Sunday, October 31, 2010

India pavilion at the Venice Biennale?

The government of India is taking definite steps towards setting up an India Art Pavilion at the prestigious Venice Biennale to be held next year. It has already finished the modalities of booking space at one of the world's most ambitious contemporary art events.

According to a government official, an amount of Rs. 1 crore has already been earmarked for the pavilion. As media reports suggest, the LKA is going to be at the helm of the pavilion at the 2011 biennale. Indian galleries and artists have been regularly featuring at the specially curated shows. However, the official participation will add a formal touch to the Indian showcase at the event that draws the best of international art.

Noted contemporary artist Jitish Kallat had rued last year that several of the world's tiniest nations had their very own government sanctioned national pavilions at the Venice Biennale, whereas India still remained without one. Many art lovers like Tasneem Zakaria echoed his sentiments. "Even countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, the UAE and Pakistan, where one would have thought contemporary art was not an important focus, had put up put up their pavilions. Unfortunately, the Government of India has neglected any active patronage or promotion of art in the international arena."

As she had commented, it was important for the country to take part in such events as it sent a significant message to the world art community about how we tend to view ourselves. However, art critic and scholar Ranjit Hoskote seemed to differ. According to him, we should not contemplate such a pavilion until we are able to demonstrate the self-critical maturity necessary to transcend local politics and also sustain it at an international level of excellence.

On his part, Jitish Kallat had stated, “There’s certainly some optimism in the growing representation of Indian artists within the curated section; the Indian National Pavilion will happen when our Government wakes up. Now it is up to the Indian art world to fix the alarm.” That finally seems to be happening…

Saturday, October 30, 2010

‘Sunflower Seeds’ at Tate Modern sows a new trend

Talented Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is the first one from the Asia-Pacific region to be commissioned the prestigious Unilever Series for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern.

His ‘Sunflower Seeds’ made up of millions of tiny works - each apparently identical, but unique - makes for an unforgettable spectacle. Poured into the Turbine Hall’s vast industrial space, the 100 million seeds together form an infinite landscape.

It’s both intimate and epic backed by exquisite miniaturist craftsmanship. Each life-sized sunflower seed husk, individually sculpted and painted, is crafted by hundreds of skilled specialists in Jingdezhen’s small-scale workshops. They all seem realistic, and are individually produced - intricately hand-crafted in porcelain, almost synonymous with China.

The artist has deftly manipulated traditional modes of crafting, historically one of his home nation’s most prized exports. ‘Sunflower Seeds’ prompts the viewer to inspect more closely the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon. At another level, it refers to the geo-politics of economic and cultural exchange today.

Born in Beijing in 1957, Ai Weiwei is among the most influential figures in contemporary Chinese art. In his multi-faceted roles as conceptual artist, critic, designer, architect and curator, he encompasses a wide array of challenging and often provocative activity. Underlining his achievements, an accompanying note states:
“He has played a key role in the development of contemporary Chinese art over the last two decades, from his role in the radical avant-garde ‘Stars Group’ in 1979, to his collaboration with Herzog & de Meuron in designing the national ‘Bird's Nest’ stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.”
The artist is using Twitter to invite mass participation in the intriguing project that seeks active engagement on a mass scale. He also invites visitors to record a video at the venue, either posing him a question or answering one of his own questions.

Meanwhile, in another curious development, the gallery has decided not to let public walk across the massive installation. Although porcelain is a very robust material, the interaction of visitors with the work can cause dust that could be harmful to health because of repeated inhalation, it is feared.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bewildering beastliness of modern art

A colossal gee-gee will be installed somewhere in north Kent coinciding with the 2012 Olympic influx. Not less than fifty meters high, that’s a real monster fetlock. But then this is in keeping with ‘the beastliness of modern art’, as Simon Schama points out in an interesting Financial Times article, reproduced from an edited version of a lecture as part of the Frieze Art Fair. The art expert observes:
“Contemporary art seems stampeded with equimania. Petrified horses are closing in on the West End of London where ‘War Horse’ commands the stage. David Backhouse’s ‘Animals in War’ memorial on Park Lane features a noble patriotic dobbin.”
There are also Nic Fiddian-Green’s decapitated and a bit shattered outsize horse-heads for company. In fact, the animal fetish carries with it a rather heavy pack of associations. The bestiary close to the heart of British modernism, its obsessions have usually been cow-eyed and sheepish, with an ironic yearning to explore the weird connection between sacrifice, salvation and butchery enshrined in Christian iconography.

For example, ‘Saint Sebastian, Exquisite Pain’ (2007) by Damien Hirst has its precedents, not only in the multiple piercings of Piero del Pollaiuolo’s 15th century Sebastian, but also in ‘Flayed Ox’ by Rembrandt. Hirst’s contemporary bestiary bears witness and pays backhand homage to the perplexing equation between salvation and sacrifice in Christianity. ‘Away from the Flock’ (1994) is another noteworthy sheep piece by him. Simon Schama explains:
“Anyone who really knows the much-despised art historical canon will also know that, far from artists like Goya having been unaware of the relationship between sculpture and slaughter, many went out of their way to put it down on paper and canvas. What, asks Goya over and again, are we? We are the butchers – and the chopped meat. It’s also a feature of the most thoughtful artists – Rembrandt certainly – and the greatest practitioners of nature morte to indicate their awareness of the self-defeating quality of painterly immortality.”
However, today’s horse-mania is different, disconcertingly heroic and upbeat, the art expert concludes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A group show of Indian art in London

‘At The Edge’ is the title of a group show of Indian art in London. It comprises of eight specially selected works from a group of eminent artists from different regions, backgrounds and influences to create an evocative tableau of the changing contemporary realities of India and exemplify the significance of contemporary Indian art today.

Each work was chosen as being one of the best examples of the artist´s oeuvre. Gallery Maya in Notting Hill presents works by renowned contemporary Indian artists, starting October 14th. The artists who are represented by the gallery are among the leading contemporary names from Asian. Led by New York based artist Steve Miller, it’s striving to promote contemporary cutting edge artists from Asia as well as other parts of the world.

Its new show consists of works on canvas, film, photography and mixed media, from some of the important and most renowned Indian artists. They all come with different regional sensibilities and diverse cultural as well as family backgrounds that reflect in their work, The carefully brought together works create an evocative tableau of the changing contemporary realities of India.

The participating artists express their commentary in diverse mediums and styles bringing to life the extreme complexities and paradoxes of fast-changing Indian way of life – the ironic conditions of modernity – the collision of man and technology, modern high rises and the glamor of Bollywood against the backdrop of pervasive depravity, spirituality and the ever-present threat of terrorism.

Gallery Maya, working with the highly respected curator Ina Puri, has selected eight works from these artists, including Probir Gupta, Pushpamala N, Mithu Sen, Jagannath Panda, TV Santhosh and Hema Upadhyay among others. Their works offer a glimpse into the exciting and leading edge of today’s Indian art scene. They are already being displayed and collected by leading museums across the world as well as enjoying strong representation in major private collections. They efficiently exemplify the significance of contemporary Indian art today.

Monday, October 25, 2010

‘Alternate to Another’ at the Guild, New York

The Guild art gallery, New York presents a new group show. Entitled ‘Alternate to Another’, it comprises works by three emerging contemporary Indian artists, Ashutosh Bhardwaj, Ved Gupta and Sathyanand Mohan.

The show explores the varied layers of dialogue, existence, battles and also constructs of what surroundings and reality mean to these artists. An accompanying note states: “Engaging with their explorations does create a sense of common mistrust in the reality of their realm and immediate surroundings. Their new body of work is inclined to ask questions as well as provide an engagement for the curious audience with the notions of other realities, ‘other’ alternate to the many ‘others’. Interestingly ‘others’ doesn't imply the alternate here. It represents our reality, the now with its myriad anxieties and layers of the superficial.”

Ashutosh Bharadwaj’s work revolves around objects of desire. He employs images from the familiar public realm, aiming to analyze media frenzy and the effect it has on popular imagination, more so in the context of today’s fast-expanding urban Indian middle-class. On the other hand, Sathyanand Mohan's Surrealist vanitas refer an alternate reality. His works explore an illusion with illusion, a ‘reality within reality’, or a photograph within a photograph.

The way he sets up and uses the studio lighting through the different is really interesting. It tends to generate an image, which shows up these layering, albeit remaining elusive and equally complex. The idea is to explore elements of class politics, the politics of idealism, eroticism, mortality etc. Last but not the least, Ved Gupta tries to source his metaphors from the 'now' much like the other two artists. It’s though far more engaged in a confrontation. He deals with the aspects of inequalities, decay, corruption, and a sense of degeneration prevailing within the constructs of rampaging globalization. For him, there is a clear need to emerge as the voice of those suppressed and to stand up for them through his canvases.

‘Alternate to Another’ is an effort to find the thread, connecting the creative and intellectual pursuits of the artists.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sensing the mood at Frieze 2010

The contradictions of the contemporary art world to go with the current confusing economic moment were amply visible at the just concluded Frieze Art Fair.

The fair is known more for the freshness and quality of the art, and meaningful talks and other interesting events, than for high-priced sales. Many museums and galleries in London coordinate openings of major shows around the event. The fair directors and founders, Ms. Sharp and Matthew Slotover, also encourage ambitious presentations. There are works commissioned by them. The galleries from across the world, including China, Japan, Mexico and India take part.

All these aspects were amply visible at the just concluded edition. In spite of some termed a more thoughtful, rather less flashy sentiment than during the boom phase, a fish-in-formaldehyde installation by Damien Hirst fetched $5.6 million, underlining the prevailing optimism. The symbol of the booming art market, the artist has more lately been the symbol for its falling prices and heavy investments gone bad.

His work fetched over $270 million at auction a couple of years ago; whereas that number stooped low to $19 million in 2009, according to a recent report in The Economist. But the latest sale bucked the trend. One of the Frieze directors revealed that it ‘may be the highest price point of any artwork ever achieved at the fair.” A news report in The New York Times mentioned:
“Dealers were generally upbeat about sales. A Luc Tuymans painting, ‘Evidence’, went for $850,000. According to a gallery owner, some of the American clients decided not to come to Frieze this year.”

While there indeed happened to be fewer Americans than earlier, there was a greater influx of buyers from the countries of the erstwhile Soviet Union and Asia at Frieze. In fact, the Hirst work was acquired by an Asian collector. This year Brazilians were out in force, as were the Ukrainian, Russian, Korean and Indian collectors/investors. With their newly acquired wealth, they were now keen to buy more art, a dealer observed.

Works of dazzling beauty by Spanish master draftsmen

Spanish draftsmen of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries created some exquisite works of dazzling beauty and inventiveness. Though often well versed in the traditions of Italy and Flanders, they developed their own signature techniques and departed from academic conventions of representing the human figure. This original, visionary, and fantastic aspect is a defining hallmark of the ‘Spanish manner’.
This exhibition is the first dedicated to the tradition of Spanish draftsmanship to be held in New York. A curatorial note elaborates: “The show begins with a large ensemble encompassing both preliminary sketches and finished studies that were made in important centers of artistic activity in seventeenth-century Spain. Groups of works by Golden Age masters Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652) and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682) reveal the development of their distinctive drawing styles and their deft handling of different media over time.

Key examples by their contemporaries Vicente Carducho (c. 1576–1638) and Juan Carreño de Miranda (1614–1685) represent the breadth of accomplishment among Spanish draftsmen in preparing commissioned works or studies for their own use. Two 18th-century works by the court artists Mariano Salvador Maella and Francisco Bayeu highlight their drawing practice, emphasizing the use of colored papers and contrasting white chalk, techniques also used by other celebrated practitioners of European neoclassicism.

The final section centers on twenty-two sheets by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828), whose drawings are rarely presented in the context of his Spanish predecessors. Nearly all the works by Goya shown formed part of the eight cycles of drawings made between the late eighteenth century and his death, which have been described as “albums.” For the artist, these remarkable records of things seen, remembered, and imagined served as an expressive end in themselves. They also attest to the continuity of Goya’s thematic interests with those of his Spanish forebears and represent the culmination in the nineteenth century of a distinctly Spanish mode of draftsmanship.

‘The Spanish Manner: Drawings From Ribera to Goya’ is on view at the Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street, Manhattan.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Samtidigt (Concurrent) at Kulturhuset, Stockholm

Samtidigt (Concurrent) is an interesting mélange of 15 artists with their roots in India and Pakistan who feature at Kulturhuset, Stockholm. Among the names who form part of the significant show are Sheba Chhachhi, Chitra Ganesh, Shilpa Gupta, archana Hande, Rashmi Kaleka, Reena Saini Kallat, Anita Khemka, Nalini Malani, Pushpamala N, Gigi Scaria, Bharat Sikka, Vivan Sundaram, Thukral & Tagra and Hema Upadhyay.

A curatorial note elaborates: “Through diverse forms of expression and perspectives these artists pose questions about what it means to live in present-day India, a subcontinent whose social, economic and cultural development has been accompanied by tumultuous social changes. Traditions and structures are being challenged, values tested while at the same time, much remains as it always has been.

Indian mythology and history are the point of departure in several pieces that illuminate the position of women. Stereotypes and clichés concerning how women have traditionally been portrayed and represented are incisively – but also humorously - exposed. The condition of women in daily life and in the wars that are continuously being waged in the name of nation-building is a recurring theme in the exhibition. The protracted conflict between India and Pakistan, which has gone on since India was divided and became independent in 1947, has claimed many
victims, not least women, who have suffered greatly and become a tool in the war over Kashmir.

On the other hand, Consumer society and an expanding global market are often the focus of these artists’ work. They depict the possibilities, the challenges and the risks involved in this new world order in which everything that happens has two sides – simultaneously. As an addition to the exhibition the author, Zac O´Yeahs’ has recorded his impressions of the local art world during 20 years in Bangalore. The exhibition has been co-produced with Tennispalatset in Helsinki.

Monday, October 18, 2010

‘Looking Glass: the Existence of Difference’ and a book launch

The new group show courtesy Religare Arts Initiative, Max Mullar Bhavan, British Council and American Centre compliments the volume ‘Voices of change: 20 Contemporary Artists’, a Marg Publication supported by Religare Arts Initiative and Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation.

Curated by Gayatri Sinha, it’s being held to coincide with the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi that just concluded. It acknowledges the present generation of Contemporary Indian artist. These include Baiju Parthan,N. Pushpamala,Jayashree Chakravarty ,Bharti Kher, Subodh Gupta, Shibu Natesan, Anju Dodiya, Atul Dodiya, Surendran Nair, NN Rimzon, Anita Dube, Nataraj Sharma, Sudershan Shetty, Bose Krishnamachari, NS Harsha, Jagannath Panda, Jitish Kallat, Shilpa Gupta, TV Santhosh, Riyas komu.

A press release elaborates: "Working in diverse media such as sculptural installation, photography, painting and large scale sculpture, we can see some outstanding examples of the work of this generation. The range of issues that they address includes the expanding city, revisitation of mythology in the context of modern India, mass construction and its effects, violence in South and Central Asia. With humour and insight, through multiple devices they address some of the complexity of our social polity.

The exhibition is supported by the British Council, which will be the site of a large sculpture by Nataraj Sharma. It is also co-partnered by the Max Mueller Bhavan where photo based works by Jitish Kallat and Baiju Parthan and Shilpa Gupta’s sculptural installation made entirely of take away soaps will be on view.

The event, as mentioned above, also mark the release of ‘Voices of Change: 20 Contemporary Artists’. The writers involved represent a newer generation of writers and critics based in India and abroad. Each essay is accompanied by an artist interview, thus documenting their concerns in a mid career practice.

Founded in September 2007, Religare Arts Initiative Limited is among India’s first corporate supported arts organizations. It strives to provide contemporary art a larger integrated voice and make art a more transparent, relevant and effective force
in the society.

Jaishri Abichandani showcases ‘Dirty Jewels’

London based Rossi & Rossi hosts an exhibition by Jaishri Abichandani, entitled ‘Dirty Jewels’. The power of fetish is supreme in her work as evident in ‘Hearts of Darkness’ (Condoleezza Rice and Ayaan Hirsi Ali; 2010). Titled after Joseph Conrad's novel, examining the darkness within us, the couple seems to conjure up mixed emotions

Hirsi Ali, projected as a feminist icon in the Western media, is a contentious figure in the Muslim world because of her apparent anti-Islamic rhetoric. Formally, the piece here mimics a box of chocolates, the faces of women merging into the shape of a heart - their complexions various shades of chocolate brown. Though framed by sweetness, like much of her work, this one has a strong aftertaste reflected in its subjects' moral ambiguity and our relationship to them as well as their blackness. It points to the complex rules and roles black women have had to negotiate throughout history in order to gain power.

An accompanying note elaborates: "Both women smile at us, displaying the whites of their teeth, but their eyes, more significantly, are smiling too, crinkling slightly at the edges suggesting sincerity. We judge their policies from our progressive political stances and they continue to smile. Their smiles challenge us to have lived the lives they have lived and emerge with a different outcome. We would all like to believe we are different. The artist forces us to ask whether we really are."

Born in Mumbai and now based in Brooklyn, Jaishri Abichandani has shown her work in the Guangzhou Triennial; the Beijing 798 Biennial, and art institutions including P.S.1. and the Queens Museum of Art in New York; the Institut Valencia d'Art Modern etc. An accomplished curator herself, she is the founder of the South Asian Women's Creative Collective, having also served as Founding Director (Public Events) at the Queens Museum. Her work is in collections like the Momenta Art Video Library, the Florian Peters-Messers Collection, the Saatchi Collection, and the Burger Collection.

Published to coincide with the exhibition is a catalogue, with essays by art historian Francesca Pietropaolo and independent curator and Uzma Z. Rizvi, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Urban Studies at Pratt Institute of Art and Design, Brooklyn, New York.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

'Nerve Line of Being' by Samir Aich

New Delhi based Gallery Ensign presents a solo show of artist Samir Aich’s recent works on canvas and paper, entitled ‘Nerve Line of Being’. His new compositions are symptomatic of the tendency among today’s artists to discard the actual evidence of the forces of nature, in order to symbolize, in new ways, the impulses themselves
Poring over his work, one is willy nilly obliged to reflect on the experiences, whether his or his viewers'. This is a dangerous area of interest, one of two errors become more evident: the first - forgetting that viewer) is an experience quite distinct from any other experiences the second - neglecting the requirements that the painting should for the painter and the viewer to be relating it to the same kind of preoccupation with a painting, notes art critic Keshav Malik.

An accompanying note by him elaborates: “By instinct artists protect the ground of their being. So step by step, Samir Aich has refined to a fine point the crude ore of life. It's a job of transmutation, of transfiguration, that of the ordinary, into the extraordinary. Perhaps not all artists are hell- bent upon the same demanding utopia. Samir's spiritual development proceeds from this same sensibility. It does not appear that he uses his sensibility to illustrate any thesis. Art for him is a continuous process of exploration - that of the raw, unworked material of common life -- in special of the locale in which he was born.

For him, ideas are something to impress on a concrete material of sensations, as to mould and manipulate them sensuously. There are, but of course, certain constants, of colors or symbols that have remained intact or almost so with him from the beginning. But these have only led to fresh, new variations. It is so he quite naturally and without undue deliberation goes to the extremes of abstraction but which is still tinged with a certain amount of realism. Such contemporaneous contrasts represent, not a contradiction, but the same, in- born sensibility, reacting with different visual resonances to the given material. Such is quite a bit of the work in the present exhibition.

The so called abstractions, in single, mono color surfaces, are gifted with the barest of signs, geometric lines, or imprints. The net result of all such sparseness, of all such reserve, makes for the badly needed wide open spaces and of a liberated imagination. The work kills noise, kill the din of a crowded planet, it heals.”

‘Take off your shoes and wash your hands’ by Subodh Gupta at Tramway, Scotland

A new show of works by Subodh Gupta’s takes place in Scotland – the host for the 2014 Commonwealth games. The exhibition, programmed to coincide with the Games handover ceremony from New Delhi to Glasgow, includes both existing works and new work made especially for Tramway. Among the associated events are: In conversation with the artist with Moira Jeffrey (20 October).

‘Take off your shoes and wash your hands’, this is his Gupta first solo show here. An accompanying note lauds him as one of India’s foremost contemporary artists. In sculpture, painting, photography or performance his work provides access to Indian culture in truly imaginative and diverse ways. It adds:“Subodh Gupta is among a generation of Indian artists who are exploring their country’s identity on a global scale, spurred on by economic growth and increasing material ambition.

Often he incorporates everyday objects – steel tiffin lunch boxes, thali pans, bicycles, or milk pails – so elevating them into works of art. In doing so, he reflects both on India’s economic transformation, as well as his own life and memory. His work is therefore both personal and universal, a manifestation of someone both wholly of his own culture who is also reflecting on wider global issues.”

Previous exhibitions include Faith Matters, Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev (2010, solo show); Altermodern, Tate Triennial, Tate Britain (2009, group show); Indian Highway, Serpentine Gallery, London (2008, group show); Silk Route, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (2007, solo show). Subodh Gupta is represented in the UK by Hauser and Wirth, London.

Tramway is Scotland’s most internationally acclaimed venue for contemporary visual and performing art. The very distinctive architecture, character and history of the venue itself have ensured that Tramway is a unique place to produce and experience the best in contemporary art.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

An artist who explores complex human psyche and manmade spaces

Artist Pooja Iranna’s intense exploration of the complex human psyche has been a long-standing one. In her formative years, she has witnessed the ultimate submission of a generation grappling with the demands of a consumerist society, its hopes and dreams of the past now consigned to memory. A messy tangle of multi-storied skyscrapers replacing a spangle of minarets and tomes that once dotted the cityscape has made its imprint in her conscious memory. The architectural spaces seem to strike a balance with the human condition.

Born in New Delhi in 1969, she completed M. F. Arts (Painting) from College of Art, New Delhi (1995) and received the Charles Wallace India Trust Award in 2002. Among her selected solos are 'Of Human Endeavor: The Super Exposed City and the New Possibilities of Space' at The Guild, Mumbai (2009); 'Metamorphic Mathematics' (2003-04); 'Reflections', Wimbledon School of Art, London (2002); ‘House Of Cards', Art Inc, Delhi (1999); 'Paper Works', Shridharani Gallery, Delhi (1996). She has featured in a number of group exhibitions this year, including 'Love to Live', Palette Art Gallery, Delhi; 'A. SYCO', The Viewing Room, Mumbai; 'Invisible Cities', Aicon Gallery, New York; 'Size Matters or Does it?', Latitude 28, Delhi; 'India Rising: Tradition Meets Modernity', courtesy Ati Art Gallery.

In her pictorial realm, images that surface from past and current times capture her impressions of the city she terms her home, and its metamorphosis into a metascape she can now barely recognize. Standing at the edge of this precipice -, part-real, part-fantasy - the feeling of cosmic loneliness and the inevitable spectre of ‘a forlorn world encased in glacial solitude haunts us.

The artist has been working in many mediums to explore her buildings and spaces outside and inside. She has extensively worked with paper and has also used photographical imagery as a powerful mode of expression over the years.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kolkata’s Experimenter gallery features at Frieze

Experimenter gallery based in Kolkata may just be a year and a half old, but it is already getting noticed internationally. It’s taking a work entitled ‘I have killed Pharaoh’ by artist Naeem Mohaiemen to London’s Frieze Art Fair. Sanchayan Ghosh’s sculptural installation will also be showcased at the prestigious event.

Prateek Raja and his wife Priyanka run the gallery. He has been quoted as sayingA: “Frieze is important. It’s exploratory (in nature), not necessarily market-driven. To be invited to Frieze is a pleasant surprise.” An artist note on Frieze website states:
"Having worked both on his own and as part of Visible, a collective of artists and activists he co-founded, Naeem Mohaiemen has probed post-liberation histories within his native Bangladesh as well as broader misconceptions of our polarized, panic-prone world. Consider Live True Life or Die Trying (2009), an installation of texts and photographs of two demonstrations occurring simultaneously in Dhaka: the ‘Islamist’ and the ‘Leftist’. The work reflects on the editing process and the impact it can have on the meaning of images."
Naeem Mohaiemen’s work is going to be on display at the specially curated section ‘Frame’, devoted to galleries less than six years old. It represents younger, emerging artists and promotes more experimental works. Incidentally, Experimenter is the lone gallery from India to feature at Frieze this year. The gallery has a research-based approach in its program, choice of artist, and also placement of work.

Most shows at the gallery have had political undertone by artists like Mehreen Murtaza and Bani Abidi. Even Naeem Mohaiemen’s choice of subject is political though he deals with it in a rather poetic and evocative manner. According to the artist, he works through research, excavating Bangladesh’s history of post-liberation as a way of viewing Asian epochs, more so, the history of failure. This is the latest in a series over multiple platforms- long-form essay, photography, installation and video.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Frieze Art Fair 2010

Frieze Art Fair is among the world’s most important contemporary art fairs. The organizers bring a truly international focus every year to the spectrum of contemporary art.

Frieze Art Fair is a carefully chosen presentation of the renowned galleries from across the world. The selected galleries this year present outstanding work by more than 1,000 of the world’s most dynamic and innovative artists. The works are to be presented alongside the fair’s unique curatorial program called Frieze Projects.

The fair strives to set the contemporary art agenda. In this quest, the year 2010 will witness more galleries than ever at the event. There are more than 170 exhibitors. The dynamism of the selected galleries from Asia and South America is balanced by those from Europe and America. Galleries new to the fair ‘s main section are: Bortolami, New York; Pilar Corrias, London; Elizabeth Dee, New York; Xavier Hufkens, Brussels; Michael Lett, Auckland. A press release elaborates:

“The successful introduction of Frame, dedicated to galleries under six years old showing solo artist presentations, sees its return in 2010. Notable presentations this year include: the first European showing of Brazilian sculptor Carlos Bevilacqua at Simon Preston Gallery, New York; artist duo Daniel Keller and Nik Kosmas (Aids-3d) at Gentili Apri, Berlin and Naeem Mohaiemen at Experimenter, Kolkata. The galleries that exhibit in Frame are chosen on the basis of an artist’s solo display. It’s one of the key places to view artists for the first time and on a significant platform."

Curators Cecilia Alemani and Daniel Baumann have advised on the galleries’ selection Co-directors Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp have been quoted as saying: “The gallery list at Frieze Art Fair 2010 is a strong one.’ Frieze Projects is a unique program of artists’ commissions realized annually at the fair curated by Sarah McCrory. It comprises nine specially commissioned projects.

The eighth edition of the much awaited international contemporary art event takes place at Regent’s Park, London from 14-17 October.

Gallery BMB unveils India's emerging talent

Gallery BMB, located in the heart of Mumbai’s art district presents groundbreaking exhibitions of the very best of Indian and international contemporary art. The venue has emerged as the most noteworthy to showcase many international artists of the highest caliber who, in spite of critical acclaim from major prestigious institutions, have seldom presented their work in this part of the world.

Keen to present emerging Indian artists, Gallery BMB hosted another exciting group show. In this post, we reproduce a part of the essay on Srinivasa Prasad Zakkir Hussain. The former’s work draws a great deal from his background in regional theatre as a prop maker and performer. In his work there exists the drama and compulsion of ritual and a grandiose scale imprinted by the pure physicality of the artist’s involvement. Sourcing material from his immediate environments, he creates works poised between the spectacular and the introspective.

Around his home in rural Karnataka, the artist watches the ease with which birds migrate to fit the dictates of the season. In ‘Nest’, he explores the possibility of return, of reversing the cycles of the year. The work consists of two photographs, the first shows an empty tree which as winter has come, has lost its leaves, and the second through the artist’s intervention, the leaves are collected form a large nest nestled in the branches of the tree.

In Zakkir Hussain’s work, the viewer can see a row of marching armies from across the panels of the triptych on view in this exhibition. The marching signifies the continuing processes of history, especially the rhythmic movement of the army. The armies he depicts are not conventional armies, but rather they are those that come from the hegemonic moral world, the ones that fight to keep up the vigilance against love, resistance, the right to speak or seek to normalize the citations of the everyday.

In that sense, discipline and the punishment are the main concern of the work. Normally, the sensibility of prevailing conditions focus and enlarge the disciplined aspects of the system, and negates the rights of the punished forms. The artist explains: “My attempt is to reverse this. I have given the full focus on the punished form in order to give a voice for to speak for the punished bodies which has been mutilated repeatedly in the cultural arena of the dominant.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Artists who represent India's new art idiom

In its latest group exhibition Gallery BMB invited five renowned and highly talented artists from GALLERYSKE, Bangalore. It’s probably for the first time that they exhibited together in the city of Mumbai. The works, most of which created especially for this show, celebrated a confreres program. Here is a look at the three artists whose works form part of the show:
Repetition of a single object, image or action over creates a pattern, according to Avinash Veeraraghavan who elaborates: “Patterns repeated over and over again in combinations one with the other create an image. This rule of construction constitutes the structure of all the works shown here, where layers of patterns are overlaid one on top of the other to create images and stories. The stories I tell are of decay and dead spirits, archeology and memory, purity and it actual constituents in horror, sex and castration.’

On the other hand, Navin Thomas’s work interest in the travels and after-life of electronic gadgets, salvaged electronic junk, mostly discarded transistors and smaller objects, with a possible, audio capacity. The object in the video was found by the artist in the Chinese toy market in Chandini Chowk. The dismembered toy buoyantly oscillates from side to side while singing an Iranian song marking the object by three cultures in its short life.

Sakshi Gupta’s work looks at contradictions within which we live. In an attempt to fuse real with potential, lasting with ephemeral, solitude with chaos her work searches for ways to find an intellectual and emotional equilibrium. Working primarily with industrial scrap, her work is transformative and through transition explores the intrinsic artistry in atrophy. Embodying a spirit of playful non-knowledge, unlearning, and productive confusion; the two works she presents here are dedicated to the inquisitive mind and to the pleasures of finding our way in the dark.

Searching for a new viewpoint on our vision of Mahatma Gandhi

Who has seen Gandhi? is an exhibition of Contemporary Indian art conceptually anchored by Rahul Bhattacharya courtesy Tangerine Art Space, Bangalore. It is on view at Gallery Kynkyny Art.

Among the participating artists are KM Adimoolam, Manu Parekh, MF Husain, Gigi Scaria, Gireesh G V, Arun Kumar HG, Ashish Kumar Das, Debraj Goswami, Deepak Tandon, Bibhu Pattnaik, Debanjan Roy, Gururaj Hadadi, Jagannath Panda, Josh PS, Phaneendra Nath Chaturvedi, Riaz Samadhan, Sachin Karne, Sudhanshu Sutar, Tushar Waghela, Prasad Raghavan, Rajan Krishnan,Vibha Gahlotra, Viveek Sharma, Murali Cheeroth and Navjot Altaf.

Curators of the show Rahul Bhattacharya mentions in an accompanying note: "The question ‘Who has seen Gandhi?’ can have many answers, well almost as many as the number ways this question can be understood, one can begin with wondering what exactly is seeing, or else one can wonder what or who is Gandhi. If Gandhi is to be understood in terms of a particular vision, energy, or a path one can assume that hardly anyone from the post-independence generations have seen him.

"However if Gandhi is to be viewed as a stale icon, or a forced annual two minutes of silence, then yes we have all seen him. Who is this Gandhi we have seen?” a pedestalized icon? An untouchable myth? Or a father who has been disowned, but celebrated through sterile ritual references by the state? A key aspect of reinvigorating our times with the values of truth and dignity, intrinsic to Gandhi, is to be able to visually reclaim Gandhi and the symbolic manifestations of his ideologies and philosophies. When a person who communicated and lead the nation primarily through his “personal touch” is visually reduced to a stagnant “iconified” image, we know that it is the time to contest and reclaim his imagery. "

The stagnant 'iconification', as the curator mentions, is a metaphor of Gandhi being reduced to a distant unreachable (un fashionable?) icon and this mode of representation has severed the purpose in the realm of politics where the myth and fame of Gandhi still has relevance in luring voters, but his models have become too difficult to follow. In this context, ‘Who has seen Gandhi?’ is imagined to be a ‘space’ where such alternative possibilities are showcased, seeded and nurtured.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Significant international shows of Indian art

In a new group show, several prominent Indian artists show us the way in which water flows through all of us and how it has historically reflected one's soul. At a major group show at Walsh Gallery, Chicago, they explore the way art and water Intersect. Vivan Sundaram, Reena Kallat, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, and Sheba Chhachhi alongside Song Dong, Miao Xiaochun and Wang Wei from China showcase photography, installation and video based works.

In Reena Kallat's series of photographs depicts women knitting letters that form the line ‘Our Bodies are Molded Rivers’ by German poet Novalis. What interests her is the allusion of the body as a channel since so much of the human body is made of water. Vivan Sundaram’s project involves Delhi trash pickers. He has fastened together 8,000 plastic bottles gathered by them to form a raft to be floated down the river, carrying several passengers.

The project culminates with its dismantling for the water bottles to be recycled. A photo montage by Gulam Mohammed Sheikh represents the pictorial traditions of both the East and West, whereas Sheba Chhachhi's surrealistic video probes the sediment of memory and time, encouraging us to read the subterranean histories and mythologies of water below the urban jungle.

Simultaneously, New York based e-flux presents an installation by Raqs Media Collective that combines historical photographs (from the Alkazi Collection, New Delhi and the Galton Collection at University College, London). It incorporates video, animation, and sound. ‘The Surface of Each Day is a Different Planet’ builds sequential scenarios that move across time and space, while considering collectivity, anonymity and the question of identity through history, fantasy and speculation. The work was commissioned and exhibited at the Art Now: Lightbox by Tate Britain, last year.

Open-ended and anti-documentary, it’s presented within a setting suggestive of a lecture hall; there’s the anticipation of discourse: microphones and chairs are seen on raised platforms but speakers are absent. The setting evokes the lecture-performance format often used by the artists, but they, their bodies themselves, have somehow vanished. Their voices are left behind, along with entire cabinets of curiosities.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hauser & Wirth, Zurich hosts Subodh Gupta’s works

Several prominent Indian artists feature in ongoing major international shows at renowned galleries across the globe, including Hauser & Wirth in Zurich, Walsh Gallery in Chicago, Amsterdam’s Huis Marseille Museum, Arario in Seoul, New York based RL Arts and e-flux.

Hauser & Wirth hosts an exhibition of monumental new sculptures and the ‘Cosmos’ paintings by Subodh Gupta in its new Zurich space. The celebrated artist’s ideas take shape in a variety of innovative and offbeat media like steel, bronze, marble, paint etc. Different materials are encountered for their intrinsic aesthetic virtues and as conceptual signifiers that signify diverse connotations.

The mass-produced utensils have played a significant role in the artist’s creative processes. They project an ambiguous symbolism: whilst they are considered as exotic and representative of intriguing Indian culture in the West, to people in India they remain common objects, used almost daily in every household. He intelligently harnesses these hybrid associations, letting them quietly resonate in his viewers’ mind.

The works feature utensils as the central motif, and relate to the earlier ‘Still Steal Steel’ series, and to the sculptures he constructs using innumerable tiffins and thalis, as well. The artist makes the utility items represent the Cosmos, for the universe as a harmonious and orderly system; each airborne metal item symbolizing the matter and energy out of which everything is created.

New marble sculptures complement the painted works. Simultaneously, recent works by the internationally acclaimed artist are on view at Arario Seoul, South Korea. He also features in a sculpture show at Chatsworth House in Britain alongside Damien Hirst, Ju Ming, Eduardo Chillida, Manolo Valdés, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Lynn Chadwick, Yue Minjun, and Barry Flanagan, among others

This exhibition is Hauser & Wirth’s inaugural show at Hubertus Exhibitions, a raw industrial space that will be the temporary home for the gallery during the refurbishment of the former Löwenbräu brewery building.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A celebrated female artist from India showcases her work in France

Artist Anju Dodiya’s new images at Paris based Galerie Daniel Templon have a humorous or cartoonish tinge. Here we see her fighting with a canvas, ostensibly to make it work. ‘Face-off’ (after Kuniyoshi) is a series in watercolor and charcoal on paper.

While portraying herself, Anju Dodiya depicts issues like vulnerability, eroticism, violence, self-exploration, dreams and extreme situations in general. These new works do not really mark a radical departure from previous work, besides the humor and irony already highlighted. They suggest something that traverses the personal.

A painted portrait in Paper Storm has a plug in her mouth as if it could not speak or communicate –an image taken from an untitled photograph by Maurizio Cattelan from 2000. In ‘Face-off’, continuing her own drawings of the series ‘Walled City’ (2008) - the image in the painted canvas within the painting, has something like shackles or a noose around her neck as if captive to its possible failure as art.

In ‘Quarrel Duet’ we see an image, hidden or tormented by a red mask while fighting back, from the canvas, with some kind of cloth in each of her hands. In ‘Eclipse’, the painter is energetically fighting to erase the blackness covering most of the painting she is working on. In ‘Entangled’, several cords emanate from the head of the samurai/artist as if she is about to be strangled and consequently defeated by her own mistaken actions or decisions.

In ‘Surge’, it seems that one of the painted images is getting out of the canvas- becoming real, taking the form of a bizarre spotted octopus, with tentacles resembling claws or thorns, and two large and comical eyes. This monster may defeat the artist who is only fighting with a brush. Sometimes we see two figures at work – or at war! They do stand for the inner demons of the artist battling it out to overcome one another. The artist reveals they refer to duplications of the self. The new images seem also to explode, flashing from blackness, being partially surrounded by black areas on the edges – ‘charcoal clouds’, in the artist’s words, suggesting that the act of creation is one extreme situation. The black surroundings also help to provide a certain dream-like quality.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Two shows of works by a master painter and a world-renowned photo artist

A noteworthy exhibition at RL Fine Arts, New York presents selected works by legendary artist SH Raza. His masterful paintings express the nature’s beauty through watercolor landscapes, through to dynamic abstractions, and into captivating compositions concentrated around the bindu. La Terre (1985), a masterpiece on view, marks the crucible period wherein he was moving into the area of more geometric paintings built around ancient, totemic symbols and shapes away from abstracted landscape.

On the other hand, Bindu (1992) celebrates the joy of life, nature and creation with SH Raza building a composition around many devices that offer multiples of meaning: tree of life, kundalini, yin-yang, bindu, which collate in a frenzied unity of color. Germination, from the same year, testifies the painter’s mastery over color and tone. The repeated shapes woven around the bindu reverberate to lead to a meditative state. Nad Bindu (1995) expresses the beauty of white and black as the artist deliberately removes the bright primary colors to explore the different variations in monochromatic tones.

Another milestone event is a major retrospective exhibition of photographic works by Dayanita Singh at Huis Marseille Museum for Photography, Amsterdam. The Indian photographer is internationally renowned for the highly expressive and poetic quality of her work, whose incidence of light and visual construction are meticulously composed.

They comment on society and her own past. By the early 1990s she was snapping at her immediate surroundings, discarding journalistic approach. Her series on the eunuch ‘Mona Ahmed’ marked a critical point at which she chose to go her own way as a photographer. ‘I am as I am’ (1999) was an intimate series that portrayed female inmates of an ashram in Benares.

Her portrait series ‘Ladies of Calcutta’ and ‘Privacy’ depicted the world of her own origins - that of her family and friends from the higher class. With ‘Go Away Closer’ she started working in an increasingly free and associative manner. The absence of people was manifest in empty rooms and spaces and in remarkable still life images of day-to-day objects. ‘Blue Book’ and ‘Dream Villa’ remain omnipresent in details and even in the color and light.

Tracing Anju Dodiya’s artistic trajectory

The new set of large works on paper by Anju Dodiya on display in France refers to the prints with images of samurais that Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), an artist of the Ukiyo-e School. Ukiyo-e (meaning Pictures of the Floating World) was a school of popular art which depicted, in paintings, woodblock prints and books, life in urban Japan from the 17th to the 19th Century.

The prints have been frequently acknowledged as a prime source of imagery for Anju Dodiya, who finds inspiration in a rather wide range of things, including cinema, and popular culture (from comics to advertising). The artist is also influenced by Persian and Indian miniatures, European tapestries from the Middle Ages, Renaissance Art, Classical Chinese and Japanese Painting, and different modern and contemporary artists, such as Antonin Artaud, Robert Rauschenberg and Francesco Clemente.

Rather than creating pastiches with images and ideas from all these sources, she uses them, as well as stories from different literary and mythological narratives, and, of course, her own fantasies, to explore issues of identity and self-examination. Anju Dodiya’s work is rooted in Oriental traditions, using images as a vehicle of storytelling.

Figures tend to appear in isolation or besides a few props. Ground is only indicated by the weight implied in the exaggerated folds of the voluminous garments worn by the characters, and also by possible distortions of perspective. Figures are depicted in exaggerated movements and their balance is unstable, being always in motion. They are also very expressive, suggesting a diverse range of feelings. When they wear masks, her characters underline ideas of role playing, narrative and intention beyond aesthetic accomplishment.

The world of imagination or ideas is clearly more important than that of verisimilitude and observation. In the group of her new works at Galerie Daniel Templon, the image of the artist working in the studio as a samurai – we see her painting, sometimes split in two characters, while adopting dynamic martial art postures.

This is a good metaphor to convey the life of the artist as someone dedicated to sacrifice, discipline, pain, tradition or service, like that of the Japanese warriors. Anju Dodiya, whose body often appears also tormented in her work, has already represented herself as a samurai in ‘Holding the Mountain’ (1996).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Traversing ‘Indian (Sub)Way’

‘Indian (Sub)Way’ at London based Grosvenor Vadehra, deals with the various facets of challenging day-to-day existence in the country marked by opulence as well as its seamier underside that defines the edgy, subterranean its theme.

The exhibition, curated by renowned art critic-curator Yashodhara Dalmia, highlights the country’s weak infrastructure, widening economic disparity and the failure of governance. Among 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.

They question today’s consumerist culture, pointedly questioning the relationship between use and value, as well as highlighting contradictions inherent in everyday life with a touch of irony and crude aesthetic, at times. A curatorial note elaborates: “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 globalization has introduced sweeping changes within cities and has not left villages untouched.

"The artists seem to ask 'Where indeed is the 'Indian Way' heading? Several contemporary Indian artists collectively scan with an ironical tinge, the new glittering towers and glitzy malls juxtaposed with the slums, cesspools and other detritus of existence. The extreme well being and cringing deprivations now largely provide the binaries of existence.”

The show comprises paintings, installations, photographs and digital works by contemporary artists. They articulate in a forthright manner their experiences of living in current challenging climate. It is Ravinder Reddy's sensuous head - both iconic in its gaze albeit punctuated by hubris – that characterizes the undercurrents of this interesting show. Its theme well could be underlined by Gigi Scaria’s large digital work. In both a humorous and poignant vein it denotes the metropolis with its ever growing pleasure zones and business districts. The high-rises, which rest on either side of a damaged flyover with traffic flowing smoothly below, build a dramatic interface.

The participating artists collectively point to the uneven form of development creates bizarre, somewhat comic situations where an eclectic internationalism jostles with the local, even archaic modes. For this, they invent devices that hone in on the glaring contradictions of existing in a country moving ahead on a curvilinear highway in spite of its problem areas.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Studio Mumbai at Victoria &Albert Museum, London

One of the projects in the London based Victoria &Albert Museum (V&A) Cast Courts developed by Studio Mumbai as part of the series 'retreat' was done in collaboration with Kate Dineen and Michael Anastassiades. Entitled 'Inbetween Architecture', it came on in leaps & bounds in just a few days of the structured on-site construction.

The project incidentally was modeled on dwellings that were directly behind the architects’ studio located in Mumbai. It examined unauthorized architecture, constituting more than half of the cityscape. Echoing the parasitic settlements, which tend to develop in ‘in-between’ spaces, the structure essentially represented an architectural ‘cast’ of a prevailing sliver of dwelling space.

The original dwelling, home to a family of eight, occupied a very narrow corridor that was formed between a grouping of ubiquitous industrial buildings. Bijoy Jain and Michael Anastassiades discussed their shared values as well as their plans of building an in-between home more as a retreat in the V&A's Cast Courts. The film also includes home-made footage in which they record their Indian muses and sources. The latter stated in an interview:
“One evening we walked through this narrow slither, basically sandwiched between the outside wall of a warehouse and the boundary wall of a property and in there was a series of dwellings. The light was very low and the lights inside those dwellings were on and it was an amazing experience.

"Human beings have a deep connection with architectural spaces. If a structure is built with consideration for the people who will live in it, they will love it. When we had the brief we had this idea of refuge, shelter, a place for contemplation, a place for worship and in many ways these dwellings have that quality where they have all these sort of built in."
Studio Mumbai is an architecture firm co-founded by Bijoy and Priya Jain. It incidentally makes the best of easily available resources to come up with some truly innovative architectural solutions. These always keep in mind the human element. The new work by Studio Mumbai courtesy V&A was inspired by both human ingenuity and nature. Its minimalist, rather earthy aesthetic found a much-deserved mention at Venice Biennale 2010.

Monday, October 4, 2010

‘Architects Build Small Spaces’ in a unique international project

The Victoria &Albert (V&A) Museum based in London commissioned a special group of internationally known architects.the core theme of the 'retreat' The idea behind the exercise was to create a series of structures, which responded to .

This was a unique experimental project that formed part of ‘Architects Build Small Spaces’ series. The starting point for it was based on the idea of a tiny enclosed space that represented an escape from the humdrum of city life to a secluded for seeking peace, contemplation, creativity or shelter. One of the main aims of the exhibit was to move away from merely explaining architecture through models and drawings. Instead it let the visitor experience the architecture itself. A curatorial note explained:
“Architecture is intrinsically part of our daily experience. Yet architecture exhibits, with their emphasis on drawings, models and photographs, sometimes deny their audience an engagement with actual buildings. Using the landscape of the Museum as a test site, the V&A invited nineteen architects to submit proposals for structures that examine notions of refuge and retreat. From these nineteen concept submissions, seven were selected for construction at full-scale.

“Small spaces such as these can push the boundaries and possibilities of creative practice. A shift in scale towards smaller, bespoke structures encourages a heightened sensitivity to materials, texture and proportion. A renewed clarity emerges, allowing architects a freedom of expression that often struggles to survive in larger building projects.”
According to Bijoy Jain, the sort of unauthorized structures within the city are of found materials from metal sheets, ply, wood etc. They are dredged materials available in the city surroundings and are rather noble in their quality. What’s critical, according to the architect , is they were taking the natural light emanating from the roof that is exactly how these spaces tend to work also since they are very tight and constricted.

The LKA art show in conjunction with the Commonwealth Games

Curator Rupika Chawla’s had a simple brief to the participating artists for the ambitious art show, revolving around three components - represent the spirit of sports, the capital city of Delhi and urban life in general.

The show organized at the New Delhi based Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA) in conjunction with the Commonwealth Games had on display a work each by over 100 artists from Indian. Renowned photographer Raghu Rai was also invited to showcase the work in keeping with the theme.

Apart from a special work of the late Manjit Bawa, several younger and promising artists like Mithu Sen, Ved Gupta, Thukral and Tagra displayed their innovative works. Several other renowned artists who showcased their works were Ram Kumar, Satish Gujral, Manu Parekh, Anjoli Ela Menon, Jatin Das, Akbar Padamsee, and A Ramchandran, among others.

The established art galleries in the city were requested by LKA to send different works by about 10 artists each. And barring a few exceptions, the works were commissioned for this special show. Among them are paintings, photographs, videos and sculptures. The curatorial brief for the artists, as mentioned above, was to stick to the event’s celebratory mood.

Accordingly, they created works, which largely steered clear of any controversy and ambivalence. A reflective mood, probably inescapable, pervades works with the city of Delhi as their core subject. The idea of the Lalit Kala Akademi behind organizing this unique show was to lend an artistic flavor to the Games. The event incidentally showcased some of the best talent on the Indian art scene, including several prominent artists.

Importantly, most of the paintings on view were made in the last couple of months specifically for the Games. LKA also initiated an idea of big hoardings of these works for installing them at major viewpoints across the city. After the Games are over, these will be auctioned and the proceeds donated to the Artists Welfare Fund.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

‘Besides Paris’: Artists with their hearts and roots in India

An important exhibition at the Birla Academy of Art & Culture, Kolkata, entitled ‘Besides Paris’ featured the works of 18 noteworthy artists residing and working in France. Inaugurated in September, the show gave viewers an opportunity to see exquisite works of art, put together by curator Shaheen Meral. The curator stated:
“From Sher-Gil to the gamut of artists at present living and working in Paris – from the oldest arriving in the 50s to the more recent adventurers, all have been moved by the magnetic pull of this grand city.”
The wide variety of works on view included varied styles and mediums. The title read: ‘Besides Paris’. Yes indeed, there was a world beyond Paris, though for hundreds of years, several artists chose to live and work in the country and made it their home. Writing about the show, Jhupu Adhikari stated in an article:
“I remember hitchhiking my way through France to reach Paris, just so that I could walk the streets that so many illustrious artists had done before me, hoping to see the sights that they had recreated in their immortal works. The exhibition is also special in many ways. To begin with, it has been designed to optimize the drama of each work, with interesting and specially lit niches and alcoves. It brings to the Indian public, the works of senior artists who have made Paris their home for decades along with young painters with new techniques and finally, it shows us that no matter where an Indian artist goes, his heart remains in India."
The exhibit started with the works by Amrita Sher-Gil, whose work ‘Mother and Child’ forms part of The Birla Academy’s precious collection. It reminded that the artist’s stint in Paris to study art, where she also discovered her strong Indian roots.

The exhibition was divided in two broad sections, namely ‘Sacred Modernities’ and ‘Celestial Bodies’. The first section brings us the works of artists Sujata Bajaj, Anju Chaudhuri, Narayan Akkitham, Lakshmi Dutt, Bhawqani Katoch, Rajendra Dhawan, SH Raza, Viswanadan Velu, and Inderjeet Sahdev. The second section included works by Madhu Mangal Basu, Sakti Burman, Maya Burman, Utpal Chakraborty, Gadadhar Ojha, Sharmila Roy, Debesh Goswami, Nitin Shroff, and Jiwan Singh.