Saturday, June 30, 2012

A mathematician turned artist celebrates life

Chennai-based A.V. Ilango is an artist, a teacher and a mathematician, all rolled one. Coming from a modest background, he encountered quite a fierce opposition to his passion for art. However, true passion and true artistic instincts ultimately prevail. He did pursue his dreams even while working as a Maths teacher. His perseverance finally worked and he became a renowned artist. He is now able to paint and also has formed an Art Centre to teach art and conduct art related events.

With mathematical ratios, his work has the perfect compositions. It has figures at an angle to exude dynamism, with the icons occupying most of the canvas space. In them a frame is painted itself within a frame. The artist uses a palette knife for applying paint on canvas. His bold, strong strokes display a great vibrancy, a touch of immediateness in his paintings.

The artist seeks inspiration largely from the fascinating postures and flamboyance of the devoted temple drummers and dancers. Their colors, their vibrancy, their movements and their complete surrendering to the moment while they perform for celebrating the glory of life; all reflect in his paintings.

His solo show, comprising a mix of his most recent and earlier works was on view at the Mumbai-based Jamaat Art Gallery last year. It amplified the spirit and philosophy of his practice. Elaborating on his style of painting and his persona, an accompanying not by Pravina Mecklai pointed out: “Overcoming a personal tragedy, the artist has opted to celebrate life. He looks to delight in the little joys, all the pleasures, the energy, the music, the dance, the rituals and the whole rhythm of life.”

A.V. Ilango’s canvases are all about bold colors, bold attitude and bold strokes. They spell the passion and flair of a joyous celebration of life that this mathematician turned artist indulges in each moment, which make his works worth a look.

Juxtaposing the satire with profundity of life

At one level, Rekha Rodwittiya is interested in fathoming the loss of identity and co-related transition in the complex socio-economical urbanscape, an outcome of several factors like the burgeoning capital economy, hastening the goods and commodity flow; globalization and the migration.

She has stated: “We seldom think of how it’s defined by roads that occupy a high percentage of land in any nation. They are ubiquitous points of reference, of connection, arteries, but yet a 'non-subject'.”

Fragmentation surfaces as means of depicting the experience of surviving in the world: invariably incomplete and suggestive of an extended frame beyond. This, in terms of execution, may take several forms: fracturing the image; incorporating many fragmented images into one single frame; painting a part of the narrative/ image onto single frame/s; or perhaps selecting a fragment of it to render skillfully.

This sensitive artist juxtaposes the satire and the profundity of life as she looks to capture the power and potential of women. In the process, her artistic vision comes to the fore with mellifluous beauty and mystic. Rekha Rodwittiya's art practice largely revolves around drawing and painting; conceptually it is rooted in ideas of narrative, at different ways of looking, perceiving and the privileging of sight.

She elaborates: “I explore ideas of the daily narrative of our lives in this world through fragmentary, familiar and unfamiliar perspectives – with a keen attention to technique in the eventual resolution of the work, so that the subject of a work is both its content and manner in which it’s portrayed.”

Her much-applauded ‘Sing The Body Electric’, site-specific installation of drawings in collaboration with architect Dhruti Vaidya, incorporates a maze - an imaginative representation of the womb. The abstract feel in the realistic representations of the biological process is among the many contrasts at play here, which makes us pause and ponder.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Milestones in the history of MS University of Baroda

MS University of Baroda is still India’s finest, according to the latest list of the country’s ‘Best Fine Arts Colleges’, according to India Today Nielsen annual colleges survey. Here are some of the major facts regarding the illustrious institution:
  • The Maharaja Sayajirao's grandson, Sir Pratapsinghrao Gaekwad, founded the Maharaja Sayajirao University. He created the trust as desired by his grandfather.
  • The idea of establishing a University at Baroda had engaged the attention of the Government of the former State of Baroda for long. The concept was first visualized by Dr. Jackson, the Principal of the Baroda College in the 1908.
  • The late Maharaja Sir Sayajirao Gaekwad were afoot in the Baroda State and the people of the State also showed keen interest in establishing a University at Baroda as a fitting monument to commemorate the beneficent region of the illustrious ruler. This resulted in the appointment of the Baroda University Commission on the 24th September, 1926, with Prof. A.G. Widgery as Chairman
  • Faculty of Fine Arts was founded in June 1950. For the first time in independent India, a program of study was introduced to offer UG/Diploma, PG/Post-Diploma Courses and Research facilities.
  • Art was envisaged as an integral part of life for the new citizens. The emphasis was laid on individuality through knowledge of Indian and Western traditions.  Many felt that the institute suffered a slump around the late 1990s.
  • Sculpture is one of three key studio disciplines apart from applied arts and painting taught here. The department of painting happens to rule supreme. In the last six decades, FFA alumni have gone on to take part in major exhibitions worldwide like the Paris Biennale, the Tokyo Biennale and the Sao Paulo Biennale. Many of our country's best known artists owe their rise and prominence to FFA.
  • FFA was surrounded by controversy for the next 15 years or so, facing attack from religious fundamentalists and marred by petty politics. Its standards have steadily declined especially for over a decade and its reputation only remains today owing to its golden past, those like Rekha Rodwittiya believe.
  • In spite of this, FFA retains its importance. Thousands of emerging artists practise in the city. Many aspiring practitioners seek admission each year in one of its graduate or postgraduate programs, eager to be part of the hallowed portals of the Faculty of Arts.

A concrete slot and a 340-ton granite boulder make a massive installation

A monumental sculpture, ‘Levitated Mass’ by artist Michael Heizer has opened to the public on June 24 at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Originally conceived by the artist in 1969, ‘Levitated Mass’ is a 456-foot-long concrete slot, over which sits a 340-ton granite boulder. A press release elaborates: "As visitors walk through the slot, the pathway descends to fifteen feet in depth, running underneath the boulder before ascending back up. A formal dedication ceremony, open to the public, will take place at 11 am, inaugurating the artwork’s official debut.

"Transport of the boulder from a quarry in Jurupa Valley to LACMA — one of the largest megalithic stones to be moved since ancient times — made international headlines in March of this year. The 11-night journey through five counties and twenty-two cities drew thousands of enthusiastic onlookers day and night from all over Southern California. Transport was made possible by Hanjin Shipping Co."

“This is a historic occasion, one many years in the making,” said LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director Michael Govan. “Thousands of families witnessed the transport of the 340-ton megalith to LACMA this spring, and now Michael Heizer has realized his artwork on the museum’s campus, where it will stand for generations to come. I am grateful to the many generous donors who made this incredible endeavor possible.”

‘Levitated Mass’ was made possible by private gifts to Transformation: The LACMA Campaign from Jane and Terry Semel, Bobby Kotick, Carole Bayer Sager and Bob Daly, Beth and Joshua Friedman, Steve Tisch Family Foundation, Elaine Wynn, Linda, Bobby, and Brian Daly, Hanjin Shipping Co., Ltd., Richard Merkin, MD, and the Mohn Family Foundation. LACMA has dedicated this acquisition to the memory of Nancy Daly, former chair of LACMA’s board of trustees.

“Nancy Daly was a passionate advocate for the arts and for children in Los Angeles,” said Terry Semel, co-chair of LACMA’s board of trustees. “Levitated Mass is a fitting tribute to her leadership and to her philanthropic vision. I know that so many people — children especially — will find inspiration and wonder in this monumental work of art.”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Indian artists will continue to attract global spotlight

India’s many promising contemporary artists and internationally acclaimed artists continue to find favor with collectors and/ or investors. Indian art and artists have truly gone global with a string of shows – solo as well as group – involving both established and emerging artists.

Global art auction houses and event directors are giving a place of pride to practitioners from the country, leaving an indelible mark on the international art scene. Indeed, contemporary Indian art and artists have gone global with a string of shows. We take a quick look at some of the internationally acclaimed artists who will continue to find favor with collectors and/ or investors.

Artists belonging to the new-age, dynamic India, greatly influenced by global developments in contemporary art thanks to greater exposure to the international art world, work in a diverse range genres, styles, subjects and mediums. Importantly, they are striving to maintain a balanced relationship with Western art based on an identity deeply rooted in the rich artistic and cultural traditions of the country.

With the sun just rising on the horizon of the Indian art world, it's time to soak into the creative journey of emerging talent! We provide you a glimpse of some of the most promising artists from. Highly talented contemporary Indian artists have attained appreciation and applause on the international art scene for their propensity to express current concerns through quaint and recognizable motifs.

Through their art, the sensitive practitioners make a genuine effort to archive the times and document the ever changing dynamics of modern mindscape and cityscape from a broader perspective, not restricted to gender alone. Their work represents a collective spirit to reflect, contemplate and at the same, innovate, in terms of style and subject matter. Here are some of the noteworthy female artists who have won the nod of collectors and critics...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Artists who did well at Sotheby’s contemporary art auction

Sotheby’s sold $108 million worth of exquisite contemporary art pieces, again testifying the depth and breadth of interest in artworks by well-known names such as Bacon, Twombly, Warhol and Basquiat.

The global auction house had packed its latest sale with no less than 79 paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures, mostly by those artists who have fetched top prices in recent auctions. The New York Times report mentioned: “While the salesroom was filled with an international crowd of dealers and collectors, the evening could best be described as more solid than exciting.”

Of the total 79 lots on offer, only 10 failed to sell. The sale had been estimated to bring anywhere between $89.6- $128.5 million. The priciest work for the evening was ‘Warrior’ by Basquiat, a 1982 canvas of a peculiar angry-looking man with a sword in his hand. Two bidders vied for the work on telephone. It ultimately brought $8.7 million (an estimate of $8- $11.3 million).

The Basquiat paintings was one of six in the auction guaranteed to sell owing to what Sotheby’s terms an irrevocable bid (a contractual agreement struck with a buyer to buy an artwork for an undisclosed sum. And if someone else is ready to pay more, the guarantor instead will get a percentage of the stated difference between what he or she was going to pay and the higher price range.)

While the price tag of $8.7 million might not have seemed as much as some analysts would have predicted for the work, it was still more impressive than the its previous performances at Sotheby’s. It had fetched $1.8 million in 2005; $5.6 million, in 2007.

‘Study for a Self-Portrait’ by Bacon was another work in spotlight. The artist’s meditative likeness from 1980 had belonged to a well-known American collector, Stanley J. Seeger. He died last year. The auction house had sold a part of his collection in 2001 in New York. The painting then had brought $1.76 million. Now, it brought $7 million (an irrevocable bid; estimated at $8- $11.3 million) from another telephone bidder.

A dramatic landscape from 1998, titled ‘The Tragic Conversion of Salvador Dali (After John Martin)’, by British artist Glenn Brown selling for $8 million was one of the biggest surprises occurred for the evening.

Sachin Jaltare's subdued yet appealing paintings

From afar you notice deft splashes of muted colors in serene shades of blues, browns and greys. The shades skillfully blended together create amazing abstracts on canvas. However, one looks at them closely, one is able to inspect the passionate painted figures and outlines taking shape. Bold and brushstrokes and skilled usage of colors characterize artist Sachin Jaltare's works.

The Hyderabad based artist, born in 1969 in Maharashtra, did his B.F.A. from Chitarakala Mahavindyala Nagpur in 1991. He has featured in several group shows and has had solos at various galleries in India and abroad. His mixed media works with charcoal and colored applications are largely figurative.

The artist’s works were on view at Shrishti Art Gallery, Hyderabad in late 2010. Among those on display was side profile of a female figure again portrayed in shades of grey. The red bindi mark on her forehead was the lone bright spot of color on the otherwise open canvas. Her eyes lowered, she was in a thoughtful posture. The block of stark white, which formed the backdrop of it, brought the figure into focus.

Yellows and beautiful beiges formed the core of another painting. A face of a woman, as if stared out on one side of the canvas. The figure was done in shades of grey, and the only marked point of color was her coral pouting lips, whereas on the other side one could see a figure of a man depicted in such a way that he appeared to be making his way into the painting. His one hand was stretched and enlarged compared to the rest of his body frame. A pair of figures against a coral background was done in shades of grey and black.

In essence, the interaction between the different figures was captured skillfully by Sachin Jaltare on the canvas.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Artists who from part of Mapmakers at Aicon Gallery

The New York-based Aicon Gallery presents a new group exhibition, entitled ‘Mapmakers: The Evolution of Contemporary Indian Art’, which features works by Jitish Kallat, Bose Krishnamachari, Baiju Parthan, Justin Ponmany, Ravinder Reddy, T. V. Santhosh, and Chintan Upadhyay who together represent the vanguard of contemporary Indian art that burst onto the international scene in the mid-2000s, turning the heads of museums, critics and collectors.

The exhibition showcases the important large-scale canvases through which these artists, among others, redefined Indian Contemporary and set the compass points for a new generation to follow. For example, Jitish Kallat belongs to a new generation of artists and thought makers with no trepidations on the impossibility of today’s originality, with an equal lack of hesitation in accepting the derivation of cultural influences.

“My art is more like a researcher's project who uses quotes rather than an essay, with each painting necessitating a bibliography," says the artist; furthermore, the use of his own image introduces an autobiographical element. He chooses an economical, nearly abstract, form of narrative. Images float around the protagonist, like icons on a computer screen that resemble an intricate web. "Any visual material relevant to me" serves as the source of material. Images of the print media are photocopied and transferred on to the surface. Hence he draws a distinction between 'real', as opposed to the painted image which he considers fictional.

Known for his brightly colored larger-than-life heads, Ravinder Reddy uses sculpture as a primarily heraldic medium. Besides the fusion of contemporary pop art and Hindu sculptural tradition, Reddy provides a union of the archetype and the individual and like Cotter has noted, it feels more like “folk” art than “fine” art. Reddy currently teaches at the Department of Fine Art, Andhra University, Vishakapatnam.

In Justin Ponmany’s new photographs the artist digitally combines three views of his subjects, each taken from a different angle in order to create a disturbing panoramic view. The subjects range from men’s heads through to inanimate objects such as a tennis ball, each of which are expanded beyond the dimensions they are normally framed within. Ponmany has been inspired by the way internet mapping devices break down personal and geographical borders but these works suggest that the more we try to know or map something, the more elusive their form can become. Once more, the subject is split across different subject positions, none of which seem to cohere.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Engaging new media work by a talented artist

Fariba Alam skillfully combines traditional imagery with a contemporary touch; classic ideas and time tested subject matter with new-age aesthetic values and forms. Her recent series tries to integrate abstraction, tilework and photography to re-imagine cultural artifacts, turbulent post colonial history and Islamic architecture.

The intricate arrangement of the tiles and repetition in it are indeed striking. It employs Islamic idiom, minimalist mode and conceptual techniques of repetition and seriality. In the process, it reassigns autobiography with transcendental properties, and reconstructs history as present in the creation of space. The artist explains, “I engage with the building of my own iconography in order to assert a self-defined utopia.”

The Brooklyn based video artist and photographer is of Bangladeshi descent. The pan-global sensitivities have shaped her work. Having done her B.A. degree in Middle East and Asian Languages & Cultures with a focus on post-colonial theory from Columbia University (1998), she holds an M.A. in Studio Art & Art Criticism from New York University (2004). In a testimony to her talent she was offered a Fullbright scholarship (1998-99).

This socially aware artist is a founding board member of SAWCC and is associated with Sakhi for South Asian Women and The Acid Survivor's Foundation in Bangladesh. She featured at the ambitious ‘India Xianzai’ museum show curated by Diane Freundl. Her work has also been shown at The American Museum of Natural History, The Asia Society, Bose Pacia Modern, The International Center of Photography, and other prominent venues in New York.

Apart from tile work, Fariba Alam is also known to incorporate paintings, colonial photography, old family photo archives and her own photography in her work in order to create fabricated identities and spaces. At 'Perspectives: Women, Art and Islam’ series, she exhibited her work along with five female artists who shared their viewpoint on personal relationship with Islam.

She displayed her original photography and painting done on ceramic tiles, alluding to mosaic-tile mosques. The images on the three pieces portrayed religious stories with personal voice, embodying the intersection of spiritual, cultural and personal aspects of her faith.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

‘Onlookers’ by Ashutosh Bhardwaj

‘Onlookers’ is title of a solo show of promising artist Ashutosh Bhardwaj at The Guild Gallery, Mumbai.  It addresses his ongoing concerns with the agency involved in establishing clichés, stereotypes or ‘the general view’. An accompanying note elaborates: “The artist implies that given the plethora of communicative possibilities and the omnipresence of social and traditional media, the agency of the recipients of this continuous flow of information is diminished. The choices of agency or its applicability are slowly being eroded so much so that, these choices are increasingly fragmented, which in turn aids information fatigue and endangers activity.

Furthermore this second hand viewing of ourselves (the subject), although in many ways simply aspirational is nonetheless passive. Our agency as subjects is reduced and subjective to collectivized opinions which themselves are second hand and we are bound to become Onlookers to our own mode of existence. At the same time, the distinction between ‘them’ and ‘us’, or ‘subject’ and ‘object’ implies that the responsibility of agency itself is fluid and given that the distinction is no longer valid as we create, recreate and propagate our own content (identities) agency as a term for differentiation becomes problematic.

Within this background, Bhardwaj brings to the fore the subject and its idolization. In Cannibals, he employs within the frame of a television set, a self-portrait of himself enacting various roles, set up as a silent tableau where the arrangement of the elements within the frame stages a mock yet ominous picture of the plight of the subject as seen and exhibited. This he seems to imply is also the act of experience, where gathering bits of information, visual or otherwise, forms an identity and the only precarious agency is one of choice.

Born in 1981, Bhardwaj obtained his B.F.A. and M.F.A. from the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S.U, Baroda 2004. A recipient of the National scholarship 2003-05 and the Nasreen Mohamedi award, he took part in Peer 04, Residency at Khoj, New Delhi, 2004 and Artist Residency at The Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2009. In 2008 Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi presented his solo show Sleep Walker.

Top five exhibitions in the UK this year

Here’s a quick glance at the five top shows in the UK that have been in news thus far. You may check them online for a sumptuous art treat.

Turner Inspired, National Gallery (Mar 14 – June 5)

The most extensive study of Claude Lorrain's influence on Turner, including oils, watercolors and sketchbooks from both ( Works on loan from Tate Britain and other collections, including Keelmen Heaving in Coals by Night, 1835, from the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Picasso & Modern British Art, Tate Britain (Feb 15 – July 15)

More than 150 works from major public and private collections around the world, including 60 by Picasso at Tate ( Picasso's paintings considered alongside works by artists he inspired including Hockney, Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland and Francis Bacon, whose Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, 1944, will be on display.

Damien Hirst, Tate Modern (April 4 - Sep 9)

First major UK retrospective of Hirst's career at Tate where more than 70 of his seminal works, including the £7 million pickled shark, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991, and Mother and Child Divided, 1993, the bisected cow and calf which won the Turner Prize in 1995.
Highlights include a range of Hirst's trademark spot, spin and butterfly paintings, and the installation, 'In and Out of Love', 1991.

David Hockney show, Royal Academy (Jan 21 – April 9)

More than 150 of Hockney's works spanning 50 years, focusing on his large-scale landscapes ( First show of Hockney's films. First major display of Hockney's "new technology" works created on his iPhone and iPad. Highlights include ‘Rocky Mountains and Tired Indians’, 1965; ‘Garrowby Hill’, 1998; and ‘The Road Across The Wolds’, 1997.

Lucian Freud Portraits, National Portrait Gallery (Feb 9 – May 27)
More than 100 of Freud's paintings. First display of Freud's last painting, Portrait of the Hound, 2011 ( Works on loan from international public and private collections, including MOMA New York and Art Institute of Chicago.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Intriguing industrial landscapes by Vipul Prajapati

Mumbai—based Gallery Le Sutra hosts an interesting show of industrial landscapes by Vipul Prajapati. An accompanying note by curator Shraddha Purnaye elaborates how landscape is not just a natural space, a feature of the natural environment, very landscape is the place where we establish our own human organization of space and time.

It adds: “Landscapes are complex phenomena. In addition to the assemblage of physical features on which geographers and others focused until the last thirty years or so, it is now widely accepted that landscapes reflect human activity and are imbued with cultural values.

“Landscapes combine elements of space and time, and represent political as well as social and cultural constructs. As they have evolved over time, and as human activity has changed, they have acquired many layers of meaning that can be analyzed through historical, archaeological, geographical and sociological aspects. They can be compared to a language, with ' obscure and indecipherable origins. Like a language, it is the slow creation of all elements in society. It grows according to its own laws, rejecting or accepting neologisms as it sees fit, clinging to obsolescent forms, inventing new ones’. It is the subject of perpetual conflict and compromise ' between what established by authority and what the vernacular insists on preferring.”

Vipul Prajapati’ imagery has roots in the rustic contemporary world. His works are dominated by the themes of work sites, dockyards and industrial laborers. His works give us a glimpse in to what happens behind the urban metropolis of today. They evoke and anxiety of some urban waste that we see around us. The deep and genuine concern of the young artist for Industrial waste and gloom is very timely and time –specific at the time of real estate boom and an industrial growth and transport infrastructures like fly-over, foot over bridge, tunnels, metros etc.

But more than his anxieties about industrial waste catastrophe, he has focused on the recurrent theme of the figure of the industrial worker at his site with his environs, Machines and tools. He has artistically and creatively used digital prints of the photographs of the workers at ship yards in different activities amidst their environs. He finishes his works in oil paints.

A confluence of Malaysian and Indian artists

We have already introduced to our readers several well-known artists from Malaysia, including Hamir Soib Mohammed, Ahmad Shukri, Masnoor Ramli and Bayu Utomo Radjikin, who featured at Art Expo India 2009. The works of all these artists was brought to the expo by Gallery Archana based in Kuala Lumpur.

The renowned gallery is considered to be a pioneer in promoting Indian artists in Malaysia and vice versa. Significantly, this is the first ever major show of Malaysian artists in India in such a prestigious art event. Archana Gallery was established in December 2004, through a series of coincidences.

As the website mentions:  “A chance encounter with an artist who was looking for a gallery to show his works together with an offer of a quaint and affordable rental space made the prospect of starting the gallery very attractive. But most important was the enjoyment in looking for and collecting art works. Since its inception, a diverse collection of art has been exhibited at the gallery. “

Incidentally, Archana Marshall studied art under various teachers in India in an informal environment. Subsequently, she lived and worked in Aleppo, Damascus where she worked on two art exhibitions held at the University of Aleppo. She has worked as an artist in New York and now in Malaysia. Her works are inspired by color and technique. Her works are in collections in the US, New Zealand, India and Malaysia.

Along with the Malaysian artists, Indian artists whose work is being showcased by Gallery Archana include Karan Khanna, Kalicharan and Manish Pushkale. Karan Khanna is a photographer with tremendous skill; he gets this effect almost entirely using different lenses, marginally using the computer for his desired effects. Kalicharan is a senior artist whose passionate usage of color and geometric figures speak volumes of his imagination and creativity. Manish Pushkale is a highly acclaimed abstract artist, handpicked by veteran S.H. Raza for his talent.

Friday, June 22, 2012

‘Imaging the Legend’

One of Mumbai's known galleries Tao Art presents an exhibition of photographs of late M F Husain. The show entitled, ‘Imaging the Legend’ includes several renowned photo artists like Amit Dhar, Anil Relia, Atul Dodiya, Atul Kasbekar, Apoorva Gupte, Ashesh Raje, Ashesh Shah, Bhaskar Paul, Farzana Contractor, Fawzan Husain, Gajanan Dudhalkar, Gautam Patole, and Kalpana Shah among others.

Other noteworthy names that form part of the show are Dadiba Pundole, Bose Krishnamachari, Habib Rahman, Jyoti Bhatt, Kedar Nene, Khurshed Poonawala, Mid-Day Archives, Mukesh Parpiani, Neeraj Priyadarshi, Parthiv Shah, Pradeep Chandra, Prakash Rao, Pritish Nandy, Nicholas Yarde, Nimesh Dave, Pablo Bartholomew, Ryan Lobo, Salil Bera, Sayyed Sameer Abedi, Raghu Rai, Ram Rahman, Riyas Komu, Suresh K K, Tribhuvan Tiwari, Shailesh Raval, Sooni Taraporewala, Vilas Kalgutkar, Vipul Patel and Umesh Goswami.

Curated by Niyatee Shinde and Fawzan Husain, Imaging the Legend includes fascinating portraits of Husain conceptualized to pay tribute to his celebrated and legendary presence that well and truly enriched the Indian art scene. Always dramatically poised, nattily dressed and invariably in contemplative mood, whether sketching for autograph hunters, merely sipping tea or reading a newspaper, Husain's imposing presence pervaded the scene. His impact was unquestionable.

Most of the portraits have ably captured his persona. The exhibition, in that sense, is a real tribute to his irreplaceable personality and gives an idea of his immense contribution to contemporary Indian art. The better part of the images on view, it needs to be noted, were not specifically made for such kind of an exhibition or curated gallery display.

While some of them were already published complementing news stories, many photos in this group exhibition were drawn from encounters with the late artist in locations spread not only in India but also all across the world at his different favorite abodes, many of them not seen before.

These indeed are portraits with a strong sense of intimacy. They capture a slice of the intriguing enigma that was M F Husain.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

‘Radiant Lines’ at Nature Morte, Berlin

Nature Morte hosts a solo show of new works by Seher Shah. The show takes its title from Le Corbusier's concept of La Ville Radieuse, ‘The Radiant City’, a concept developed from the 1930’s onwards and which encapsulates the artist’s ideas of reforming society through his modernist approaches to town planning.

Fundamentally utopian and socialist in their ambition, the most prominent Radiant City projects are Unité d’Habitation – a variety of modernist social housing units in France and Germany – and Chandigarh, the capital of the northern Indian states Punjab and Haryana, which Le Corbusier planned in its entirety.

Born 1975 in Karachi, Pakistan, the artist grew up in London, Brussels, and New York. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1998. Her select recent exhibitions include Object Anxiety at Scaramouche, New York (solo); ‘Paper to Monument’, Nature Morte, New Delhi (solo); ‘Brute Ornament’ at the Green Art Gallery, Dubai; ‘Lines of Control’ at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, New York; ‘On Rage’ at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Eccentric Architecture and Generation 1. 5, Queens Museum of Art, New York; ‘Drawing Space’ at Green Cardamom, London; New York to Los Angeles at GBK, Sydney; and ‘Zeichnungen: conceptual and concrete drawings’ at the Gisele Linder Gallery, Basel.

The main body of work in her latest show recalls the modular facade of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’ Habitation of Marseille. In the series Unit Object Drawings (2012) Seher Shah breaks the facade’s grid into its different structural components and intersects it with solid geometric shapes. The structure of the facade expands and unfolds in the delicate drawings and the repetition of form creates an ambiguity as to whether one is looking at separate objects or in fact at one object from various perspectives.

The four-part drawing Study for a Totem (2012) again uses the Cartesian grid of the facade and depicts a single modernist object without the context of a landscape.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

India’s acclaimed internationally art practitioners- I

Baiju Parthan: His fascination for technology, blended with his passion for mythology is palpable in his practice. The artist views them as symbiotic, as he thinks both mythology and technology feed off each other. He is in constant search of metaphors that can seamlessly be translated into artistic symbols. He has studied the Indian mystical arts, tantra, ritual arts, and Indian mythology that he includes in his contemporary art practices.

Jagannath Panda: His style of painting is suited to his concerns, in sync with immediate surroundings of his home state Orissa and New Delhi where he now lives. In fact, he tends to draw energy from wherever he locates himself. In Jagannath Panda’s work a routine event or any commonplace object gets imparted with symbolic stature that is oriented to represent collective aspirations or sometimes rigid dogmas.

Justin Ponmany’s practice is marked by a Darwinian approach. It reorganizes and also reinvents reality. Re-branding by digitizing, the artist skillfully duplicates figures in an eerie electric landscapes stylized beyond comprehension – almost - were it not for those reoccurring markers as well as motifs of skyscrapers and figures, which appear in his work. Using silver holograms, plastic paints and rich pigments of color along with distorted photographic negatives, he is as keen on the production of his art works as he is in the object, which then exists and haunts us.

T.V. Santhosh: His works deal with complex contemporary issues like global unrest, conflict and violence. Particularly, the network of terror powered by scientific intelligence and technological advances -a kind of unholy nexus between knowledge and terror - comes under his scanner. The themes of violence, injustice, and inequality dominate his artistic agenda.  Drawing on images and news reports from the media, he combines pointed text and repetitive sculptural forms to make a statement on both the persistent nature of violence and the way it gradually becomes the norm, through recurrence.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

'Eyes on Life: Drawings of Satish Gujral'

A truly multi-faceted art practitioner, Satish Gujral has worked in a wide array of media and has explored diverse forms in painting, metal and burnt wood sculptures, murals, public art and architecture.

Human suffering central to his practice in the beginning gradually gave way to a feel of tranquility and peace. He was more inspired by the jubilant aspects of human life than its pain and misery from around 1960s onward. No surprise, he envisioned hope in actions, and chose to depict them in a descriptive mode, leaving behind a touch of enigma.

An accompanying note to 'Eyes on Life: Drawings of Satish Gujral', an exhibit hosted late last year at Aakriti Art Gallery, Kolkata stated: “Satish Gujral makes the fascinating figures heroic not out of any sense of grand achievement, but out of their plain admission of the rather ordinary and unassuming gestures. It’s precisely this quality, which makes them so special, so buoyant for the artist.”

So what’ s the secret of his passion to create diverse forms of art? “When you are consistently engaged in creative activity, it fills you up with a zest to carry on. I neither give titles nor ideas, so that you (the viewers) need to find your own truth,” he has once stated. “I wouldn’t say I am a modernist or traditionalist. I just believe in what I see.”

According to him, an artist’s style becomes his identity, but it cannot be stretched beyond a point. Summing up the spirit of his continual quest for excellence, Satish Gujral quips: “Novelty challenges the mind; it makes you think. One can discover new things every day, everywhere. The acceptance of one style only nudged me to find something I had not as yet experimented with, one that may refresh my excitement. Personal excitement is what I seek to get out of my creativity...”

In recognition of his artistic achievements the President of India honored him with the second highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan, in 1999.

Monday, June 18, 2012

What drives Arunanshu Chowdhury’s artistic passion?

“My work happens to move with time and life around. The latter is ever changing, and so are my creations,” this is how Arunanshu Chowdhury sums up his art practice. His work is broadly based on the ubiquitous urban environ.

He employs metaphors that strike a peculiar relationship with the broad theme of his compositions. Derived from diverse sources such as advertisements, television, newspapers and personal memories, they all form part of a curious repertoire of motifs that the artist has employed abundantly in his creative processes.

His art is inspired by changes in immediate social and physical landscape of which he is a keen observer. His creations are replete with objects and images encountered commonly. They capture a curious reflection of daily activities associated with routine lifecycle.

The artist effortlessly weaves various living and non-living objects, as diverse as flora, insects, butterflies, birds, ants, musical instruments, knives, spoons, chair, etc. into his seamless compositions. But their juxtaposition is never random. He applies a certain thought behind the construct of his images that harbour a strong visual and conceptual link to each other. They together build on the pictorial surface a unique artistic language imbued with immense socio-political significance. Significantly, he repeats the same thought and often the same composition, modifying it for a completely new ‘version’.

According to him, it’s a chain of thoughts that elongates itself. One work leads to another, and to a newer thought. I tend to look at the same thought, the same composition in a new light. The resultant artistic output is a take-off from the one that precedes it, employing the same image like an afterthought.”

It’s a continual process, he adds, “Thoughts and ideas are bound to overlap and spill over as I indulge in reinterpretation of the same thought or incident. In fact, this holds true for many artists who create different version of the same subject.”

Sunday, June 17, 2012

‘Índia - Lado a Lado / Arte Contemporânea

‘Índia - Lado a Lado / Arte Contemporânea Indiana’ (India - Side by Side / Indian Contemporary Art) is part of a grand showcase presented by Ministry of Culture and Banco do Brasil in Brazil.

The show features works by renowned artists like Baiju Parthan, Jitish Kallat, Bharti Kher, Gigi Scaria, Nalini Malani, Sheba Chhachhi, Shilpa Gupta, Pushpamala N., Ravinder Reddy, Reena Kallat, Manjunath Kamath, Surekha, T.V. Santhosh, Vishal K. Dar, PIX Collective, Raqs Media Collective, Thukral & Tagra, Vivan Sundaram, Vivek Vilasini and Riyas Komu, among others.

They together explore the various enchanting facets of Indian culture and way of life. In backdrop of new socio-cultural and financial bridges being built between Brazil and India, from BRIC to Bollywood, this indeed is a new dynamic phase for the two countries. ‘India - Side by Side’ symbolizes this bond binding the two countries that have shared colonial histories from the 16th century onward.

The exhibition of contemporary artworks from India explores the relationship between them in modern context and also brings to the fore the complexity as well as diversity of contemporary Indian art through works done in a wide variety of form, style, themes and media, ranging from, painting, sculpture and installation to photography and video.

According to the curators (Pieter Tjabbes and Tereza de Arruda), title of the show denotes the density and dynamics of the country’s fascinating day-to-day life. It has over 1.2 billion people belonging to different ethnic groups, religions and castes and also speak any number of the various official languages. The entire intriguing context is engaged in constant interaction, thus giving rise to a unique social strand extremely complex yet engrossing in all its facets. The diversity and dynamism reflect in the works on view. 

In every sense, ‘Índia - Lado a Lado / Arte Contemporânea is an important event that fortifies the cultural bonds between two nations – hailed as powerful emerging economies of the world currently.

A creativity module to shape tomorrow’s Razas and Husains

In 2009, Ritu Khoda and her core group formed Art1st to change the very fundamental assumptions of how schoolchildren were taught art. The novel initiative revolves around an extensive curriculum and is now running pilot programs at select schools in Mumbai. This group of art lovers has also created labs at various places across the city. A pilot workshop will be launched in Delhi next year.

Their curriculum is shaped as a high-level cognitive tool that makes use of specially-designed books for different age groups. It takes off with scribbles, moves on to colors, shapes, doodles, paintings etc and within the basics, let children decipher high art (Raza’s Bindu series, for example, is used for them to grasp shapes).

From the  academic year, the curriculum is slated to form part of the formal teaching methodology in these schools. The idea is to change the basics of the learning methods, and not just add to it. In essence, Ritu Khoda sees Art1st as something to transform mainstream art education. She explains that the tools used for the purpose of art appreciation are so designed to make a child creative and shape him or her to be a thinker.

Apart from boosting confidence, they look to build powers of description and vocabulary of children. Ritu Khoda had been quoted as saying in an interview: “Twenty years later, a child is not going to produce out-of-the-box ideas unless he or she is encouraged to think that way early on in life. A holistic art curriculum should give a child the self-confidence of owning an idea and presenting it.”

For this very reason, Khoda and her committed team members are against the concept of ‘coloring books’ that embed a fixed idea into children’s minds and tell this is the (only) way to do it. Constant evaluation is another feature of Art1st creativity module for children. Presently, the participating pilot schools receive a review each month from the team that also reorients teachers to spot out individuality.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Artists who form part of 'Looking Back, Looking Forward' - I

'Looking Back, Looking Forward' is the title of a new group exhibition at Mumbai- based Sakshi Art Gallery. It features works by Valay Shende, Rekha Rodwittiya, Chintan Upadhyay, Riyas Komu, Nandini Valli Muthiah, Sunil Gawde and Zarina Hashmi.

Chintan Upadhyay is particularly known for his creations revolving around the theme of pop cultural symbolism and its influence in society. His creations force viewers to turn inward; they make us to look at ourselves. He often explores the iconography of Pop to convey his subject matter. His paintings carry references from media, advertisements, Bollywood and even the traditional miniature paintings.

Sunil Gawde received the British Council’s Charles Wallace Award for 1995-96, and spent a year as visiting artist at the Glasgow School of Art, Scotland. His work has been exhibited in numerous international exhibitions like ‘Radium Grass’ (Mackintosh Museum, Glasgow, 1997), Bombay Maximum City’ (Lille, 2006), ‘Made by Indians’ (St Tropez, 2006) and ‘Art on the Corniche’ (Abu Dhabi, 2007), In 2009 he was invited by Pompidou Centre, Paris for a residency program where his work is slated for exhibition in 2011.

Riyas Komu’s oeuvre refers to the paradoxes of the urban situation that he paints with cynicism and compassion. The artist strives to archive the times, as well as reflect our immediate concerns – both localized and globalized. It is a striking reflection on the contemporary condition, and often appears to be a multiple space in which we are left grasping the moment, in order to release results or meaning.

Often inspired by his immediate surroundings, Valay Shende often uses his works for capturing the challenges as well as dichotomies, which characterize India as the country is today, especially the divide between traditional religious ones on one hand, and modern and industrial views on the other.

His recent series sculptures, unique in both their scale and process, are built out of minute and precise metal discs, copper-plated fiberglass, pocket watches and many other unconventional materials. The combination of sculptural installations and video art in his art practice adds a new dimension to the prevailing classical ideas of sculpture.

'Looking Back, Looking Forward' - II

'Looking Back, Looking Forward' is the title of a new group exhibition at Mumbai- based Sakshi Art Gallery. It features works by Valay Shende, Rekha Rodwittiya, Chintan Upadhyay, Riyas Komu, Nandini Valli Muthiah, Sunil Gawde and Zarina Hashmi.

Like a live journal of her personal life and events, Zarina Hashmi’s work deals with a multitude of themes like displacement, travel, memory and the home, which all echo through her perpetual experience and larger identity of a Diaspora, bringing to the fore the idea of dislocation.

Her multi-faceted practice embraces and amalgamates architecture, sculpture, woodcuts etc; tactile in the diverse materials used, minimal in its expression, and packed with meaning. Her preferred media are wood that she carves, (the wooden printing blocks), and paper that she manipulates with dexterity (including papier mâché forms).

Born in 1976, Nandini Valli was raised in Chennai, India where she continues to live. She completed several degrees before entering the field of photography. After an 18 month apprenticeship with a leading commercial photographer in Chennai, Nandini decided to pursue a B.A Honours in Photography from the Arts Institute at Bournemouth, UK (now known as the Arts University College Bournemouth).

This is where she realized she was more suited to producing art photography as opposed to commercial photography. Her works are influenced by photographers as diverse as Gregory Crewdson, Tina Barney, Jonathan Torgovnik, Raja Deen Dayal, Bourne&Shepard, to name a few. Nandini has been showing her work publicly since 2007

On the other hand, a recurring motif in Rekha Rodwittiya ‘s bold-hued paintings is the female figure that represents shades of feminine emotions, concerns and persona sans objectifying them. Her female protagonists are often elevated to iconic proportions. They can simultaneously occupy multiple avatars.  In very clear form, the works explain the artist’s viewpoint that female empowerment and its attendant baggage is rather a complex issue.  A staunch feminist, she believes that in spite of the gender inequality, a multitude of voices still express the desire to dispel the stereotype of gender bias, and look to accommodate the complex changes we know to be real.

Transition in G. R. Iranna’s thought process

G. R. Iranna is a down-to-earth artist from a modest rural background. He is counted among the leading artists of his generation in India and internationally, and is known for his sensitive portrayal of socio-political issues, affecting common people. His work and his figures are illustrative of the spirit of human experiences that is timeless and immortal.

The artist looks to strike a chord with the viewers through his works. He cherishes their response as much as the critics’ pat. To begin with, his work was largely based on my personal memories and experiences. Gradually, his oeuvre expanded to encompass broader social concerns and issues affecting common people. This, he believes, has given his work an added depth and intensity.

G. R. Iranna’s concerns regarding the present socio-political scenario find an echo in his work. Spelling out the influences on him as a painter, he explains: “Critics have often observed that my work weans away from postmodern logic, and that it subscribes to the idealistic, representative language of Indian contemporary art. My way of working and the material, which I employ, may indicate so! But I personally think my approach as an artist goes much beyond the terms such as modern and the post modern.”

He hails from a farmer's family, and was born and brought up in a rural environment. G. R. Iranna recounts: “When I migrated to a city, I could relate my experiences of urban India with my childhood life in a village. This gave me an entirely new perspective of life and its extremities.

"My artistic growth would not have been complete, and my art would not have reached its present point of maturity and understanding without either of the experiences. I can relate to both the worlds – urban and rural. Having been a witness to the diametrically opposite lifestyles, my art has attained a new dimension, and an added sensitivity."

Fathoming Jagannath Panda’s practice

Jagannath Panda’s practice unravels many a theoretical and behavioral contradictions. The talented artist's art unravels many a theoretical and behavioral contradictions. It also incorporates the diametrically oppositional probabilities into an intriguing single unified whole.

The artist subtly fuses divergent scenarios with his skilled handling of forms, colors and compositions. His thought and creative processes are driven by a highly evolved aesthetic sensibility as both balancing device and interrogating agent.

His earlier suite of works, entitled 'The Action of Nowhere', was also on view at Nature Morte, a couple of years ago. Providing an insight into his works, a curatorial note mentioned that animals play a vital role in his vocabulary. It added, "Birds and beasts- never anthropomorphic- stand for the human condition but also a continuum of life as the actors in the artist’s morality play. He brings to the fore the nuances of their natural greed, selfishness and anger to put these obvious traits in the context of mankind."

Interestingly, when he started his career, not many galleries were initially keen on displaying his work. But it was not long before the intrinsic value of his work was noted. Shireen Gandhy of Chemould has once stated Jagannath Panda’s gift is that he remains a sculptor at heart almost as if he’s sculpting paintings in his creations.

His style of painting is suited to his art concerns, in sync with immediate surroundings of his home state Orissa and New Delhi, the city where he now lives. In fact, the artist tends to draw energy from wherever he locates himself. In Jagannath Panda’s work a routine event or any commonplace object gets imparted with symbolic stature that is oriented to represent collective aspirations or sometimes rigid dogmas. He collates the best of both Western minimalist features, as well as of Orissa’s folk art elements.

The artist builds a universe where the apparent distinctions of Animal, Vegetable and Mineral get increasingly irrelevant.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kalakriti, Hyderabad and Gallery Beyond, Mumbai

Gallery Beyond:
Situated on 1700 sq feet in the premier art district of Kala Ghoda, South Mumbai, Gallery Beyond is a known name in the domain of art. The gallery primarily focuses on young, talented contemporary artists like Prakaash Chandwadkar, K.K. Muhammed, Datta Bansode, Anand Panchal,Prajakta Palav, Sanjeev Sonpimpare, Uday Mondal, Manish Chavda, to mention a few, among its success stories. The website notes:

“From auctions, shows, exhibitions and camps, to a virtual archive that spans the last 5000 years of Indian Art, we have only recently done the inevitable – established a Art Gallery of our own. Our Auction successes as curators and coordinators have been with Sotheby, Christies & Bowrings. We hold Art Camps/ Workshops at the Oberoi, Mumbai and Le Royal Meridien, Mumbai.”

The galley promoters have also done work on fundraisers for SAVE the Children, India, apart from raising funds for Tsunami Relief at National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai. Look forward to expand your knowledge and feel of art with Gallery Beyond at Art Expo India 2009.

True to its name, the gallery prorogates the finest of pieces of art. The gallery based in Hyderabad works with senior and young artists from different parts of India. Kalakriti has emerged as a resource for the recognized masters celebrated internationally and at home as much as for the young, upcoming artists. The Gallery has earned a reputation of promoting artists yet to receive wide-ranging applause.

Started in the year 2002, Kalakriti aims to promote Art & Culture in the Twin Cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. It has emerged as a professionally managed platform that promotes and supports Indian contemporary art. Kalakriti will showcase the best of works from talented contemporary artists.

‘Cults of Serendipity’ at Frey Norris

Jagannath Panda’s new series ‘Cults of Serendipity’ marks his debut in the US. The exhibition courtesy San Francisco-based Frey Norris presents works on paper, mixed media sculpture and paintings that incorporate various pastiched and patterned textiles – a sort of layered collage, evoking new cities constructed on ghost cities, as if a whole new civilization superimposed on top of previous ones.

His art largely focuses on serendipitous moments coupled with juxtaposed locations. In some ways, it reflects his observations of Gurgaon. In this fast-developing suburb of the capital city of India, new housing structures and air-conditioned shopping malls often overrun the ancient.

Here the ecosystem has little chance to keep pace, much less the networks for electricity and plumbing. Curator and gallerist Peter Nagy mentions that his mix of the mythological and the realistic points to the disoriented nature of Indian identity today, as it hopes to synthesize the traditional and the contemporary, the indigenous and the international, the imaginary and the actual.

An accompanying note elaborates: “A pair of figures from antiquity seem modestly bound in love-making among floating foliage in the upper right corner of one of Jagannath Panda’s newest mixed media paintings; the rest of the canvas appears to be a remembrance and excavation of this pair of lovers, depicted as in a Kama Sutra illustration, but also a broad play on scale, toying with archeology and construction sites. In the modernity of the backhoes, there is a personal and cultural exploration of human history, both recorded and earlier. It is a bittersweet vision for the frenetic development of the quintessential Indian metropolis.”

Born in Bhubaneswar in 1970, he did his BFA in sculpture from the BK College of Arts & Crafts, Bhubaneswar and his MFA in sculpture from the MS University, Baroda. Later he studied at the Fukuoka University of Japan and the Royal College of Art in London. His artworks were recently showcased at Nature Morte in New Delhi and Berlin, Chemould Prescott Road in Mumbai, and Alexia Goethe Gallery in London.

The artist has featured in prestigious group shows such as ‘Indian Highway IV’ at the Lyons Museum of Contemporary Art, France’; ‘Indian Highway V’ at the MAXXI Museum in Rome; ‘Transformation’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo; ‘Chalo! India’ at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo; ‘Where in the World’ at the Devi Art Foundation in Gurgaon; and ‘Midnight’s Children’ at Studio la Citta in Verona, Italy, among others.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Key moments of a renowned sculptor's illustrious career

Earthy and dynamic in nature, while exhibiting a tendency of surging movement or growth, his path-breaking sculptures received acclaim not only in India, but also internationally. Ramkinkar Baij opted to break away from the formal celebratory styles prevalent in British India and set a new precedent as a painter and sculptor.

Ramkinkar Baij deftly integrated different enchanting elements of Santhal tribal art and the way of life into his work, to enhance them by an acute understanding of prevalent Western expressionism. This sense of rhythm his sculptural works are noted for brilliantly manifested in his watercolors as well. Fluidity of the medium lent itself to his superb style reflected in his works done in the Kalighat tradition eclectically interconnected with Cubism.

The captivating combination led to a peculiarly personal idiom - unprompted and bold – a trademark of both his paintings and sculpture. He reveled in the remoteness and silence of Santiniketan and reflected the serene vibrancy of local life – tribal celebrations, marriages, and women threshing paddy. Though his experience and upbringing as an artist was totally Indian, he did understand international art, as reflected in his evocative and colorful watercolors and his sculptures that portrayed local life.

Apart from a series of solo shows and group exhibitions in which his wonderful works were featured from the early 1940’s, among his major posthumous exhibits are 'A Retrospective' at Lalit Kala Akademi (2012); 'Indian Art Through the Lens of History, Indigo Blue Art, Singapore (2011); ‘Manifestations', Delhi Art Gallery (2011, 08, 05, 04, 03), New Delhi; 'Time Unfolded', KNMA, Delhi (2011); 'Moderns', Royal Cultural Centre, Amman (2008); and 'Santhal Family: Positions Around an Indian Sculpture', courtesy Bodhi Art, and Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, Belgium (2008), among others.

A recipient of Padma Bhushan from the Government of India (1970), he won Deshi Uttam Award (1977) and Doctor of Letters Award (1979) from Viswa Bharti, Santiniketan. The Nepalese government had invited him to create Buddhist Sculptures in 1945.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ideas to launch your art career

Here are some useful tips to ‘start and develop career or successfully launch yourself as an artist in today's competitive scenario:
1. Specify your end goals and plan of action. Be clear about what exactly you want your work to achieve. There are different types of communities that support the artists and there are ways to support your own artwork available than ever before - offline and online.

2. Keep your thought process simple in order to maximize your creative output in the studio! This is a sincere, life and art-affirming action you must undertake or else you might end up isolating yourself and burning out. Continuously check out if you are still learning and growing; constantly evaluate whether your life/work is moving in the proper direction.

3. Teaching can add another crucial dimension to one’s work as it can inspire and feed creative faculties. Watching students grow is a gratifying experience. So the experts recommend that artists should consider teaching to looking to sustain their studio practice.

4. Expand your network and build your public profile. An effective networking strategy they recommend is employing one’s alma mater to access the alumni networks, social media connections like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc, seminars and other special events for reaching out to people and building knowledge about the field. It’s an effective way of building your public profile and expanding your network.

5. Mentors are equally critical for success. Immerse yourself into a reliable network of mentors, family, colleagues, and friends. Schedule an occasional studio visit, or an informal meeting to keep yourself updated.

6. View other works of art that appear similar to that of your own. Compare prices offline and online. Galleries would generally add their fixed commission amount to that you seek instead of cutting into your wholesale price. Check specific details in this regard. Consult a reputed arts alliance for contract help. If required, have a written agreement or contract, reviewed by a legal expert.

Bernardo Paz’s proud possessions

About thousand employees swarm around Bernardo Paz’s contemporary-art complex Inhotim nestled in the picturesque hills of southeast Brazil, away from Brazil’s mainstream collecting scenes in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Globetrotting art aficionados soak into the beauty of almost 500 stunning works like ‘Sonic Pavilion’ by Doug Aitken that employs high-sensitivity microphones put in a 633-foot hole to spread the bass murmur of Earth’s deft inner depths.

His botanical garden has over 1,400 species of palm trees, apart from other rare plants such as the titun arum from Sumatra. Sprawling over nearly 5,000 acres, it has room for 2,000 more artworks, at least. The 61-year-old lanky, mining magnate whispers are barely audible. A high school dropout, his first work experience was at a gas filling station run by his father.

Later he worked at stock exchange before taking up mining and erecting a business empire that finances operations of Inhotim (pronounced in-yo-TCHEEM) to the tune of about $60- $70 million each year. Certain masterpieces from Brazil’s boom time still survive, testifying past extravagance.

There are some private collections of contemporary-art elsewhere in Latin America accessible to the public, but none really has Inhotim’s exuberance. Curators and art historians marvel at the chaotic vision and sheer scale of Mr. Paz’s collection that devotes elaborate space to major artist projects. No surprise, Inhotim receives millions of visitors every year. In order to make it self-sustaining, the visionary collector intends to build hotels for visitors, a grand amphitheater, and even a ‘lofts’ complex for those keen to ‘live amid the collection’.

For now, he is more concerned with drawing the masses to works such as ‘Restore Now’ by Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn, in which texts by philosophers like Deleuze and Jacques Derrida are interspersed with eerie images of mutilated bodies. He quips, “There are works here that I haven’t entered yet, which everyone said were spectacular, but then why should I go in there? I don’t really consider myself that passionate for art. But gardens, that’s more what I like.”

A search for self and concern for ultimate truth

Jagannath Mohapatra, Rahul Chowdhury and Suryakant Lokhande are considered among the most talented and brightest young painters from India. Institute of Contemporary Indian Art (ICIA) showcased their works at Art Expo India 2009, which drew spontaneous response from art lovers. The idea was to provide a glimpse into a diverse range of works by the three most noteworthy names on the horizon of contemporary Indian art done.

Here, we sum up their themes, styles, and thought processes to grasp the diversity of their art practice. First and foremost, Suryakant Lokhande’s visual tempests emerged from the boundless energy of gestures and movements, the unceasing vitality of India’s everyday domestic decor, whereby his efforts altered the image from its fantastic lifeblood and its libidinal power, its exciting colors and scenes of collective drama to a deep disturbing image of uncertainty that is part of all our lives.

A search for self coupled with acute concerns regarding the ultimate truth drive his artistic processes. His creations are based on digitally enhanced photographs, which he opts to paint over with automobile paint. “For me, a photograph is a tool to look into myself”, he explains. His paintings are a crucible - a site of transformation, a place where objects, lines, colors, and forms go through a creative catharsis and are then transmuted in order to experience a tempest of personal and social impulses.

This alchemy produced labyrinthal images filled with dreamlike flashes that absorb the flow of figures and representations - some of them cruel and tragic, based on past and present phases of his life and images that have touched and shocked him. His series ‘The War is Over’ slams the uncertain situations post-war, and refer to the predicament of a sensitive artist trying to push boundaries.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

An artist who surveys the core of human existence

An upcoming and talented artist from India, Prasanta Sahu, marries two opposing ideas: the unique brushstroke and the reproduced image. He is acutely aware of the pictorial surface of the canvas. In them, monochromatic pictures are calculatively and captivatingly contrasted with vividly painted areas and apparent abrasions on the canvas create tempting textural motifs.

However, his work consciously looks to move away from the high-modernist obsession with the painted surface’s formal properties. He essentially strives to fathom complex relationship and transformations occurring between the self and the world as he perceives it. His paintings act as a mapping and surveying of the human existence.

For Prasanta Sahu, the human body is the most familiar two-dimensional image for expressing latent feelings. Acutely aware of the cultural environs and socio-economic climate, mindless violence and brutality arouse a sense of strong vehemence and protest in him that he expresses in his art. It’s one of the most important aspects of his practice.

He elaborates in an interview: “The studio is the Operation Theatre where I cut, treat, arrange & re-arrange images of human skins & human figures. A tiny square inch of human skin is enlarged multiple times, converting it into a floating mass of strokes. In the process the animated quality of the human body gets transformed into a dead, inanimate surface. To my mind this is representative of the ‘arranged’ second hand violence we confront every day via the media, viewed clinically from the comforts of our known space.”

At every level of his curious and equally meticulous working process, there tends to be a constant interplay of opposites. The image is painted in a painstaking manner using the paint-brush technique - both tedious and time consuming - yet, he deliberately aims to erase any apparent signs of human intervention in the final output.

The artist essentially tries to build a feel of tension, a sort of pull between two opposing elements – those of manual rendering and mechanical reproduction. Thus the work creates an element of doubt in the viewers’ mind, whether what they are looking at, is a painting, or a reproduction on the canvas.

Prasanta Sahu’s art practice

Prasanta Sahu as an artist has always tried to investigate relationships and transformations between the self and the world as he perceives it, through his paintings. It’s a survey into the human existence, with his own body serving as the most simplest and complex of subjects.

He reveals: “For me the human body is the most familiar two dimensional image by which I can express unspoken feelings, pain etc. It is an important part of my art making to be aware of the cultural environs and socio-economic climate. As an artist brutality, mindless violence, carnage arouses in me strong vehemence and protest; as to how this is expressed in art is a highly personal choice.”

His paintings often seem like mechanical reproductions. According to him, at every level in his working process, there’s a constant play between opposites. The image is painted very painstakingly using paint-brush technique which is time-consuming. Yet, he deliberately aims to erase any sign of human touch in the final painting.

The artist tries to create a tension, a pull between two opposite factors- that of mechanical reproduction and manual rendering.. In his recent series ‘human skin’ was in focus. He stated: “We are all quite familiar with the human preoccupation with skin, and its connection to obsessions with youth, beauty, age and race. The underlying socio-political issues are universal and yet very personal. Metaphorically it is a disguise, a skin glove, a mask.

"The studio is the Operation Theatre where I cut, treat, arrange & re-arrange images of human skins & human figures. A tiny square inch of human skin is enlarged multiple times, transforming it a floating mass of strokes. In the process the animated quality of the human body is transformed into a dead, inanimate surface. “

As Prasanta Sahu puts it, this is representative of the “arranged” second hand violence which we confront every day via the media, viewed clinically from the comforts of our known space.

Striving to raise art awareness quotient

Flow is an art initiative that works across the twin domains of education and culture. It looks to create exciting learning experiences for people of all ages. Flow was formed in 2006 of a passion to improve the engagement between cultural heritage, science and arts organisations and the public audiences that they serve.

Run by Bridget McKenzie, former Head of Learning at the British Library, and her colleague Mark Stevenson, all its work is based on the belief that ‘we are all lifelong learners, and that learning experiences must be rich and contextualized in order to be meaningful. For more about our method of creative and cultural learning.’

In 2010, Flow opened an office in Delhi to provide an array of interventions to ensure academic enrichment on basis of its Creative & Cultural Learning model. Though it has consulted internationally in countries like Russia and the US, the Delhi branch is its first ever international outpost.

Eliza Hilton, an educator and Katherine Rose, a museologist are the two directors of Flow Associates in India. When the two first visited museums and heritage sites in India a few years ago, they were surprised by what they saw or did not see - families in museums or even children. When they visited Ajanta-Ellora caves, the two were distressed by the fact that children were treating it as a place for picnic.

This is what Flow wants to set right. It goes by an educational philosophy in which learning interventions collate the capacities of individuals with a wider range of cultural resources like art, objects and the built environment. Its approach builds on a theory in which learning is very optimal. It strives to raise art awareness quotient through informal means.

The moderators look to evaluate how the various tools of art appreciation actually help children. Right now, Flow India is operating at the ground level, holding workshops for them. “By the time a workshop ends, the children develop the critical ability for recognizing colors and styles associated with an era or artist like Jackson Pollock or Amrita Sher-Gil,” Rose reveals.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Eliciting notions of identity through art

Primarily a figurative painter, Théodore Mesquita’s creations strive to elicit notions of identity constructed through specific representations of symbols, signs and the body in art. For him, signs and symbols manifest themselves, in a state of cultural pluralism, wherein the archetypal figuration is reflected, recognised and regained, through the environs of the imagined and real.

The images contained in his painting are soaked deep in faith, in the art and covenant of picture making, rooted in continuum, of the human, the singular, the communal, the one, the many; in the presence of its histories, in the presence of our lives.

His work records body culture, and its corroboration within the articulation of signs and symbols. It delves into the archetypal recognition of a broad psychological landscape, redefining the pluralistic cultures, which connect and discern the existence of the times and space of our lives, those having definite sounds and visions, pregnant with supernal meaning.

Elaborating on his artistic processes, the artist says, “In the foundation of my artistic endeavour, I have been consumed with the primal urge….to deliver and to sustain my expression, to achieve contemporary articulation, innovation, exploration and reflection - in the extended frame of time and space.”

Signs and symbols for him offer infinite possibilities to explore the inherent associations present in the animate and inanimate subjects of contention and thereby forms of expression and understanding, as the artist believes they cut across the worldwide cultural divide of confusion and acrimony – arriving and contributing into a profound and perceptive communion.

“As I evolve continuously from the meditative experiences that evoke my creativity…” the artist reveals, “I am beckoned into the realms of the absent navigator, who guides the motions of perception…The extinct traditions, that shelters the stream of consciousness…The recalled gesture, that defines the repository of images…The voice of the prophet, which sustains the cannons of manifestation…The rites of fertility, that invigorates the spirit of realization…All this and more as I rethread the motifs of birth and incantation, life and confinement, death and bewitchment…”

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Findings of the Art Market Confidence Survey

The latest Indian Art Market Confidence Survey released by the art market research agency, ArtTactic, (Researchers: Anders Petterson and Nathan Engelbrecht) offers some interesting insights. Some of them are listed below:
•Most experts feel the Indian art market will need at least a couple more years to find its feet again and recover. The overall Confidence Indicator for it is down marginally from October 2011 (by just 2 percent). The confidence in the economy has gone up to 45 percent from 28 percent, off-setting a 9 percent fall in confidence levels for the Modern art market, and a 24 percent fall for the Contemporary Indian art market.

•In spite of the slightly negative market trend, experts are positive about the near-term future of Indian Modern art market (the next 6 months). The round of auctions in March 2012 for Indian was rather disappointing, as the Modern & Contemporary art market witnessed another season of decline, touching a total sales volume worth $10,438,532, down 27 percent lower than March 2011 and 9 percent from September 2011.

•The art market has experienced a steady fall in the last 20 months as far as India is concerned. Current sales volume are more than 60 percent lower than June 2010. In comparison to a period 6 months ago, the survey respondents are getting more nervous and negative about the market. The latest Indicator is at 45, down from 55 (-18%) in October 2011.

•The short-term outlook, as gauged by the Expectation Indicator is at 58 (up from earlier 50). It implies that the experts are a bit more positive about the coming 6 months period in comparison to the current situation. The hesitance is also apparent when one considers what the experts are thinking the Indian art market direction will be in the coming 6 months.

•About 30 percent of the experts feel the For the Modern Indian market will go up (34 percent in October 2011), and nearly 70 percent feel it will remain flat (66 percent in October 2011). In fact, an immediate recovery appears to be some distance away, with close to 50 percent of the experts believing the Modern Indian market will need two more years at least before a broader recovery will happen.

•Among the artist covered in this report are Subodh Gupta, Maqbool Fida Husain , Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Francis Newton Souza, Sayed Haider Raza, Akbar Padamsee, Tyeb Mehta, K.G. Subramanyan, Ram Kumar, Krishen Khanna, Himmat Shah, Arpita Singh, Zarina Hashmi, Jogen Chowdhury, Rameshwar Broota, Ravinder Reddy, and Rashid Rana.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Motivations and inspiration of artist N. S. Harsha

Renowned artist N. S. Harsha has turned the ancient miniature painting tradition into a contemporary form, which lets him fuse the specific with the universal. The figures floating in his sly and playful painterly realm, invariably focused on an event, will point to something odd, incongruous or absurd. The wit lies as much in the grand scale of the delicate depictions as also in the telling detail of the vignette.

Akin to a clever chronicler, he refers from popular stories and peculiar perceptions of news events. He meticulously portrays small town/city life in an increasingly globalized world, by juxtaposing seemingly disassociated local images within an international spectrum. To put it in his words, 'I continue to search for a way in which to portray large crowds or gatherings and their collective absurd acts. It is interesting to observe a crowd which has lost its collective rationale - or its attempt to achieve a collective rationale!'” 

The artist invests his works with acute n awareness of the medium, wherein the figures turn into an audience for a presupposed viewer, who then becomes complicit with or somehow activates that incident depicted. In honoring him with the prestigious Artes Mundi Prize in 2008, the jury members mentioned of his vast scope of work, its range and diversity such as painting, installation and even community activities. Among the largest art awards internationally, it recognizes outstanding emerging practitioners, who refer the human condition. 

He artist draws his motifs from a spate of news-driven images and traditional symbols to concoct a pointed socio-political commentary. He portrays ironies of small town/city life in an increasingly globalized world. His multi-dimensional oeuvre includes semi-abstractionist panels, detailed figurative painting, large scale installations, miniature drawing, and cross-disciplinary, research-based collaborations.

His multi-layered narratives suggest how the global is invariably located and sub-consciously seeped within the local imagination. The sensitive practitioner continues to draw on both traditional narratives and popular culture, deftly interweaving international and local points of reference in his diverse art forms.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kaleidoscopic view of a veteran artist's enticing landscapes

A recent joint show, entitled ‘Eternal Landscapes‘ at Mumbai's ICIA brought together two diverse landscape painters Ram Kumar from the pre-independence generation, one of the pioneers of the modern art movement in India, and Paresh Maity from the post-independence generation, a young turk of the contemporary art movement in India. Revealing the true spirit and essence of Ram Kumar’s works, an essay by renowned art expert, collector and gallerist Vickram Sethi had underlined the following aspects of his rich art practice:
  • Ram Kumar’s paintings are inspired by the natural environment in its many manifestations, wilderness, mountains, ravines, crevices, rifts, fissures, gorges, canyons, hillsides, forests, deserts, fields and rivers. Ram Kumar modifies them to a point of making them unrecognizable. His works cover a wide spectrum of possibilities often based on emotional response to a natural setting rather than a specific depiction of a place.
  • His journey as a painter is an evolution from objective memory to subjective tension, from images which memorialize nature to abstraction in which nature has become a sum of surreal parts that almost missed becoming a cohesive whole. His works are charged with a seductive energy, the painterly gestures at once vehement, agitated and autonomous and yet the structure holds - there is a kind of a framework creating a sense of fixed and absolute space, the gestures at times becoming more forceful, threatening to shatter it.
  • His abstractions are a precarious balance of abrupt explosions of uncontainable gestural energy and soothing stabilizing structure which seems to transcend the painterly marks that constitute it. His landscapes manage this doubleness with deceptive ease, this simultaneous sense of equilibrium and disequilibrium in which the landscapes seem a sum of disequilibrated parts that do not add up to a whole and organically equilibrated whole that is more than the sum of any of its details.
  • Ram Kumar’s understanding and development of a visual language through abstraction encourages us to explore in our minds eye a landscape of transcendent physical beauty and creative potency. The artist’s process and evolution affirms the relevance of landscapes in contemporary art practice and leads us to a deeper understanding of nature and a powerful reminder of our own connection with the earth.

Internet propels art sales

India has been a witness to the phenomenon of selling art online for close to a decade now, especially since Saffronart was formed at the beginning of the new millennium. It is well established as India’s premier online auction house. Many others like Asta Guru have followed suit in the last few years, to prove the credentials of Web-based resources in the domain of art.

In an interview with ARTINFO, the co-founder of Saffronart, Dinesh Vazirani, had stated that the company was launched with the premise of blending technology and the art so as to let people have ready reference points - images, prices, information etc in order to make the entire process of buying works online easier.

Complimenting this outreach to new audience base online is the trend of rising internet usage thanks to wider access. A report by the Boston Consulting Group last year had mentioned of a sharp increase in internet usage in countries like Indonesia, Russia, Brazil and India, raising the total number of users to more than 1 billion by 2015.

As more people are keen to view and buy art online, auction houses are looking to leverage the power and reach of the medium. In fact, roughly 30% of Christie’s International clients now bid online. The VIP Art Fair hosted earlier this year was the first of its kind. On the other hand, India Art Collective, an exclusive online fair, was recently held to serve as an open platform accessible to a wide audience.

It was projected as a cost-efficient option to the traditional art fairs. The Chemould Prescott Road, Nature Morte, The Guild, Experimenter Gallery SKE, Sakshi Gallery, Apparao Galleries, Akar Prakar, Vadehra Art, Palette, Latitude 28, Tao, and Kashi were among the major galleries that featured in the inaugural edition, underling the importance of Internet to push art sales.

Given the country’s size and diversity, it’s not at all surprising that vendors are resorting to online channels to access markets beyond Mumbai and Delhi. The ability to target buyers is also greatly facilitated by a fast-expanding affluent class with a higher purchasing capacity, apart from the buyers of Indian origin (primarily, the Indian Diaspora).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bajaj Capital Art House promotes and guides on art as an asset class

Bajaj Capital, a renowned financial services firm, decided to venture into the domain of advisory services for art investment and building of art assets/ portfolio a few years ago. The company launched the Bajaj Capital Art House (BCAH).

It acts as an inclusive centre for professional, comprehensive and standardized services in visual art. The aim is to provide a balanced and well-diversified investment portfolio to the clients looking for a reliable investment asset class. Art is a good bet from this perspective owing to the aesthetic pleasure that it offers as well as its potential as a good investment avenue.

Elaborating about the various investment products the firm offers to its client, Bajaj Capital Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Rajiv D Bajaj, had been quoted as saying: “Art is an under penetrated asset class in the portfolio of investors including the high net worth individuals. Art would be our ‘seventh´ wonder as we already have advisory on mutual funds, life insurance, general insurance, fixed income, stock broking and Real Estate. Not only HNIs but other investors can also have the option to include the product in their portfolios.”

The idea behind launching art advisory services is to advice our clients on buying art pieces, which see a considerable rise in valuations over a period of time. Bajaj Capital Art House looks to facilitate the buying (and selling) of paintings for its clients through various established art galleries backed by its own capable art advisory to help them in the process. The art house celebrated its first anniversary in August 2009 with a comprehensive group exhibit, entitled ‘Beyond The Form’, comprising over forty works including paintings and sculptures by noted contemporary artists.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Key ideas on how to invest in art in the current context

It’s vital to establish how to invest in art, so we wish to provide our readers with a few important tips in the current context.

The changed context and connotations of the market also needs to be understood. “Now that the real ‘investors’ are coming back to the art market as it opens up after almost a year-long hiatus, it’s vital to establish who a genuine investor is and if yes, how to invest in art.”

These are the critical issues that art expert Kishore Singh deals with in an insightful essay in The Business Standard. Following is the precious piece of advice on his part:

First as an investor, as he notes, you cannot hope to begin with less than Rs 20 lakh, with an annualized budget to at least match that (you may invest more by turning some of your existing collection around, However, the same should add to the original kitty instead of becoming the kitty).

You need to choose a range of works to start your investment exercise. To put it in other words, buying a single Sakti Burman canvas for Rs 20 lakh cannot be called an investment. Critically, your collection needs to be ruthlessly weeded. Any buying/ selling decision on your part should ideally be dictated by the mind and not the heart even while you can continue to enjoy your choice of art.

To sum up, you should work with galleries and experts, who can take the responsibility for prices and for filling in gaps that, you might find difficult to plug yourself as an investor.The key is not to get carried away or become excessively pessimistic as the market sentiment changes from euphoria to despondency. Simply sticking to one’s basics and instincts can help.

Tips for ‘starting your career as an artist’

Angie Wojak is associated with the Columbia University’s School of the Arts, whereas Stacy Miller is the faculty at the Parsons School for Design, teaching in the photography department there. Having served as the Director of Career Services both at School of the Arts, Columbia University as well as the Parsons School of Design, the former has decades of precious experience in the domain. Miller also has been part of the College Art Association, as the research and professional development director.

Owing to their rich background, the two possess considerable expertise on what constitutes a successful artist’s career and how one can go about building it gradually. They have culled it all together in their insightful documentation, as an introductory note elaborates: “The book covers topics essential to the emerging artist like artist’s resumes and CVs; building community through meaningful networking, constant collaborating, and finding mentors; setting up a studio; developing solid marketing plans; locating alternative exhibition venues; and refining career aspirations. It also includes inspiring interviews with well-known players in the art scene and professional artists.”

Apart from possessing immense talent and intrinsic vision, sincerity and sensitivity, expertise and experimentation, dynamism and diversity, what does it really for an artist to become ‘successful’? Well, connotations of the term will definitely differ from past era to the present, and from one practitioner to another. But to establish a strong foothold in today’s competitive and challenging art scene, an artist must possess some basic characteristics. In fact, most successful artists have certain qualities in common irrespective of the form, medium and era they belong to, believe Angie Wojak and Stacy Miller. The two have spelt out the secrets in their insightful book, entitled ‘Starting Your Career as an Artist’

‘Starting Your Career as an Artist’ is a perfect step by step guidebook for aspiring art practitioners who will follow how to handle their careers, as well as leverage technological advances and utilize the several opportunities and tools available in today’s marketplace, even while staying true to your inner voice and pursuing your boundless passion for art.

Art scene of India is improving

Some time back, a news report in the Wall Street Journal by Margherita Stancati and Shefali Anand had mentioned: “Collectors still see artworks by artists of Modern India School of painting, a movement spearheaded by Souza, Raza and the late MF Husain, as a safer investment than contemporary art.

Widely seen as a status symbol, the works of this older generation of painters have quite often broken the $1-million barrier, something happening less frequently with contemporary artists. The financial crisis left this segment relatively unscathed. Works by the younger generation of artists are widely viewed as a riskier investment option than modernist paintings. And their prices suffered the most during the financial meltdown. However, the relatively low prices mean that savvy collectors could stand to gain.”

A leading global art market research agency, ArtTactic, regularly publishes Confidence Surveys that provide an in-depth analysis of the market conditions on basis of field data and analytic tools such as a risk and speculation barometer. By collating and dissecting aspects like sales volume, average price and bought in rates, they judge the success ratio of auctions by comparing pre-sales expectations with final results. Their periodic Global Art Market Outlook reports examine the prevailing trends within Indian markets as well as other top art markets.

Contemporary & modern Indian art prices began soaring around a decade ago or so, setting the industry wheels fast in motion. Even while sales patterns suggest the art market is showing signs of recovery, few really expect it to reach pre-2008 levels. After the financial downturn hit global markets, India wasn’t spared either. Indian art prices fell in that period, by more than half. It took a heavy toll on many art funds set up a few years earlier. Though it is not realistic to expect prices to soar anytime soon, that’s not necessarily such a bad thing, with some terming it an artificial hype!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A celebrated artist talks about collecting art

Renowned artist Bose Krishnamachari believes the Indian art scene has significantly metamorphosed over the last two decades primarily through the west because collectors there promoted Indian art and artists such as Sudarshan Shetty and Riyas Komu.

He quips: “They understand that art is all about freedom. Anish Kapoor wanted to show his art in India but there’s no space here for it; there are no institutions. Artists here miss opportunities since we lack the space or the vision.” However, there are a few positives as well. He adds: I noticed while curating a show that the number of female artists (I chose) is more than the male artists. I think women artists in India, these days, are stronger than men. There are many upcoming artists worth looking like Charmi Shah Gada and Suchitra Gahlot.”

He is able to manage different roles of an artist, collector and gallerist since, to put it in his words, “I am serious about what I am doing. I feel the same kind of pressure being an artist and a gallerist. People think I’m ambitious, though I’m not. But it’s good if they think so,” he concludes.

Explaining how he started with the process of collecting art, Bose Krishnamachari had mentioned in a past interview (Jigna P of Hindustan Times) that art is his passion. He might sometimes ask his artist friends about a work he doesn’t like, even though he is actually eyeing another one. When asked whether he re-sells any of the art works, his spontaneous reply was: “No, never. Nor do I barter my art collection. It’s dead money.”

The artist is not against investing in the art market, per se, but he thinks it is interesting when an artist opts to collect works of other artists. In the future, he reveals, he would like to possess work by Marcel Duchamp, Jeff Koons’s ‘Puppy’, and more works by Sudharshan Shetty.

Indian art market: the road ahead

An Art Market Confidence Survey late last year stated that the confidence in the Modern market of India remained high, in spite of negative economic outlook. The overall Market Confidence Indicator was down by close to 30%, as the confidence in the country’s economy significantly dropped. In spite of this, experts remained positive about the Modern art market, with some confidence returning to the contemporary art market.

On the other hand, according to the Indian auction data analysis publicized a couple of months ago on basis of most recent sales by the key auction houses, the Modern & Contemporary art market experienced decline. The nascent Indian art market, still awestruck by the prices Tyeb Mehta, F N Souza, S H Raza, or Subodh Gupta command, is largely echoing the Western market (trend) in appreciating values for historic or rare works. However, there is a lot of scope for Indian masters as well as globally-recognized artists to grow, an opportunity that the country is probably missing out on owing to lack of infrastructure and the state support those like in China do.

Writer and art critic Kishore Singh explains, `to an extent, private entrepreneurship can be credited with building up exposure, prices and knowledge.’ While any hope of a recovery is premature yet, individual works have been drawing buyers at record-selling prices.

He adds, “This is perhaps because rare works entering the market to create liquidity for their owners are attracting those with wealth but no previous access to high-value masters. The trickle to buy quality works in developing countries could soon become the proverbial flood, but what lessons are there in it for India? After a roller-coaster ride, the art market in India now seems to be on stable ground, The Wall Street Journal news report by Margherita Stancati and Shefali Anand had observed.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Formative years of artist B. Prabha

Born in the village of Bela, near Nagpur in Maharashtra in 1933, B. Prabha first studied at the Nagpur School of Art before arriving in Mumbai for further honing her skills as an artist, albeit with hardly any support – monetary or otherwise.

It was a meager existence with no source of sustenance except for some pieces of family jewelry that she sold to survive through this tough phase. She completed a Government Diploma in Painting & Mural Painting from Sir J.J School of Art, Mumbai (1954-55) where she received a scholarship to specialize in mural painting. Her first show, while she was still in the art school, proved a memorable one for her. Homi J. Bhabha, an eminent Indian scientist, acquired three of her paintings. The gesture was a big confidence booster and she never looked back after that.

Recounting her formative years, she had stated: “I dreamt of being a singer and I was equally good at painting. My elder brother advised that I couldn’t master two vocations at a time. So I had to make a choice between singing and painting after completing my matriculation. That was very difficult, indeed! And after a lot of introspection, I opted for painting. At that time, there were not too many women painters (in India). I respected Amrita Sher Gil a lot. My ambition was to become a renowned painter (just like her) and to take my paintings to all corners of the world.”

B. Prabha’s works have been shown in a series of solos and group exhibitions at prestigious venues in India and abroad, including ‘Shradhanjali’, a show dedicated to her husband, sculptor B. Vithal whom she married in 1956. During their long period of struggle, the two were often supported by other fellow artists who offered them a place to stay and even to store their works. Her marriage, in a way, was turning point in her life as the fellow artist changed her perspective both as an individual and also as an artist…