think that has heralded a change in attitudes — that these collections need to be trimmed, to focus on quality."
Top companies around the world are sitting on immense artistic riches the public seldom get to see. A news report by Jill Lawless of AP elaborates:
“The JP Morgan Chase Art Collection, founded by David Rockefeller, has over 30,000 pieces, including works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman and Andy
Warhol. In Britain, the banks RBS, HSBC and Barclays all have large caches of art — unlike BP PLC that despite drawing environmentalists’ protests accusing it of using art sponsorships to whitewash its oil-stained image, does not have a large corporate collection of its own.”
The private and corporate collections head at Christie' points to a rise in the corporate side of the business. Cathy Elkies expects the trend will continue. The art expert adds, "Organizations in some cases are editing and refocusing their art collections. Some others are looking to divest themselves of their art offerings completely."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

‘Being Singular Plural: Moving Images from India’

A unique event at Berlin based Deutsche Guggenheim, entitled ‘Being Singular Plural: Moving Images from India’ collates film and video works by some of the innovative media practitioners. Shumona Goel and Shai Heredia, Sonal Jain & Mriganka Madhukaillya of Desire Machine Collective, Amar Kanwar, and Kabir Mohanty have a background in cinema.

Most of them continue to screen their films in international festivals. They employ film and video to formulate complex aesthetic, technological, and sociopolitical statements that question the often-bombastic cinematic strategies, methods, forms, and subjects of the global media industry.

'Being Singular Plural' celebrates and explores the unobtrusive and the unseen. Jean-Luc Nancy's idea from his book of the same name, first published in 1996, in which the individual is always understood within a social framework, gives the structural scaffolding for the exhibition. Elaborating on its purpose, a curatorial note by Sandhini Poddar elaborates: “The films' and videos' images do not serve as windows to the world, nor point to any transcendental truths, but are presented as they are,
distinguished by their evidence.

"As the author has argued, the emptying out of representation, wherein evidence lies, points to the moving image as an end in itself rather than a means to an end that may lie outside the image's surface. This embodiment of truth, as it resides within the very structure and materiality of the moving image, overturns previous expectations of how it communicates - it seeks to bridge worlds through affect and sensation."

Recognizing the complex character of 'first person plural' and the interconnectedness of all beings, the selected films and videos invite the viewer to study, reassess, and challenge conventional categories such as fact and fiction, art and cinema, and objectivity and subjectivity, thereby instigating new kinds of viewership.

This is one among the several ongoing international shows of contemporary art from India that are contextualized in backdrop of the country’s new economic challenges, social complexities and personal challenges at an individual level apart from tracing
its enchanting visual trajectory.

Two significant shows of Indian art at Aicon

Two significant art shows at Aicon Gallery in their New York and London premises feature interesting themes.

The NY group show features works by Jaishri Abichandani, Shelly Bahl, Ruby Chishti, Mike Estabrook, Iqbal, Naeem Mohaiemen, Sandeep Mukherjee, Nitin Mukul, Anjali Srinivasan, and Chitra Ganesh among others. Through diverse mediums, they examine the conceptions and expectations of reality each with their own unique interpretation.

The participating artists here explore the idea of memory as a continuous and multi- faceted representation in a constant state of flux. What emerges is a kind of objectivity that rests less upon tangible reference points, but rather associative recollections. Whether appropriated and reconfigured from popular sources, or registered as pigment on a surface, the works explore the crafting of reality, and how memory serves us.

‘Malleable Memory’, curated by Nitin Mukul, prompts us to embrace our inherently subjective interpretations of both personal and collective histories through the evolving and illusive device of memory. The idea is to inform our understanding of ourselves, our pasts and our futures. On the other hand, their London show is entitled ‘Dali's Elephant’.

It features works by Sakti Burman, Jogen Chowdhury, Manjit Bawa, K. Laxma Goud, Rekha Rodwittya, Prasanta Sahu, Avishek Sen, and Suneel Mamadapur that trace the echoes of Surrealism in modern and contemporary art from the Indian Subcontinent. Explaining the origin of the show, an exhibition note reveals, “Air India commissioned Salvador Dali to produce a limited edition ashtray which was to be given to a select group of lucky first-class passengers in 1967.

"He produced a small unglazed porcelain ashtray composed of a shell-shaped center with a serpent around its perimeter. This was supported by three stands, two of which point in the same direction and resemble an elephant's head. The third stand was inverted so that it resembled swan's head. The painter was initially paid no more than a few hundred dollars for his design but when they received the design the airline bosses were so delighted that they made him the surprise gift of an elephant. This episode is one of the few concrete encounters recorded between Surrealism and

Monday, September 6, 2010

How Vivek Vilasini approaches the notion of creating micro-worlds?

New Delhi based Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre presented an interesting group show of five contemporary artists, entitled ‘Surviving Sagas’ earlier this month – courtesy Ashna Gallery. Though the styles differ considerably, as in an aesthetic bouquet, when put together, they establish the areas of convergence of their concerned themes, which could create a macro narrative, in a way justifying the title of the show. Here is the gallery note on Vivek Vilasini:

The talented artist approaches the notion of creating micro-worlds as a form of cultural resistance through the revocation of old scripts on his painterly surface. These surfaces with fluorescent paints literally re-script the divested scripts from the language of Malayalam. He calls it as the ‘Glyphs in Tales’. These letters are the results of certain innovative minds who dared the hegemonic scriptural practices in the realm of publishing both in book form and in web form.

The script that the artist uses comes from the font set named Rachana, which literally meaning ‘writing’. By placing the script of a local language, which has lesser possibilities to capture the attention of the world, as a cultural symbol in order to oppose the hegemonic texts and their veracity, Vivek Vilasini imparts the idea of a micro structure that could challenge the predominant knowledge systems and historiography through the production of alternative knowledge systems and historiography through the implementation of a revised font set for the desk top as well as web publishing.

By investing the scripts with a new power and presence, he makes them the participants in a pageant or carnival where multi-cultural ideas are propagated in multi-linguistic modes. This is a world that the artist aspires to establish where parallel histories, subversive histories and the fringe histories get a say against and in relation with the hegemonic acts of making scriptures and cannons for the contemporary life.

In his digital images, one can find the linkages between his varied visual practices. He creates the tableaux of dominant images from art history by incorporating a new set of actors in completely local garbs. The same approach is visible in the production of micro worlds using script as bricks and mortar.

(Information courtesy: courtesy Ashna Gallery, New Delhi)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Contrasting manifestations of internal artistic realms

New Delhi based Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre presented an interesting group show, entitled ‘Surviving Sagas’ earlier this month – courtesy Ashna Gallery. Here is the gallery note on artists Gopinath and Murali Cheeroth.

In Gopinath we see a beautiful convergence of existential angst of contemporary man as well as his alerted political awareness. His sculptures emulate small little worlds where human beings build up their dream existences. He has a special way of emulating the classical sculptures in a contemporary medium of fiberglass and giving a meaningful twist by incorporating abstract and surreal figurative values to them. In this show, The artist thinks more towards generating a discourse based on the intellectual existence vis-à-vis his responses to the world ridden with violence and strife.

On the other hand, in Murali Cheeroth’s works what you witness is the manifestation of such internal worlds, which the artist very skillfully presents with all the paraphernalia of the outer world of reality. Murali subscribes to the images from daily life, as seen in city squares and construction sites. For him, city is like a language with an ever changing structure. The flux of structure is always tested against the imaginary structures that the artist creates within his inner world. Hence, the architectural images and the images of construction sites that we see in his works are not the images from an actual world. They are constructed realities within the artist’s mind.

Seen against an industrial landscape, he introduces an interface between two mechanisms; one the brutal force of an earthmover that helps in clearing the spaces for further constructions and the dead weight of a disused car, almost hung in the middle of the air. This world of spectacle that the artist deliberately creates moves between the real ‘real’ and the imagined ‘real’. Discounting people from the scenario of a spectacular drama is an artistic ploy that he uses to collapse the boundaries of two worlds.

By creating a world that looks almost similar to the hegemonic world, Murali Cheeroth incepts the idea of resistance within the system of powers. The lonely deer that strays into a suburban landscape becomes a powerful imagery as seen contrasted with the image of the radar that captures the frequencies of dreams.

(Information courtesy: Ashna Gallery, New Delhi)

Binoy Varghese explores the world of imposed innocence

New Delhi based Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre presented an interesting group show, entitled ‘Surviving Sagas’ earlier this month – courtesy Ashna Gallery. It featured works by five leading contemporary artists, namely George Martin, Murali Cheeroth, Binoy Varghese, Vivek Vilasini and S Gopinath.

An elaborate note on them brought out the nuances of their respective art practice and work. They are artists with different stylistic approaches, albeit all sharing a keen interest in the contemporary human beings’ materialistic and existential issues. They together explored the aspects of survival against the backdrop of the socio-economic and cultural anchoring of people to see how their survival is made possible by creating micro narratives out of their own lives. Here is what the gallery mentions of artist Binoy Varghese and his practice:

His artistic realm is full of micro-narratives of those disposed and dispossessed by a system of knowledge and power. He captures the faces of so many children in various garbs and places them against the most beautiful foliages and flowers. With a lot of happiness and verve these figures look at the viewer as if they were caught in a bubble of eternal innocence. Positing, someone into the state of eternal innocence is an exercise of ideological power that often we see both in the public and domestic realms.

His idea is to ‘re-present’ this innocence and engage the viewer to decode the secrets of their innocence. Binoy has been employing this method of representation for a long time and he uses this special way of juxtaposing the image of an innocent child against a backdrop, which is not so ‘natural’ to him/her. As a humanitarian artist, he puts forward a subtle critique on the system that produces such dispossessed children.

Of late, the artist has been attending to the issues of religious dispossession that has become a common characteristic of our much acclaimed democratic society. He stands up for their dignity by repeatedly painting their small little worlds.

(Information courtesy: Ashna Gallery, New Delhi)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

London based Grosvenor Vadehra presents‘The Indian (Sub)Way’

London based Grosvenor Vadehra presents a group exhibition, entitled ‘The Indian (Sub)Way’. The show curated by art critic and curator Yashodhara Dalmia highlights the ‘Indian Way’.

The participating artists are Atul Bhalla, Anita Dube, Anandjit Ray, GR Iranna, Gargi Raina, Gigi Scaria, Jagannath Panda, Manjunath Kamath, Mithu Sen, Nataraj Sharma, Probir Gupta, Ravinder Reddy, Riyas Komu, Shibu Natesan, Sudhanshu Sutar, Sujit SN, Sunoj D, and TV Santhosh. It comprises paintings, photographs, digital works and installations by these contemporary artists that articulate their experiences of living in present times in a forthright manner.

Ravinder Reddy's sensuous head - both iconic in its gaze and yet punctuated by hubris - characterizes the undercurrents of this event. The large digital work by artist Gigi Scaria refers the metropolis with its ever-growing business districts and pleasure zones in a humorous yet poignant vein. The high-rise buildings, however, rest on either side of a damaged flyover with traffic smoothly flowing below, building a dramatic interface.

The participating artists invent devices that hone in on the glaring contradictions of a country that despite its problematics is surging ahead on a curvilinear highway. An accompanying note asks: “The traditional way of being, formal yet feisty, altered with the modernization process which gained pace after India's independence. In recent decades the high-tech onslaught brought about by globalisation has introduced sweeping changes within cities and has not left villages untouched. The uneven form of development creates bizarre, somewhat comic situations where an eclectic internationalism jostles with the local, even archaic modes. The artists seem to ask 'Where indeed is the 'Indian Way' heading?'

“While the relatively stable economic situation has brought the country into international focus, its weak infrastructure, glaring gaps between wealth and poverty and the failure of governance are the flip side of this progress. The contemporary Indian artists scan with an ironical eye, the new glittering towers and glitzy malls conjuncted with the slums, cesspools and other detritus of existence. The extreme well being and cringing deprivations now largely provide the binaries of existence.”

Friday, September 3, 2010

South Asian Modern & Contemporary Art auction by Christie’s

Over 100 works of art by modern masters like F N Souza, MF Husain and alongside several big names in contemporary Indian art, including Subodh Gupta, Atul Dodiya and Rashid Rana will feature in a sale later this month.

The sales are expected to realize a sum well in excess of $10 million. Christie’s much awaited South Asian Modern & Contemporary Art auction on 15 September comprise these carefully chosen works from top 20th and 21st century artists from South Asia. For example, there is Raza’s ‘La Terre’ (1985) (estimated value: $2,000,000-2,500,000) that leads the sale.

It’s a masterpiece from a key period in his career that integrates vital elements of the artist’s Indian heritage. Another highlight of the sales is Souza’s Untitled work (Large Head) from 1962 (estimated value: $1,200,000-1,800,000). The visionary head denotes Souza at his creative best; it’s comprised of fantastical organic as well as mechanical elements such as parts in a clock.

Husain’s Untitled work (sitar player at estimated value of $350,000-500,000) reflects the inspiration he draws from the intriguing inter-disciplinary nature of dance, painting, film, music, and sculpture. The work depicts his masterly synthesis of a very Indian subject into a modern artistic idiom.

The auction will feature a wide selection of contemporary artworks from the region. Subodh Gupta’s ‘Two Cows’ (estimated value: $280,000-350,000) is another highlight in the sale. In this work, the artist combines day-to-day utilities familiar to both urban and rural echelons of our society. The simple bicycle and Stainless steel containers are ubiquitous objects that epitomize his ability to find irony and tension in the mundane.

His another featured work is ‘Densely Packed’, 2004 (estimated value: $250,000-300,000)in which he documents the daily scene of the bazaars through a quasi-photo realistic rendition of a ubiquitous vessel stall, deftly recasting an ensemble of Indian culture’s traditional objects. Then there is Atul Dodiya’s ‘Kalki’, 2002 (estimated value: $180,000-250,000)apart from other significant works by Anju Dodiya, Manjit Bawa, etc.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Art shows on the eve of Commonwealth games

A s Delhi prepares for the Commonwealth Games, the city art galleries are trying to tune up for this mega sports event. While most of them are planning to showcase the country’s cultural heritage, there are some others who will highlight the contemporary art.

Gallery Ragini is presenting a show, entitled ‘Creating Commonwealth’. It’s inspired by the Games, and refers to the British influence visible in our life. The gallery owner, Nidhi Jain, has been quoted as saying in a Hindustan Times new report by Aakriti Sawhney:
“The British Raj has left an imperial legacy behind, which is reflected in our history, culture and of course, art. That is the main focus of our exhibit. We have 30 contemporary artists, presenting a range of art work from digital to canvas, sculptures and art installations. We even have international artists from different Commonwealth countries, facilitating an understanding and experience of how the imperial rule affected societies.”
Religare Art Gallery will come up with an exhibit ‘Looking Glass — The Existence of difference’. It features leading contemporary Indian artists. Mukesh Panika, Religare Arts Initiative director, explains that it’s a project to mark three major events — an exhibit, an international seminar on the theme ‘Art Practices in an Age of Cultural Relativism’ plus book launch. Through the show, the gallery is projecting the works of contemporary artists to the outside world on the eve of Commonwealth Games.

Rupika Chawla presents a conceptual show, called ‘Art celebrates! 2010’, at Lalit Kala Akademi. It brings together 12 galleries from the city. This show focuses on sports and their relevance in the miniature paintings and contemporary works. Among the participating galleries are Gallery Espace and Art Alive.

Other shows to watch out for as reported by HT are:

Double whammy: An exhibition of contemporary photography
Fluid forms: A solo exhibit by fine art photographer Farah Ahmed
Duality: The show is replete with images that defy conventional landscape photography.