Friday, September 30, 2011

Solo of recent works by artist Vijay Belgave

A solo exhibition of recent works by Vijay Belgave takes place at Jamaat Gallery, Munbai. He is an artist that the gallery is proud to have discovered in 1999, when the venue was opened. Since then the artist has been featured in several of its group and solo shows.

He has developed wonderfully over time. Incidentally, his works in this solo show are a far cry from the dark albeit brilliant works the gallery first showed. Originally from Latur, a city of Maharashtra, Vijay Blegave moved to Mumbai after the shattering earthquake there. He only survived by taking refuge in a temple as the modest family home was destroyed. Greatly influenced by the destruction, sorrow and misery there, his works showed a touch of pain and reflected the darkness in his home town to an extent.

Living and surviving in the city, finding success and love, he moved to better materials, brighter hues, more sophisticated imagery, continuing to work in his genre of painting on canvas. His icons were expressive, reflective faces, elegant and moving in their compositions.

A gallery note mentions that ‘Memories/memoirs’ is his new show, in which he has stepped out and shown his childhood games as a fond memory with his muse , the reflective feminine face. Using mixed media, photography, oils, pastels, inks, the artist has a more mature composition and muted palate. Dwelling on his childhood, a carefree, happy time that was, Vijay Blegave bring us his memories in his painted memoirs.

His art tends to revolve around the themes of love and the pain emanating out of unmet expectations. The love could be of different shades and hues as he sees it. He has been inspired by the simplicity of the rusty rural life, especially by sensitive albeit strong womenfolk there. He can see their pathos and pain of those unfulfilled dreams coming across. His paintings carry wide expanses of empty spaces with innovative textures spluttered with a few abstract forms and the stylized figures that convey the theme of unbounded love.

An online auction sets new benchmark for late Tyeb Mehta’s work

Saffronart, India’s leading online auction house, reported that more than half of all lots on offer in their just concluded Autumn Auction of Modern & contemporary Indian art were sold. More than 70 percent of them went for above their respective higher estimate.

A painting by late Tyeb Mehta took the top lot slot. It fetched $ 1,565,000. According to a press release, The Saffronart Autumn Online Auction of Modern and Contemporary Indian Art that took place online from September 21-22, featured 70 works by 33 artists exclusively on

The world’s leading luxury car maker, Mercedes-Benz supported the Saffronart Autumn Online Auction. The major highlight of the unique partnership was the special unveiling of a customized Mercedes-Benz S-Class 'Art Edition'. One of the two exquisite limited edition cars was specially designed for commemorating the alliance between Mercedes-Benz and Saffronart.

The Saffronart Autumn Auction of Modern & contemporary Indian art It featured works by artists like MF Husain, Arpita Singh, Jehangir Sabavala and SH Raza,apart from those of top contemporary artists such as Atul Dodiya, Shibu Natesan, Surendran Nair, Anju Dodiya and Subodh Gupta. The lots on offer were characterized by a strong focus on aesthetic quality and competitive estimates. The auction saw participation from collectors across the world, and closed with a total sale value of $ 4.09 million.

Legendary artist Tyeb Mehta ‘s work achieved the record price for a painting in the country. One of his untitled works (an oil painting done on a 59x47” canvas depicting a human figure) was sold for $1.5 million (Rs 7.19 crore). It thus became the most expensive painting ever sold in India. The previous record for Tyeb Mehta's most priciest painting sold in the country stood at Rs 5.7 crore (‘Kali’ sold earlier this year).

You may get the complete auction analysis here:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

'Never think too much about the market...'

The Indian art market witnessed a tremendous boom especially as the new millennium set in. Prices reached a new peak between the years 2000 and 2007. The rise was indeed unprecedented! As a result, most people unaware of nuances of investing in art, turned to galleries that mushroomed during the heady phase. Auction prices set new records and several Indian art funds were launched...

Sadly, the whole scenario changed in a couple of months and the world was hit by financial scandals, recession and the market crash. Art too, suffered. Suddenly flow to art funds dried, galleries started shutting shop and investors shunned the auctions that were anyway few and far between. Suddenly the spectacular success stories of artists like Tyeb Mehta, Souza and Subodh Gupta, selling at over a million dollars, became inconsequential. It left many new-starters asking: “Is art really a good investment?”

In essence, art as an investment option has received extreme set of reactions, as the situation has swung from positive to negative and good to worse and now again slowly settling down a bit. Moving away from these short-term reactions, several research-based studies have been conducted world over that compare the long-term average financial returns of art as an asset class vis-à-vis more traditional investment tools.

The studies have compared the art index performance with returns generated by equities and bonds. Some of them track as much as three centuries of data. The study done by New York University professors Michael Moses and Jian Ping Mei, among the most popular with art professionals, suggests that art has not outperformed the Dow Jones industrial index or S&P 500.

In spite of the under-performance, if people buy art, it's because they love art! As celebrated art collector Charles Saatchi has famously remarked: “I never think too much about the market. I don't mind paying three or four times the market value of a work that I really want.” There's a lesson to be learnt here...

Subodh Gupta to help his home state 'develop'

The state government of Bihar, according to a recent news report in The Times of India has decided to involve India’s top contemporary artist, Subodh Gupta, on active basis in a number of development projects. These include the proposed international museum and the centenary celebrations of the state.

A report by Pranava Kumar Chaudhary mentions: “Subodh Gupta, who was recently in town on an invite from the state government, also met Anjani K Singh, HRD principal secretary, also the nodal officer of these state projects. The two discussed the key details of the above projects.

Trained as a painter, Subodh Gupta has experimented with a variety of new and traditional media. His works encompass painting, photography, sculpture, installation, performance and video. Best known for his ability to incorporate ordinary objects of day-to-day usage in his art like steel lunch boxes, pans and milk pails, he has attained international fame. At a broader level, Subodh Gupta’s paintings and sculpture installations map the shifts occurring in the national cultures in the context of the modern world’s life.

An accompanying note to his twin solos simultaneously on view at Old Bond Street galleries and London based Hauser & Wirth in 2009 elaborated: “In his works, the artist deftly moves towards objects possessing an auratic quality, away from composite sculptures. Readymade commodities tend to experience transformations in material and scale, transmogrifying into extraordinary artifacts from being mere factory-produced items. He presents subject matters employing culturally loaded mediums like bronze, marble and steel.

“Their symbolism varies from the universal to the enigmatic. And their emotional impact can range from menace to nostalgia. Appropriated icons from the canon of Western art accompany replicas of perishable, interchangeable goods typically associated with India, and items whose import is specific to him.”

To sum up, Subodh Gupta’s work embodies the clash between individual and impersonal experience in contemporary society.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

‘Camulodunum’ the UK-based firstsite’s inaugural exhibition

An inaugural exhibition, entitled ‘Camulodunum’, at the new venue of the UK-based Firstsite features works by Ai Weiwei, Michaela Eichwald, Richard Hawkins, Barbara Hepworth, Sarah Lucas, Cildo Meireles, Henry Moore, Aleksandra Mir, Grayson Perry, The Neo Naturists, Karin Ruggaber, Robert Smithson, John Benjamin Stone, JMW Turner, Danh Vo, Rebecca Warren, Bill Woodrow, Andy Warhol and Subodh Gupta from India.

firstsite is a contemporary visual arts organization based in Colchester, striving to make contemporary art relevant to everyone. Its integrated program includes projects, exhibitions and publications by established and emerging artists, as well as extensive learning opportunities and artists’ support initiatives.

Over the last fifteen years or so, the institution has gained a strong reputation by presenting ambitious work with a belief that contemporary art offers fresh perspectives on contemporary life. firstsite is continually looking for ways to encourage dialogues between artists and audiences. The grand civic opening of its spectacular new building has just taken place.

firstsite’s inaugural exhibition takes its title from Colchester’s ancient name, Camulodunum, meaning ‘fortress of the war god’. The town’s heritage as a centre of power for the ancient king Cunobelin (mythologised as William Shakespeare’s Cymbeline) and the principal city of Roman Britain, is the starting point for an exhibition of contemporary art that considers how history is recovered, represented and reenacted.

'Camulodunum' draws directly on themes embedded in firstsite’s new architecture. Located in a town where modern buildings neighbour monuments to antiquity, the firstsite building is designed to stand on ancient land without disturbing the remains of the unexcavated Roman buildings beneath.

New works commissioned from international contemporary artists Michaela Eichwald, Aleksandra Mir, Karin Ruggaber and Danh Vo are presented with loans from major public collections and objects from the town’s important archaeological holdings. Camulodunum explores themes of excavation, ritual and reenactment, gathering anecdotes from literature, popular culture and local legend.

The exhibition considers how artworks negotiate their relationship to artifacts in the museum, the notion of objects as a source of information and the idea of contemporary culture as future historical record.

Indian nominees for the prestigious SAM prize

A shortlist of finalists for the prize courtesy the Singapore Museum for a prestigious art prize, worth $ 45,000, would be announced on October 1. The names of the winners would be declared on November 18.

The museum has also invited the public to actively participate in the People’s Choice Award and vote for their favorite work. On 17 November, five winners including one Grand Prize winner (SGD 45,000), three Jurors’ Choice Award winners (SGD 10,000 each) and one People’s Choice Award winner (SGD 10,000), will be announced at the APB Foundation Signature Art Prize Awards Ceremony.

While the Grand Prize and Jurors’ Choice Awards will be conferred by the judging panel following a viewing of the installed works, the People’s Choice Award will be presented to the public’s most loved work.

Supporters can nominate their favourite finalist work for the award online at from 1 October 2011 or cast their votes in person at the Asia Pacific Foundation Signature Art Prize 2011 Finalists Exhibition. Those who vote will stand the chance to win an Apple MacBook Air, or receive one of 20 limited edition commemorative catalogues about the Prize, the finalists and their artwork.

The mission of the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is to preserve and promote the contemporary art practices of Singapore and the Southeast Asian region. Opened in January 1996, SAM has focused on contemporary Southeast Asian art and art practices.

Among the Indian nominees, New Delhi based Atul Bhalla's ‘Chabeel’ (2008) explores the significance of water to the urban environ and people of his city. Prabhavathi Meppayil's untitled series (2010) makes use of a goldsmith's tool) on a lime gesso panel. 'Meet at Last/ the Hug’ (2010) by Ravi Shah uses wood from the champak flower tree. ‘The Water Divininer’ (2008) by Shebha Chhachhi is an installation infused with video, books, light boxes, elements like light and water etc. Shreyas Karle's collage print on paper is also among the nominated works.

The Singapore Art Museum's prize

Five Indian artists, namely Atul Bhalla, Prabhavathi Meppayil, Ravi Shah, Sheba Chhachhi and Shreyas Karle, have been nominated by the Singapore Museum for a prestigious art prize, worth $ 45,000. Their works are part of a total of 130 selected from 24 countries vying for the triennial Signature Art Prize.

The prize, set up in 2008, recognizes significant works from the Asia Pacific region. Suman Gopinath and Pooja Sood, two leading art professionals, have nominated the artists with works spanning an array OF mediums like painting, drawing, print, mixed media, installation and photography, and discuss a wide range of issues such as social and environment concerns.

Apart from India, entries for the prize have also been received from countries such as Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Myanmar, Nepal, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia), South Korea, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Established in 1996, Singapore Art Museum boasts a large collection of modern & contemporary Southeast Asian works of art. It is incidentally partnering National Museum of India. In February 2010, it had shown princely artifacts from the Mughal era featuring nearly 400 jeweled works like household items, jewelry, weapons etc sourced from private collection.

The Director of Singapore Art Museum, Mr. Tan Boon Hui, states, “As a museum dedicated to contemporary art of the region, SAM is keen to bring together all these finalist artworks and showcase these marks of distinction in Asia Pacific contemporary art in our galleries.

The Signature Art Prize is one-of-its-kind in this part of the world, and is a wonderful and democratic way to recognize good, quality work by artists in the region, regardless of their origins or whether they are established or just emerging. The impressive range of works and artistic concepts reflected will undoubtedly give visitors further insight into the region and its distinctive and dynamic contemporary art practice.”

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A solo exhibition of new works by artist Srinivasa Prasad

‘Nirantara’ is the title of a solo show of recent works by talented artist Srinivasa Prasad that takes place at Gallery Ske, Bangalore. Here’s the artist’s statement about his series:

In this show, I have attempted the narrative exploration of the idea of home. Home as residence and as refuge, home as a physical locale and as an emotional state of seeking a place for solace and comfort. Humans, animals and birds build their homes according to their needs and the changes in nature where space gets transformed and renewed.

In 'Nirantara', the sculptures denote the metaphorical ideas of home - as a resting place. The sculptures explore the idea of creating spaces that are meditative. The word Nirantara, meaning incessant, continuous is at play in this body of work.

Most materials used in this show have been used at least once before they have been brought here. Recycled materials live through this world in different forms in different lives; these works bring to fore many of their earlier, varied forms of existence. Using recycled materials I have explored the idea of home in different ways. In 'Igloo', old utilitarian household objects are covered in used clothes and together the objects become the walls of the igloo. The final form resembles a patchwork quilt and is reminiscent of a nomad’s lifestyle.

Giving shape to worlds that can be explored by the viewer, I have tried to create a feeling of overflow like in the work 'Routine' where the hexagon shaped balls are placed to give a sense of overwhelming excessiveness. In 'Usiru', (the word means breath in Kannada) a boulder covered laboriously with newspaper pulp stands with a flag swaying briskly at its centre.

Another work 'Rebirth' looks at giving space a shape and its scope for changes. Rebirth is built over sacks of waste materials. It is made of recycled gunny. The inside of the tent is festive representing the joy of living that exists everywhere, irrespective of whether it is a slum or an affluent home. The photographs in the show are of works done around my home in Sagara and address the irony inherent in the landscape.

(Information courtesy: Gallery Ske, Bangalore)

Indian art and artists map global trends

Many upcoming and talented artists from the country are looking to break into new vistas of expression, keen to share their socio-political concerns in a new idiom, which is their very own.
Artists belonging to the new-age, dynamic India are clearly influenced by global developments in contemporary art thanks to greater exposure to the international art world.

Importantly, they are striving to maintain a balanced relationship with Western art based on an identity deeply rooted in the rich artistic and cultural traditions of the country. Indian art and artists have truly gone global with a string of shows – solo as well as group – involving both established and emerging artists.

An investigation into a wide array of themes encompassing today’s concerns and burning social issues drawn from their immediate milieu and touching the common people’s lives, these artists are leaving their distinct mark on the global art scene.

Among the areas of their interest are areas conflicts around urbanism, politics and mythology, culture and myths, and a re-visitation of Indian art history as well as popular culture. The issues of class and migration, and rising volatility or violence within South & West Asia are reflected as subject matter in their work.

Several leading artists of this new generation are known for their proven ability to successfully engage with a spectrum of new media, encompassing painting and sculptural installation, video and performance – deftly blending them. Their dominating positions in a growingly complex and globalized world only reflect the rising stature of India as a country in the last decade or so.

Mention must be made of talented artists like D Ebenezer Sunder Singh, Nikhileswar Baruah, Amarnath Sharma, Heeral Trivedi, Rahul Chowdhury, Jignasa Doshi, Hindol Brahmabhatt, Jagannath Mohapatra, George Martin, Théodore Mesquita, Nitish Bhattacharjee, Prasanta Sahu, Jagdish Chander, Anu Agarwal and Meetali Singh. Mention must also be made of those like Subodh Gupta, Riyas Komu, Atul Dodiya, Chintan Upadhyay, Bose Krishnamachari, Baiju Parthan and T. V. Santhosh, among others, who all work in a diverse range of genres, styles, subjects and mediums.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A new series of works by Atul Dodiya

A new series of works by Atul Dodiya, entitled ‘Bako exists. Imagine’ takes place at Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai. An accompanying note states that ‘Bako exists. Imagine’ is a text-based work which consists of twelve paintings and an installation with nine wooden cabinets. It adds: “These poetic episodes are based on a fiction, written in Gujarati by a major contemporary Gujarati poet Labhshanker Thaker.

Bako is a young boy who meets Bapu - Mahatma Gandhi, in his sleep. In fact, they both meet each other in their sleep and talk. A kind of fantasy, which allows and evokes childhood memories... There is no fence of age between this old man and the young boy. They joke, they laugh, they talk abstract.

In these twelve blackboard paintings, along with the cabinet installation, autobiographical references gradually mingle into a larger creative journey. The intention is – the viewer no more remains an outsider but subconsciously, becomes an invisible character involved along with Baka and Bapu in this hilarious fantasy.

Pioneering the first generation of artists from India who identify themselves as postmodern and global, Atul Dodiya's work accesses a rich vocabulary of stylistic and iconographic allusions from both Indian and Western art, along with imagery and ideas rooted in film, history, popular culture, and literature. He is renowned for use of clever quotational tricks and compositional witticisms, along with an exceptional mastery over a full range of styles that encourage frequent improvisation and reinvention.

Atul Dodiya, born in 1959 in Mumbai, is considered one of the flag bearers of the new generation of postmodern Indian arts. His work is marked for the richness of its stylistic vocabulary along with iconographic references essentially rooted in Indian and Western art history. Known to be a painter with grasp of quotation and composition, he has attained fame internationally for his iconic work.

New art and culture revolution across an Asian giant

As auction houses get ready for their fall art sales, it is expected that Chinese collectors will give a boost to the market, likely to raise their paddles for big-ticket works in spite of global economic turmoil. With the nation’s economy thriving, collectors there have turned a growingly powerful force in the art market, exhibiting a palpable interest in both Western and Asian art.

At spring sale of Sotheby’s, a Chinese buyer acquired one of that evening’s priciest paintings; it was ‘Femme Lisant (Deux Personnages)’ by Picasso, picked up for $21.3 million. At the auction house Lebarbe (Toulouse, France), a Chinese buyer with a $31 million bid happened to set a new French record in March for exotic Chinese art - a scroll painting from Beijing’s Imperial Palace.

An anonymous telephone bidder, believed to be Chinese, paid a whopping $106.5 million last year for ‘Nude, Green Leaves and Bust’ by Picasso at Christie’s. It was a record for an artwork t at auction. It has been observed that Chinese auction houses are apparently offering works of art at a pace that was associated with those in New York and London formerly.

A renowned company, which tracks the fine-art market, Artprice, has reported that they were mostly responsible for around $8.3 billion in sales. The figure would more certainly make them the undisputed world leader.

“We have observed exponential growth especially by mainland Chinese buyers brought up during the Cultural Revolution,” stated Sotheby’s vice chairman (Asian art), Henry Howard-Sneyd, who added. “These are successful businessmen having huge amounts of money at their disposal.”

A news report (China’s New Cultural Revolution - A Surge in Art Collecting) by Robin Pogrebin mentions: “The auction market is clearly responding to the new rising demand. Sotheby’s held its first ever exhibition last year for the private sale of works of art specifically for the growing Asian market. It featured Monets, Chagalls and Picassos that fetched in the range of $2 million to $25 million.”

Saturday, September 24, 2011

China dominates the art collecting landscape

A news report (China’s new cultural revolution) by Robin Pogrebin in The New York Times mentions: “The auction market is clearly responding to the new rising demand. Sotheby’s held its first ever exhibition last year for the private sale of works of art specifically for the growing Asian market. It featured Monets, Chagalls and Picassos that fetched in the range of $2 million to $25 million.”

Here are the indicators and also the observations that support the proposition of a new cultural revolution that is apparently sweeping across China:
  • This year Christie’s appointed Chinese representatives in both New York and London to develop new clients in Asia and manage relations with Christie’s most important private collectors from mainland China and Asia.

  • The current Chinese influx is fueled by the sort of new wealth that has made the country home to the world’s largest number of billionaires, according to the Hurun Rich List 2010, China’s version of the Forbes 400. The number of Chinese billionaires is expected to increase 20 percent each year through 2014, according to Artprice.

  • The surge in Chinese collecting is not just a reflection of new wealth, experts say, but also a reaction to the repressive Mao years when the country was denied culture. For the Chinese, who watched art disparaged as a frivolous exercise except when put to didactic use, the freedom to explore simple aesthetic pleasures, to repossess historical works and to show off recent affluence has been liberating.

  • The tide of buying is in some ways an effort to make up for lost time. “In China, for 50 or 60 years, nothing happened,” observed Vishakha N. Desai, the president of Asia Society. “That’s a big break. The last 250 years were years of humiliation. They now feel an obligation to prize art again and bring it back.”

  • To some extent, auction experts say, the Chinese regard art not only as a sound way to diversify their portfolios but also as a tested means to project status as they interact with international business executives.

A backgrounder to Pearl Lam in context of its India-China show

‘Window in the Wall: India and China - Imaginary Conversations’, a new group show courtesy Pearl Lam has been curated by Gayatri Sinha, a renowned art critic and curator based in New Delhi, and Professor Gao Minglu, a curator, critic and professor at the University of Pittsburgh, USA.

Gayatri Sinha is the author of several books focused primarily on the structures of gender and iconography, media, economics and social history in India. As a curator she has worked extensively in India and abroad, most notably at the India Art Summit, the Newark Museum, the National Museum in New Delhi, and the National Gallery of Modern Art among others.

Gao Minglu’s many publications explore the changing relationship between global art movements and Chinese tradition. He is particularly interested in Chinese art from the 1970s to the present and his exhibitions on the subject are among the most important ever assembled in the U.S. and China.

Pearl Lam Galleries was originally founded as Contrasts Gallery in Hong Kong in 1992 by Pearl Lam. Both the Fine Art and Design Gallery are at the vanguard of the global art and cultural scene. Pearl Lam Fine Art focuses on nurturing and promoting a stable of cross-cultural and cross-discipline Chinese artists along with a select handful of international artists, all of whose work is a recreation and extension of traditions.

These artists react to and against Western influences and the established Western cannon to create a new aesthetic or visual language. As part of this mission, Pearl Lam Fine Art collaborates with renowned curators who present influential and groundbreaking shows that question perceptions of Chinese contemporary art and explore the crossing of cultures, East and West.

Pearl Lam Design shows works by established and emerging international designers at its design gallery in Shanghai and design fairs around the world. Designers are invited to push the boundaries of traditional Chinese art and craft techniques to create new works that often reflect their experiences in China or some notable aspect of Chinese culture.

‘A Window in the Wall’

Pearl Lam Fine Art presents a new group show, entitled ‘Window in the Wall: India and China - Imaginary Conversations’.

An explanatory note to this major art show explains how China and India are now the world’s two most populous and powerful nations with the fast-growing economies, adding that both countries are right on the cusp of a new global order that puts them at the center of world scrutiny.

“As a consequence of their rise in prominence, Chinese and Indian art are playing a more significant role in the international art market with some Indian and Chinese artists attracting a global following. Relations between India and China date back to ancient times. Both their cultures reflect an artistic and humanist exchange. Today through economic and diplomatic ties spurred by their rapid growths, they have entered into mutually beneficial dialogue,” it elaborates.

"The past in India and China is essentially viewed as a spiritual realm, whereas the present relates to the fast-transient materialistic world - a commercial and industrial playground. The metaphor of the wall in this exhibit denotes not only the relation between the past & the present, but also extends itself to a demarcation of two contrasting cultural extremities: introversion and extroversion, spirituality and materialism. The coexistence of these two opposing extremities has influenced and shaped the two cultures."

It tends to reflect these two extremities in a coexistence of reality and fiction, imaginary past and futuristic visions. For example, relating to the universal theme of existential exploration, photographer and video artist Cui Xiuwen transcends gender, culture and time in her Existential Emptiness series (2009).

Selected Indian and Chinese works from Window in the Wall were on view at Pearl Lam Fine Art’s booth at the 5th edition of SH-Contemporary 2011, Asia Pacific Contemporary Art Fair, from September 8-10, at the Shanghai Exhibition Center. ‘A Window in the Wall’ continues at the gallery venue until November 9, 2011.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A quick glance at the works on view courtesy Pearl Lam

A new exhibition courtesy Pearl Lam Fine Art presents an array of works from fifteen noteworthy contemporary Indian and Chinese artists. Some of the highlights of the works that form part of the show, ‘Window in the Wall’, are as follows:

‘Familiar Music from the Old Theatre’ (2011), an interesting work by artist Manjunath Kamath, reveals an imaginary narrative, where the essential enigmatic nature of the images and its meaning are in flux, open to viewer interpretation.

Chinese artist Tan Xun's sculptural installation Limingzhuang Program Column series (2008) is based on historical inspiration and reflects on cultural identity. Scenes inspired by Song Dynasty poems have been carved onto Qin dynasty wooden beams. Without an attempt to disguise the material or its function, a daily object is transformed into a sculptural work to serve as a testament of the artist’s cultural identity.

Drawn from the ephemeral, the narrative here functions as a way to perceive the world, pointing to the possibilities of the unspoken, unrevealed events. Elements of pop, mythology and media are combined to create surreal and naturalistic worlds.

A surreal combination of reality and the imaginary is present in the work Equator (2011) by video artist and sculptor Gigi Scaria. This photoscape tries to investigate the relationship between society and architecture, urban structures and social displacement. The work explores the impact of the recent boom in Asian cities, such as New Delhi and Shanghai, by establishing a liminal delineation that challenges the human psyche and its relationship with modern progress.

On the other hand, ‘Transit series’ (2011) executed by Mithu Sen provokes both humor and serious consideration. Combining watercolors and collages, these intimate works invite response to subjective experiences of femininity and identity through memories of transition. The imagery links the kitschy femininity of flowers arrangements with anatomic details and linear configurations that transform into ornamental structure.

Motivations and aspirations of the Devi Art Foundation

Keen to facilitate the aware viewership of creative expression and dynamic artistic practice in India, the Devi Art Foundation has emerged as a meaningful not-for-profit space that provides for innovation totally unconstrained by any commercial limitations. Its purpose is to offer talented artists from the region an art centre so that they can continue with engagement in cutting edge, experimental work.

The foundation hopes to interact closely with, as well as encourage emerging curators and critics, thus helping to give voice to their valid concerns, along with its aim to provide a proper platform for contemporary artists. By undermining geo-political divides, if any the foundation’s the objective is to foster an active dialogue amongst various art practitioners from within the whole Indian Sub-continent.

The core aim is to enhance the understanding of our region’s shared history. A series of lectures and talks are designed to be held along with a series of exhibitions in order to bridge the gap existing between production of art and a wider audience. Supplementing this activity is an education & outreach program to encourage a culture wherein art becomes a theme of active discussion and debate.

The New Delhi based foundation is spread over an area of 7500 sq ft, covering two floors. It focuses on two exhibits each year, curated largely out of the Lekha and Anupam Poddar Collection. These are on view for a substantial period of time to make way for engagement with the exhibits that look to explore relationship of contemporary Indian art with the global art-world and also the world ‘beyond the art-world’.

Throwing light on this underlying though, an essay by Kavita Singh had noted how in the past decade contemporary Indian art has gone global. By opening out itself to the world outside, it has brought in new opportunities, audiences, influences, means of production and forms of circulation. The exhibitions try to fathom how the shift in its place in the art-world has affected the art practice itself.

A group show, ‘The Generation in Transition’

‘The Generation in Transition’ exhibition presents some very important works of art by a young and emerging bunch of highly talented artists - of Indian origin, living and working in India, as well as residing in Europe and America. The works on view at Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warszawa also try to map the landscape of Polish-Indian cultural relations.

It’s probably the first extensive showcase of its kind encompassing contemporary art from this region being presented in Central Europe in the last several years. An accompanying note to the show mentions: “For about two decades now, India as a nation has been experiencing enormous economic as well as technological development that has had a marked impact on social structures. This dramatic change, with both its positive and negative aspects, is reflected in the works of most contemporary artists, especially the younger ones who have grown up in this interesting period of transition.

Providing a further backgrounder, the essay adds that the title of the show is drawn from that of a photographic series done by Anay Mann, known for portraits of his contemporaries, essentially an urban generation constantly seeking to define itself, trying to locate them and their place somewhere between local tradition and history, and the highly globalized and technicized reality they inhibit.

It explains: “Over the last ten years or so, contemporary art from India has become extremely popular. Big group exhibits have so far been conducted in Europe, the US and China. Private galleries – mostly from Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi– have built a local art marketplace and became important players on the global scale. Non-commercial organizations like the SARAI Centre for the Study of Developing Societies and KHOJ, as well as art-schools are opening up new spaces for independent ideas and art projects.

Following its presentation in Zachęta, the exhibition is to be shown in the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius. The curator of the show is Magda Kardasz who has conceptualized it in active cooperation from Anna Tomczak, Magdalena Komornicka and Sebastian Gawłowski. ‘The Generation in Transition’ continues until November 6, 2011.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A precursor to the APB Foundation Signature Art Prize

The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) has announced the 15 finalists shortlisted for the 2011 APB Foundation Signature Art Prize.

This year’s shortlist was selected from the 130 artworks which were nominated from 24 countries and territories for the Prize. The 15 finalists come from 14 countries and territories across Asia Pacific. Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam has one finalist each, while South Korea has two finalists.

Making the selection was the jury panel of five eminent art experts: Mr. Fumio Nanjo, Director, Mori Art Museum; Mr. Gregor Muir, Executive Director, Institute of Contemporary Arts London; Mr. Hendro Wijanto, leading Southeast Asian writer, critic and curator; Mr. Ranjit Hoskote, Curator of the India Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and leading South Asian poet-writer, curator and critic, and Mr. Tan Boon Hui, Director, SAM.

According to a statement from the jury panel, “The APB Foundation Signature Art Prize has proved to be highly competitive, not only because of the considerable number of nominated artworks, but also due to the sheer calibre and diversity of the artworks emerging from the region. Each of the 15 shortlisted works has stood out for its strength of concept and execution, and many are also extremely moving pieces.”

The Signature Art Prize does not rest on a system of national quotas. Rather, it recognizes the outstanding merit of the singular art-work or art project. Taken collectively, the artworks demonstrate the thriving vibrancy of art-making in Asia Pacific today. Asia Pacific artists extend and enrich their practices in diverse ways: by engaging with the heterogeneity of craft cultures, by addressing the fine-arts legacy, and through the critical application of new technologies.

The 15 finalists' works draw equally on the artists' personal experience and the historical trajectories of their societies. They reflect the artists' sophisticated responses to contemporary issues facing their region in a highly interconnected global present. The artworks also showcase the range of mediums and techniques used in contemporary art-making in the region. Their works will be on view at the Singapore Art Museum in November.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A recap of important shows at the DAF

Vernacular in the Contemporary – Part I

The exhibition focused on the vernacular and shifts the art historical and institutional terms for understanding and theorizing this cluster of visual art. Moreover, the show did foreground the diversity and contemporary relevance of vernacular artists’ personas, ideas and concerns through ambitious projects.

The exhibition featured the works of approximately sixty artists who practice a range of painting and sculpture. Most gained their artistic training in the family or community but today seek to explore and stretch their practice. Jackfruit and Devi Art Foundation created a curatorial agenda, which provides these artists space and resources to develop and execute new projects.

The exhibition was also an archival venture since artists were selected, interviewed and photographed in their studios and workspaces.

Vernacular in the Contemporary – Part II

This exhibition contained two sections, "Working Consciously" and "Working Reflectively". Artists in the first section were not just concerned with "working" but also interested in engaging, through their work, the world outside their art. Conscious of the ongoing impact the archive, current affairs and urbanization on their practice, they showed it both in terms of process and theme.

The second section of Part Two was dedicated to projects in which artists were concerned with working, not just with the world outside their workshop or studio, but now at a stage in their life or career where they could reflect on the history of their art form or their artistic community or personal career as an artist. Part Two exhibited artists who worked in the vernacular sphere in ways that ambitiously questioned the terms by which contemporary art is defined.

Importantly, Devi Art Foundation is expanding its portfolio of private institutional support by encouraging vernacular artists of India to magnify their scale of artistic production or to explore new themes. Devi Art Foundation’s support also seeks to create fresh public discourse and pedagogy through global contemporary and vernacular art today.

Top works of modern masters as well as contemporary artists on offer

India’s leading art auction house, Saffronart, will present the top works of modern masters as well as contemporary artists at its upcoming annual Autumn Online Auction. With 70 lots on offer, the sale will include a wide array of paintings, sculptures etc of exceptional quality and provenance by 32 leading Indian artists.

The auction catalogue comprises a wide array of both modern & contemporary Indian works of art. An eclectic selection of some extraordinary paintings by several modern masters like Tyeb Mehta, M.F. Husain, Ram Kumar, S.H. Raza, Arpita Singh and Jehangir Sabavala is on offer. This is in addition to truly outstanding works by top contemporary artists like Atul Dodiya, Subodh Gupta, Surendran Nair, Shibu Natesan and Anju Dodiya.

The total higher and lower estimates for the online auction are Rs. 35.2 crore and Rs. 26.7 crore (US$ 6- US$ 8 million). Collectors can place bids via proprietary Blackberry and iPhone mobile applications of Saffronart.

There are array of quality works on offer amongst the catchy contemporary lots. One of them is the 2007 canvas ‘Steal 1’ by Subodh Gupta, who has been fascinated by ubiquitous stainless steel utensils used in Indian kitchens. Emblematic of the proletariat’s aspirations, the unique path that the country has taken towards globalization, and the distinct place it has in the contemporary world, these vessels tend to take on several curious layers of meaning in his large canvases.

Representatives of his concerns with proliferating material culture and commoditization, the shiny buckets and bowls become vehicles for the artist’s quirky commentary on the values of mindless material production and consumption. On the other hand, a 2000 canvas, entitled ‘Epiphany: The Parable of the Swines’ by Surendran Nair is part of his ongoing body of works ‘Cuckoonebulopolis’.

The CEO and Co-founder of Saffronart, Dinesh Vazirani, has been quoted as saying: “The Autumn Auction reinforces our position as one of the most definitive modern & contemporary Indian art sources. The well-curated catalogue of artworks of strong provenance offers yet another opportunity for collectors globally to acquire the fine, quality works.”

A quick look at works on offer at Saffronart's online auction

The annual Autumn Online Auction courtesy Saffronart takes place at (September 21-22, 2011).

Among the exquisite works on offer, a 1981 portrait done by late Tyeb Mehta is on the catalogue cover. This meticulously executed work is fundamentally figurative body of paintings and sketches that he largely drew from personal experiences as well as images of survival and struggle, which haunted him all through his life. The white & ochre protagonist of present lot mirrors the androgynous and multi-limbed figure in Santiniketan, his seminal 1985 triptych. It’s currently in the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi collection.

This powerful and ageless figure exudes a sort of mythic presence, quite redolent of the familial gods of tribal people; a figure that would recur in many variations in his canvases during that particular decade and the next. This figure - half-seated, half-standing - and others from the same period, according to the artist, acted as modulating elements on his canvases instead of merely narrative ones.

Arpita Singh’s 2003 triptych ‘Tarot Card Reading’ is another monumental work in the online auction. She uses her typical vivid palette to make a comment, from her aging female protagonists’ perspective, on the uncertainty of the future as well as the vagaries of time. The multiple depictions of her subject, with her exposed spine and intestines and bent over form, denote a lifetime of fulfilling roles - internally and externally assigned - from goddess to lover and mother to wife.

As airplanes carry people in and out of her life as well as memories, rows of teacups and fluffy pillows allude to her domestic and private affairs. A romantic thread to the tempting tapestry is added by images of clothed lovers and passionate pink flowers, whereas a muddled clock-face and fading fragments of text, such as the women’s sagging flesh, point to the violence of the passage of time and also their fading recollections.

Summary of South Asian modern & contemporary art auctions

Paintings by acclaimed Indian artists including late Jehangir Sabavala and Maqbool Fida Husain, both of whom died this year, yielded $9.7 million in auctions by Christie’s and Sotheby’s last week as Asian, US and European buyers bid well above estimates.

The sale of South Asian Modern & Contemporary Art courtesy Christie’s in New York was undoubtedly dominated by MF Husain, who died a couple of months ago aged 92. MF Husain in the beginning of his career painted Hindi movie posters. He had no formal training as such in art.

A brief auction report in the International Herald Tribune mentioned: “The auction featured 13 paintings by Husain. All of them were easily sold, fetching $4.2m, only just short of the pre-sale high estimate: all the Husains alone accounted for over half of the overall sale total. Art buyers came from all across the world: the US, Europe and India.

The top lot, ‘Sprinkling Horses’ garnered $1.14m, slightly under $1.2m, which was its top estimate (estimates don’t comprise the buyer’s premium). Overall, the auction sale yielded close to $7.5 million, as 69 percent of the lots on offer sold. A private buyer from the US paid the highest price of $1.1 million for the oil painting.

According to an official statement from the international auction house, the Christie’s sale was worth $7.4 million. A sale by Sotheby’s in New York, on the other hand was worth $2.3 million, the auction house stated in a release.

Painting of a ‘Himalayan Beauty’ by legendary artist Raja Ravi Varma was grabbed for $266,500, almost 80 percent more than its high estimate, by a private European buyer. The famous painting passed though the family collection of Ravi Varma’s German printing technician. The world-renowned self-taught artist from India died in 1906.

The Christie’s sale of 13 Husain works fetched more than $4 million. On the other hand, his works went for close to $557,500 at the Sotheby’s art auction.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

M.F. Husain dominates the Indian auction scene

Late M.F. Husain’s famous work, entitled ‘Sprinkling Horses’, went for an impressive $1.14 million at the latest Christie’s auction. It was one of the highest price marks ever attained for a work of the Indian master, clearly a positive sign for the overall art market.

A sales estimate for the work was not made public. It was one of 13 works by Husain presented at Christie’s auction of South Asian modern & contemporary art that took place in New York. All paintings were sold, for of $4.2 million. A post by Margherita Stancati in The Wall Street Journal mentioned: “The subject of ‘Sprinkling Horses’– a dynamic depiction of horses paired with a human figure – is one of the hallmarks of Husain’s art.

Among other paintings included in the sale was 'Yatra' (1955), a representation of rural India. It sold for over $920,00, more than twice the average sales estimate. All of his other works either beat or met estimates. Christie’s sale results are a first sign that, after his death, Mr. Husain’s works are likely to command even higher prices. Mr. Husain, an artist who, despite the controversy he stirred, was widely seen as one of the country’s greatest, passed away in June.

Christie’s is the first of three auctions of Indian art in quick succession offering a wide selection of works by Mr. Husain. These are the first major sales to take place since his death, an important market test for his artistic production. The results at Christie’s raise expectations for the upcoming auctions at Sotheby’s and Saffronart.

MF Husain has long been in the “one million dollar club,” artists who sold a single piece for that sum or more. His “Empty Bowl at the Last Supper,” sold for $2 million in 2005 –at the time the highest sum ever paid for a work of modern Indian art.

More recently, in 2008, his ‘Battle of Ganga and Jamuna: Mahabharata’ a diptych inspired by the ancient Hindu epic, sold for $1.6 million. His record-breaking sales figures remain behind those of artists Tyeb Mehta and Raza, Margherita Stancati pointed out, but they soon might catch up…

Modern & Contemporary South Asian art auction at Sotheby’s New York

Sotheby’s week of Asian Art sales just concluded with Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art that fetched $2,262,000 ($2.6/3.8 million). This brings the combined total for the weeks three sales to $31,447,375.

The auction was led by the cover lot Eglise by SH Raza. The painting comes from an important period in the artist’s work and met expectations when it sold for $362,500 (est. $300/500,000). This was one of a number of strong prices for modern paintings with works by Jehangir Sabavala, Jagdish Swaminathan, and Husain all selling well.

A further highlight was Untitled (Himalayan Beauty) by Raja Ravi Varma which had passed though the family collection of the artist’s German printing technician. The magnificent painting sold well above the estimate for $266,500 (est. $100/150,000). The head of the Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art sale, Priyanka Mathew, stated: “Our cover lot by SH Raza met expectations and paintings with strong provenance performed well. Untitled (Himalayan Beauty) by Raja Ravi Varma comfortably exceeded the high estimate to sell for $266,500.

Jehangir Sabavala’s ‘The Cobweb Cloud’ fetched $266,500. Of the MF Husain works that found buyers, many exceeded the high estimate, particularly works that have not appeared on the market recently. Overall, our total of $2.3 million was a solid result in a market that remains price sensitive.”

The head of the Indian Art Department at Sotheby’s New York, Anu Ghosh-Mazumdar, added, “We were pleased with the performance of the Indian Miniatures that included a wide range of works from a variety of Rajput and Pahari schools. Here too, works with distinguished provenance and in good condition were actively sought after by collectors from around the world. The highlight of this part of the sale was Krishna and the Cow from the Sirmur School circa 1810 which went for $56,250 to an anonymous buyer after it was pursued by a number of bidders.”

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gogi Saroj Pal’s new series and her evolution as an artist

A solo exhibition of recent Works by Gogi Saroj Paul takes place at Delhi Art Gallery.

One of India’s few earliest artists ‘feminist’, and also probably the first woman artist to wear that label proudly, her body of work, vital as a seminal study of the issues, concerns, challenges as well as solutions to be found within the key paradigm of the feminine gender, spans her art career.

In an interview with Nirupama Dutt courtesy Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai on the eve of her new solo show last year she had stated, reminiscing her childhood: “I sought company of mature people wanting to learn and know more. The decision to be an artist was entirely my own. The creative search was budding in my heart. With my uncle being a very famous writer, I was exposed to the literary world. However, I picked up the brush instead of the pen because I wanted to do things my way.”

She added: “Childhood was very rich and I grew up in an environment charged with a revolutionary spirit. Our country had just about gained its freedom. My father Dharam Pal and uncle Yash Pal were associated with Bhagat Singh and Bharat Naujawan Sabha. The spirit was one of changing the old order for something new.

A lot of stress was laid on education and my grandmother Prem Devi, who was a school teacher at Lahore in 1901, after the infamous earthquake in Kangra, was an enlightened and aware woman. The road to art is a long one and I will not say that I knew there was an artist in me then. But what I do know is that there was in me a strong sense of curiosity. I was an inquisitive and somewhat stubborn child and never at rest until I had found a satisfying answer to my queries.

Her works represent her growth as an artist and map her changing concerns, though the central theme remains that of gender and society.

‘Seduction by Masquerade’ at Nature Morte, Delhi

Nature Morte showcases a group exhibition featuring Works by Bharti Kher, Arpita Singh, Mona Rai, Chitra Ganesh and Simyrn Gill at its New Delhi premises.

A curatorial note states: All masquerades are forms of mediation between the real and the imagined. Similarly, seduction implies crossing over a threshold, into territories previously unexplored. Works of art can play at both games, providing disguises with which to encounter the unknown, shuffling the deck so as to come up with infinite possibilities. An element of violence is operative in the works on view, a menace which is both threatening and enticing, caustic while intoxicating.

Arpita Singh’s most recent works seem claustrophobic with foreboding, populated with armed troops or legions of corrupt businessmen. Her iconographic lexicon synthesizes language, figuration and cartography into a rich surface redolent of an explosive aftermath.

Bharti Kher’s works imply a violent past and a portentous future. With a figurative sculpture and wall pieces that layer bindis over broken mirrors, the artist makes references to colonial histories, the decorative arts, archeology, mythology, and the occult, all the while acknowledging the struggle that is implicit in the construction of meaning.

The black-and-white photographs of Simryn Gill are elegant meditations on destruction and decay, toppling our preconceived notions of beauty and order. Shot within the shell of an incomplete architecture, refuse is casually arranged into compositions of both happenstance and sobriety, with the vicissitudes of nature occasionally entering.

The iconoclastic paintings of Mona Rai reflect the human body as a site of contestation. Scarred, sutured, punctured and bandaged, her canvases are both intuitive and intensely physical while providing a glimpse of salvation.

The digital prints of Chitra Ganesh combine classical references from sources both Asian and European with the bold graphics and punched-up color of contemporary cartoons. She invites us into a hallucinogenic world, where sex and death are ever present and her female protagonists instigate timeless dramas in both an earthly realm and cosmic dimensions.

Finally, Francis Newton Souza, the original maverick of Indian art, is represented solely by a group of his “chemical alterations,” small-scale works-on-paper.

(Information courtesy: Nature Morte, Delhi)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

‘Bako exists. Imagine’ by Atul Dodiya

A new series of works by Atul Dodiya, entitled ‘Bako exists. Imagine’ takes place at Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai.

An accompanying note states that ‘Bako exists. Imagine’ is a text-based work which consists of twelve paintings and an installation with nine wooden cabinets. It adds: “These poetic episodes are based on a fiction, written in Gujarati by a major contemporary Gujarati poet Labhshanker Thaker.

"Bako is a young boy who meets Bapu - Mahatma Gandhi, in his sleep. In fact, they both meet each other in their sleep and talk. A kind of fantasy, which allows and evokes childhood memories... There is no fence of age between this old man and the young boy. They joke, they laugh, they talk abstract."

In these twelve blackboard paintings, along with the cabinet installation, autobiographical references gradually mingle into a larger creative journey. The intention is – the viewer no more remains an outsider but subconsciously, becomes an invisible character involved along with Baka and Bapu in this hilarious fantasy.

He began his career painting autobiographically and primarily in a photo-realist mode, holding his first solo exhibition of oil paintings in 1989 at Gallery Chemould. Tracking his career, one may state that a year studying at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1991-2 nuanced Dodiya's engagement with international modernist and postmodernist art.

While he was growing uninterested in the potential of literalist realism by this time, exposure to contemporary art that manipulated realist styles attracted Dodiya; he identified especially with Sigmar Polke's experimental multimedia subversions and David Salle's figurative pastiche.

Atul Dodiya has drawn on Indian national politics throughout his career. In particular, he has continually remembered Gandhi and inscribed the leader's politics into his work. This culminated in a seminal exhibition of watercolors at Gallery Chemould in 1999, "Atul Dodiya: An Artist of Non-Violence," with its title referring to a quotation by Gandhi himself.

(Information courtesy: Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai)

‘Boundaries Obscured’ at Haunch of Venison

A group exhibition, entitled ‘Boundaries Obscured’ marks Haunch of Venison’s move to the heart of Chelsea’s gallery district.

The exhibition includes a painting by renowned American artist Peter Saul, whose recent solo exhibition at Haunch of Venison received critical acclaim. Saul is celebrated for his politically charged paintings that comment ironically on current events and public figures. Another highlight of the exhibition is German sculptor Günther Uecker’s ‘Aschemensch (Ash Man)’, a seminal painting from the artist’s only figurative series.

Uecker created the work in 1986 as a reaction to the Chernobyl catastrophe. The work features an ambiguous human figure engulfed in sporadic black drips of paint, alluding to the radioactive materials that invaded Chernobyl.

Iraqi born artist Ahmed Alsoudani will exhibit new work responding to issues of terrorism, human conflict and dictatorial suppression. Australian artist Patricia Piccinini, who currently has a major mid-career survey at Art Gallery of South Australia, will exhibit her mixed media sculpture titled Eulogy from 2011.

Piccinini examines humans’ complex relationships with technology and animals and in this featured work specifically comments on human impact on other life forms. Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos, who was recently commissioned to have a solo exhibition at Versailles in 2012, will exhibit a new piece.

Vasconcelos is best known for her readymade sculptures inspired by Nouveau-realisme and focuses on identity politics pertaining to gender and nationality. Major cities and rural enclaves are no longer distinct entities that operate in opposite contexts. Thus the featured artists depict both urban and rural scenes, addressing universal issues such as war, violence, politics, sex and eroticism, drugs, class, science and technology, waste and excess.

India’s Jitish Kallat also forms part of the show. Lauding his works, a gallery note states: “Many of them focus on Mumbai's downtrodden or dispossessed inhabitants, though treating them in a bold, colourful and highly graphic manner.”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Toward an ethics in art and writing’

An interesting panel discussion takes place in New York that tries to understand whether it is possible to define a cogent code of ethics in art writing?

In this panel discussion, four young contemporary art writers, Adam Kleinman, Quinn Latimer, Patricia Milder and Matthew Schum will investigate the problem of ethics in relation to their own work and to criticism writ large.

Adam Kleinman is a writer and curator and dOCUMENTA (13) Agent for Public Programming. Kleinman is a frequent contributor to multiple exhibition catalogs and magazines including Agenda, Artforum, e-flux journal, Frieze, Mousse and Texte zur Kunst. He also developed LentSpace, a cultural venue and garden design by Interboro Partners, which repurposed an entire vacant Manhattan block. There, Kleinman curated “Avenue of the Americas” (2010) and “Points & Lines” (2009).

Quinn Latimer is an American poet and critic based in Basel, Switzerland. Her criticism appears regularly in Artforum and frieze, and she has also written for Art in America, ArtReview, Bookforum, East of Borneo, Interview, Kaleidoscope, and Modern Painters.

Patricia Milder is an art and performance writer, and independent curator based in Brooklyn. She is the Managing Art Editor of The Brooklyn Rail; she also contributes regularly to Artcritical and PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art.

Matthew Schum studies modern and contemporary art in the Visual Arts Department at UCSD. In 2011 he has been based between California and Italy, where he is serving as an editor for Flash Art International in Milan. Aimee Walleston is a writer based in New York City. She contributes regularly to Art in America online, Flash Art, V Magazine, The New York Times’ the moment blog and The Last Magazine.

‘Toward an ethics in art and writing’, will be moderated by Aimee Walleston, School of Visual Arts, New York. The event takes place in the first week of October 2011.

An academies tour courtesy dOCUMENTA (13)

As part of the dOCUMENTA (13) art schools tour, a research and information tour to six different art academies in Germany.

The Artistic Director of dOCUMENTA (13), Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev is running a series of workshops especially designed for students currently enrolled on an academic course. The workshops are followed by a public lecture.

In her workshop, Christov-Bakargiev will reveal the particular opportunities for students to become involved in dOCUMENTA (13).

The stops on the tour are:

October 17, 2011: Academy of Visual Arts (HGB), Leipzig

October 18, 2011: Academy of Fine Arts Münster, in collaboration with LWL Landesmuseum für Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte Münster

October 19, 2011: Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design, in collaboration with Kunstmuseum Stuttgart

November 2, 2011: The University of Fine Arts of Hamburg (HFBK), in collaboration with the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kunstverein Hamburg

November 3, 2011: Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, in collaboration with Kunsthalle Düsseldorf

November 30, 2011: Kunsthochschule Kassel

This tour of German academies is part of the dOCUMENTA (13) research program, the aim of which is to identify interested and committed art students who would like to work during dOCUMENTA (13).

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Artistic Director of dOCUMENTA (13), is a curator and writer based in Rome, Kassel, and New York. After organizing exhibitions as an independent curator in different countries, from 1999 to 2001 she was senior curator of exhibitions at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, a MoMA Affiliate.

She was the chief curator at the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art in Turin from 2002 to 2008 (and interim director of the museum in 2009). She was the co-curator of the first Turin Triennial in 2005 and artistic director for the 16th Biennale of Sydney in 2008. As a writer, she has been interested in the relations between historical avant-gardes and contemporary art and has written extensively on the Arte Povera movement, such as in her book Arte Povera (London: Phaidon, 1999).

(Information courtesy: dOCUMENTA -13)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Reclaiming Criticality in Art and Digital Cultures

A thought-provoking conference 'Precarious Times: Reclaiming Criticality in Art and Digital Cultures' will take place at Royal William Yard (Plymouth), UK.

Speakers at this is an interesting event include Franco Berardi Bifo, Freee, Lars Bang Larsen and Malcolm Miles. An introductory note states: “In times of financial crisis, austerity measures, and the increased privatization of digital networks and public services, what are the conditions under which we produce art, ideas and concepts? If working as part of the arts has always been precarious, it now operates in exaggerated ways.”

The symposium will explore these issues in the context of the British Art Show (currently taking place in Plymouth), asserting that the future is largely conditioned through the reality of the political economy, leaving the art world ever more vulnerable but also at the same time a crucial site of struggle. In these precarious times, what does the art world have to offer?

British Art Show 7 after its launch in Nottingham has toured to London, Glasgow and Plymouth. It will be shown at five locations in Plymouth - Peninsula Arts, Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, Royal William Yard and Plymouth College of Art (17 Sep to 4 Dec 2011).

The art symposium, taking place on 13-14 October 2011, is organized jointly by KURATOR and Culture–Theory-Space research groups, Plymouth University, UK, in collaboration with the Digital Aesthetics Research Centre, Aarhus University, Denmark. Dr. Joasia Krysa, founding director of KURATOR and dOCUMENTA (13) agent, co-organises and co-chairs the conference.

A curator, writer and academic, Joasia Krysa, is the founding director of KURATOR. It’s a combined curatorial and research project at the intersection of art, technology and society Among the participants, Lars Bang Larsen is an art historian at the University of Copenhagen. He has co-curated group exhibitions such as ‘A History of Irritated Material’, Raven Row, London (2010), and ‘Populism’, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2005).

Embellished reality of Indian Painted Photographs

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Canada presents ‘Embellished Reality: Indian Painted Photographs’ that date from the 1860s, to the 2000s. Indian visual form in the modern period has often combined past & present techniques in novel hybrid varieties.

These painted photographs exemplify this phenomenon by blending established painting styles and the new photography technology. This show features works from the museum's collection acquired in the last decade.

Made to commemorate, convey status, and mark rites of passage, Indian painted photographs offer a unique insight into a certain class of the society. In India, the practice of applying paint to embellish a photograph, covering the entire print at times, points to a different conception of the photograph-one, which employs photography to enhance the emotional potential of the image even while attaining the other-worldly goals of painting.

This exhibition brings together 60 works from the ROM's collection that have been acquired in the last decade but never before on display. They date from the 1860s, a few decades after the invention of photography, to the 2000s, well after the introduction of color photography.

An accompanying note elaborates: “Indian painted photographs were made to commemorate, convey status, and mark rites of passage. Most combinations of paint and photography around the world have used colour to enhance the realism of a black and white image. In India, paint also has been applied to embellish a photograph, sometimes covering the entire print. This practice points to a different conception of the photograph-one that uses photography to achieve the other-worldly goals of painting while enhancing the emotional potential of the image.

The Royal Ontario Museum is among the world’s leading museums of natural history, and of world cultures. In combining a universal museum of cultures with that of natural history, the ROM offers an unusual breadth of experience. It’s mission to engage the public in exploration of cultural change and to serve as an advocate for science in the study of nature.

(Information courtesy: The Royal Ontario Museum)

Striving to create allusive, poetic photographic realms

Siddhartha Tawadey’s new series, entitled ‘Transparent Hallucinations’, is currently on view at Bose Pacia, New York. As a press release states, it’s a two part exhibit, which endeavors to engage the frenetic as well as psychologically dissonant mindscape of the ever teeming New York City.

Having just completed a residency at the New York based School of Visual Arts, a majority of his works have been conceived/ created in the city backdrop. They have been apparently inspired by navigation of its urban spaces as done by the artist.

The pairing of both movement and stillness evident in the exhibit tends to create a space wherein the viewer is able to enter into the hallucinations independently the collective subconscious of this neurotic city. By paring the imagery to abstracted and disjunctive narratives as well as inanimate objects, the artist lets each viewer explore their very own ‘self-referential sensations’, emotions and revelations’ more so in the context of Siddhartha Tawadey’s New York.

The artist is innovative with his technique of photography. He looks to experiment with vantage points, lighting and framing to create allusive, poetic photographic realms. Borrowing techniques from scientists and filmmakers, and infusing a wave of philosophy, he sets an inventive tone to them. As an avid traveler and observer of life, he strives to break free from conventions.

Siddhartha Tawadey’s s recent series, entitled ‘Transience’ incorporated some new dimensions – a philosophical thought process and movement. These photographs were based on images of Buddhism’s medieval concept of Mujo (literally meaning no permanence). ‘Transience’ was about the momentary aspects of our existence. The philosophy states that life ought to constantly change or else we cease to exist.

The photographs explored this thought in a beautiful way. Through them, he captured a moment as a subtle expression, and not just a form or object. His ‘Transparent Hallucination’ runs at the New York premises of Gallery Bose Pacia (8 September – 22 October, 2011).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

‘Transparent Hallucination’ at Bose Pacia

Bose Pacia, in collaboration with Payal Arts International presents a new series, entitled ‘Transparent Hallucination’. It incorporates new video and photography by Siddhartha Tawadey, a New Delhi and London-based artist.

Born in Kolkata, India in 1975, Siddhartha Tawadey is a video and photography artist who studied at St. Martins School of Design (London 2008) and City University (London 2009). He has participated in group and solo exhibitions internationally. His works are included in many private collections. Transparent Hallucination marks the artist’s first solo exhibition with Bose Pacia. Tawadey lives and works in New Delhi and London.

In spending his summer hours, days and weeks exploring NYC, Tawadey became overcome by the stark juxtapositions of a city that seemed, to him, constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown. No single moment, however, was located entirely in a state of chaos or staid calm. As such, the artist has begun to explore these seemingly inextricable poles of a collective subconscious resulting in two distinct areas of creative engagement, each addressing a specific area of emotionality.

The video, 23.98, explores a sense of anxiety and desperation. Tawadey states that “this psychosis was expressed as metaphors in the film through emblems such as painting and scratching on film reels, quick editing of glimpses, rapid montage, use of black, layers, superimpositions, appropriated footage time lapse, flicker, black and white imagery, in-camera editing, jump cuts and use of motion and the feel of an 8mm hand-held camera.” The result is an unsettling, if absorptive, video that harkens to the psychotic imagery of Italian neo-realist filmmaker, Michelangelo Antonioni.

As with any episode of frantic mental energy, there follows an equally suffocating period of emptiness and inactivity. In Transparent Hallucination this takes the form of the photo series, Visions of a Fragmented Mind. The photographs are “pure in composition and [use] a very restricted palette of colors to keep the images subjective and honest.” Tawadey captures happenstance moments of abstracted stillness in a city that is constantly moving.

(Information courtest: Bose Pacia)

Make art a part of your investment portfolio

There are many young professionals, who are gradually developing fondness for art. They now take keen interest in paintings and even new media works, especially those by young and upcoming artists. Even collegians are hunting for reasonably priced works. For some, it’s a passion, whereas for many, it’s an exciting investment idea.

Investing in art is largely about spotting the potential early in a budding artist. This is not difficult since information about individual artists and broader art market trends is now available online. The decision making may also be subjective since each collector, buyer, or researcher would tend to identify with a particular style of work and would fancy it even from the investment angle. Art appreciation is a separate subject altogether, albeit vital to investing in art.

If a certain artist is commanding a higher value compared to that in the past, it’s obviously because of genuine popularity and demand. This is owing to the limited supply situation for great works of art that tend to command a higher premium in price. Also, keep a close eye on acquisitions made by distinguished art buyers and collectors. It is imperative to buy from reputed galleries as they promote and nurture an artist’s career.

Know about payment options, return & exchange policies, consummating sales, documentation procedures, and how to ensure you get what you actually pay for. There is a basic difference between buying at traditional auctions and online auctions that you need to grasp. Learn about the procedural differences between offline galleries and online auction houses. Study their functioning so that you do not harbor any misconceptions about auctions. Learn online auction buying basics, so that you can buy the right work at the right price.

The financial advisors generally ask their clients to put around not more than 10 to 15 percent of their total portfolio in art. Ideally, approach experts when it comes to investing in art, they suggest.

‘Encounters, journeys through language and landscape’

An off-beat art event, entitled ‘Encounters, journeys through language and landscape’, explores the contours of our personal relationship with the nature and environment through a series of temporary installations and artist interventions, performances and artist-led walks, from Fermyn Woods Country Park to Lyveden New Bield. Specially commissioned and existing work uses visual, written and spoken language to make physical and conceptual links between the rural landscape and the places we create for ourselves.

The works investigate how open spaces can become places full of meaning and how we develop a sense of belonging in unfamiliar places. Artists and poets are to lead walks between the two sites, exploring their local history, and culture through music, visual images, conversation and verse. Works by artists like Tellervo Kalleinen & Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, Paula Boulton, Rebecca Lee, Graeme Miller, Shane Waltener, Caroline Wright, and Jitish Kallat are part of the engrossing artistic exercise.

Jitish Kallat reflects on the human struggle through his monumental work When will you be happy. Kallat states, “Even as the bone-text is evocative of death like a memento mori, it is actually a life-affirming call reminding one of the futility of living a life based on desire and disappointments."

Caroline Wright’s work Untitled (believe) responds to the Buddhist principles of the Japanese tea ceremony, which are written in large neon letters; Tranquillity, Respect, Harmony and Purity. Wright has also created an audio guide of her journey through a real and make-believe forest, which can be downloaded.

Rebecca Lee used her time as Fermynwoods artist in residence to develop a new sound installation, exploring what the woods mean to other people through music. She states, “Great Chorus explores the way in which music can fill in the gaps when words don't work. A clearing will be filled with music that bridges those gaps for people when they're walking in the woods.”

Shane Waltener’s installation works are informed by the idea of 'desire lines'. The journey has been marked by a series of lace fabric, planes‟ that define openings, entrances, exits and arches. Waltener uses the trees, fences and other natural and manmade features as looms to weave on.

(Information courtesy: Fermynwoods Contemporary Art)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Artistic friction or fusion between nature and human

“Human form is an inevitable extension of nature. All the forms in it animate -inanimate including human form are the structures of nature, if we trace the origin of it, then we realize they are made of atoms and cells with different configurations. One can sense nature functioning within and beyond through meditations.”

This is how Neeraj Goswami’s explains his artistic agenda. The idea is to establish an artistic connection between the real and the perceived. He believes the perceived is according to our cognition influenced by different factors the real has been there always without change it is like the core, which is stable and eternal even while the crust is ever changing.

According to him, when one reaches a certain state of mind within, one realizes the eternal essence of being going beyond the mundane.According to the artist, the challenge is to create, explore and understand the geometry of the human body. He does so by breaking the forms as we tend to see outwardly and then simplifying the structure so as to make it look aesthetically more defined than the actuality.

Going beyond the mere forms, at a broader level, it’s the yearning of soul to discover solitude and peace amidst all the chaos of tumultuous life is the core of his practice. He reveals, “I believe truth lies in the moment. I am building my very own iconography by trying to weld silence and music, triangles, planes, sharp angles and curves merge with mysterious depths and fluid shadow-lines that balance out.”

Explaining how he perceives the bonds or boundaries that exist between humans among themselves and nature, he has stated: “It (friction) leads to repulsion and ultimately to destruction, whereas fusion can lead oneself to higher stages of attraction (at the level of consciousness).

Monday, September 12, 2011

The spectrum of Indian art undergoes a change with passing away of its doyens

The order is slowly but surely shifting in contemporary Indian art’s spectrum. The depleting number of senior artists after the demise of Jehangir Sabavala, M.F. Husain and Sohan Qadri this year - is prompting the slow ascent of a second generation of talented young contemporary artists, mentions an interesting IANS news report.

It mentions” Unlike Indian performing arts, where the top the talent chain dominates the viewers' imagination, visual arts over the years have thrown up a formidable line of young talented artists who have carved a niche for themselves with their unique style.

"Most of the surviving pioneers are too old and infirm to contribute prolifically to meet the demand for quality art both at home and outside the country," it quotes an art industry source, who explains: "Artists like Raza, Suhas Roy, Padamsee, Ram Kumar and Satish Gujral are in their late 70s and 80s.

The volume of their work has decreased with age. A group of talented younger artists - who are commanding respect among collectors and fetching record prices at auctions - is gradually grabbing the limelight with signatures (craft) of their own."

With affordability being the bottom-line in a market ruled by extreme swings in the last three years, works by the top 20 names in Indian contemporary art, especially those who are no longer alive, defy the purse-strings of an average collector. It quotes art historian-writer Ina Puri as saying, "History has to prove whether the second generation of talented artists like Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher and Sudarshan Shetty were worthy of filling the void created by the demise of the masters".

"A few months ago I was in London when M.F. Husain passed away and I had to write an obituary. Last week I paid my tribute to Jehangir Sabavala, who breathed his last in Mumbai. One after the other, the early pioneers of contemporary Indian art are falling to the vicissitudes of time and years," Ina Puri rued.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

‘Asian Art-Sustain’ in the framework of Asia-Pacific Weeks

‘Asian Art-Sustain’ is an international exhibition with specific context that takes place courtesy Nature Morte, Berlin.

The participating artists are Sheba Chhachhi, Wang Chengyun, Liu Ding, Song Dong, Takafumi Hara, Takeshi Makishima and Rosilene Luduvico, Vivan Sundaram, Thukral & Tagra, Yukihiro Taguchi, Miao Xiaochun and Xiong Yu. Working in various media, they address the necessity of living sustainably. They playfully convey our dependence on water, food and health, without which humans could not exist.

In many parts of the world, the distribution of these three elements is determined and manipulated by nationality, religion, politics or economics. The artists in this exhibition are known for their continuous dedication to their environment.

New Delhi born Vivan Sundaram’s video 'Flotage: River Yamuma' documents a project in which the artist hired city trash collectors to construct a raft out of 8000 discarded bottles. Using the bottle-raft, Sundaram then ferried passengers across the river, whose once clean waters now figure among the most polluted in the world.

Also on view is 'The Beautiful Game', an interactive pool table installation by Thukral & Tagra. The game invites viewers to hole a billiard ball, while teaching how to put on a condom. The playful gesture and the surrounding wall installation avoid any sense of prudishness, allowing the artist-duo to address sexuality in a stress-free way and heighten awareness of diseases such as HIV.The aim of this exhibition is a return to nature, a demand for nature’s sustainability, and a consciousness of the value of one’s own life.

‘Asian Art-Sustain’ has been curated by Tereza de Arruda in the framework of the 8th Asia-Pacific Weeks, a biannual forum for political, economical, educational, and cultural exchange between Germany and the Asian-Pacific region. The focus of this year’s Asia-Pacific Weeks is the issues like Water, Food, and Health. These are the issues that have determined the selection of the artists from China, India and Japan.

The event has received support from Asia-Pacific Weeks, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, PIFO Gallery Beijing, Pink Studio Beijing, Wada Fine Arts Tokyo, Walsh Gallery Chicago, Wang Chengyun Studio Chengdu, Y++Gallery Triwizard Beijing.
(Information courtesy: Nature Morte, Berlin)

Friday, September 9, 2011

An artist inspired by her family archive

Polish artist Agata Bogacka’s newest paintings, on view at Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warszawa. Incidentally, the art venue is also hosting a group show, ‘The Generation in Transition’ of artists of Indian origin.
A part of the suite of works were made under the influence of family histories either remembered or rediscovered after many years, and an interest on the artist’s part in her own genealogy. The artist’s references to autobiographical elements are just a pretext for a more universal reflection on the theme of human memory. The artist is interested in the ways in which we record, and then recreate from memory certain images and the distortions that result from this process.

One of the key inspirations is a document found in her family archive: a notebook belonging to Paulina Żuławska, the artist’s grandmother, from the time of the Warsaw Uprising. The description of a route that the author had to take contained in the diary became the entry point for a work in which Bogacka tries to reconstruct that route. She has also painted similar “painting-maps” on the basis of the diary of Jonas Mekas, as well as the war-time recollections of Thomas Buergenthal.

In other paintings , the artist in symbolic mode attempts to piece back together the fragments of a broken sculpture made by her aunt, the sculptor Hanna Żuławska, on the basis of preserved photographs of her exhibitions. The nostalgic activity of putting in order old family photographs becomes for the painter an inspiration for creating a collage that resembles a genealogical tree. Composed of photographs only of women, the collage forms a declaration of feminism surprising in the light of the artist’s earlier comments on this topic.

Thus, works by Agata Bogacka based on a monochromatic color-scheme and a diversity of textures are set in composition with selected paintings from the last three years (for example, from the series Mirroring from 2008 or Tatras from 2009) demonstrate both a new sphere of thematic interests and an evolution in the artist’s creative stance – we can observe a clear transition from the 'here and now' to history understood in broad terms, and also a totally different stylistic approach from that used hitherto.
(Information courtesy: Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warszawa)

Works that border between formlessness and deft definition

His work carries boundless energy even from a visual and metaphoric perspective, as one can sense a veritable implosion of energy as he pummels the handmade paper. This flow of energy is quite obvious in the colors as well as the formation of the strokes. The energy gets represented in such wonderful ways that it exudes mystery.

Born in Kurduwadi in Maharashtra, Vijay Shinde is known as a painter’s painter. His childhood memories keep appearing again and again in his works. His memories are peppered with the village path washed with earth and the smells and fragrances arising from the fields. The artist studied joined at the Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai, from 1977 to 1982. “Life at art school was like liberation for me, a new way of life, the mind that was wiped clean of all doubts,” he recalls.

Among his teachers at the J.J., Vijay Shinde cherishes fond memories of Prof. Palsikar who was strongly influenced by Paul Klee. The academic training on the one hand and the strong impression of Klee on the other infused in him a fine sense of balance between restraint and freedom. Mumbai based Tao Art Gallery had hosted an exhibition of recent works, entitled ‘Shakti’, by him.

His suite of works was enthralling, energizing and mystifying - powerful to emote and to cause emotion, an accompanying note to the series had stated. It elaborated to state: “In some ways, the artist reflects reality in the very fact that his creations hover between a realm of definition and abstraction - its inspiration lies in his native culture and religion, albeit its expression rips it open to different interpretations and boundless imagination through obfuscated techniques.

As evident, his work borders between formlessness and deft definition – one can see snatches of images or constructs, familiar but mired in a haze of captivating colors that keep us away from a complete and immediate elucidation.

Reveling in his inner world

His creations spell out the trauma of terrorism and the violence erupting like the lava of a burning volcano, leaving out any scope for ornamentation and embellishment. Raw splashes of color, the generous use of red suggesting the blood of violence is complemented with the shadows of sprinkles of color leading to darkness, creating a space where the brazen brutality of people who believe in the anti-human and anti-peace movement, effectively reducing the struggle of the innocent to one of futility and failure tinged with death.

The soul of the artist, he feels, should not be bound. Divine force tends to act as dictator, and the mystique of the empty canvas reveals itself slowly. Art and expression of visual images, he reveals, is about passion so, it demands the need to introspect, instead of imitating, to turn inward, to gauge within oneself. This is necessary to bring to the fore the spiritual essence of being, and staying tuned to the mind.

His introspective silence gets gradually transformed onto the serene field of the canvas, astutely awakened through the intensity of the mystique of life in its magical and myriad forms. The subtle and violent shades of earthy colors emerge from the pitch black of darkness. The anger and the anguish arising from the aftermath of meaningless yet ruthless violence and indiscretion find able expression on canvas.

There is a strong element of geometry that structures his works, depicting the hallucinations linked to the three–headed God “Trimurti” (Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara) representing creation, sustenance and destruction, in that order, mentions art writer Durga Kainthola. His creativity, now honed and shaped by the aftermath of fanaticism, terrorism and ego inspires him to express himself.

MF Husain has been a strong influence on Vijay Shinde. Though he is better known for his brilliant abstracts, he is no less brilliant at portraits.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A special exhibition, entitled ‘Remembering 9/11’

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 11, the New-York Historical Society presents a special exhibition, entitled ‘Remembering 9/11’.

An accompanying note mentions: “The exhibition presents a selection of photographs taken by professional and amateur photographers in the immediate aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center (originally collected in the independent exhibition here is New York.

“A democracy of photographs), as well as letters written to police officers and firefighters; objects that were placed in makeshift shrines around New York; images and texts from the New York Times “Portraits of Grief” series; photographs of the Tribute in Light; and drawings of the National September 11 Memorial, designed by architect Michael Arad with the assistance of landscape architect Peter Walker.”

The exhibition’s curator, Marilyn Satin Kushner, explained in an interview to The New York Times that, apart from incorporating images from Washington and from Shanksville, Penn., these 135 photographs were randomly selected from the 6,500 that were gathered in the months after the attacks and displayed in two small SoHo storefronts in what was almost an impromptu commemoration called “Here Is New York: A Democracy of Photographs.”

Solicited and unsolicited, unsigned, undated and unidentified, roughly rendered on inkjet printers, these accumulated images from the life of a city, which are now part of the society’s collection, still have a powerful effect. They seem to overlay one another in the mind, each one added to a ghostly memory of another, imprints of shocking and immediate experience.

The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research, presenting history and art exhibitions, and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today.

Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered political, cultural and social history of New York City and State and the nation, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.

The show is on view until November 10, 2011.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Two interesting showcases of Indian art

About eight years ago, Aroon Shivdasani helmed the debut contemporary art event of the New York-based Indo-American Arts Council. It focused solely on paintings. The latest collection of artworks of Indian Diaspora artists, entitled, ‘Erasing Borders: Exhibition of Contemporary Indian Art of the Diaspora’, now includes an array of mediums including sculpture, installation art, and video.

All 43 participating artists are connected to South Asia chosen on basis of a meticulous and a lot more inclusive selection process, spreading it to the entire subcontinent. The organizers reveal that earlier artists would send works believing the idea was to trace their roots. However, increasingly, you realize ‘people are people’ –more so since so many of them have spent life in their adopted lands. Their art may also be a part of their life today. It’s an event that alludes to the ‘straddling art of the Indian Diaspora’.

On the other hand, a new series of works, entitled ‘Lonely Furrow’ that Shambhavi Singh has created during her residency at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute carries on with her sole focus and concern on rural workers. Through motifs that symbolize common tools used by land laborers, she expresses her concern for those oft-marginalized, to capture their strength and spirit.

Her work invariably reminds us of our connection with the land and with one another, at a broader level. The root of her works is well grounded in her humble native land of Bihar. Her oeuvre includes paintings, sculptures and installations. It explores her concerns for the displaced.

STPI was established in 2002 under the guidance of the foremost American master printer of the 20th century, Kenneth E. Tyler to publish major works by prominent international artists such as Josef Albers, Anthony Caro, Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Motherwell, James Rosenquist, Frank Stella and Donald Sultan. Through its Visiting Artists Programme (VAP), STPI has collaborated with leading artists from across the world.

Indian divinity presented in its full glory

The Mother India: The Goddess in Indian Paintingh at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Florence & Herbert Irving Galleries for the Arts of South-Southeast Asia) features works from its collection, which depict Devi in all her intriguing aspects. The goddess is the source as well as the affirmation of life. The concept is deified in various forms in early Indian religions. Though we lack a historical understanding and perspective of the quasi-magical-religious function of the primitive images of the female form on view, we still identify them as goddesses.

An accompanying note elaborates:”We witness a bit later, the emergence of deified females who have identifiable roles associated with the protection of children and with the life-affirming powers of water. The former finds expression in goddesses who originally may have been devourers of children—that is, the bearers of disease. Over time some were placated and thus acquired more benign aspects. The enthroned goddess with a cornucopia and children, from northwestern India, represents this tradition. A second association is with the creation of life..”

Another powerful expression as the source of life is the personification of the subcontinent’s great rivers—the Ganges, the Yamuna, and Saraswati—worshiped as the ancient deities. Sri Gaja-Lakshmi or the benign goddess being bathed by a pair of elephants was a metaphor for the monsoons’ life-giving powers, and denoted virtues of prosperity, good fortune, and auspiciousness. Saraswati was revered as the embodiment of wisdom and knowledge. Ambika, the Jain mother goddess, embodies the maternal principal.

A variety of early sources on devi in her myriad forms were collated in the seminal text the Devi Mahatmya about the sixth century. The text primarily devoted to narrating the origins of Durga and her relationship to the pantheon of male deities, represents Durga as the ultimate destroyer of evil forces. It also introduces the awesome forms that emerge from her being, Kali and Chamumda, who give expression to Durga's terrible aspect. The worship of the goddess continues to shape Hindu practice today, with Sri Lakshmi pouring down golden coins as its most popular expression.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A show of paintings by Tulika Ladsariya

Artist Tulika Ladsariya examines two severe influences – city construction and environmental impact – which at once represent the pinnacle and the nadir of human activity. Her comprehensive collection of ' Lofty Assimilation' at Jamaat Gallery gives a surreal perspective of the artist’s window view from her studio in the city of Mumbai.

Having lived for more than two decades in Mumbai, she is constantly struck by the incessant need for renovation. The city threatens to fall apart at the seams but always stops just short, with everything held together by duct tape. To the artist, bamboo scaffolding is an allegory of this fragility. The matrix of bamboos creeps up skyscrapers, gingerly holding on. Surely the frail jute strings are not enough and the same invisible glue is at work here.

Adopting the principle that inspiration is best found in one's own surroundings, Tulika Ladsariya’s work is inspired by the contrasts and extremes of urban cities - how they are constructed, who constructs them, how inhabitants react to them and how they affect the natural environment. The influence of the urban landscapes of Mumbai, London and Chicago- the three major cities where the artist has spent significant years of her life- form the basis of her images and work .

Born and brought up in Mumbai in a traditional family with a financial focus, she followed her dream and passion and in 2005, she moved to London to study at the Chelsea College of Art and Design. On her return to Mumbai, she studied Indian Aesthetics, simultaneously working as a General Manager for an art fund and auction house. The artist has shown her work in Mumbai and in Chicago over the past few years. She presently lives and works in Chicago.

In her more recent scaffolding paintings, the city is reduced to mere explorations of shape and manipulation of surface. The carefully composed recurring visual motifs of spatial divides suggest at the physical and emotional isolation of urban life.

The use of molding paste and gels lends a rugged, three-dimensional view to the scaffolding and makes it almost come to life against the colorful patterned background. The workmen, hanging on to the bamboos are mere black silhouettes and their identity remains irrelevant and obscure.

(Information courtesy: Jamaat Gallery)

Fascination for technology coupled with a passion for mythology

Baiju Parthan’s fascination for technology, blended with his passion for mythology is palpable in his practice. The artist views them as symbiotic, as he thinks both mythology and technology feed off each other. He is in constant search of metaphors that can seamlessly be translated into artistic symbols.

His overriding concern as an artist is to minutely and assiduously reflect the changes that occur around him. While studying mythology, he could study different systems and locate motifs like the hero myth and creation. Also being, a hardcore science fiction junkie, Baiju Parthan could see the whole thing from a different perspective, starting to find parallels in these worlds. In fact, he enjoys the whole aspect of technology since it dramatically shifts perceptions, and allows us to extend our own selves in novel ways into the immediate environ.

Coming from a Marxian background with well defined ideological thoughts to conform to social norms, he happened to meet a group of thinkers, to realize for the first time that he had a choice. This confrontation completely changed him, as he was exposed to a not-so-mainstream, mind-bending literature that loosened up his ideas of the world around. He was also interested in sculpture, mythology and anthropological studies, all enhancing his artistic growth. In the process, the restless artist created his own reality.

While learning Western art history, as part of the curriculum, he was disillusioned that one had to have of British or Western origin to be counted as an artist of substance. Hence he started becoming realist, and the journey ahead for him was all about exploration.

While painting gives him the space to be introspective, new-media allows him to be more proactive. He explains: “I think communication technology is something that is really transforming our social reality and cultural space simply because it deals with communication and human communication and language is the site wherein social reality and cultural identity is constructed.”