Wednesday, February 29, 2012

‘zne! | examples to follow!’ spread over five galleries in Mumbai

A new group exhibition, spread over five different galleries in Mumbai, namely Galerie Max Mueller, Premchand Roychand Gallery, Studio X, Gallery Project 88, and Gallery Maskara, aims at raising awareness for the fact that a constructive sustainability can’t make do sans the arts and sciences. It needs to imbibe from these streams how to think in transitions, models and projects.

Curated by Adrienne Goehler, it tries to encourage visions of a sustainable life and move both aesthetic and cultural dimension of sustainability into acute awareness of the senses, looking to counteract the visible erosion of the term.

An accompanying essay elaborates on ‘zne! | examples to follow!’: “The finiteness of our energy reserves, the impending climate change, the shrinking of biodiversity have increasingly penetrated and alarmed the public consciousness even before the failed world climate summits." In essence, sustainability seeks a space for development as part of which the multiple interconnections between the wealth of knowledge and experience in the sciences and arts as well as the idea that each individual can well be a part of this can indeed unfold.

This expedition in aesthetics and sustainability can demonstrate artistic practices contributing to the planet’s preservation; aim to influence consumer behavior and become economically efficient; they also show artistic positions in which boundaries that exist between art and activism blur and environmental initiatives seamlessly interconnect with artistic approaches.

The participating artists are Sharmila Samant, Madhushree Dutta, Ravi Agarwal and Manish Nai along with Gustavo Romano who underline how sustainability needs a cooperative expansion of perception. They, as mentioned above, deliberately suspend the boundaries between technical and artistic creativity, between feasibility and idea. Sensuality here is the connecting element in the presentations and creations of the scientists and artists not only in works from the domains of design-architecture, but also through examples of sustainable economic activities that challenge individual action.

The exhibition will be accompanied by documentary film program, 'MEET THE ARTIST' presentations, workshops in sustainable, a panel discussion, lectures and presentations in an endeavor to explore necessary new alliances in the field of aesthetics and sustainability.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Drawing the ‘Lines of Control’ in today’s ‘partitioned’ times

A new group show courtesy Green Cardamom, a London-based nonprofit arts organization, and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art tries to delve into the past and explore the present to expose the seductive simplicity of drawing lines as a substitute for learning how to live with each other.

Living within and across these lines can be a messy, bloody business but also offers a productive space where new nations, identities, languages, and relationships are forged. At its core is ‘Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space’ that investigates the historic upheaval of the 1947 partition of India that spawned the nations of Pakistan and later Bangladesh.

The exhibit is part of an ongoing project initiated in 2005 by Green Cardamom. Co-curated by Hammad Nasar, Iftikhar Dadi, and Ellen Avril, it features more than forty works of video, prints, photographs, paintings, sculpture, and installation by several prominent artists, such as Bani Abidi, Francis Alÿs, Sarnath Banerjee, Farida Batool, Iftikhar Dadi, DAAR, Anita Dube, Sophie Ernst, Gauri Gill, Shilpa Gupta, Zarina Hashmi, Ahsan Jamal, Amar Kanwar, Nalini Malani, Naeem Mohaiemen, Rashid Rana, Raqs Media Collective, Seher Shah, Surekha, Hajra Waheed, and Muhammad Zeeshan among others.

Expanding on the significance of partition in South Asia, ‘Lines of Control’ also addresses physical and psychological borders, trauma, and the reconfiguration of memory in other partitioned areas: North and South Korea, Sudan and South Sudan, Israel and Palestine, Ireland and Northern Ireland, Armenia and its Diaspora, and questions of indigenous sovereignty in the US.

The exhibition explores the products and remainders of partition and borders characteristic of the modern nation-state, and includes the continued impact of colonization, the physical and psychic violence of displacement, dilemmas of identity and belonging, and questions of commemoration.

In essence, ‘Lines of Control’ is not only about commemorating the past, but about current lives in partitioned times. It underlines how art can be a means to explore areas of life where words often fail us, and how blood-filled partitions and their tumultuous aftermaths are ripe for such exploration.

Ramkinkar Baij retrospective

A retrospective of one of the most seminal artists of modern India takes place in New Delhi. Ramkinkar Baij was not only an iconic sculptor but also a painter and graphic artist.
The retrospective has been curated by sculptor K.S Radhakrishnan, incidentally a student of Ramkinkar. Prof. K.G Subramanyan and Prof. A. Ramachandran have been advisors to the curator. It includes over 350 works from various important collections including paintings, drawings, graphics and sculptures- covering about six decades of his artistic journey.

The exposition is also enhanced by diverse media interventions such as photographic blow ups, digital prints, texts and video clips in an attempt to contextualize the man and the artist in the most comprehensive manner.

The curator of the exhibition K S Radhakrishnan says “My curatorial venture aims at flagging those junctures where the artist met all those who traveled before him, with him, and after him. In other words, this retrospective aims to be a context in which the post 1980s generation of Indian artists see, accept, reject, understand or misunderstand the master creator, the artist, and the man….”

“The exhibition sheds light on an enlightened and creative soul who was more of a Fakir and a wanderer and through his work represents the larger-than-life persona of the artist and his creative genius,” revealed Prof. Rajeev Lochan, the NGMA director.

On the occasion of this retrospective exhibition, the NGMA is releasing a few significant publications, including ‘My Days with Ramkinkar’ translated by Ms. Bhaswati Ghosh (originally penned by Mr. Somendranath Bandhapadhyaya’; ‘Ramkinkar’s Yaksha Yakshi’ by Mr. K.S Radhakrishnan; ‘Ramkinkar Straight from Life’ by Mr. Johnny M.L; and ‘Ramkinkar Baij’ by Prof. R. Siva Kumar, in collaboration with Delhi Art Gallery, Musui Art Foundation, Aakar Prakar, Niyogi Books, and Navya Gallery.

Besides these well illustrated productions, the gallery is going to publish two comprehensive books on the artist that provide a holistic view of the person and the artist he was, namely ‘Ramkinkar: The Man and the Artist’ by Prof. A. Ramachandran; and ‘Ramkinkar and his Work’ by Prof. K.G Subramanyan. It has also produced three portfolios drawn from the repertoire of his watercolor, oil and graphic works. After Delhi, the exhibition will travel to Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A grand showcase of ‘The Art of Bengal’

A significant collation of enriching Bengal art over a vast span of two centuries, featuring nearly 400 works by more than 100 artists, forms part of a grand exhibition at Delhi Art Gallery.

The showcase charts the growth trajectory and gradual development of art in the state from the 19th century to the new millennium, from academic portraiture and traditional painting form to a more modernist idiom. A curatorial note elaborates: “The Bengal School was influential in changing the course of Indian art, to create a new, robust Indian art idiom closer to reality by the artists of the 1930s and 40s, influenced by the modernist movements in the west.”

Here are the salient features of the show:
  • With ‘Bengal’ as the connecting thread, this exhibition – ambitious in scale and scope – features artists not merely claiming ancestry to Bengal but those vitally nurtured in its cultural climate: from the anonymous Bengali engravers and individual salon artists to Europeans such as Olinto Ghilardi, an Italian teacher and painter in 19th century Calcutta who influenced Abanindranath Tagore, to M. A. R. Chughtai from Lahore and K. G. Subramanyan from Madras, whose art owes substantially to Bengal. While not the same as before, Bengal continues to exert its influence on Indian art, and this exhibition is a tribute, as its celebration.

  • The exhibition takes off with Kalighat pats from the 19th century created by anonymous artists who painted their mythological-themed traditional paintings on paper, to academic oil portraits by 19th century British portraitist Benjamin Hudson and landscape by Italian artist Olinto Ghilardi. Seen as the first efflorescence of concentrated art post the entry of European art into Bengal, these were termed ‘Early Bengal Oils’.

  • The exhibition also features similarly rendered and themed works by several academic school trained individual artists such as B. P. Banerjee. From here the exhibition showcases works by the school known as the Bengal School, featuring the works of Abanindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Asit Haldar, Surendranath Ganguly, Hirachand Dugar, M. A. R Chughtai and other exponents of the School-pioneered wash technique.

  • On view are the works of modernist masters as Somnath Hore, Prodosh Das Gupta, Chittaprosad, Rabin Mondal, Bikash Bhattacherjee, Bijan Choudhary, Jogen Chowdhury, Shyamal Dutta Ray, Nirode Majumdar, Meera Mukherjee and many others spanning the 1940s to 1980s and beyond, who looked to voice the inequities and dystopia of society around them.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

‘Chlorophyll Park’ at Nature Morte

Gallery Nature Morte presents an exhibition of new works by Jitish Kallat. The celebrated contemporary Indian artist is having a solo in New Delhi after a gap of six years.

What at first may appear like wildly disparate works of art, reveal strong themes in common upon closer inspection; the proletariat figure - he or she who labors to actually keep the city going – is primary among these. It’s the figure whose multiple histories (both forgotten and recorded) are inscribed in several places (both mundanely and heroically) on the ubiquitous surfaces of the urban fabric.

The stories he narrates of his home city might be contradictory but they are also realistic: elegance comes along with the unsightly, a spiritual optimism is palpable amid material degradation, nourishment accompanies fatigue. He employs images symbolically by combining elements to weave layered metaphors about current life situations. ‘Chlorophyll’, the green pigment found in most plants, is the metaphor for his photo-collages that picture an urban oasis - both real and utopian, a sort of desire for experiencing the uncanny within the quotidian.

Elaborating on his processes and themes, an accompanying note states, “He works in all media - painting, sculpture, photography, video etc. His works are rooted in the megalopolis that is Mumbai and, by extension, all urban experiences, connecting the disciplines of archeology, sociology, and biology. ‘Annexation’, a large sculpture has its surface inscribed of an over-sized kerosene stove, carrying images sourced from the historic Victoria Terminus railway station and its neo-Gothic architecture. It represents a struggle by sustenance and survival seen by millions of commuters daily.

In a photo work, ‘Conditions Apply 2’, images of round breads wax and wane as if the cyclical moon, representing the ups and downs of life. Another intriguing work is comprised of 108 color photos that present an index of the shirt pockets of hurried commuters, often bulged with objects of daily necessities. Another painting by him pictures the artist’s urban Everyman as an organic being - a synthesis of both culture and nature.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Snapshot of historic works in late-19th-century inspired by Kodak moments

Eastman Kodak has already filed papers for bankruptcy protection. Ironically, a museum in Washington, D.C. is harking back to the glory days when its cameras generated iPhone-kind of excitement among the then known artists.

Several leading painters/ printmakers then used photography for recording their private lives and public spheres, producing inventive results. The Kodak handheld camera’s invention in 1888 energized the creative vision and working methods of post-impressionists.

‘Snapshot: Painters and Photography’ revives the era of the late-19th-century. Artists from that time period had done experiments with their Kodak hand-held cameras. The show presents over 200 photographs and several related paintings, drawings and prints by them. Many of these have never been exhibited before. Collating them from renowned international collections, it focuses on the relationship among the artists’ work in a variety of media.

This new exhibition at the Phillips Collection features works by many prominent post-Impressionist artists like Édouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis, Pierre Bonnard etc and their experiments with the camera. Others such a George Hendrik Breitner, Henri Rivière and Henri Evenepoel enthusiastically explored the possibilities inherent in the medium.

They recorded everything from the building of the Eiffel Tower and bustling street scenes to family trips to the countryside and nude models. Although these artists produced over 10,000 photos, most of them in the exhibit are rather unknown and previously unpublished. None of them ever thought of themselves as expert photographers. These were mostly private objects, made for the very cause people make use of cameras even today: to capture moments with friends or family and commemorate events.

The artists translated their photographic images at times directly into their artworks in other media. When viewed right alongside these prints, paintings and drawings, the ‘snapshots’ collection does reveal some fascinating parallels in processes of foreshortening, lighting, cropping, silhouettes, and vantage point.

This Snapshot of historic works in late-19th-century inspired by Kodak moments is one not to be missed…

Vivacious visions of Mughal India

Providing a peep into India’s artistic past, a captivating collection courtesy Howard Hodgkin offers vivacious ‘Visions of Mughal India’. This exciting exhibition is on view at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

It displays a comprehensive collection of this renowned artist-collector for the first time in its entirety, giving an enticing overview of Indian court painting, which prospered during the Mughal era (c. 1550–1850), comprising the refined naturalistic creations of the imperial Mughal court; the subtly colored and poetic paintings of the Deccani Sultanates; and the vibrantly hued and boldly drawn styles of the Rajput kingdoms.

They include illustrations of epics and myths, royal portraits and many scenes of court life or hunting scenes. The artist-collector quips: “I just wanted great art." Unveiling the intrinsic beauty of his collection, considered one of the best in the world, an accompanying essay states, “All his Indian pictures are of an unusual or exceptional quality.

Some of the works vividly evoke the urban or daily life of India, a country which has inspired Howard Hodgkin on his frequent visits made over some 50 years. There is also great diversity in these pictures, some containing exciting passages or juxtapositions of color, as can also be found in his own work. But many others are lightly colored brush drawings which show an expressive mastery of line.”

This is essentially a very personal and focused collection, formed by an artist’s keen eye. Artistic quality has always mattered most to Hodgkin – the narrative content and other aspects of paintings far less. All his pictures of an exceptional or unusual quality include illustrations of myths and epics, royal portraits and hunting scenes or scenes of court life.

There is a large group of elephant portraits as well as studies of both Mughal and Kota schools, whereas some of the works evoke the daily life of India, a nation that has inspired the collector-artist, prompting frequent visits on his part over some 50 years.

Howard Hodgkin and his exquisite Indian art collection

"My collection has been seen before in an incomplete form but it’s since grown considerably. Now I’m struck all over again by its quality... I never bought paintings or drawings on the tempting but distracting basis of their topography, their school of art, their theme, period or style. I just wanted great art"

Above quote sums up the sentiments of artist-collector Howard Hodgkin, who showcases his Indian art collection in its entirety with an emphasis on sheer artistic quality. He never acquired works on the basis of their topography, their theme, their school of art, period or style.
A large part of his collection for the last ten years has been on long-term loan basis to the Ashmolean, Oxfor. Selected pictures have also been shown in its Indian galleries. Some others have been lent by him especially for this grand exhibition.

The artist and his work was the subject of an essay by The Financial Times writer Jackie Wullschlager, who mentioned: “His vigorous/delicate abstracts, evocations of memories appealed for a long time particularly to literary audiences for their interiority of being, emotional depth and intellectual ambivalence. Although he won the Turner Prize in 1985, it’s only in the past decade or so that the artist has been more widely celebrated as one of Britain’s most significant living artists.

The publication interviews him on the eve of an exhibition of his collection of Indian art that he has amassed over half a century, at the Oxford-based Ashmolean. It narrates: “Hodgkin’s interest in Indian art began in adolescence under the tutelage of an art master at Eton, Wilfred Blunt. India, when he began visiting in 1964, must have been a stunning contrast after grey England. Hodgkin’s collection, each work chosen for its ‘intensity of feeling – a shot in the heart’, and with a painter’s eye, is among the most distinguished in the world.

“The great thing about Indian paintings is that they are very small – so, naturally, I only really like the big ones,” he concludes.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Edgar Degas's eclectic nudes

The first major monographic exhibition in Paris devoted to Edgar Degas (since the 1988 retrospective at the Grand Palais, ‘Degas and the Nude’) contributes to the ambition of the Musée d'Orsay gallery to show the recent progress in research regarding the great masters of the second half of the 19th Century, following the homage to Claude Monet and more recently Edouard Manet.
The nude figure was critical to the art of Edgar Degas (1834-1917) from the beginning of his career in the 1850s until the end of his working life, but the subject has never before been explored in a Museum exhibition. “Degas and the Nude,” co-organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, features paintings, pastels, drawings, prints, and sculpture, and calls attention to the evolution of the treatment of the nude from Degas’s early years, through his offerings from the 1880s and 1890s, to the last decades of his career.

This exhibition explores Degas's evolution in his practice of the nude, from the academic and historical approach of his early years down to the inscription of the body in modernity throughout his long career. A predominant element in the artist's work, together with dancers and horses, nudes are presented through all of the techniques used by Degas, including painting, sculpture, drawing, printing and above all pastel, which he brought to its highest degree of achievement.

Organized in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the exhibition takes advantage of the very rich collection of graphic works of the Musée d'Orsay, seldom shown due to its fragility, to which will be added exceptional loans from the largest collections, such as those of the New York Metropolitan Museum and the Chicago Art Institute.

More than three years in the making, ‘Degas and the Nude’, first held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston explored how Degas exploited all of the body's expressive possibilities. It showed how his personal vision of the nude informed his notion of modernity.

Rising collector interest in Indian art

While demand for India’s established names is still quite strong among collectors, works by other renowned and highly talented artists such as Atul Dodiya, Bharti Kher, Rashid Rana, and Jitish Kallat are also doing well in terms of demand.

While Christie's continues to dominate the auction market for Contemporary and Modern Indian art with total sales well in excess of $20 million (close to Rs 100 crore) in the year gone by, Sotheby’s was the obvious second selling Indian art worth $9.5 million (roughly Rs 50 crore).

At an online auction conducted by a top Mumbai-based art auction house, paintings by top Indian artists, including Syed Haider Raza, Jehangir Sabavala, and Tyeb Mehta among others fetched over $14 million (about Rs 70 crore).

The Christie’s associate director (south Asian modern + contemporary art), Sonal Singh, has been quoted as saying in a recent news report (‘Indian artworks see rise in collector interest’ in The Hindustan Times by Rachit Vats and Tejeesh NS Behl), “The Indian contemporary & modern art market has grown. And the fact that we’ve added more sale locations for this particular category goes to show the increasing demand globally.” The auction house auctions Indian art in New York, London and Hong Kong.

The report also quotes the director of Sotheby’s, Maithili Parekh, as saying: “Top quality art with stellar provenance and in good condition finds buyers in India and world-over. In the past 18 months, we have seen record prices for artists such as Raza and Akbar Padamsee.”

The market is now getting more discerning. Masterpieces and quality works have grown in demand, reaching high values thanks to the growing affluent Indian middle class. There is a better appreciation of art among new breed of collectors. What though remains to be seen is whether the art prices actually reflect the market size or supply demand equation.

Auctions are not necessarily a true indicator of the market price of a work, as hectic bidding often raises the price, art critic and curator Sahar Zaman points out and adds that it’s difficult to evaluate the artworks’ value traded outside of auctions because many of these transactions are done in cash.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A show at Tate Britain fathoms Picasso’s influence on modern art scene

Picasso remains the 20th century’s most important artistic figure, a genius who single handedly changed the very face of modern art. Full of inspirational and beautiful works, a new show gives an insight into how British art became modern, juxtaposing some of the most influential names of the 20th century, also his avid admirers.

This major exhibition at Tate Britain, entitled ‘Picasso and Modern British Art’, explores his extensive legacy and also his influence on British art, to trace how this played a role in the acceptance of modern art in Britain. It throws light on the fascinating tale of Picasso’s connections to and affection for this country.

The show brings together over 150 spectacular artworks, with over 60 stunning Picassos including sublime paintings from the most remarkable moments in his career, such as Weeping Woman 1937 and The Three Dancers 1925. It offers the rare opportunity to see these celebrated artworks alongside seven of Picasso’s most brilliant British admirers, exploring the huge impact he had on their art: Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland and David Hockney.

Pablo Picasso, (1881 –1973) was a Spanish master - painter, printmaker, ceramicist, and sculptor. Considered one of the most influential and greatest artists of the 20th century, he co-founded the Cubist movement. Renowned for the constructed sculpture’s invention, and the co-invention of collage, he played a major role in developing and exploring a wide variety of styles.

Commonly regarded, along with Marcel Duchamp and Henri Matisse, as one of the artists who defined the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the early 20th century, Picasso is was responsible for many of the significant developments in printmaking, ceramics, painting, and sculpture.

‘Picasso and Modern British Art’ is the first exhibit to trace his rise as a figure of both controversy and celebrity in Britain . From his London visit in 1919, working on the costumes and scenery for Diaghilev’s ballet; to his post-war reputation as well as political appearances; leading up to the successful 1960 Tate exhibition.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

‘The Wonder of It All’ – a master’s world unveiled

Sakti Burman's paintings evoke the look of a weathered fresco, depicting figures in hues that the viewer feels were once vivid, but are now faded. They transport one into their dream-like world, where the perspective and composition is often that of medieval icons. He uses a marbling effect, and employs pointillism to apply paint. Apart from allegorical and fictitious anthropomorphic creatures, his multi-textured works include self-portrait, on occasions.

Decorative details, varied textures and complementary colors create a phantasmagoria in his works wherein curious creatures, human and divine characters harmoniously coexist. Revealing his artistic influences and inspirations, he has stated: "My childhood memories are mixed up with the existing realities. In creative art, the role of memory is well recognized fact. In my case, that of a painter staying away from his milieu, memory is doubly potent in sustaining the creative energies."

Born in Kolkata in 1935, he lived in a small village in the pre-partition Bangladesh till the age of seven or eight. The terrible famine of Bengal in 1943 shook his little world. The way he grew up, immersed in art and culture as part of day-to-day living, shaped his tender mind. His mother, sisters and aunts created thattas, full of imaginary things, almost like tableaux. The vivacious village life, the hues of greens and oranges, pinks and blues, a streak of spirituality, and the Indian miniatures motivated him. He recounts, “My father never discouraged me to paint but he would have been happier to see me becoming a lawyer or a doctor.” But he was destined to be a painter.

Renowned art critic Ranjit Hoskote terms the veteran artist ‘a pilgrim of complex allegiances’, who takes the viewer on a magical tour where objects from the mythologies and ancient history merge into his personal narration, by overlapping past and the present, interior and the exterior spaces, as well as traditions from east and the west.

A retrospective exhibition of his enriching oeuvre takes place courtesy Pundloe Art Gallery and Apparao Galleries at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. It’s an opportunity not to be missed!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Questioning the situation and the self

Talwar Gallery presents at is New York venue a group of rare installation works from 1993 by the late artist, Rummana Hussain, known for extreme sensitivity and finesse.
This is incidentally the first solo gallery exhibition in the US that showcases her works done in the wake of events of December 1992 in Ayodhya, the holy town of Indi.

Rummana Hussain was born in 1952 and passed away in 1999 in Mumbai. Her works have been presented at various prestigious institutions across the world including Tate Modern, London; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; Asia Society, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Monterrey, Mexico and Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA. In 1998 Rummana was Artist in Residence at Art in General, New York.

Among her noteworthy solos are ‘Fortitude from Fragments’, Talwar Gallery, New Delhi (2010); ‘Home/Nation’, Gallery Chemould Mumbai (1996); a traveling show ‘Fragments/Multiples’, among other shows. Her art practice took a dramatic shift, awakening in her an urgent and a persistent questioning of the situation and the self.

The works on view mark the pivotal point, which altered the direction of her work, evolving her language and medium to address burgeoning concerns both public and private. Employing simple everyday materials the works are powerful expressions of the communal dislocation of the time and embark the artist for further impassioned explorations, ensuing at times in poignant revelations of self.

Cracked, split domes and crumbled earth, reminiscent of a fractured edifice; assemblage of shattered terra cotta pots lay scattered and exposed: the female body deconstructed, undone. The works on view are evocative of a shrine where the remnants of broken earthenware laid on mirrors urge a solemn reflection.

A sense of loss permeates the space as fragments appear excavated relics of the past. While these installations were created almost two decades ago, the violence and intolerance they allude to still resonates today, more widespread and forceful.

An artist driven by rich traditions and human predicaments

Constantly absorbing influences and images from his environment like a video camera, the experiences and impressions act as a source of motivation or as a reference point to Jatin Das.

The artist can be inspired by even a simple interaction or a complex churning of thoughts. Sometimes he looks at his earlier works and might draw something entirely new from an old theme. Spontaneity imparts freshness in one’s work, he emphasizes. A painting is something beyond a painter, he reveals. “I portray human forms - sometimes metaphoric, sometimes poetic and suggestive, at other times. I don’t paint to a specific theme. It takes its own shape automatically.”

The mystifying human figures within the compositions, mostly devoid of any embellishments and bare from the beginning itself, seem to speak their own language and convey shades of emotions. A female figure even doesn’t have hands because they are not needed, he explains. They exude subtle sensuality, amplifying the beauty of form and the emotions within them.

Providing an insight into his working process and philosophy, an elaborate essay by The Wall Street Journal critic Margot Cohen notes: “The renowned painter has his own interpretation of modernism. Over the course of his career, his large oil canvases have featured muscular human figures – limbs akimbo, devoid of any ornamentation.

“The backgrounds remain abstract, with shifting fields of color and confident lines that define the composition. Such works first brought him acclaim in the 1960s and '70s, and they continue to win him admirers today. Some critics note the erotic vitality of his artworks – from jutting hips, and sometimes playful, coquettish poses. Such energy also comes across in his watercolors, drawings, murals and sculptures.”

Human predicament, emotions and experiences inspire Jatin Das, who is also staunchly determined to spread awareness about India’s rich traditional art forms and preserve them for generations to come.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Aftereffects of financial crisis gradually receding

After a recent roller-coaster ride, India’s turbulent art market now seems to be on stable ground, a recent elaborate write-up in The Wall Street Journal by by Margherita Stancati and Shefali Anand points out.

Based on a series of interviews, field visits at the recent Indian Art Fair and research, the writer duo has made several observations about the current art market scenario as far Indian art marketplace - Modern Art, Contemporary Art, and Photography is concerned.

Here’s a quick look at how different categories of art are performing as explained by the two:
  • Prices of contemporary and modern Indian art started soaring around a decade ago, setting the industry wheels in motion in 2007-08. Later, the financial downturn hit art markets world-wide and India’s wasn’t spared. In that period, prices of Indian art fell by more than half.

  • This took a toll on several art funds that had been set up a few years earlier. When Osian’s, a Mumbai-based auction house, launched its art fund in 2006, it attracted the interest of many investors. But by the summer of 2009, when the fund was due to pay its 656 investors their returns, it didn’t have the money to pay them back fully.

  • While recent sales patterns at auctions, art fairs and galleries suggest the market is showing some signs of recovery, few expect it to go back to pre-2008 levels.

  • Widely seen as a status symbol, the works of this older generation of painters – associated with the Modern Art category - have often broken the $1-million barrier, something that happens less frequently with works by contemporary Indian artists.

  • The financial crisis left this market relatively unscathed. Kishore Singh of the Delhi Art Gallery has been quoted as saying: “Because we work with modern masters our market not only is not being impacted but we are doing very soundly.”

How different segments of Indian art are performing?

An informative article in The Wall Street Journal by Margherita Stancati and Shefali Anand do a quick review of the different segments of the Indian art market. It makes some pertinent comments about the key areas a follows:
Modern school of painting: Collectors still see works by artists of India’s Modern school of painting, a movement spearheaded by F.N. Souza, S.H. Raza and the late M.F. Husain, as a safer investment than contemporary art.

A Mumbai-based gallery-owner and author of a new book on India’s art market, Abhay Maskara states: “They’ve etched their name in history. “They have been validated by galleries, by art history and prices, most importantly.” and adds, this makes people ‘more confident’ about buying their work.

Contemporary Art: Works by the younger generation, talented and emerging Indian artists are widely viewed as a riskier investment option than modernist paintings. Their prices suffered the most during the financial meltdown.

The relatively low prices, however, mean that savvy collectors could stand to gain. “This is the time to look at the next emerging voices,” says Alka Pande, an advisor and curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at India Habitat Center in Delhi.

Photography: The Indian market for this particular is gradually opening up. Devika Daulet-Singh of Photo Ink, a Delhi-based photography gallery, describes the space for photography in India’s art scene as still ‘small’. However, she says collectors are becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of limited edition prints.

In India, photographic prints are much cheaper compared to more established markets like Europe or China. Ms. Daulet-Singh states the Indian market is set to catch up. She showcased prints by photographers including Manas Bhattacharya and Madhuban Mitra at the IAF this year.

“We are in a situation similar to the 70s and 80s when you could buy the Modern masters at the prices photographic prints command today. Till recently, the very idea of a limited edition kept mainstream art collectors at a distance in India. I don’t see that as a big issue anymore,” she concludes.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Spotlight on one of India’s most talented contemporary artists

One of India’s most renowned and popular contemporary artists, Jitish Kallat’s rise to fame sums up the impressive growth of Indian art itself, in a way, in the last decade or so. Born in Mumbai, he spent his formative years in a middle-class, suburbia locality.

He was more interested in mass media and advertising than fine art. However, within a month of his admission at Sir J.J. School of Art, he made up his mind to become an artist. Interestingly, Deutsche Bank acquired one of his works during a student exhibition at art school. It also had it up prominently in their lobby. Coincidentally, a German curator noticed it at the bank then, and met the artist to invite him for an important show. He even read an essay at the conference.

This noteworthy artist of his generation narrates many such interesting moments in his career and also makes some pertinent observations about contemporary Indian art. According to him, art being made in India was highly undervalued given the quality just until about five years ago. In global context, one has to see the sharp rise in value in terms of the general realignment of the world as well as India’s rising sphere of influence as an emerging power, which has created an interest in ‘everything Indian’ including the art market.

The artist has stated: “The art scene in India has gained tremendous internal momentum and I only see more and more people getting involved with the field of contemporary art. As the circumference of the Indian World grows, I hope the institutions - museums and art schools - as well as the media grow and operate in a more enlightened fashion.”

The art world and the markets tend to go through cycles of infatuation hence one should take neither neglect nor attention too seriously, he observes.

An initiative to take art to the masses

An innovative concept aims to nudge the growing number of contemporary Indian art collectors in the buying game.

Charles Saatchi terms today’s collectors ‘comprehensively & indisputably vulgar’ as testified by ‘the jamboree that was Venice Biennale this year’ underlining the fact that parties are now a more powerful temptation than actual pictures. But this has also drawn art patrons with wider horizons than ever before, expanding the art world to contemporary art from the Middle East, China and India.

Recently, a group of influential collectors, curators, artists and patrons assembled at the British Museum for a conference to debate the issue of art & patronage in the Middle East. Simultaneously, concrete steps are being taken in India to develop more discriminating taste through the India Art Fair Collectors’ Circle that aims at both enlarging and educating the country’s potential Saatchis.

The brainchild of IAF’s Neha Kirpal, it’s prompted by the influx of visitors ‘many of whom had never visited an art fair before’, drawing her attention to a ‘hunger for art’ and also a need to channel it sensibly.

The Collectors’ Circle will look to snare the interest of those ‘already engaging with the lucrative luxury lifestyle sector” still ‘intimidated by art that they feel needs specialized knowledge.’ For them, contemporary art is still alien territory though they know it can play a key part in their lives. Patrons and top collectors involved in this initiative include Rajshree Pathy, Swapan Seth and the Poddars.

One of its goals is to encourage all to buy art for love, and not money, and thereby stabilize a nascent market that has become volatile in its post-boom phase thanks to people who looked at it as an investment option only. So when the markets crashed, everyone wanted to liquidate. The explosion of the inflated bubble would also mean that more people from less privileged backgrounds, not necessarily millionaires, can now afford to buy art.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A museum plans exclusive original programming for YouTube

Joining its trademark hometown industry and placing its bets on the remarkable success of new initiative from video sharing and networking site YouTube to promote original content, the Los Angeles-based Museum of Contemporary Art has just announced a plan to launch an online video channel.

According to the authorities, the channel will be started in a couple of months from now, latest by July. It will feature museum-related news stories, features, talk-show programming, among other shows and information that will be purely art-focused.

The channel will be called MOCA TV, according to the media reports. It is probably the first ever solely devoted channel to contemporary art, that will be incorporated as part of YouTube’s plan, announced late last year, to take more aggressive steps onto the turf of network and cable TV by creating a host of channels. They will feature a wide variety of content from diverse domains and genres, including comedy, music, sports, and other kinds of entertainment.

A property of search engine giant Google, YouTube has already announced its programming partnerships struck with the likes of Thomson Reuters, wrestling producer WWE, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as the production houses of celebrities like Rainn Wilson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Madonna,.

Preliminary plans of the museum include a documentary-oriented show about street artists; an ‘MTV Cribs’-style show on artists’ studios; a weekly news roundup (the Art News Network); a new educational series (MOCA University); a show - described as a ‘post-reality & talk show’ to be hosted by Ryan Trecartin, the antic video artist; and an art comedy series.

Jeffrey Deitch, the museum’s director who serves as the channel’s executive, states, “Contemporary art serves the new international language that unifies leading creators across visual art, music, film, fashion and design. MOCA TV will act as the museum’s ultimate digital extension, aggregating, curating as well as generating artistic content for a new global audience engaged in visually oriented culture.”

An artist known for his ‘paintings of people’

'I've always wanted to create drama in my pictures, which is why I paint people. It's people who have brought drama to pictures from the beginning. The simplest human gestures tell stories.' This statement by Lucian Freud (1922 – 2011), one of the most important and influential artists of his generation, had ‘paintings of people’ at the core of his oeuvre.
A new exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery, spanning over seventy years, is the first to focus on his portraiture. Established with the criteria that the Gallery was to be about history, not about art, and about the status of the sitter, rather than the quality or character of a particular image considered as a work of art, the gallery still uses this criterion while deciding which works enter its collection.

Produced in close collaboration with the late Lucian Freud, the exhibition concentrates on particular periods and groups of sitters which illustrate Freud's stylistic development and technical virtuosity. Insightful paintings of the artist's lovers, friends and family, referred to by the artist as the 'people in my life', will demonstrate the psychological drama and unrelenting observational intensity of his work.

Featuring over 100 works from museums and private collections throughout the world, some of which have never been seen before, this is an unmissable opportunity to experience the work of one of the world's greatest artists.

The apparent restriction of the title is not much of a limitation in reality since to the legendary artist a picture of just about anything was nothing but a portrait - certainly a depiction of an individual sans any clothes (to the artist, ‘a naked portrait’).

Had he lived, this exhibit would have marked the artist’s 90th birthday year. And as it is, the event will be the first ever opportunity for almost a decade to view a retrospective in the city of London of works by a painter who growingly looks not only like one of the great British artists, but among the most influential ones of the past 50 years or so anywhere.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A veteran painter’s passion for landscapes

The Royal Academy of Arts presents the first major show of new landscape paintings by David Hockney RA. It features vivid paintings largely inspired by the East Yorkshire landscape. The large-scale artworks have been created specifically for the galleries located at the Royal Academy of Arts.

'David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture' essentially spans a five decade period to demonstrate David Hockney’s long fascination with the deft depiction of landscape and its continued exploration. The exhibit is comprised of a display of his dazzling iPad drawings plus a series of new films that have been produced using 18 cameras, displayed on multiple screens. They provide a visual journey, which is truly spellbinding, and more so through the artist’s eyes.

Overall, it demonstrates of David Hockney’s energy and curiosity in embracing the landscape art’s possibilities. In works made essentially from observation, from imagination and memory, and also with the assistance of technological as well as visual aids, his virtuosity across a wide variety of media and his innovative approach to image-making let him evoke landscape and so the space – the real ‘bigger picture’ based on his own vision.

His knowledge of, and acknowledged debt to, masters of the bygone era are in evidence, as is his usage of scale in order to broaden the landscape view. Above all, the exhibit places him firmly in the illustrious British landscape painters’ tradition, such as Constable, associated with an area of natural beauty.

The Royal Academy has tried to group most of his paintings with considerable effect into a succinct series of locational themes arranged in a sequence of galleries, which embrace you with a place even while delighting you with their seasonal variation. By incorporating a range of styles, modes and techniques of draughtsmanship, the show strives to capture the magic and inner beauty of his oeuvre – that’s what ‘A Bigger Picture of artist David Hockney RA’ is all about…

‘Méré Humd(r)um’ or ‘mere humdrum’?

Aicon Gallery presents a group show, entitled ‘Méré Humd(r)um’, a group exhibit of contemporary artworks from a new generation of Pakistani artists at its New York venue.

The show features up and coming talented practitioners from the country, including Roohi Ahmed, Cyra Ali, Shoaib Mehmood, Hassan Mujtaba, Sara Khan, Rehana Mangi, Abdullah M. I. Syed, Seher Naveed, Aisha Rahim, Iqra Tanveer and Ehsan ul Haq. The Urdu term, Humdum, which forms part of the title is formed after having removed one syllable from its mundane English counterpart. It means someone so close that yours and their breath are one.

The peculiar word Méré, with even less distinguishing it from the almost pejorative, minimal ‘mere’ - the English language word , is infused with a sense of belonging. It actually means mine. Together put, the cluster of words, Méré Humdum, becomes a note of endearment for someone who can be a mentor, a lover or a friend.

In a linguistic coincidence though, it’s just a syllable away from ‘mere humdrum’ as in English.” Today, after over sixty years of independence, the ordinary, the humdrum, the everyday, remains a coveted object of longing for most countrymen of Pakistan - the kind of longing one tends to reserve for a lover.

A day when there’s no violence on the streets, no bombing; when the school bus gets delayed only by traffic jams is a day of celebration and thanksgiving. The artists in this show have created artworks in response to the violence and chaos surrounding them, yet much of it is imbued with an eternal and intrinsic optimism, which stands in contrast to the uncertainty and instability from which it has emerged.

Much like of the 1930s’ Germany’s Weimar Republic, an odd dichotomy is there in place with today’s young Pakistani artists. Even as their social, political and economic situations are spinning out of control, the visual arts-scape , in this landscape of circumscribed opportunities, is experiencing a transformation and creative blooming, as evident in this show.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Asian buyers drive global art sales

Art prices globally swelled, lifting sales at Christie's to an impressive $5.7 billion last year, up almost 14% from the year before. The total, according to the London-based auction house included $4.9 billion achieved in auction sales apart from $808.6 million in sales that it brokered privately, as top galleries typically do. In effect, the private-sale figure doubled in a year’s time.

The auction sales of Christie matched those of its chief auction rival. Sotheby's stated it managed to auction off $4.9 billion of artworks last year, up nearly 14.5% from the year before. The auction house, which is publicly held, would be disclosing its private sales some time later this month.

Chief executive of the privately held Christie's, Steven Murphy, added investors and collectors alike view art as ‘a potentially safe haven’ for their precious money, especially at a time when the financial outlook broadly remains volatile: He reasoned, "Everyone now is doubling down on it (art). That is why the market is so strong."

Art values increased overall by 10.2%, according to Michael Moses, a renowned art-market analyst. His New York firm Beautiful Asset Advisors generates indexes to track major shifts in the art sale prices of thousands of works sold at auction sales more than once at least over the years.

Asia continued to flex its expanded purchasing power thanks to further influx of new collectors last year from mainland China. They ratcheted up sales prices for many of their hometown favorites like Qi Baishi and so also global mainstays such as Pablo Picasso. Almost 13% of the bids Christie's fielded last year came from prospective buyers in greater China.

No surprise, Asian art for the first time became the second-biggest seller category of the year for Christie's after contemporary art ($890.1 million sales). Its priciest Asian artwork last year was a scroll painting by Cui Ruzhuo's ‘Lotus’ at $15.9 million.

Dealers noted that the reshuffling of marquee categories from Christie's does reflect Asia's rising clout even while underscoring the dwindling supply line of Impressionist & modern masterpieces in the marketplace - the majority tucked away in museums.

Worlds’ top art auction houses report brisk business

An insightful news report in The Wall Street Journal highlights how global auction houses ‘clean up’ as keen investors vigorously vie for art. Columnist KELLY CROW makes following observations in a detailed news report:
  • The pace of art buying varies around the world, though. Christie's sold $1.2 billion of contemporary art last year, up 27% from a year earlier. Collectors in the US shopped cautiously last year, with Christie's sales in America dropping 3%, to $1.9 billion, from the year before.

  • Its sales also were down 64% in Dubai, to $18.6 million. On the other hand, European collectors—particularly those from Italy and Switzerland—stepped up their bidding. Christie's sales in Europe totaled $2.2 billion, up 29% from 2010.

  • Christie's greatest triumph came from Roy Lichtenstein, whose 1961 comicbook-style painting of a young man staring through a peephole, ‘I Can See the Whole Room…and There's Nobody in It!’, sold for $43.2 million in November, setting a new record for the Pop artist. Sotheby's fared even better with Clyfford Still's jagged abstract, ‘1949-A-No. 1’ that sold for $61.7 million in November. Impressionist & modern art sales proved a disappointment, though.

  • Both houses seized on collectors' wider interest in contemporary art, a category that includes works created since 1949. The style is particularly popular with newly wealthy, younger buyers who want art made by their generational peers.

  • Looking ahead, expect the top houses to bolster their offerings online as well. Christie's said nearly a third of its bidders last year shopped by bidding online, a 2% rise from 2010. Christie's also got $9.5 million from its first online-only sale of lower-priced goods from the estate of actress Elizabeth Taylor in December. Ms. Taylor's pricier jewels and couture clothing were still sold the traditional way, in a series of live auctions that brought in an additional $147 million.

Monday, February 13, 2012

An event that taps reach and power of Internet

The VIP (for Viewing in Private) Art Fair takes place exclusively in the virtual realm. It’s probably the first ever art fair that mobilizes the collective spirit of the world’s top contemporary galleries in the World Wide Web.

Created by James and Jane Cohan, a couple of art dealers in New York, who teamed up with two ambitious internet entrepreneurs, VIP promises to curtail costs dramatically for both buyers and sellers of art. The James Cohan Gallery in Shanghai and New York has hosted several interesting shows since its inception.

Check works of top international artists

The top galleries from several countries that sign range from established names like New York’s David Zwirner and London’s White Cube to relative newcomers such as i8 in Reykjavik. Owners can choose between different sizes of virtual booths to display the works, for about one-fifth as much as charges at a traditional art fair. Once they log in, visitors arrive in an atrium that displays an exhibition map with the participating galleries’ names.

Clicking on any of them takes you into its booth where you can check images from different interesting angles and distances – something not always possible with the photos that auction houses and art dealers display on their sites, and almost impossible in a catalog.

For those of us who simply like to wander around in the virtual world, the online fair has three elaborate ‘exhibition halls’. Top artists like Damien Hirst are grouped in the Premier hall. The Focus hall has galleries featuring eight works by one single artist, whereas works done by up -and-coming artists emerging artists are displayed in the Emerging hall.

Connect with dealers online

It’s indeed a novel concept providing collectors with an unrestrained access to the best of works by the world’s leading and most critically acclaimed artists. It gives them a chance to connect one-on-one with renowned dealers - from across the globe from the comforts of their drawing rooms.

A precursor to VIP 2.0

VIP Art Fair, the world’s first and major online contemporary art event is going to have a more extensive Web-based presence this year. There are three new special events in the offing this year, following the hiring of a new director, chief executive officer and technical team. Big names like Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth and White Cube remain among 110-115 dealers who have signed up for VIP 2.0, that has just been previewed.

The online fair has got angel funding to the tune of nearly $1 million from a duo of international art collectors, namely the Australian Philip Keir and Selmo Nissenbaum from Brazil. The first edition, held last January, was termed an unprecedented event that gave collectors and art lovers access to thousands of quality works and also a chance to connect with over 130 dealers from across 30 countries. The event though, was hampered by logistical problems like a jammed chat system. After that, some of the first-time participants such as L&M Arts and Michael Werner Gallery refused to return.

Agenda of the new fair director

The fair’s new chief executive, Lisa Kennedy, was quoted as saying in an interview with Bloomberg: “We have hired our own in-house technical team. We’ve re-architected the website. It can now handle a lot more traffic flow and also many more simultaneous queries.” Kennedy was hired last year from a subsidiary of Amazon, Quidsi Inc.. A former head of sales at Artnet, Liz Parks, has been chosen as director of the fair that starts on online through February 8.

The agency’s news report stated that VIP will be holding exclusive events devoted to artworks on paper apart from events related to photography in April and July respectively. A ‘Vernissage’ (preview) will take place in September. It will be a smaller affair in which dealers would create a buzz about what’s new & fresh before the Fall season begins.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

‘Slipping Through The Cracks’ at Latitude 28

A new group exhibition, entitled ‘Slipping Through The Cracks’, takes place at Gallery Latitude 28 located in New Delhi.

The show has been curated by Meera Menezes. It featuring works by several renowned contemporary Indian artists, including Anita Dube, Mithu Sen, Prajjwal Chowdhury, Atul Bhalla, Baptist Coelho, Hemali Bhuta, Jagannath Panda, Archana Hande, Arun Kumar HG, Raqs Media Collective, Shreyas Karle, and Sheba Chhachhi.

As a curatorial note explains, the participating artists through their works make an attempt to investigate the systemic erasure that accompanies a dizzying accumulation of information in an increasingly digitalized and virtual world. It adds, “The exhibition dwells on the mechanisms of this erasure and the deeper ramifications when people and historical events get swallowed up by the cracks of memory and history. While some vignettes of information go viral, enjoying an unimaginable circulation, others languish for want of a digital trace.

What transpires when a Google or Wiki search fails to throw up any mention of bygone moments in history? Do they cease to exist simply because they leave no digital footprint or are no longer referenced and are consequently lost forever to posterity? Ironically however this erasure seems to go hand in hand with the harnessing of new and sophisticated technologies to map the world around us.

These catalog every move of ours using techniques ranging from fingerprinting to biometrics. Are there ways to slip through the cracks of the surveillance systems? All the artists try to examine this phenomenon of leakage and loss in both the virtual and the real worlds. Are there perhaps cracks/fissures/ruptures in the political, social or gender fabric?

They also embark on an investigative journey to see whether these spaces and interstices within the cracks can in turn form sites of resistance or offer possibilities of generating new meaning. Their works traverse these spaces between spaces and tarry in this in-between-ness that the cracks offer.

‘Slipping through the Cracks’ is on view until 22nd February 2012.

Experiences of restoring a master’s work

In 1960 Krishen Khanna had a job with Grindlays (now known as ANZ) in Kanpur. When his British managers came to know that he wanted to quit for painting full-time, one of them quipped: “Has he lost his mind?”

Eventually, his clerks gave him a send-off. Outside the bank, MF Husain and other artist friends were waiting to welcome him. Khanna was already part of the progressive group of artists including FN Souza and SH Raza, started in Mumbai, all keen to break away from European realism.

Recollecting his great artistic journey, writer Rahul Jacob, the FT’s South China correspondent mentions in an extensive essay: “In 1956 he painted a protagonist seated on the ground while playing a long-stringed instrument: random, Jackson Pollock-style black ribbons of paint done against a grey backdrop. It caught the eye of a young American, Geoffrey Ward, who bought it from a gallery in Connaught Place.

When I moved to Hong Kong in 1996, the Wards, in an act of generosity that still amazes me, gifted me the painting by Khanna. The oil painting engaged me like nothing else I owned. It traveled from my studio apartment in New York to my flat in Hong Kong to an apartment in west London. The dampness it had been exposed to in storage and the high humidity in Hong Kong had damaged the canvas.

In the spring of 2010, when I took a sabbatical to live in Beijing, Conor Mullan, a gallerist friend in London, took a close look at the painting. He told me I should turn it over to a professional conservator immediately. A couple of days later I took it to the studio of Stuart Sanderson, a conservator-restorer in London.

A before-and-after report that read: “The painting was in a very fragile condition. Damp and mould were apparent on the back of the canvas ... there were several areas of paint loss.” Sanderson filled the areas that had been lost with chalk-based composition. Before that process had even started, the painting had been taken off its stretcher and the front and back were worked on to consolidate the loose paint. The frame was then fitted with low-reflection glass to protect it.

Since by now I had spent more on preserving it than I ever had on buying a painting, I was advised to have it authenticated by the artist. I showed Khanna a photograph of the painting soon after I arrived. Instantly, Khanna said: “1956.” With almost total recall, the artist told me how he was inspired to paint the canvas I own, listening to the Carnatic musicians.

Current art market scenario and artists to buy

An informative article in Forbes India offers definitive clues to the future prospects of art market on basis of the recent developments. We highlight key points made by Dinesh Narayanan based on discussion with the experts:
  • The price-points of rare, significant works by a selection of the important modernists have appreciated since the start of 2011. They are expected to rise through 2012. Between 2010 and 2011, the international auction market index for two leading modernists, F.N. Souza and M.F. Husain rose by over 60 percent and 80 percent, respectively. In keeping with trend, a Tyeb Mehta work titled 'Figure on Rickshaw' sold at a record $3.2 million at a Christie's auction in June 2011.

  • Though their prices were affected, Indian contemporary artists who rode the wave in the middle of the last decade still have headroom because they managed to establish their reputation and their works are already part of many collections around the world. Many works of contemporary artists are available for a song in the secondary market and astute collectors are making the most of it. Many buyers are filling gaps in their collections, according to Chatterjee & Lal’s Mortimer Chatterjee.

  • Arvind Vijaymohan of a Delhi-based art advisory, The Art Ventures, quips: “"In so far as the contemporary category is concerned," says Vijaymohan, "there has been a resounding shift back towards quality, with the practice taking precedence over mere production." He feels the period beginning with 2012 and carrying forward till 2015-16 will offer a solid opportunity. This phase will serve as a juncture from where the current wave of emerging talent will rise and take charge as the new contemporaries.

  • The economic recession hurt emerging artists the most as their careers were just taking off. They are still struggling. It also means that works of some of the most promising young artists are available at very low prices. Many of the new artists are exploring themes and concerns that define their own generation.

  • Several young artists like Minam Apang, Rohini Devasher and Nityan Unnikrishnan are getting attention abroad as well. Devasher, Sarnath Banerjee, Atul Bhalla and Huma Mulji are some of the most promising artists whom you may consider in your portfolio, apart from identifies Kiran Subbaiah, Manish Nai, Minam Apang, Neha Choksi, Remen Chopra, Rohini Devasher, Shreyas Karle, Vibha Galhotra and Varunika Saraf as recommended by Vijaymohan.

  • To sum it up, the core idea should be: ‘If you like it and can afford it, buy it’. As Shalini Sawhney, director of The Guild art gallery of Mumbai puts it, "Art is not about money. It is about passion."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Kalighat paintings traveling showcase courtesy London’s V&A

A collaborative exhibition series courtesy the London-based Victoria and Albert Museum and Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya has just been concluded. V&A boasts a vast collection of Kalighat paintings, including contemporary works by rural artists, specially acquired for the project.

A group of artists from Kolkata’s traditional patua and other artisan communities evolved this form during the mid 19th century. By making use of brush and ink from the lampblack, they painted fascinating figures of deities, ordinary people, and the newly rich on mill-made paper. They also portrayed the changing gender roles and romantic depictions of women with vigorously flowing lines.

The patuas, collectively working on a painting, mostly remained anonymous. There were no signatures on the paintings to reveal their identities. The V&A collection though, includes works from the 1890s and 1900s that can be traced to Nibaran Chandra and Kali Charan Ghosh. The project charts the development of this exquisite form from early watercolor paintings of simple figures on a plain background, through to more complex designs that demonstrate the European influence on the city.

The World Collections Program, a project envisaged to link major UK museums with other institutions in Africa and Asia, had had its monetary support through government funding cut. So any such future projects will need to focus on resources from wealthy nations like China or the Gulf. Private funding, to an extent filled the gap, materializing an Indian tour of captivating Kalighat paintings from the V&A collection. The next leg of this showcase is due to be hosted at the Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad.

Even as the country’s traditional art forms remain in spotlight, modern and contemporary Indian art continues to draw attention as well. A show of abstract works, entitled ‘Between Fragments’, takes place at Indigo Blue Art, Singapore.

Shoba Broota, S.H Raza, Prafulla Mohanty, S. Harshavardhana, Ganesh Haloi, Paramjit Singh, Akkitham Narayanan, Manisha Parekh, Nitish Bhattacharjee, Ram Kumar, G.R Santosh, Samit Das, and Partha Shaw are among the artists on view, who employ abstraction to convey the profound depths of life, art, spirituality and emotion.

A quick look at Anish Kapoor’s shows in Indian and abroad

The internationally celebrated and respected artist displayed his milestone works for the first time in India rather late – only last year - as part of the major ‘twin’ exhibition series in Delhi and Mumbai. Each show complemented the other to give a holistic picture of the diversity and energy that marks his oeuvre.

The Telegraph writer Florence Waters pointed out that ‘one of the most influential sculptors of his generation’ might owe much of his inspiration to Indian culture and color.” Echoing the view, the artist revealed that his work drew from his memories of India. Incidentally, he was quite critical of the country’s contemporary visual culture, and the manner in which it is perceived internationally.

According to him, post-Independence, the museums in India were trying to form an idea of what an inherent visual context might be, but it remained ‘full of clichés – the ones we’ve bought into’. His latest commission to design the spectacular new public attraction for London 2012 Olympic Park, entitled ‘The ArcelorMittal Orbit’, has also received spectacular media attention. The breathtaking piece of public art – set to be the tallest in the UK - will tower over the Olympic Park.

Incidentally, his first solo was hosted more than two and a half decades ago at Patrice Alexandre, Paris. Since then his exhibitions have been held at several prestigious venues across the world like Manchester Art Gallery (2011); Pinchuk Art Center, Kiev; Guggenheim, Bilbao; Solomon R. Guggenheim Gallery, New York (2010); Royal Academy of Arts, London; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; MAK Exhibition Hall, Vienna, Austria (2009); Kukje Gallery, Seoul.

Other venues to have hosted his shows are Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin (2008); Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany; Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo (2007); Centre for Contemporary Art, Malaga, Spain; Lisson Gallery, London (2009, 2006, 2000); Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2004); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2003); Tate Modern, London (2002); and Taidehalli, Helsinki (2001); among others.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Spotlight on a globally renowned India-born practitioner

Considered one of the most talented contemporary sculptors globally, India-born and internationally celebrated Anish Kapoor, who has lived in London since the early 70’s, has been honored with the coveted Padma Bhushan award for his stupendous achievements by the Government of India.

His amazing oeuvre includes some truly imposing works, such as the vast and trumpet-like Marsyas that once filled the Tate's Turbine Hall, a giant reflecting, pod like sculptural work in Chicago’s Millennium Park, and a string of masterpieces showcased at the Royal Academy, London.

The prestigious venue hosted his select early pigment sculptures, beguiling mirror-polished steel sculptures and captivating cement sculptures apart from his monumental piece of artistry ‘Svayambh’, its title drawn from a Sanskrit term (meaning ‘self-generated’). Emblematic of the artist’s interest in sculptures, which actively participate in process of their own creation, it moved slowly through the galleries across the whole breadth of Burlington House.

In 1990, he received the Turner Prize and a year later, he was chosen to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale, where he bagged the Premio Duemila prize for the best exhibit. He was also awarded Honorary Doctorate at the London Institute (1997) and an Honorary Fellowship at Royal Institute of British Architecture in 2001.

His work has been featured in many international group shows and events, including Documenta IX, Kassel; Serpentine Gallery in London; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Jeu de Paume and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. The celebrated artist undertook the Unilever Series of commission for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2003. The gallery had mentioned of him as an unusual practitioner with an ability to produce sculptural forms, which permeate both physical and psychological space.

Expected to be one of the popular attractions in the city on eve of the mega sporting event, his 114m tall public installation-sculpture, is an amazing piece of architecture. It’s difficult to keep Anish Kapoor away from spotlight, and rightly so…

Metascapes that expose the subconscious mind’s intimate topography

Referencing historical styles such as Impressionism and Romanticism, Sharmistha Ray’s work also alludes to the lyrical agency of Helen Frankenthaler and other female vanguard artists, for whom color was based more on subjective, empirical methods instead of objective, pure theoretical systems.

Hers is still an opposing paradigm to the very construction of the Western art historical ideal, as evidenced in her choice of color, as well as the positioning of dense patterning. Her metascapes are suspended in time between reality and mythos, between abstraction and its opposite, to expose an intimate topography of the subconscious mind.

Born 1978 in Kolkata, the artist holds a dual degree from Pratt Institute (M.S. in Theory, Criticism & History of Art; M.F.A. in Painting). A recipient of the Joan Mitchell M.F.A. Grant, she held directorship positions at Hauser & Wirth and Bodhi Art, before again taking up painting full-time. Her recent body of oils on canvas, entitled ‘Hidden Geographies’ is on view at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai. In highly engaging works like ‘hidden geographies’, she postulates canonical ideals of beauty & the sublime by deftly distilling her personal memories, photos, acute observations plus experiences of landscapes - both natural and urban.

Her painterly idiom blends an unconventional palette and a dense network of gesture, impasto along with layering techniques, which is direct, visceral and emotive. Process holds the key wherein the varying viscosities and uneven layering of paint tends to creates cracks, ridges and crevices, exposing substratum of the painting in areas, even while obliterating it in others.

In her works, paint is poured and mixed onto the canvas in thick folds for it to striate and streak, producing imagistic manifestations of both organic and natural phenomena like riverbeds, sky and foliage. At other times it is painstakingly applied with a palette knife in small segments across the expanse of the canvas, to construct fragmentations.

Objects seem to dissolve at their edges just before creatively concretizing into form so as to reconfigure the relationship between abstraction and materiality.

‘Hidden Geographies’ by Sharmistha Ray

Here’s a quick look at the wonderful by Sharmistha Ray at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai:
In ‘hidden geographies’, the artist postulates canonical ideals of beauty and the sublime, whereas in a small-scale painting ‘Tsunami’, she captures the force of that "wave" in the formal construction within the picture plane, rendering it spatially expansive.

Another work of intimate proportions ‘Orange, Rising’ uses color as a starting-point of the investigation into spatial construction. A central orange ‘figure’ is flanked by amorphous forms, whose edges dissolve on the verge of concretizing into form. In paintings like ‘Til Death Do Us Part’ Sharmistha Ray tackles immensity of scale. It’s a diptych which spans 10 feet from edge to edge.

The two panels in it are rendered almost identical, but with gestural differences. In contrast to other works from the series, the artist explores a shallower space in this painting, using a dual color under-painting as the tonal base and building upon it with the inter-positionality of three colors - blue, white and ochre - on a unified spatial plane.

‘The Sublimation of Desire’ is a triptych that extends across 15 feet - references historical styles like Impressionism (Monet’s garden at Giverny) and Post-Impressionism (Van Gogh’s intense color and paint application). The three panels manifest continuity and yet flux. The image recalls a French or English garden, but the application is process-driven. The underlying metaphor for desire is evident in the rich, cadmium reds that peek out from just below the surface.

By extension, the feminine psyche and the synergistic tension between actual (physical) and imagined (fantastical) desire are the impetus forForbidden Pleasures (2011). More loosely this painting ties into the notion of the Garden of Eden and the forbidden fruit (rendered in the painting as the repeating alzarin crimson element). The entire painting is an amalgamation of marks and gestures, of paint directly out of the tube, poured or dripped on, that construct a final image of a garden.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ravishing ragamala paintings

Magnificent miniatures, which blend the visual and the aural, are set to be showcased in a first of its kind exhibition in the UK to focus exclusively on this genre. ‘Ragamala paintings from India - Poetry, passion, song…’ brings out the subtle beauty of the varied visual modes of Indian music. A symposium will also discuss these visual representations of musical modes.

A ragamala or gorgeous ‘garland of ragas’ is a serene set of majestic miniature paintings that depict an array of mesmerizing patterns of the glorious Indian music tradition. Each richly painted piece carries a brief, albeit captivating caption or poem to aptly sum up the mood of the work, more often than not, an expression of pure love and devotion – in its various shades.

An insightful introductory note to this eclectic showcase at Dulwich Picture Gallery in South East London states: “It was in the late 1400s that the painting tradition flourished throughout India’s royal courts before it gradually dwindled in the 1800s, especially with the fall decline of aristocratic patronage.

This exhibition will unveil a rare collection of 24 exquisite miniatures from the Claudio Moscatelli Collection, in a journey across the Indian subcontinent. It is the first show in the UK to focus exclusively on the Ragamala genre. A debate marks the show to find out: If Ragamala paintings are visual representations of musical modes, can a definite link be made to music?

In this debate, chaired by Ainsley Cameron from the British Museum, leading scholars Anna Dallapiccola, honorary professor at the University of Edinburgh; Rosemary Crill, senior curator of Asian Art, Victoria & Albert Museum; and Catherine Glynn, independent curator, introduce the topic and discuss the painting tradition. A renowned scholar on India’s visual arts, Robert Skelton and Sandy Mallet, a contemporary artist inspired by music, are among the other invitees.

The fifth Artes Mundi Prize nominees

The shortlist for the fifth Artes Mundi Prize has just been announced. From the flamboyant to the intimate, action and performance are the common threads that link the artists shortlisted for this year’s £40,000 Artes Mundi Prize. The selectors chose from over 750 nominations, including 576 individual artists from more than 90 countries, identifying artists whose work explores and comments on lived experience.
The seven artists picked for this year’s Artes Mundi, sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch as part of its Arts and Culture Program, and publicly funded by the Arts Council of Wales and Cardiff Council are:

• Miriam Bäckström (Sweden)

• Tania Bruguera (Cuba)

• Phil Collins (England)

• Sheela Gowda (India)

• Teresa Margolles (Mexico)

• Darius Mikšys (Lithuania)

• Apolonija Šušteršič (Slovenia)

From Phil Collins offering reality TV contestants a platform to critique their manipulation by the media, to the meticulous understatement through which Teresa Margolles addresses drug violence in Mexico, they all use a wide range of materials, actions, and strategies to engage with social issues and comment on society.

Some of the artists look at specific cultural or historical contexts while others engage with broader themes of human experience. The range of nationalities, themes and artistic media demonstrates the scope of the Artes Mundi Prize, which will be underlined in a major exhibition of works by the shortlisted artists at Wales’s new National Museum of Art later this year.

Ben Borthwick, Artes Mundi’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director who joined the team from Tate Modern in 2010 said: “We are delighted with the exceptional quality of this shortlist which was drawn from a very strong field of nominations. The exhibition will give audiences the opportunity to engage with the most exciting international contemporary art.”

An international judging panel will award the £40,000 prize midway through the exhibition in November 2012. All other shortlisted artists will receive a new award of £4,000 each. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the principal sponsor of the Artes Mundi 5 Exhibition and Prize this year.

Exploring ‘the materiality of light’

David Zwirner presents an ambitious suite of work by renowned American artist Doug Wheeler, whose large-scale installations. Built within the gallery space, they explore the materiality of light while emphasizing the viewer’s physical experience of infinite space.
According to critic-curator John Coplans, who organized Wheeler’s first solo in 1968, the artist’s ‘primary aim is to reshape or change the spectator’s perception of the seen world. In short, (his) medium is not light or new materials or technology, but perception.’

The latest exhibit marks the first presentation of an ‘infinity environment’ by the artist in New York. Considered a pioneer of the so-called ‘Light and Space’ movement that flourished in Southern California in the 1960s and 1970s, Doug Wheeler’s prolific and groundbreaking body of work encompasses drawing, painting, and installations that are characterized by a singular experimentation with the perception and experience of space, volume, and light.

Raised in the high desert of Arizona, he began his career as a painter in the early 1960s while studying at the Chouinard Art Institute (now the California Institute of the Arts) in Los Angeles. His early white canvases incorporated abstract imagery that created a spatial dynamic and activated the central void of the painting’s field. His practice quickly developed into the environmental aesthetic for which he is presently best known.

In 1965, the artist made a transitional work in which he over-sprayed a canvas with subtle variations of white and installed neon tubes inside the back of the frame. Installed with a white floor, the painting appeared to float on the wall. Wheeler subsequently abandoned canvas altogether with a body of innovative, radiant works known as ‘fabricated light paintings’ in which he applied lacquer to Plexiglas boxes that were illuminated from within by neon tubing.

These ‘paintings’ were followed by his “light encasements,” which consist of large squares of painted vacuum-formed plastic with neon light embedded along the inside edges. Intended to be installed in a pristine white room with coved angles, these works dematerialize and create an immersive and spatially ambiguous environment that absorbs the viewer in the subtle construction of pure space.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

‘Odyssey - A Journey into Time with the Collection’

The Birla Academy of Art and Culture in Kolkata, on eve of its 45th anniversary, is hosting a grand exhibition of artworks collected by the art-loving couple, Basant Kumar and Sarala Birla, over a lifetime.

‘Odyssey - A Journey into Time with the Collection’ includes ancient and medieval, modern and contemporary works – sculptures, paintings, antiques, rare historic letters and manuscripts apart from an impressive collection of international art. There are also on view miniature paintings and textiles.

The collection compiled over 60 years, is on display, albeit in part at the historic institution they founded. The rest of the artworks remain within closed-door rooms. What was started in the early 1940s as a hobby gathered momentum over times, to shape up as a gigantic collection that at some stage needed its own space.

The chairperson of the academy, Sarala Birla, has been quoted as saying: “We were buying mostly Western art in the beginning without realizing that Indian art is unparalleled and that first we have to discover art from our country before we look any further. So, from the late 1940s we decided to turn our attention to buying mostly art from India. Those days, works of art were easily obtainable. Once a month we would visit Jamini Roy. Once we bought four of his paintings for mere 500 rupees.”

The academy has a collection of sculptures in stone and metal from different corners of India, spanning from the 2nd century BC to the 17th century CE. While a wide variety of stone, including sandstone, basalt, schist, chlorite, granite and marble were used some of the sculptures were infused with pre-classical mannerisms, whereas a few others were in classical idiom, elaborates the director of the Academy, T K Biswas. Who has curated the exhibition along with Nanak Ganguly and Shaheen Merali.

The terracottas’ collection includes those from the periods of Maurya, Sunga, Gupta, Kushana, as well as post-Gupta periods. The miniature paintings section is comprised of Persian, Mughal, Pahari and Rajasthani miniatures. There is no specific classification of the modern and contemporary art’s section, with the emphasis being more on Bengal school and the Tagores. Works by several 20th century artists are also on view. The International Art section includes works by André Masson, M R Dartel, Ben Cunningham, Franz Kupka, Raymond Héndler, Maurice Golubov, Henry C Pearson, Ilya Bolotowsky, and Murray Israel among others.

Emergence of Indian art as a global force

When Christie’s first offered modern and contemporary Indian art as a single sale category in London in 1995, the sale took in just $613,837 at the exchange rate then. The category has grown exponentially since then largely because of an increasing amount of cross-fertilization and pan-Asian bidding and buying apart from the obvious interest non-resident Indians show in it.

‘Experience economy’ and art as an asset

To add to this boom, a new investor class that values the ‘experience economy’ is turning to passion investing. Simultaneously, a sustained and collective push from prominent art auction houses, galleries and art institutions has laid the foundation for a solid secondary market.

“The expanding art market of India is fueled by an expanding middle class of the country with money to invest and a greater awareness of interior design in a country largely indifferent to aesthetics,” so mentions a 1990 news report (Hungering for Art in New Delhi) by Barbara Crossette in The New York Times, putting a question mark over the art market boom.

Some of the questions still remain unanswered even today, though the growing affluence levels alongside India’s rapid rise as a major power has led to a new-found fascination for art in terms of its cultural and investment value. The world-renowned curator, Hans Ulrich Obrist of London’s Serpentine Gallery, also highlighted Indian art’s emergence as a major force on the international art scene!

Valuations still ‘very reasonable

Echoing the sentiment, Dr Hugo Weihe, Christie’s Senior Vice-President & International Director (Asian Art), noted in an essay that the classical arts & miniature paintings have been collected for a long time in the West. But now the interest is awakening in India itself. The values still look ‘very reasonable’, looking at the longer term, taking into account the relative scarcity of the material still available.

No surprise, despite the slowdown, the impending recession in Europe and the US as well as the steep correction in the market, art continues to attract a growing number of investors from within the country and outside.

‘More collectors buying in a calculated and well-researched manner’’

Chairman of Montgomery Worldwide, a leading global exhibitions company, Sandy Angusrecently acquired a stake in India Art Fair, along with Will Ramsay. Following are the observations he made about Indian art market, artists and collectors in an interview with Anindita Ghose of The Mint:
  • The Indian art market is young and thriving. There’s an increase in awareness in the art sector in ways that one would not have thought possible 10 years ago.When we started with Hong Kong, we didn’t think we’d be able to attract the top international galleries or collectors. And getting the balance right between Asian and international galleries was the difficult part.

  • The key to running a successful art fair is its positioning not only in the international market but also domestically—in terms of the quality of galleries one hopes to attract. To a lesser extent, it’s also about building collector bases, and encouraging corporate houses, museums and art foundations to step in.

  • Indian collectors first and foremost buy Indian art, before buying international contemporary art, so it’s important not to lose focus. It’s important to think local. Many of them are consulting curators and art advisories. It means that their buying isn’t haphazard—it’s very well-researched and calculated. While the bottom line for buying art should be intuitive, these are all good signs for an emerging art market.

  • In the global context, there’s a major art fair every month now—or in some cases, more than one—and collectors don’t want to be going from show to show looking at what they’ve just seen. So each fair has to be unique and it can really be unique only in the way it attracts local galleries.

  • Whatever exhibitions you’re involved in, whether it’s the mining industry or oil and gas, you have to be immersed in the industry. Nowhere is that more true than the art world. We were fortunate to partner with Neha, who already has her networks in place.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Experts’ and journalists on ‘state of the (Indian) art’

A quick compilation of observations, opinions and viewpoints by art experts, scholars, and analysts on eve of the India Art Fair that just took place in New Delhi:
  • “Unfortunately, most new viewers were attracted mainly by the price of art and the prospect of profiting from a continuation of the positive trend. Those acquiring work purely as an investment through instruments like art funds constituted too high a percentage of buyers overall. This was apparent to all informed observers, but few had an interest in drawing the correct conclusion.

    Paradoxically, a stable market for art can only develop when the market ceases to be the primary preoccupation of buyers, and when most sales are made to collectors acquiring work they like, want to live with, and can afford.” (Art critic Girish Shahane; ‘The price of art’ in The Business Standard’)

  • “The event, previously called the Art Summit, is unusual on the international art circuit because it aims to both educate the Indian public about the art world and provide sales and high-value contacts for some 90 exhibitors (selected from over 250 applicants). This leads to some tensions, as high-end foreign galleries and Indian collectors would prefer a more exclusive audience of potential buyers, rather than a large public showing.” (‘A change is gonna come’: The Economist)

  • “The perfect picture, of happy selling, buying and free exchange between the cultures may not be a complete one. India's old worries, of too much red-tape, bureaucratic influence and appallingly high taxes continue to mar the profits of the international gallerists.” (Olina Banerji: India Today)

  • “The Indian art market exploded into the international imagination a little over a decade ago. But it isn’t enough to have a commercially-thriving art market if it remains shallow — speculators can easily manipulate such markets. For greater sophistication and depth, the Indian art market needs a growing body of genuine art collectors, qualified conservators, curators, critics, restorers and other art professionals.

    It also needs enduring institutions of learning, galleries to display private and travelling collections, art and design labs, museums and storage infrastructure, in addition to an emphasis on early art education.” (Jyoti Pande Lavakare: A new frame for Indian art in The Business Standard’)

An entrepreneur-collector who ‘partakes the serene journey with the artists’

An insightful new report on entrepreneur-collector Harsh Goenka’s passion for art’ ('Corporate parties in museums studios are really interesting' by Shreya Badola) sums up his varied interests that span beyond art. The DNA India story highlights the success of his annual art camp hosted with Vikram Sethi.
“Business tycoon Harsh Goenka’s passion for art is a public knowledge by now. The recently concluded RPG art camp — an annual week long art exhibition and workshop— organised by him together with partner Vikram Sethi, at his beach house in Marve, is quite a testimony to the same.

An avid collector of contemporary art, Goenka’s interest in art dates back to his early days in Kolkata. “It is a great stepping for these artists to get their creative juices flowing,” he explains, adding, “…as it is an eclectic mix of senior artists like Anjolie Ela Menon, Paresh Maiti etc and some promising youngsters like Heeral Trivedi. Also there is a gender balance. The whole of art camp is a very liberating kind of an environment.”

Goenka has been organizing the art camp for over 14 years now. The camp is in fact one of the events he looks forward to every year. This year, there are 24 participating artists. “It is good to see the artists exchange ideas and interact. There are healthy and fruitful discussions that lead to great artworks.

They give presentations on their work, the medium and the technology,” he asserts. Art for him is a form of therapy wherein he “partakes the journey with the artists… getting to understand the artist, and therefore the art, better”! And this he attributes to his childhood days in Bengal where “art is so predominantly embedded in the cultural scene.”

Besides work and art, Goenka also indulges in water sports and cricket. The business honcho is also much thrilled by the idea of quirky corporate parties held in arty venues like museums and stadiums. “They are pretty prominent in the West and are really interesting. But unfortunately, our museums have stringent rules and do not permit that to happen here,” he laments. “Although I had one at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Kolkata, a couple of years ago, where I displayed my collection of Bengal art; alongside a fashion show by three designers including Sabyasachi,” he adds.”

Monday, February 6, 2012

Rethinking new media curating

Simulation-based artworks often meld virtual and physical space, becoming that much more difficult to ‘frame’ for a viewer's experience. Each encounter is rather unique. The curatorial role in presenting such kind of immersive installation might simply lie in the process of entering & exiting of the mediated space.

An insightful documentation of the way new media works can be displayed, interpreted, and collected by Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook also looks to re-position conventional curatorial practices. The duo finds out how the histories of time-based arts range well across video art and performance or ‘live’ art.

The duo for over a decade has been involved in a debate on whether those 'exhibiting' new media art are technicians, artists or curators. An educator, artist, arts organizer, and curator, the former - having served as Professor of New Media Art at the University of Sunderland - is an authority on the subject along with Sarah Cook, a research fellow and cofounder of CRUMB.

Time does present specific curatorial challenges since a dynamic work in some way the timescale of process. Audience expectations of the rapid speed and uninterrupted availability of new media like the Internet’s round-the-clock nature, also figure here. Presented in form of a comprehensive overview, insightful analysis and kaleidoscopic compilation of new media art practices, ‘Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media’ offers an insight into the intriguing landscape of contemporary curating methods.

The book traces the history and trends of new media art, illustrating the complex topography of curating in and for the new millennium through illustrative case studies. It also explores the scenarios when there is no curator, or when it is the audience who curates an exhibit, and also probes why would a new media artist want to showcase work in an art museum.

The writers offer practical advice from curators and artists themselves engaged in areas related to distributive and participatory systems as far as art production is concerned through practical examples, including Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s telematic ‘Body Moves’ (involving a computer producing images in response to viewer activity), and Andreja Kuluncic’s ‘Distributive Justice’ (a participative internet based project).