Friday, November 30, 2012

Dazzling beauty of fluent, fluid lines

Before color paintings and today’s much fancied new media came to existence, what mattered most to proponents of creativity and expression was the fine art of line drawings. The genre has existed since the era of early civilization and is still termed the original and genuine form of expression.

The dominance of lines can be gauged by peeping into the history of art. One can see the distinctness of line drawings from the ancient cave paintings to the origin of creative arts across the world. While for sheer academic purposes, it acts as a pointer towards the finished work, for collectors it’s akin to a rare insight into an artist’s soul.

When a sculptor or a painter wishes to give shape to unbounded imagination, the creative process is set in motion by making lines. They tend to form the initial crucial jotting of the germ and a draft layout for the artwork. That is what makes drawings fascinating and priceless.

Artists generally turn to drawing for expressing their inner urge in an uncomplicated manner, akin to the inner dialogue one is having with oneself. Some of the famous Indian artists known for their proficiency in the medium are Jamini Roy, Ganesh Pyne, Nandlal Bose, and MF Husain among others. Each has had his individual style and technique. They all have been greatly inspired by the simplicity of drawing as an art form.

A drawing invariably sets the structure and format for creative minds that essentially serve as pointers to the concept of a finished painting. For example, if one looks at legendary artist Pablo Picasso’s drawings from his famed Suite Vollard collection, one can grasp that some of them lead up to his most iconic piece, Guernica.

FN Souza’s scribbles of nudes, the manner in which he deftly placed his magical figures across a surface, the oft-endless studies of horses by Sunil Das, the depth of artist Tyeb Mehta’s minimal brushstrokes, all perfectly preceded by countless of drawings…all of these creations are not only of academic interest, but also precious collectibles in their own right!

Enriching tradition of Lahore’s National College of Arts

Lahore’s National College of Arts is particularly known for the department of miniature painting, considered one of its kind across the globe. Today, around 20,000 students apply to it each year, with only 150 of them are admitted, and only a dozen making it into the batch for miniature painting.

The institute has produced several Pakistani artists whose art is increasingly receiving international acclaim at biennials and in major exhibitions. This is owing both to the personal experiences they incorporate and to the completely new, innovative forms of expression even while owing allegiance to miniature painting.

The art academy began in the early 1980s so as to revive this art form.  A wide variety of styles like the Moghul School and the Persian schools that thrived in the 16th-17th centuries were included the curriculum. The students grasp the complicated painting technique and also the way of making their paper themselves in the wonderful Wasli method. This remains one of its prime principles.

That the particular class is so much coveted is also owing to the fact that those like Quereshi started to expand facets of miniature painting into a more contemporary form of dynamic artistic expression in the 1990s. While the traits of classical miniature painting were restricted to religious stories usually, the depiction of courtly life and battles, the new practitioners blended it with contemporary forms like new media as well as conceptual thought, using it to comment on the region’s complex social developments. Religion, politics and gender roles are the themes tackled on the Pakistani scene now, also employing the means of fascinating miniature painting.

Along with Imran Qureshi, Shahzia Sikander is another talented graduate of the academy, who has witnessed a major international breakthrough thanks to her works. The New York-based, 1969-bron artist from Pakistan is known to investigate miniature painting’s formal means in her videos, animations, installations and drawings. Sikander’s art seeks to question the Muslim woman’s role and prevailing stereotypical western views, which associate Islam religion solely with their oppression and terrorism. Religion plays a major role both in her personal life and in her art.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

‘City of Hope’ at Seven Art and JNU

Artist Martand Khosla’s first solo exhibit is presented courtesy Seven Art Limited in two parts at the School of Art & Aesthetics, JNU and at the Seven Art gallery itself simultaneously. It is vital that the artworks inhabit these sites of knowledge production – one a known public institution of higher learning and the other a contemporary art space – because it goes to mimic and explain several dualities within his practice.

An artist and architect who draws on his professional experiences to inform his creations materially and conceptually, his architectural practice is environmentally and socially conscious. Importantly, it’s commissioned and does participate in the ‘building’ of the country’s urban landscape and also employs the workforce increasingly getting displaced and ignored within the popular discourse of our shining future. As a curatorial note elaborates:
  • His artistic work therefore addresses and engages with the people who are ‘building’ India but who are marginally considered within India’s apparent development. The artist employs a varied and potent material vocabulary to communicate his observations. He uses brick dust, abundant at construction sites, to create portraits of the workers; to create parched and barren or abandoned landscapes; to create poetic vignettes of workers footwear and tools as they rest during lunch; and to create miniature and acrylic encased rooms of singular possessions that mark an upwardly mobile population.
  • His brick dust thus is the stuff of both the everyday and of possible and impossible dreams. The portraits are striking in that they bring to mind the Veil of Veronica, the cloth which bears a rust coloured (almost the same hue as brick dust) portrait of Jesus Christ imprinted when Saint Veronica wiped his blood stained face on his journey to the crucifix.
The exhibition takes its title from a group of work comprising 4 imagined cities that evoke India’s overflowing urban migration that locate cities as the reservoirs of hope and livelihood. It is curated by Deeksha Nath.

An institute that explores artistic legacy of Himalayan region

The Rubin Museum of Art in New York has among the largest Western collections of exquisite religious art from captivating cultures of the fascinating Himalayan mountain range. It includes art from Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan apart from the interrelated traditions of Mongolia, China and India.

The museum ensures a dynamic environment that stimulates learning, promotes understanding, and inspires personal connections to the ideas, cultures, and art of Himalayan Asia. The Himalayas are the highest mountains in the world and form an imposing geographical barrier. This has created a cultural threshold between the region and the other great cultures of Asia, allowing for the flourishing of distinctly Himalayan artistic traditions. However, the artistic heritage of this vast and culturally varied area of the world remains relatively obscure.

The collection consists of paintings, sculptures, and textiles. It also includes scroll paintings (thangka) and sculptures from the region, plus a wide variety of artifacts, such as masks, textiles, and illuminated manuscripts. It currently features the permanent collection in two remarkable exhibitions. The first floor houses different art objects intended to introduce this rich heritage. On this floor visitors can get acquainted with the common visual language of Himalayan art, the materials and techniques used in creating these works, and the principal purposes for producing them.

The variety and quality of Himalayan artistic traditions represented in the Rubin Museum's collection are highlighted in ‘Masterworks: Jewels of the Collection’, that introduces the main branches and styles of Himalayan art, their resonance and dialogue with neighboring traditions, and major visual changes over the last millennium.

Through changing exhibitions and an array of engaging public programs, the museum offers opportunities to explore the artistic legacy of the Himalayan region and to appreciate its place in the context of world cultures. The exhibitions are so organized as to assist viewers who are new to Himalayan art. Wall texts and interpretive panels supply aesthetic, social, and historical perspectives to both scholars and casual viewers.

Underlining its philosophy, a museum note elaborates: “We believe in taking an open and active approach to engaging learners at all levels and helping them to understand our world. We do this by encouraging deep connections and transformational experiences in a welcoming, enjoyable, and beautiful environment.”

(Information courtesy: The Rubin Museum of Art)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Modernist Art from India: Radical Terrain

‘Radical Terrain’, a new exhibition focusing on Modernist Art from India has just opened at Rubin Museum of Art. It’s the third exhibition taking place in the much acclaimed series on art from India that highlights meticulous exploration of its art landscape for the generation especially after independence. What are the other highlights of the show? Let us take a quick look:

Landscape is the theme

The exhibition features new work by international contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds currently working in and identifying with landscape. This is both a response to the modernist paintings on view and to work towards a nuanced conceptual understanding of what ‘landscape’ in art is. The modernist paintings in the exhibition suggests that landscape became a recognizable form of expression in this period as a means for artists to come to terms with the vastness and diversity of India as a newly sovereign nation.

Explorations of landscape – especially rural landscapes-- by painters inadvertently paralleled official initiatives of government organizations like the Films Division of India, which commissioned many films of rural and distant regions like Orissa and Himachal Pradesh for a primary audience of citizens in urban centers. These activities reflect a country creating a new identity.
Highlighting contemporary interventions
‘Radical Terrain’ shows the great variety of landscapes created by artists in India after independence from British rule – including figural and abstract landscapes, specific sites and conceptual landscapes painted in a wide range of styles and from many social, political, and formal perspectives.

The contemporary interventions in the exhibition will be in various modes and media, reflecting the diversity of what landscape means to contemporary artists of various backgrounds. The artists include Lisi Raskin, Marc Handelman, Seher Shah, Janaina Tschäpe, and others.
The show curated by Beth Citron, entitled ‘Modernist Art from India: Radical Terrain’, continues at the museum based in New York until April 29, 2013.

Fathoming Ram Kumar’s art practice

Though hailing from a middle-class family sans any encouraging creative environment, he and his brother developed interest in literature. As his passion for painting grew, Ram Kumar decided to travel to France. Luckily, he received the French Cultural Council scholarship (1949-52). It was a great learning experience for him to share creative time with the likes of Octavio Paz, Andre Lhote, Fernand Leger and Jacaques Roubaut.

Greatly inspired by its mystical imagery of day-to-day life in Varanasi, he experienced a haunting sense of hopelessness and desolation in the dimly lit, deserted lanes of a dark night there. The starkness of this memory only grew with every subsequent trip to the holy city, and these impressions led to a major transition in his thought process and art practice.

He had reminisced: “The main purpose of my visit to Varanasi was to feel its depth and intensity. When I first went there, I thought the city was only inhabited by the dead and their lifeless souls. It seemed like a haunted place to me and still remains the same.” Gradually, a new visual idiom arose from the depths of an introspective experience as the young artist spent several hours at the riveting riverbanks engulfed by a vast sea of humanity.

The core concern of Ram Kumar’s oeuvre has essentially been the pathetic human condition and pathos of life – a sense of alienation in crowded cities and the extreme irony around. If his landscapes highlight brighter side of life, the Benares series is a haunting meditation on death.  In his works, the vibrant colors and shimmering surfaces exude a sense of restless vitality. A leading name from India’s modern art movement, he is renowned for his ephemeral landscapes.

With Tyeb Mehta and Akbar Padamsee, he made a strong thrust towards modernism, albeit each artist followed his own unique stylistic and thematic preoccupations in a larger context. He was among the artists close to the Progressive Artists’ Group (PAG) such as Akbar Padamsee, Bal Chhabda, Tyeb Mehta, Vasudeo S Gaitonde and Krishen Khanna.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

‘Talking heads’ at Art Alive gallery

A group show, entitled ‘Talking heads’ at New-Delhi based Art Alive gallery features works by several significant artists including Akbar Padamsee, Anjolie Ela Menon, F.N Souza, Jogen Chowdhury, Krishen Khanna, Manu Parekh, and Paresh Maity. The latter says of his work: "During the every part of our life in very deep and rooted for me.

"The madness of color and line inspired me to create Air, Water,, Fire, Earth and the Sky. With these elements, I Breath, I imagine, I conceive, I create everything with coloring and lines. My journey into the world of art and creativity has led, not only to the discovery of the chiaroscuro of light and shade, the beauty and warmth of light of colors but also to an inner tranquility."

A renowned painter and muralist, Anjolie Ela Menon has had over 35 solo shows in India and abroad. She is a recipient of Padma Shri. Born in 1939, Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Manu Parekh received his Diploma in Drawing and Painting from Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai in 1962. The Government of India honored him with Padma Shri in 1992. 

Born in 1928, Mumbai, Akbar Padamsee completed his Diploma in Fine Arts from Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai in 1949 before moving on to the Stout State University, Wisconsin after receiving J.D. Rockefeller III Fellowship in 1965. He was awarded the Padama Bhushan from Government of India in 2010. FN Souza was not only a prolific painter but also a writer, poet and even philosopher.

Born in 1925, Lyallpur (now Faislabad, Pakistan), Krishen Khanna attended classes at the Mayo School of Art in Lahore before moving to India post-partition. In 1963, he received the Rockefeller Council Fellowship in New York. He was a recipient of Padma Shree, awarded in 1990.

Last but not the least, Jogen Chowdhury, referring to his oeuvre says, “During all these years, man and life, their complex co-existence, are the central concerns of my work. I am also sometime fascinated by Nature’s organic qualities, its design and rhythmic construction. People continue to be the dominating influence in my work. For the last few years, I have been deeply disturbed with the man’s brutality upon man.”
(Information courtesy: Art Alive gallery)

‘Figuration in the Bengal School’

New-York AICON Gallery is hosting an interesting show, entitled ‘Jamini Roy & Somnath Hore - Figuration in the Bengal School’. It explores the sort of extremes of visual representation as well as artistic vision within Bengal School of Art. Formed during the early 19th century in Santiniketan and an avant-garde originally plus nationalist movement in response to the then academic styles, this particular School of Art was led by artist Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951). It tried to modernize Rajput and Moghul styles so as to counter the Western art traditions’ influence.

Along with Gaganendranath Tagore (1867-1938) and Nandalal Bose (1882-1966), he represented India’s early modernists. The Bengal School was associated with Swadeshi or Indian nationalism. It found support from certain British art institutions as well as under the Indian Society of Oriental Art’s epithet (formed by the Tagore brothers in 1907). From the 1920s onward, many prominent artists of the Bengal School embarked on divergent, albeit often aesthetically polarized sojourns and styles.

Figuration though, remained a focus and binding link for those associated with the movement’s distinct modernist evolution. Some of them embraced visuals of myth and mysticism, tranquility and nature, and folk scenes during the prevalent turbulent sociopolitical situation, whereas a few others portrayed the rather darker forces, exploring famine, violent conflict, and spiritual torment.

Somnath Hore and Jamini Roy are perhaps the most prominent representatives of these diverse aesthetic forces, both leaving an indelible mark upon the further discourse of modern Indian art. The latter's rejection of the dominant modern style of painting and also his strong foray into Bengali folk painting’s realm marked a fresh beginning in Indian modern art’s history.

The mother and child, Radha as well as animals were painted in basic two-dimensional forms, with an emphasis on the lines and flat color application. The protagonists were quite often enclosed within deft decorative borders, pushing motifs to the background. The Christ figure was also one of his common subjects.

Jamini Roy: A Retrospective

Jamini Roy (1887-1972) is one of India’s most celebrated and iconic modern artists, particularly admired for creating playful works in his signature neo-folk style that brought solace to viewers during a turbulent time in Indian history.  His powerful simplicity of line and lyrical compositions served as both a foundation and inspiration for a subsequent generation of figurative Bengal School artists.  A retrospective courtesy New York-based Aicon Gallery brings out the true essence of his oeuvre.

The Santhals, tribal people who live in the rural districts of Bengal, were an important subject for Roy. A series of works done a decade before World War II is a prime example of how he captured the qualities that are a part of native folk painting and combined them with those of his own. He fused the minimal brush strokes of the Kalighat style with elements of tribal art from Bengal.

From the patent beauty of Suhas Roy’s melancholy yet elegant female forms, through the expressive linear physicality and longing of Lalu Prasad Shaw’s couples, to the dignified innocence of Ramananda Bandopadhyay’s scenes of rural life, one feels Jamini Roy’s ever-present influence in these artists’ shared visions of a dreamlike world caught between sensuality and innocence.

In counterpoint, the work of Somnath Hore (1921-2006) expressed a fundamental concern for mankind's underlying inhumanity, disregard of morality and penchant for perpetual violence and conflict. His originality in technique and language led to radical innovations in his media, casting him as a revolutionary founding figure for a darker strain of artists that emerged from the Bengal School.

Ganesh Pyne’s ethereal and haunting images of death as life’s ever-present fellow-traveler, Shyamal Dutta-Ray’s pensive surrealist scenes of society in disintegration, and Bikash Bhattacharjee’s masterfully rendered yet psychologically and spiritually isolated figures, can all be seen as deriving from Hore’s life-long pursuit to give form and figure to the chaos, violence and instability inherent in human nature.

His ‘Wounds’ series carry this stark vision beyond figuration, achieving a unique brand of abstraction, exemplified by ethereal white surfaces punctuated by scar-like disruptions in the hand-made paper, calling to mind the mortification of human flesh resulting from famine, war and other man-made cataclysms.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A truly great modern master of his era

The Kalighat idiom was a source of great influence to a doyen of the modern Indian art phenomenon, Jamini Roy. We take a quick look at the unique and inimitable features of his oeuvre:
  • The highly popular folk style works – the bewildering bazaar paintings - sold in the vicinity of the Kalighat temple, manifested in his captivating calligraphic brush lines to execute sophisticated forms.
  • The austerity of lines only highlighted his immense control over brush. The lyrically and at times even sensuously done lines with lampblack over white or pale gray background exuded both vigor and the poetic quality of his compositions like the Baul and Woman Seated, symbolizing his style.
  • What set him apart was his conscious disownment of formal art school-trained modernity to adopt the Bengali folk works’ nostalgic lyricism ushered in a distinct new phase in the annals of Indian Modern Art. He rejected the then modern style of painting, foraying into the realm of folk paintings. His dramatic yet deft depictions of aboriginal Santhal drummers and vivacious women figures gained immense popularity in the 1940s.
  • The fascinating figures were marked by bold, thick and precise lines, catching the viewer’s attention with their trademark almond-shaped eyes, as if staring back at one. Art writer Sona Datta aptly dubbed this style of painting as urban patua, superimposing his unique forms on the folk style popular in Bengal’s village paintings.
  • Jamini Roy simplified the basic forms, adding a distinct touch to the usage the medium, material and themes of local painters even as retaining their innocence, simplicity, and bold, flat colors – mostly yellow ochre, vermillion, grey, cadmium, green, red, blue and white.
  • The animals, Radha, mother and child were all painted in simple two-dimensional forms, denoting flat color application and a clear emphasis on the lines. The figure of the Christ was another recurring subject in his painting.

Spiritual sojourn of Shola Mara Carletti at Art Positive

"Insight, intuition, inner emblems
Signs that cleave unrepeatable colors
Indelible traces

Signs that lead to awareness
Signs that take us to face choices and challenges
Signs showing the way

Sometimes heard and seen, sometimes not...”

The above lines depict the crux of Shola Mara Carletti whose works are on view at New Delhi-based Art Positive. The artist who graduated in graphic design at ISA School of Art of Urbino in Italy, later chose to work for Gambarini-Muti, a well known Advertising Agency in Rimini, where she was a full time Creative Director for Campaigns including corporate branding, exhibitions and trade fairs. There she acquired the high standards of professionalism that now mark her oeuvre.

Throughout her career, she has imbibed influenced from her travels across the world that have widened her horizons in many ways: her rich formative experiences in communication, self-growth, meditation, yoga, etc. These became the existential background that was meant to give depth and substance to her art production.

Hence her work has been moving more and more towards the purity and poetry of art, yet maintaining a rooted and pragmatic essence. Her journey soon brought her to India where she found the ideal environment, incredibly spiritual and mundane at the same time, to establish a new phase of her work where painting and sculpture have become the focus of her activity and design a never ending story of play and passion.

She elaborates of her work in a statement: “The main component of my work is gold, a powerful and dense color, both physical and spiritual. It transpires lively, bright, transparent and fragile shades. On the one hand it is dense, and doesn’t allow light to go through; on the other it is fluid, transparent and ever changing like the light’s reflections on glass. Like all of us…”

“I am often asked about the technique I use in my paintings. I like to experiment, and most of my media are the result of trials and mistakes. I love to be surprised by the result of the mixtures, the different varnishes or materials and am fascinated by the contrasts that eventually create harmony. Like in life, a mistake can become the ultimate gift.”

A historical perspective of the PAG

Many upcoming and talented artists from the country during the post-Independence phase were looking to break into new vistas of expression, keen to share their socio-political concerns in a new idiom, which was their very own. The formation of the Progressive Artists Group in the city of Bombay (now known as Mumbai) was a milestone event in the history of Indian art.

Apparently apolitical, their grouping together in the year of country’s Independence was purely coincidental. What the members of the group were more exercised and concerned about was the fact that art as practised till that point in the country had to change. Their collective manifesto called for a break with the past traditions and its stultifying cultural and artistic constraints.

K. H. Ara, M.F. Husain, S. H. Gade, Sadanand Bakre, F. N. Souza and S. H. Raza were all determined to fashion an art entirely Indian, albeit modern. Their work comprised the latter two elements, though the modernism, in the spirit of the peculiar Nehruvian internationalism, largely relied on Parisian abstract Expressionism and post-Impressionism.

The group members were joined for a brief while, in the fifties, by artists like Mohan Samant, Krishen Khanna, V. S. Gaitonde, Akbar Padamsee, Ram Kumar, Tyeb Mehta and Bal Chabda. The group made a major contribution to India’s contemporary art movement by seeking a new form that could describe the reality around post- independence.

The likes of Ara, Husain, S. H. Gade, Sadanand Bakre, Souza, Raza have greatly influenced the Indian art individually and collectively through PAG. A religiously and culturally diverse cast of eccentric characters, all these artists were all enveloped by the highly charged political climate and cataclysmic conditions of cosmopolitan Mumbai in the 1940s. Each one had his unique approach though they were bound by a common thread of eccentricity and propensity to experiment.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

‘I do not want to tell the viewer what to think.’

On eve of her new show at Grosvenor, we take a look at Angeli Sowani's career graph and her noteworthy series of works showcased at the gallery premises (November 2010).

‘Vaahan’ (meaning ‘carrier’) symbolized to her the medium through which passion and thought were brought together. By employing the medium of fire, she tried to challenge the viewer to introspect over the delicate balance of our lives and the fragility of being. The artist elaborated in her note: “I do not want my work to fit into a neat ‘slot’ or ‘style’ or to tell the viewer what to think. I prefer to push it into unexplored areas and leave it for their imagination to unravel the meaning. I have taken this thought further by using industrial paint, paper collage, religious threads, Tibetan prayer flags ... and a blowtorch.

"Watching Mumbai burning on Nov 26, 2008, was when I first took a blowtorch to canvas, each burnt mark in my mind a life lost to the ongoing violence. Ideas poured out as I explored this new medium. I started to scorch the canvas and check where the patterns would lead me and see how far I could push the material before it was destroyed.”

Even in destruction, she found, there were fresh creations as shapes of flames, whorls and birds emerged, cut from the charred canvases. The intense focus the process demanded had a calming, almost meditative effect on her. She realized how vulnerable material is when touched by fire – an apt metaphor for the fragility of the contemporary life.

On the other hand, the tragic consequence of the Tsunami, the horrific Iraq war etc – inspired her ‘Out of the Blue’ (2005). A keen sensitivity to current events is visible in recent works, including the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in November 2008, highlighting spontaneous reactions to such tragic events. Underlining the virtues of her art, writer Nigel Cameron mentions, “Her painting language is understated, implying rather than stating. This particular quality of her painting grips us with its profoundly suggestive qualities.”

‘Seraphim’ at Grosvenor Gallery, London

Grosvenor Gallery presents a new exhibition of works by Angeli Sowani, entitled ‘Seraphim’. It’s incidentally her third solo show with the London-based gallery, following ‘Vaahan’ in 2010 and ‘Inner Weaves’ in 2007.

Born in 1959 in New Delhi, trained as an illustrator and graphic designer at the prestigious National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, the talented artist has travelled extensively, living and working in Nepal, Thailand, Hong Kong and England, each place presenting her with new sources of inspiration, whether it is the Buddhist imagery and use of gold leaf in Thailand or the votive papers burnt in offering to the Gods in Hong Kong.

Angeli Sowani has had several solo exhibitions in Hong Kong’s Rotunda Gallery, Mumbai’s Jehangir Art Gallery and at London’s King’s Road Gallery and Grosvenor-Vadehra Gallery. She has participated in over 20 group exhibitions in several countries, including The 50th Anniversary of Independence show in Hong Kong, The London Art Fair and The Art for God’s Sake exhibition in New Delhi’s Habitat Centre. Her work commands a loyal following with her paintings held in private and corporate collections around the world.

She first started experimenting with a blowtorch after the 2003 Mumbai bombings, playing with the shapes and patterns created on the scorched canvas. Explaining the process, “Even in destruction there was fresh creation as shapes of birds, flames and whirls emerged, cut from the burnt canvas. The vulnerable material seemed a fitting metaphor for the fragility of life.”

In this new show, a press release states, the artist continues her exploration of the duality of fire’s creative and destructive power focused on in her previous shows ‘Vaahan’ and ‘Inner Weaves’, pushing it further still. She also introduces a new figure, that of the seraph (literally ‘burning one’) traditionally an angelic being of the highest order in Christian angelology associated with light, ardor, and purity.

Yet there is a sense of darkness in her works, particularly in the series titled ‘Within’ where burnt canvases are layered upon each other, and in her Waterscapes with its use of thick black paint obscuring and covering the canvas surface.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Facets of ‘The landscape painter’s’ oeuvre

The landscape painter Martín Rico (1833-1908) present all the different phases within the career of this Madrid-born artist, from his early landscapes of the Sierra of Madrid to his compositions painted in Venice and Paris. The exhibition displays the following sections:

Portraits of Martín Rico by Raimundo de Madrazo, Ricardo de Madrazo, Mariano Fortuny, Joaquín Sorolla and a Self-portrait.
Rico’s Beginnings as Landscape Painter (1854-1861)
This section explores the painters’ early artistic activities dedicated to the production of watercolours –as shown by the Escorial, Segovia and Avila Album from the holdings of the Museo Nacional del Prado– and oil paintings –represented by views of Covadonga, the Guadarrama Mountains surrounding Madrid as well as of Azañón (Alcarria region). These works mark the beginnings of the artist’s transition from Romanticism towards Realism.
Realism. Sojourns in Switzerland and France (1862-1870)
The works Rico produced during his stay in Switzerland where he formed part of the circle of Alexander Calame, and subsequently during his sojourns along the riversides of the Seine, Oise and Marne, reveal his fully developed realistic style. Especially his landscapes painted in France reveal a close affiliation to the work of Charles-François Daubigny.

Granada, Seville, Toledo and other Spanish locations (1870-1893)

During the artist’s stay in Granada, where he established a close relationship to Fortuny, his painting entered into a phase marked by a high degree of luminosity and freshness of colour. The works produced at this stage illustrate Rico’s emancipation from Realism, particularly his views of mentioned towns.
French and Italian Landscapes after 1872
During his mature phase, Rico combines this luminosity with elements of the Spanish preciocismo style, which becomes apparent in his views of Madrid, Toledo, Paris, Chartres and Beaulieu.

Views of Venice (1873-1908)

From 1873 onwards, the artist’s discovery of Venice contributed to bring to perfection his definite artistic style, in which he achieves a perfect balance between the softness of his painterly execution, the fine rendering of light and the chromatic qualities. Due to the activity of international art merchants such as Goupil and Knoedler, his works entered some of the best Northern American collections. Rico’s most outstanding works are to represent this best known phase of his artistic career.

'of bodies, armour and cages'

An unconventional solo exhibition of works by Shakuntala Kulkarni takes place at The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in Noida.

The series, entitled ‘of bodies, armour and cages’ attempts to address the relationship of the body to the dual notion of protection and entrapment. A curatorial note by Roobina Karode elaborates: “From her earlier concerns with human predicament, the artist has shifted attention to gender specific issues over the last two decades, making an enquiry into the lives of urban women and their space within patriarchal societal structures.

“At different stages of her art practice, she started addressing issues like pain, claustrophobia, alienation, fear, violence, etc. experienced by women within city spaces, examining ways of possibly dealing with it. The body language in her work becomes the site of contestation for addressing her concerns through performance videos. While the cane armour that the protagonist wears becomes a metaphor for protecting the physical body, it also stands as resistance to the invasion of cultural and historical spaces.”

The works recently showcased at Mumbai-based Chemould Prescott Road were conceived as a space wherein historical objects, such as the armor and the elaborately designed costumes/dresses of different communities were brought together in the contemporary context. The artist did so by re-articulating the usage and the medium, collapsing and metamorphosing the two, thus blurring the cultural and visual boundaries. Entitled ‘Of bodies, armour and cages’, the project was borne out of her fascination by the very structure, and the grandeur of the armor: masculine, stiff, strong, lasting and peerless in nature.

Armour of the yonder days were worn by these warriors to protect themselves during the encounters or wars. Made of metal and leather, these armor were designed to look grand.

The cane armor /costumes in this project spoke of the grandeur too. But the elaborately structured dresses looked relatively feminine, linear, fragile, and organic in nature, protecting the body, breaking the gaze by the joineries of the pieces of cane and the weave. The project here tried to fathom the relationship of the body to the notion of protection and the notion of being trapped. The indoor and outdoor performance photographs addressed this concern further.

The cane armor while being a metaphor for protecting the physical body also stands as resistance to the invasion of cultural and historical spaces. The project thus attempted to address the systematic erasing of histories and culture in Mumbai today. The photographs showed the protagonist wearing the armor, posing in different locations in Mumbai that are threatened. They became a documentation of the rapidly, in a way…

A look at Shakuntala Kulkarni's art philosophy and processes

At a broader level, Shakuntala Kulkarni's work has evolved into a meticulous enquiry into the urban woman's life and heir space within the society that is essentially patriarchal. At different key stages of her practice, the artist began addressing issues such as pain, claustrophobia,  fear, anxiety, and alienation experienced by women within these constrained spaces owing to the discrimination and violence that they invariably experienced, also looking into the possibility to deal with the same.

Shifting artistic the concerns
Since the nineties, the concerns in Shakuntala Kulkarni's work shifted from her earlier concerns of human predicament, to gender specific issues. Her work since then has been an enquiry into the lives of urban women and their space within the society which is essentially patriarchal. At different stages of her art practice, Kulkarni started addressing certain pertinent issues. The need to rearrange and stretch the visual language to address such concerns, compelled her to shift her works from two dimensional space of painting and printmaking to three dimensional sculptural space. 
Stretching the visual language
The need to rearrange and stretch the visual language to address these concerns and go into a deeper enquiry, compelled her to shift her works from two dimensional space of painting and printmaking to three dimensional sculptural space. At this stage, the artist's earlier experience of her involvement with the intimate theater of the seventies, allowed her the freedom for experimentation with time, form and space. She was able to blur the barriers of different languages by using different disciplines. This led to working with moving images.

Body language as the site of contestation
She started using body language as the site of contestation for addressing her concerns through performance videos. ‘Beyond Proscenium’ in 1994 was her first move towards the experimentation with interdisciplinary work which prompted interaction with dancers, musicians, poets, play writes actors and directors.
(Information courtesy: Chemould Prescott Road)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Different initiatives of KNMA to promote art awareness

  • Established at the initiative of the avid collector Kiran Nadar, KNMA opened its doors to the public in January 2010, as the first private museum of Art exhibiting Modern and Contemporary works from India and the subcontinent. Located in the heart of Delhi, India’s capital city, KNMA as a non-commercial, not-for-profit organization intends to exemplify the dynamic relationship between art and culture through its exhibitions, publications, educational and public programs.
  • The growing permanent Collection of KNMA is largely focused on siganificant trajectories of Modern and Contemporary Indian Art. Its core Collection highlights a magnificent generation of 20th century Indian painters from the post-Independent decades and equally engages the disparate art practice of the younger contemporaries. The Collection will be eventually housed permanently in a landmark building that will make art viewing a stimulating and memorable visual experience.
  • KNMA organizes special guided tours for several delegations from prestigious institutions in India and abroad. Various museums have visited KNMA giving more visibility to the institution internationally, and opening the platform for future collaborations at various levels, such as Los Angeles County Museum, Guggenheim Museum, Asia Society, Asia Art Archive, Queensland Art Gallery, Tate Modern, The Art Institute of Chicago, Hammer Museum and many others.
  • Dignitaries like US Ambassador to India Mr. Peter Burleigh and senior generations artists like Akbar Padamsee visit the museum in a gesture of encouragement. KNMA also attempts to involve various sectors like tourism industry to be involved in the visibility of the museum with events like concierge for Hoteliers being organized at the museum premise.
  • ‘Inhabiting the Museum’ is a year-long series of performance-events inviting artists to play with the idea of Duration and Time in the museum space or to create caesuras in its seemingly free-flowing temporality -to perhaps be the catalyst or the subject of that ‘spent/mapped/fatigued’ duration, straining the relationship between time and location.
  • An art workshop held a few months ago with 220 school children was conducted by the French artist Herve Tullet  facilitated by the museum was an exhilarating experience for children from diverse schools in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Apart from talks and seminar, it also hosts Experiments in Pedagogy, a unique program that seeks participation of people from various disciplines like Management, Engineering colleges, Arts and Humanities and other streams, to take their ‘theory class’ in the museum instead of the regular formal class-room environment.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Seminars to teach finance experts about handling art as asset class

Wealthy investors are gradually braving diversification strategies, which encompass many more exotic investment classes like art. And yet, most professional financial advisers haven’t always been closely familiar with works of art as an asset class while handling these clients’ portfolios.

Keeping this in mind, Deloitte Luxembourg has joined hands with ArtTactic to offer seminars for top finance professionals who seek an in-depth understanding as well as analysis of most recent business developments in the domain wherein art happens to meet finance. Private bankers, institutional investors and asset managers have all come to realize that art is a real, unleveraged and irreplaceable asset - one that fully deserves a place in wealth/asset management.

By participating in these seminars, the professionals will get first-hand information on art-market trends in a financial context, which will help to delve into the art market in a knowledgeable and informed manner and to cultivate ongoing relationships with your best clients. ArtTactic claims to offer a unique approach, which opens newer opportunities for both its clients and subscribers:
•    A unique, subscription-based model allows you flexibility in selecting the markets that match your investments and interests – Its research, reports and podcasts provide conclusive information from key markets, specialized sectors like design and photography, and the burgeoning field of art finance

•    The firm is interested in you and maximizing the potential of your collection, career or investment – its bespoke services offer unique, tailor-made research and analysis for your specific needs; whether you are a collector, art professional or wealth manager

•    The integrity of its business is founded in its independence – It does not take any commission or consideration from commercial art-related businesses.

•    It promises a world view that doesn’t lose sight of detail thanks to an extensive network of tastemakers and contacts in established and emerging art markets, it has eyes focused both globally and locally.

•    Finally, it believes understanding the art market and its eccentricities means you can make better informed decisions. Its education partner ArtInsight provides seminars and courses that connect you with independent information, expertise and contacts.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Five Centuries of European Art and other exhibits

A Grand Legacy: Five Centuries of European Art at The Baltimore Museum of Art features the monumental Rinaldo and Armida, one of the world's finest paintings by Sir Anthony van Dyck, as well as masterpieces by Frans Hals, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Jean Baptiste Siméon Chardin.

Gaia (Site-specific installation)
For this unique indoor project, Baltimore-based street artist Gaia created portraits of individuals living in the BMA’s neighboring Remington community, inspired by the Museum’s iconic painting Vahine no te vi (Woman of the Mango) by Paul Gauguin. Working from Baltimore and San Francisco to Amsterdam and Seoul, Gaia's distinctive hand-drawn images have explored immigration and segregation, the need to foster green spaces, and the economics and politics of urban development. 

Gaia recently received a BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculpture from Maryland Institute College of Art and curated Open Walls Baltimore, where acclaimed street artists from around the world mounted an outdoor exhibition of extraordinary murals throughout the Station North community in Baltimore.
Sarah Oppenheimer - Architectural intervention
The BMA is the first major museum to commission and acquire a site-specific installation by award-winning artist Sarah Oppenheimer. For the dramatic two-part work, the artist opens sightlines between the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Contemporary Wing and through the wall between the contemporary and Cone collections, inserting meticulously crafted aluminum and reflective glass.
Matisse's Dancers
This elaborate exhibition of more than 30 dance-themed prints, drawings, and sculptures by the great French artist Henri Matisse spans three decades of the artist’s career—from sculptures created in 1909-11 to delicate drawings of dancers sketched in 1949

The centerpiece is a rarely shown series of 11 transfer lithographs of a dancer/acrobat moving through various positions that evolve into an abstraction of reality, movement, and shape. These prints, drawn as lithographs in 1931-32, but published after Matisse’s death, are among the most eloquent examples of the artist’s way of seeing. It also includes an earlier series of prints of dancers by Matisse from 1926-27, two of his later series of drawings from 1949, and two sculptures by artists who were equally fascinated with dancers, Auguste Rodin and Edgar Degas.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Renovated contemporary art wing at the Baltimore Museum

“Rediscover the collection's unique strength in works by women, artists of color, and artists whose work makes a profound social statement. Experience the cutting edge of contemporary art with works by artists responding to today's issues. Welcome the return of the masterworks you've missed when the Museum unveils the transformed Contemporary Wing, featuring a spectacular new presentation of its great contemporary collection...”

This is how The Baltimore Museum of Art throws light on a collection of more than 100 objects—paintings, sculpture, photographs, drawings, and moving image works— featured in revitalized galleries that create thought-provoking encounters with contemporary art. Since its founding, the BMA has been exhibiting and collecting works by contemporary artists, resulting in an impressive collection of 20th- and 21st-century art displayed in a 1994 addition to the Museum.

Masterfully lit under new state-of-the-art lighting, the new arrangement of the collection showcases celebrated works by Olafur Eliasson, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Franz West, and other eminent artists alongside thrilling new acquisitions from 21st-century artists such as Guyton\Walker, Josephine Meckseper, Sarah Sze, and Rirkrit Tiravanija.

One of the very latest additions to the collection is a dramatic site-specific installation by award-winning artist Sarah Oppenheimer. For the two-part work, the artist meticulously crafted and inserted into the Wing's architecture aluminum and reflective glass that allows you to see unexpected views of fellow visitors, art works, and galleries above, below, and across from you.

In conjunction with the reopening, the acclaimed Front Room series returns, a new black box gallery debuts, and a new gallery dedicated to the presentation of the BMA's renowned holdings of contemporary prints, drawings, and photographs premieres.

The Baltimore Museum of Art’s outstanding collection encompasses 90,000 works of art, including the largest holding of works by Henri Matisse in the world, as well as masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent van Gogh. A summertime oasis, the BMA’s Sculpture Gardens feature a 100-year survey of modern and contemporary sculpture on nearly three landscaped acres in the heart of the city.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Diebenkorn, Warhol, Basquiat, Lichtenstein shine at Christie’s auction

This was supposed to be ‘the mother of all’ topnotch contemporary artwork sales. Christie’s Europe Under the direction of its chairman Jussi Pylkkänen sold 67 paintings for $412.2m, among the highest totals ever attained in the field. The best price of $43.76m was achieved by Andy WarholAndy Warhol’s work ‘Statue of Liberty’ (1962). In contrast to the event held just the day before at Sotheby’s auction house, with the emphasis more on ‘contemporary’ works done decades ago, two more recent artworks also scaled record peaks.

In fact, Pop Art was back in flavor as when it first swept the New York art scene. Done on canvas in silk-screen inks, graphite and spray enamel, the image was shown several times from New York and LA to Berlin and London. The price well exceeded the auction house estimate of around $35, plus the sale charge of over 12 percent. Souren Melikian of The NYT highlighted important benchmarks that the auction set:
  • Four auction house records were set. One of Franz Kline’s abstract compositions of black bands furiously brushed across a white ground, ‘Untitled’ (1957), sold for $40.4m, exceeding the estimate of $20m to $30m. This record price confirms the renewed surge of interest for the NY school artist who breathed his last in 1962.
  • The California artist Richard Diebenkorn set another auction record at $13.52m. His ‘Ocean Park #48’ (1971) is typical of the artist’s abstract geometrical designs in pale toned hues, leaving the linear structure apparent.
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings in the manner of teenagers expressing themselves in street graffiti are now treated as classics of contemporary art. One of these painted in 1981 fetched $26.4m. A mind-boggling amount of $33.68m was paid for a set of enormous ‘Tulips’ in high chromium stainless steel apparently credited to Jeff Koons.
  • The enthusiasm triggered by the majority of artworks, irrespective of their style, gave the event its full significance. Some big scores such as the $21.36m offered for by Rothko’s ‘Black Stripe (Orange, Gold and Black – 1957)’ were only to be expected. But others were a bit more surprising. ’De Medici’ by Kline done in 1956 climbed to a bid of $11.06 million. Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Nude With Red Shirt’ (1995) rose far above the high estimate, fetching $28.08 million.

Deutsche Bank’s ‘Artist of the Year’ for 2013

Deutsche Bank has chosen Imran Qureshi, one of the most significant names on Pakistan’s contemporary art scene, as its ‘Artist of the Year’ for 2013. The financial institute honors a practitioner who looks to address social issues in a very own way and create an individualistic oeuvre that focuses on the two key points of the bank’s collection: photography and works on paper. An accompanying note elaborates”

Insignia of a global leisure e culture
The artist counters the initial impression of the sublime and near-antiquity with the insignia of a global leisure e culture: his protagonists carry messenger bags, wear cargo shorts and camouflage T-shirts. The practical military look is a clear fashion statement. In combination with religion and spirituality, however, it quickly brings fanaticism to mind. Global reality has also crept into these idyllic scenes. In its complexity, however, Qureshi’s series puts both to the test: the rigidity of religious fundamentalism and the rigidity of western “enlightened” clichés of Islamic culture.
Infinitely detailed, wondrous world
Like beads strung on invisible threads, rain falls in precise lines from golden-hued clouds which part to reveal a patch of deep blue sky: Moderate Enlightenment, Imran Qureshi’s series of miniature paintings, presents an infinitely detailed, wondrous world. Everything in it seems delicate to the point of fragility—the blades of grass poking out of the earth, the ornamental branches and vines of the bushes and trees that intertwine to create frames and patterns. The young men and women in this microcosm also seem tender and introverted, dreamily blowing soap bubbles and flower petals into the air, opening their umbrellas, or taking walks, immersed in their solitude. A lost paradise, one might say; a look at the spiritual unity of man and nature.
 ‘Shoots of hope’
‘They shimmer still’ is the poetic, yet defiant title of Imran Qureshi’s installation for the 2012 Sydney Biennial. At second glance, it turns out to be hundreds of ornamental flowers flowing over the cement and rusty metal, forming paths and islands. ‘Shoots of hope’, the title he has given to these blossoms, can be understood as a sign of a new beginning, the start of new life.
The selection was announced in Berlin, where Qureshi’s works will be shown in a major solo presentation at the “Deutsche Bank KunstHalle” in the spring of 2013.

Imran Qureshi: One of Pakistan’s top contemporary artists

It is in the connection between enlightened thought and deep spirituality, the continuous negotiation of utterly opposing values, ideologies, and traditions that a ray of hope can be found as if to overcome a near hopeless situation: Violence is an almost daily occurrence in Pakistan, but as he himself asserts, Imran Qureshi, Deutsche Bank's Artist of the Year – 2013’ is not only reacting to violence in his home country.  An essay on him on the brings out the nuances of his practice as follows:
  • His art is aimed at violence in principle—through restrictive role models and political, ideological, and religious systems.  His art does not shy away from expressing grief and horror. At the same time, however, it addresses the constant alternation between destruction and creation as an existential cycle that brings not only despair, but also reason for hope.
  • The seeds of hope keep emerging in his art, also in his paper works. They twist and thread throughout the splatters of paint and geometric patterns. They are part of an entire arsenal of motifs that emerge like solid signs in his symbolic landscapes. There are oval forms reminiscent of eggs or buds, germs of new life or protective encasements in which memories, thoughts, and feelings are hidden. And then there are the half-opened scissors that are placed horizontally or vertically in order to separate, to cut—perceptions, social connections, world views. Here, scissors are symbols for violence and censorship.
  •  Interestingly, miniature painting forms the basis for everything, for small formats on paper as well as huge, installation-based works that can occupy entire buildings and plazas. Part of Qureshi’s training as a painter of miniatures is to create a grid as a structure for each work. Drawing the so-called Hashiyas  (boundaries) serves as more than just a system of coordinates.
  • Throughout 20th-century art, the geometric grid has been a central ordering system for Constructivism and Minimalism alike. Qureshi also discovers it in everyday life, for instance in found situations: in architecture and the attributes of a place. He uses the grooves between floor plates, the angles of walls in rooms and houses, the fugues between bricks as well as an imposed grid on paper. But in contrast to traditional miniature painting, ornamentation rebels against the rigid grid.
  • Qureshi’s paintings and installations resemble maps of emotion and thought in which the ornament repeatedly corresponds with rigid forms, softens them and calls them into question. The basis of his works is both rational and spiritual. It speaks to both: the necessity of enlightenment and the necessity of belief, of preserving long-held traditions.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A kaleidoscopic view of Anthony Van Dyck´s work

Several facets of a monumental painter’s life are on view at Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Some of Anthony Van Dyck´s portraits can be dated to the period shortly before he left Antwerp in October of 1621 for a seven year stay in Italy. He painted a portrait of Rubens´s wife Isabella Brant as a gift for his master shortly before he left Antwerp.

A curatorial note elaborates: "In these paintings we see the marks of a personal manner, defined by stylized, fluent forms and the elegant poses. These would become trademark features later in his life, making him one of the most influential portrait painters in European art. It is remarkable that an artist who had been so close to Rubens could also paint in such a personal, fluid way; it may be seen as a measure of his will to be independent."

In 1609 Van Dyck was apprenticed to Hendrik van Balen, one of the leading painters in Antwerp. From there he probably went to the studio of Rubens, but it is not clear when this happened. Between approximately 1613 and 1618, the year when he registered as a master in the painters’ guild, he worked in a variety of styles. In what are probably his earliest pictures he appears tentative in his rendering of anatomy. But even then he shows a strong personality and an experimental bent, which can be seen in his taste for rugged types and textured surfaces

In 1618, the year when he became an independent master, Van Dyck painted four portraits which are among only seven dated works made during his youth. In that same year he probably also painted his first public commission: Christ Carrying the Cross made for the church of the Dominicans in Antwerp. From approximately 1617 to 1621 Van Dyck worked in the studio of Rubens, and at the same time painted independently, in a style that combines the influence of Rubens with a strong personal manner, visible in the painterly passages and the rugged, un-idealised facial types.

Throughout his youth we perceive in the art of Van Dyck a sense of quest which is manifest in his frequent changes in style. The practice of making several versions of a composition was not uncommon from the time of the Renaissance, but it was exploited by Van Dyck to an unusual degree, allowing him to increase his profits.

Keeping alive the legacy of Robert Rauschenberg

"Art Can Change the World" ― Robert Rauschenberg, 1982

Robert Rauschenberg was the defining force in contemporary art for nearly sixty years, creating a wealth of art (painting, photography, sculpture, performance, and printmaking) more varied than that of any artist of the twentieth or twenty-first centuries. 

For him, painting entailed not only using a brush, but also silkscreening, collaging, transferring, and imprinting, and he did so on the widest array of materials from canvas, board, and fabric to sheet metal, Plexiglas, plaster, and paper. He has been called a forerunner of virtually every postwar American art movement since Abstract Expressionism, however, he remained fiercely independent from any particular affiliation throughout his protean life.

Robert Rauschenberg formed the foundation in 1990 to promote awareness of the causes and groups close to his heart. Activities of the Foundation have included grant making, educational programs, prints and campaigns to benefit environmental and humanitarian initiatives. Today, it extends this scope with varied programs, including a new grant for artistic innovation and collaboration, and direct assistance for the advancement of art. The Foundation's Vision, Mission and Strategy are coordinated to promote the artist's values and to ensure that all endeavors express the essence of Robert Rauschenberg's philosophy: "Art Can Change the World."

The vision of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation is to share with the world the creative and civic-minded spirit that exemplified this artist's life. We will seek opportunities that showcase the qualities of being fearless, innovative, collaborative and pattern-breaking. We will strive to encourage a dialogue that is a voice for positive change.

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation seeks to further the artist's philanthropic and educational initiatives, and aims to preserve and advance global understanding of the legacy of Robert Rauschenberg's life and artwork. After Super storm Sandy, it has formed a partnership with the Warhol Foundation to direct funds to NYFA, which is providing direct assistance to artists impacted by the hurricane. An official note on the site states: “This may only remedy a small part of a huge loss, but every action counts as people rebuild their lives. RRF and the Warhol Foundation will also assist arts organizations with rebuilding; groups can apply directly through the link on our grants page.”

Exploring the space between personal and cultural histories

Transparent Studio at Bose Pacia is hosting Daniel Ballesteros as the artist-in-residence. The artist will utilize the space as a nontraditional portrait studio, open to the public, while also setting up his mobile darkroom in various locations in the DUMBO area.

Ballesteros explores the space between personal and cultural histories and the influence it has over the present by interacting with residents and documenting the DUMBO landscape using a wet plate collodion process, a press release states.

It adds, “Through this alternative photography process, Ballesteros will produce portraits and images on glass plates in his portable darkroom lending a performative aspect to his method. The public is invited to attend a demonstration of the artist’s wet plate collodion process on 13th December.This project is sponsored, in part, by Lund Photographics, ArtCraft Chemicals and Bostick and Sullivan.”

Launched in January 2012, Transparent Studio is an artist residency program founded by Bose Pacia. Emerging and mid career artists are chosen for the studio program through a submissions process based on project proposal and artistic merit. Residents are provided with a studio in the main gallery space for a 1-3 month period. By turning the transitional gallery space into temporary artist studios on the street-level in an active arts neighborhood, we are hoping to allow for an atmosphere of engagement and conversation around the creative process. During the residency, the public is invited to interact with the artist throughout their creative process allowing exchange and collaborative relationships.

Born in Springfield, Illinois in 1980, Ballesteros received his MFA from the University of Connecticut and his BA from Webster University in Saint Louis, MO. His work has been exhibited in New York, Chicago, Santa Fe, Saint Louis, Las Vegas, and several academic institutions. He is the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was selected to be part of Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward 2012: Emerging Photographers as well as En Foco’s New Works in Photography awards. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

‘Half-life’ by Aditya Pande

A new series of works by talented emerging artist of India, Aditya Pande, at Chatterjee and Lal consists of a suite of mixed media on paper works and a video. In this major new series, entitled ‘Half-life’, he has teased out a multiplicity of meaning, re-wiring familiar imagery to be read as something quite other.

The works present variations on a constant substructure: the joining of the circle with the semi circle, the full with its half. At the same time the interpretation of the semi circle and circle can also be the command or function, DO.

The artist is fond of word puzzles and the idea of the encrypted repeats itself throughout the present exhibition. Decoding individual works is not possible in any linear sense; instead one may begin to sense a common grammar beginning to emerge within the context of the whole exhibition. This manifests itself, for example, in pictorial elements that will morph from one work into newly imagined forms in another.

The references from which he draws are hugely diverse and include the fields of science, mathematics, semiotics and the history of art and design. This is his second solo show in Mumbai. Aditya Pande was born in Lucknow, raised in Chandigarh, trained at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, and currently lives in New Delhi. His studio production oscillates between the fine and applied arts, two and three dimensions, the sensuously tactile and the aggressively optical.

On the computer, Pande weaves a tangled web of synthetic line work, looping through grand arabesques and squiggling together skeins to form animals and people, elaborates a detailed note on him by the Cherry Art Foundation.

It adds, “These forms are anchored by bold blocks of skewed colors, usually applied with glossy enamel paints that contrast against the more powdery finish of the ink-jet print, sometimes further articulated by the appearance of an unblinking eyeball or a shiny nose. On occasion collage elements are mixed in, for a pleasingly demented farce that is the collusion of painting, print-making, graphic design and draftsmanship.”

A quick glance at Škoda Prize nominees this year – II

The top 20 names for the Škoda Prize nominees' list have been chosen by the jury panel including the co‐founder of Devi Art Foundation, Anupam Poddar, and leading artist Sheela Gowda. The panel is chaired by Geeta Kapur, eminent art historian-critic.

Among the artists selected are Aditi Joshi (New Works at Gallery Maskara); Aditi Avinash Kulkarni (‘Alienation of the ongoing experiment’ at Seven Art Limited); Adip Dutta (‘I have a face but a face of what I am not’ hosted by Experimenter); CAMP - Ashok Sukumaran & Shaina Anand -‘Two stages of invention’ courtesy Experimenter; L N Tallur (‘Quintessential’ at Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum); and Mariam Suhail (‘Breakdown Of Shorter Concerns’ courtesy Galleryske).

The list also features names like Priyanka Choudhary (‘Tetanus Midas’ from Gallery Maskara); Praneet Soi (‘Notes On Astaticism’ Vadehra); Srinivasa Prasad (‘Nirantara’, Gallery Ske); T Venkanna (Open Studio: Printmaking; Gallery Maskara); Tushar Joag (‘Riding The Rocinante From Bombay to Shanghai’; Vadehra Art Gallery), and Zakkir Hussain (‘Zero Tolerance’ Vadehra Art Gallery).

Mention must also be made of artists Rohini Devasher’s and Vishal K Dar. The former’ works draw inspiration from biological specimen displays, astronomical observations, and magnetic resonance imaging but rather than creating static images, her works appear to breathe and grow. Her artistic practice has long been fascinated with the sciences and the natural world. The works in her chosen solo show might, at first glance, look more at home in a natural history museum or perhaps a biology archive.

They all play with organic boundaries and imaginary microcosms. This suite of videos, prints, drawings and a single sculpture works explore organic growth and evolution through a technological matrix. The forms she creates are familiar, albeit undeniably alien, encompassing the categories of animal, vegetable and mineral. She describes these life forms in a variety of media.

Vishal K Dar features in the Skoda Prize long list for an exhibition: NAAG, New Delhi. His projects often encompass digital, manual, material and monumental worlds; he looks to merge visual spectacle with socio-political concerns.

‘Metropolis of Mirage’, ‘Extra-Ordinary’, and ‘Listen to your Eye’

The Škoda Prize is now considered among the most prestigious and influential ones in contemporary Indian art. Its organizers have just announced the long list of select artists for the 3rd edition. The works reflect both diversity and depth of contemporary Indian art practices. They include innovative site specific installations, video installations, prints, drawings, photo collages, paintings, and performance art.

Jagannath Panda’s curious mix of the realistic and the mythological suggests the disoriented nature of today’s Indian identity, as it tries to straddle between the contemporary and the traditional, the imaginary and the actual, the indigenous and the international. In his works the surface of the sculpture or canvas is built up mostly with the addition of brocade fabrics, blended together so as to create the feathers of birds and skins of beasts, to mimic foliage or approximate man-made surfaces.

Such hybridized surface treatment corresponds with his themes that focus on moments, locations and icons in a state of flux, caught between oppositions. The artist’s portraits of the burgeoning Gurgaon city illustrate the tensions evident there owing to over-development that outpaces both infrastructure and natural habitats.

The artist explores the subtexts of the ordinariness of an ‘extra’ life that the metropolis offers its citizens. Unlike the overall decorative patterning of her earlier work (often used as a visual camouflage) within which the body/city conversed, fluid design appears at the edges of these paintings, framed within frames of overlapping narratives. Fixated at the centre in sombre dark hues of polluted grey and sleazy black, the decaying city emerges out of a bordered beauty. The actual and fictive, imagined and remembered city are evoked through personal and social worlds of the artist.

‘How do we see? What is the hidden agenda behind appearances? is what Sharmila Samant in her monographic series, entitled ‘Listen to your Eye’, looks to investigate. The artist retrospectively draws on her earlier projects continuing her critique of globalization, genetically modified foods and commentary on current socio-political undertakings.

Artists in the Škoda Prize nominees' list

The top 20 names for the Škoda Prize nominees' list have been chosen by the jury panel including the co‐founder of Devi Art Foundation, Anupam Poddar, and leading artist Sheela Gowda.
The panel is chaired by Geeta Kapur, eminent art historian-critic. Among the artists selected are Aditi Joshi (New Works at Gallery Maskara); Aditi Avinash Kulkarni (‘Alienation of the ongoing experiment’ at Seven Art Limited); Adip Dutta (‘I have a face but a face of what I am not’ hosted by Experimenter); CAMP - Ashok Sukumaran & Shaina Anand -‘Two stages of invention’ courtesy Experimenter; L N Tallur (‘Quintessential’ at Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum); and Mariam Suhail (‘Breakdown Of Shorter Concerns’ courtesy Galleryske).

The list also features names like Priyanka Choudhary (‘Tetanus Midas’ from Gallery Maskara); Praneet Soi (‘Notes On Astaticism’ Vadehra); Srinivasa Prasad (‘Nirantara’, Gallery Ske); T Venkanna (Open Studio: Printmaking; Gallery Maskara); Tushar Joag (‘Riding The Rocinante From Bombay to Shanghai’; Vadehra Art Gallery), and Zakkir Hussain (‘Zero Tolerance’ Vadehra Art Gallery).

Mention must also be made of artists Rohini Devasher’s and Vishal K Dar. The former’ works draw inspiration from biological specimen displays, astronomical observations, and magnetic resonance imaging but rather than creating static images, her works appear to breathe and grow. Her artistic practice has long been fascinated with the sciences and the natural world. The works in her chosen solo show might, at first glance, look more at home in a natural history museum or perhaps a biology archive.

They all play with organic boundaries and imaginary microcosms. This suite of videos, prints, drawings and a single sculpture works explore organic growth and evolution through a technological matrix. The forms she creates are familiar, albeit undeniably alien, encompassing the categories of animal, vegetable and mineral. She describes these life forms in a variety of media.

Vishal K Dar features in the Skoda Prize long list for an exhibition: NAAG, New Delhi. His projects often encompass digital, manual, material and monumental worlds; he looks to merge visual spectacle with socio-political concerns.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

An artist who digs deep into mysteries of life

Primarily known for his sculpting skills, George Martin P.J. has painted several beautiful canvasses that dig deep into the solved and unsolved mysteries of life. His densely populated paintings resonate with the transitory and disunited true nature of our world. They enact the enigmatic drama of contemporary life. His luridly colored sculptures and canvases are dotted with scenes from dense urban spaces – ubiquitous yet unfamiliar to us, at times.

Working with a wide range of materials, he looks to build serene and vivacious visual harmony. The images or forms - quotidian in nature – construe each work that represents the complexities of urban life. The artist ably captures the outer layers of urban spaces, which reflect the postmodern sense of reality.

These postmodern architectural structures dispel the sense of unity from a closer distance though they show transparency and a feeling of progress, scientific achievement etc from a considerable distance. The enigma of the human drama begins where the sense of reality is displaced or destabilized from its own immediate surroundings.

New Delhi based Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre had presented a show, entitled ‘Surviving Sagas’ in 2010 courtesy Ashna. A gallery note on George Martin mentioned: “The artist approaches the world is capable of discriminating people as per religion, caste, creed, fashion, language and so on from a pointed perspective. However, his engagement with the outer world of reality does not happen through the portraiture of people as they are or as they caught in certain symbolic situations.

“On the contrary, he looks the world around him through a filter of unreality, which could split, and dismember the palpable reality into pieces where the represented ones become patterns and they demand viewers’ complete devotion for cohesive reading. He has always been interested in tracing the political, cultural and existential structures that are operational in our society, secretly and overtly exercising power on people. In his artistic world, which in all sense is a coagulation of several micro worlds, exists people, animals, architecture, vehicles and urban streets as phantoms that detach themselves from the reality.”

Works by George Martin evoke magical reality

George Martin's works portray the world around us, including his acrylic abstractions that exude energy. In his visual extravaganza, he merges multiple colors and cultures.

He has explained in an interview: “In the contemporary context of life, ‘moments of truths’ are fleeting. The sporadic linkages among random visuals create a virtual notion of reality. As an artist, I look to go beyond them for the linkages that would eventually connect the artistic representation with the memories of the fleeting visuals.”

A sculptor by training, the artist has always explored new mediums and artistic possibilities. His new body of work presented by New Delhi based Vadehra Art Gallery is a testimony to his keenness to experiment. Primarily known for his sculpting skills, he has painted several beautiful canvasses that dig deep into the mysteries of life. His densely populated paintings resonate with the transitory and disunited true nature of our world. They enact the enigmatic drama of contemporary life. His luridly colored sculptures and canvases are dotted with scenes from dense urban spaces.He ably captures the outer layers of urban spaces, which reflect the postmodern sense of reality.

These postmodern architectural structures dispel the sense of unity from a closer distance though they show transparency and a feeling of progress, scientific achievement etc from a considerable distance. The enigma of the human drama begins where the sense of reality is displaced or destabilized from its own immediate surroundings. His works throb with the same sensibility, both as acceptance and critique.

George Martin maneuvers the same images to stimulate new expressions and evoke a magical reality. The new works are titled with a sense of strong perceptivity as conveyed in ‘Crude sanctum’, ‘Urgency of the present/ the redemption of the past’, ‘Forgone conclusion’, or ‘Laugh & re-memorization’; all of which suggest a synthesis of ideas that have coagulated to raise each work.

They display an organic process of artistic development, which can be mapped thus, by following the drawings and installations. Entitled ‘Objective Voice’, his new series comprises drawings on paper and series of installations. Done in fiberglass, vinyl and aluminum, these comprise sculpture works, neon and light emitting diodes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Important milestones in Gallery Chemould’s journey

  • Gallery Chemould, founded by Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy, is one of India's oldest established (1963) commercial art galleries. It has the distinction of having represented major artists, such as Tyeb Mehta, S.H. Raza, Bhupen Khakkar, Nalini Malani, Atul Dodiya and Jitish Kallat, emerging from the first waves of India's modernist and contemporary art movements, in first-time solo shows.
  • The Gandhy's began their long association with contemporary art during the late 1940s, in the early years of the modernist art movement in post-Independence India. Their role and involvement as facilitators and promoters in this cultural climate has come to be seen as integral to the existing scene around the visual arts in the country.
  • The Chemould story started in 1941 with the establishment of Chemould Frames, Kekoo Gandhy's frame manufacturing business, through which he came to know the then young K. H. Ara, S. H. Raza, K. K. Hebbar and M. F. Husain. At a time when there were practically no venues for showing modernist art in the city Kekoo began to use his show room window to exhibit their works in specially designed frames while also promoting them to prospective clients. The show room thus became a site for small, informal solo shows such as that of M. F. Husain's in 1951.
  • In 1947 Kekoo Gandhy became the Honorary Secretary of the Bombay Art Society, the most significant art institution in the city at that time. In 1963, Kekoo was offered the opportunity to run a small gallery space on the first floor of the Jehangir Art Gallery. He named it Gallery Chemould and started a select sponsoring art gallery. Through the 1950s, 60s and 70s Chemould promoted Ram Kumar, Tyeb Mehta, J. Swaminathan and Sabavala, and introduced to Bombay Bhupen Khakhar, Arpita Singh, Laxma Goud, Paritosh Sen, Bikash Bhattacharjee and Ganesh Pyne.
  • Chemould's activities were spread to other parts of the country through branches in Delhi and Kolkata and through traveling exhibitions. Among the major exhibitions then organized by Chemould were: M. F. Husain's 21 Years of Painting in 1968, and the 1974 and 1987 Bombay Arts Festivals. Special Exhibitions to promote tribal and folk arts, such as that of well-known Warli artist Jivya Soma Mashe, were also conceptualized.

A homage to Kekoo Gandhy

A true mentor and patron
Guru, mentor, aficionado, patron, inspiration, critic  Kekoo Gandhy was diversely designated, defining the country's art scene through World War II, Independence, the Progressive Artists' Group and post-1960s civic struggles. Virtually all the talents of those years owe him their careers, from M F Husain, Tyeb Mehta, Ram Kumar and SH Raza to Bhupen Khakhar, Nalini Malani, Atul Dodiya and Jitish Kallat. Yet the benign, kurta-clad figure behind these prized discoveries modestly shrugged: "It's a matter of good fortune. I just happened to sow seeds and some fell on fertile ground."

Walking with a slight stoop, his six-foot frame would straighten as he excitedly relived his role as key witness to the birth of the Progressives. "They were lovely human beings, trusting, beautiful! I told myself, your mission is to promote them, be the link between the unknown and the rich."
-    Meher Marfatia, Mumbai Mirror

An art connoisseur who loved colorful works
Gandhy made it a point to attend every single art exhibition and event he was invited to. Unlike many other gallerists today, who prefer not to visit other galleries, Gandhy would go to other galleries to see new works and interact with artists. He loved to do that. Until last year, even weak and walking with difficulty, one would often see him at the Jehangir Art Gallery, pondering with equal interest the works of new and established artists. As an art connoisseur, he loved colorful works and told me that he liked my paintings. I was delighted. It was a big deal to be praised by Gandhy, one of the greatest art collectors and gallerists of his time.
-    Brinda Miller As told to Riddhi Doshi of The HT 

He shape the post-colonial Indian art
“Gandhy was a pioneer who helped shape the post-colonial Indian art world, both as a gallerist and as a committed builder and supporter of institutions in the domain of arts as well as in civil society,” said Mumbai-based art historian Ranjit Hoskote. When there were practically no venues in the city for showing modernist art, Gandhy would use his showroom window as an informal exhibiting space for artists such as Husain and also seek prospective clients for them.
-    Sankhayan Ghosh, The Indian Express

Monday, November 12, 2012

Louise Blouin Media group launches India-centric venture

India’s art scene is vibrant as one can conclude after sensing the mood at the country’s financial and commercial capital Mumbai. It continues to attract collectors, investors, connoisseurs, auction houses and galleries.

Above is the observation made by writer Nithin Belle in The Khaleej Times news report, titled ‘The future bright for Art world’ (Mumbai Musing) on eve of an upcoming India Art Festival at the Bandra-Kurla Complex (November 28- December 2). It will host roughly 40 galleries and over 500 artists from 50 across international cities, expected to draw thousands of visitors. The article outlines the ambitious plans of Louise Blouin Media group to tap India’s potential as a fast-rising art hub. It notes:

India is emerging as a major player in the art world and the works of many contemporary artists are fetching record prices at auctions around the globe. Not surprisingly, one of the world’s top cultural media groups, Louise Blouin Media (LBM), has also drawn up ambitious plans to tap this market. Montreal-born Louise Blouin, chairman and CEO of the eponymous media house, recently launched the India edition of Artinfo. Says Louise: “India is a fabulous country and I have been travelling extensively. There is great culture and I am excited about covering the events here.”

In fact, impressed about the cultural knowledge and the expertise available in the country, LBM has decided to set up an operation in Bangalore, hiring about 200 to 300 writers, art history experts, critics and the like. She says the Bangalore office will be involved in product development and will not be an outsourcing unit. “It is a big investment for us and I am excited about it,” says Louise. “Our first goal is to get the communication going for free across India,” adds Louise. “And our next mission is to take Indian news and happenings in the art world to our international sites.”

The portal also has Blouin Art Sales Index, which includes an art price database, indices relating to 3,000 individual artists and over 4.6 million fine art and design records. Louise also plans to start an Arabic and English version of the portal focused on the Middle East market.

An artist who treats paintings as psychological landscapes

Thomas Erben gallery in New York hosts a solo show by the New York-based eminent painter Haeri Yoo, who has based her works on a tangle of dichotomies with conflicting forces that struggle to form a precarious state of balance constantly. Channeling opposing impulses like delight and darkness, wonder and violence, or narration and abstraction, she looks to establish an animated visuality that gets enhanced through intense colors, oscillating between jarringly sweet and equally polluted.

Another aspect central to her work is the dynamic between spontaneity and control. The influence of calligraphy attributed to her Korean background is evident in the usage of swift brushstrokes that allows the medium of painting itself to dictate the visual conditions for all pieces. This intuitive element gets tempered with her intent, balancing intrinsic energy flow with restraint.

Haeri Yoo received her BFA from Kyungbook National University, Korea (1992) and her MFA from the Pratt Institute of Arts, NY (1997). She has exhibited at numerous venues and events, such as Korean Art Show, NY (2012); Five Miles, NY (curator Lilly Wei, 2011); the Chelsea Art Museum, NY (2010); Monica de Cardenas Gallery, Milan, Kresge Art Museum, MI, and the Seoul Art Center (all 2009); House of Campari, NY (curator Simon Watson), Smith College Museum of Art, MA (both 2008); and Queens Museum of Art (2004).  Her work was recently included in ‘Korean Eye’, Saatchi Gallery, where it will also be part of ‘Painters’ Painters’.

The artist has described her paintings as psychological landscapes, depicting the darker areas of the human experience such as vulnerability, cruelty and sexual subjugation. Initially, this was represented through distinctly figurative, carnal imagery, whereas in her second show she moved further into abstraction, fracturing the space of each painting into complex structures and chopping up the body almost beyond recognition.

In the new series on view, entitled ‘Running Pit’, the calligraphic brushstroke is given a stronger influence, and abstract space is simplified, with a boldness that does not sacrifice complexity. Where Yoo previously mutated reality into something resembling a Rorschach test for the darker sides of human behavior, her current work opens up toward the reality of painting itself.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Highlights of Abu Dhabi Art fair 2012

Abu Dhabi Art claims to be much more than a ubiquitous art fair. It strives to act a dynamic platform for fast-evolving modern & contemporary art from across the region through a series of public programs and exhibitions that bring together a careful selection of top international art galleries and artists from around the world. Now in its fourth edition, the fair again showcased an amazing variety of works; from those in a dedicated section for today’s emerging artists already having been proved popular with eclectic collectors to museum-quality pieces.

The exclusive selection of some of several leading galleries collates into a stunning show of artworks. The exhibitors and visitors represent renowned art dealers and collectors, apart from established artists, cutting-edge newcomers and a top selection of art from the region.

Saadiyat Cultural District

Unprecedented in scale and scope, Saadiyat Cultural District turns into a centre for global culture, drawing local, regional and international visitors with unique exhibitions, permanent collections, productions and performances. The UAE Pavilion, designed by Foster + Partners, was on display for six months at Expo 2010 Shanghai, showcasing exhibitions that highlight the history of the UAE. Now located in its permanent home beside Manarat Al Saadiyat, the pavilion will be a new landmark exhibition and events venue.
Design galleries and Art Zone
Abu Dhabi Art has featured design galleries since it launched in 2009 and has introduced a specific design section of the fair this year. This builds on its strong design program which included Design workshops for the public. One emerging gallery is selected to take part in Bidaya, which translated from Arabic means ‘the start, the beginning’. Art Zone is a specially designed art space dedicated to children & families to enjoy multiple art activity stations, plus art-making easel areas. It is a friendly, easy to access and inspiring art environment for families with children aged 2 to 12 years old.
Panel discussions
There were many panel discussions like that one that looked at the growing importance of the UAE and wider Middle East in the global art market. Another one with the artists in this year’s Art, Talks and Sensations involved Subodh Gupta, Camille Henrot, Fabrice Hyber, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Matthieu Orlean and Camille Zakharia.

Mixed signals from Christie's auction

A magnificent Monet water lilies work went for almost $43.8 million while a painting by Kandinsky got an artist's record (close to $23 million) as Christie's auction house launched the season with a new sale. It witnessed several mid-level works of art failing to attract buyers.

One of Monet's iconic and much celebrated water lilies from the year 1905, ‘Nympheas’, was done during his stay at Giverny. It had been estimated to fetch $30- to $50 million. It managed to hit the middle range with a price of $43,762,500 (inclusive of commission). ‘Studie fur Improvisation 8’ by Wassily Kandinsky hit the lower end of its $20- $30 million price estimate, and still set an auction record for the renowned Russian artist. The vibrant artwork was on offer courtesy the Volkart Foundation from Switzerland.

Almost 30 percent of the artworks failed to find buyers when bids did not manage to reach the reserve. In all, the even took in just under $205 million, thus missing the mark of $210 million (the low pre-sale estimate). The high estimate incidentally was $315 million. Nonetheless, Christie's claimed it was satisfied with the overall results. The head of its Impressionist & Modern Art division, Brooke Lampley, was quoted as saying: "It was very, very strong sale, with great results" for top lots including the Monet, and a Brancusi sculpture ‘Une muse’, which sold for $12.4 million. Classic Impressionism performed really well tonight."

Lampley added that unusually high percentage of some discretionary selling (collectors deciding to sell, versus estate sales because the actual owner is deceased) at the sale was a sign that art collectors are feeling quite confident in the market currently. They are opting to sell, a testament to the growing strength of art as a bankable asset class.

The atmosphere in the sales room though was rather muted and for artworks that sold, overall bidding was just about steady and far from hectic and unbridled. Officials attributed the high percentage of works failing to sell chiefly to one single collection; its owner was not willing to bring down the reserve prices. In all, total six lots went for over $10 million each.

Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art auction

A portrait of his mystifying mistress by Picasso done in 1932 went for about $41.5 million at Sotheby's, helping reach a total of $163 million for its latest sale of ‘Impressionist & Modern Art’. It fell short of market expectations, nonetheless. Here’s a quick recap of the even as reported by the news agency ‘Reuters’

Picasso in spotlight
The auction featured nine works by Picasso led by ‘Nature morte aux tulipes’. Nearly one-third of the total 67 lots on offer were unsold. The auction missed its $170 million low pre-sale estimate. The two portraits of his iconic muse Marie-Therese Walter done by Picasso, ‘Femme a la Fenetre’ and ‘Nature morte’, managed their pre-sale estimates. The former fetched $17.2 million including commission.

Another Picasso, ‘Femme a la robe verte’, estimated at $6- $8 million, went unsold. While several artworks went within their estimated range and a few going significantly higher, there were casualties including another Picasso work, ‘Plant de tomate’, estimated at $10- $15 million. It couldn’t reach a $9 million bid. However, strong prices were recorded by his ‘Le Viol’ that soared to an impressive $13.5 million against an estimate range of $5 million, and ‘Champ de ble’ by Monet that went for nearly double the original estimate.
'Market in search of quality'
The sale demonstrated "that in this market there continues to be a search for quality," said Simon Shaw, Sotheby's head of Impressionist and modern art in New York, adding there was "active participation from today's truly global art market," but in a nod to the spotty results, conceded "there remains some scrutiny over estimates." David Norman, Sotheby's co-chairman of Impressionist and modern art, cited "increasing participation from South American, Asian and Russian bidders" that marked the sale.

The auction, coming a day after a rather affair at rival Christie's, is likely to slightly unsettle the art market to ahead of upcoming sales of post-war and contemporary art, a segment that has seen sharply escalating prices over the last decade or so. The results of both prominent sales were quite similar, from the their top lots' prices and percentage of artworks sold to buyers' rather carefully controlled bidding.