Thursday, January 31, 2013

Get ‘Enchanted’ at Art Musings

Mumbai-based Art Musings is hosting a solo show of works by Maite Delteil. Entitled ‘Enchanted’, this is her third solo with the gallery after the much acclaimed ‘Gardens of Grace’ in 2004 and ‘Fruits of Grace’, held three year later.

An accompanying note elaborates: “The exquisite images that comprise Delteil’s recent body of paintings at first glance may appear to express a preoccupation with the genres of still life and landscape; but they are more accurately readable as meditations that unfold in the borderland between memory and fantasy, wakefulness and dream.

"The artist’s attentiveness to detail is a form of devotion: her paintings are songs of praise, in which she exalts the beauty of things even as they pass into decay and dissolution, as creatures of time.” Maite Delteil (1933, Furnel, France) received her art education at Ecole Des Beaux-Arts, Academie de la Grand Chaumiere, Academic Julian and National School of Art. This was followed by fellowship from the Government and Institute De France to study in Spain and Greece in quick succession. She received the Prix De la Casa Velasquez in 1959.

Her works have a languid quality and have an old world charm. Her subjects are seemingly simple like landscapes and figuration but the artist uses them as a means to explore the depths of her thoughts. Her work has been exhibited widely in several cities of France as well as other countries in Europe. She has had several solo exhibitions all over the world including America and Japan. The artist lives and works in Paris.

The exhibition will also be accompanied by a coffee table book release, which documents her wonderful works spanning her career, some rare photographs of the artist with her family including her husband ( celebrated artist Sakti Burman) and daughter (Maya Burman), as well as contain in-depth essays by eminent writers.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Interviews transform into collages of fictional dialogues

The first ever North American museum show of Alexandre Singh’s works is an ambitious presentation comprised of the world-renowned artist’s latest series of amazing Assembly Instructions.

Entitled ‘The Pledge', the project at the Drawing Center takes interviews the artist did throughout the year 2011 with several noted scientists, writers, filmmakers and artists, transforming them into fascinating fictional dialogues vivaciously  visualized according to his signature format of captivating collaged photocopies connected by many hand-drawn pencil dots on the wall. His fictionalized and spatialized interview series fully fills the Main Gallery. It positions drawing not merely as a dry physical gesture, but more as a graphic conduit for the intense imaginative process.

Curated by Claire Gilman, the exhibition is some sort of psychedelic installation, though more subdued one. To make it, Singh first interviewed the ‘Groundhog Day’ screenwriter, Danny Rubin; neurobiologist and Rockefeller University researcher Leah Kelly; Alfredo Arias, a playwright and director from Argentina; Donatien Grau, a French critic; Simon Fujiwara, an artist; curator Marc-Olivier Wahler and filmmaker Michel Gondry.

Versions of these interviews that start out addressing key topics incorporating narrative plus the very nature of cognition, in a way meander into quasi-fictional, free-associative territory. They can be read as handouts even as one wanders through the venue. Black and white inkjet prints of several collages Singh did in response to these interviews have been arranged like schematics and maps on the walls.

It’s indeed a sleek display that vibrates with images from theater, cinema, art and science, which have been skillfully scanned from magazines and books, and then juxtaposed with each other in a format of classic collage. Art historical references sure are legion: the Independent Group, Peter Blake, Dada, Surrealism; science documents and the aesthetics of ’60s Conceptualism; and the recent conceptual photos by Roe Ethridge and Christopher Williams.

‘Alexandre Singh: The Pledge’ is on view at the Drawing Center located at 35 Wooster Street, SoHo.

‘Meandering Warp : Variations on a Theme’

Chemould Prescott Road while having positioned as a venue to present contemporary art, primarily featuring Modern & Contemporary artworks from India, the venue also has a proud tradition of unveiling diverse practices in the domain.

It is no coincidence that after a long period of several private commissions, Monika Correa finally returns to an open exhibition space to showcase her beautiful tapestries at Chemould. In this new body of work, the meticulous practitioner subtly explores the concept that she has been gradually developing over the last so many years. She, this time, digs deeper in her creative recesses to remove the reed at a certain juncture in the weaving in greater depth, so that the warp threads are able to meander freely.

This introduces, an accompanying gallery note elaborates, three-dimensional optical illusions, as well as an extraordinary sense of freedom and happenstance into the patterns of the woven fabric. This concept has been explored with considerable finesse and rigor – so that what emerges are very free, yet meticulously structured, variations on a theme.

Monika Correa has exhibited her works at several shows both in India and internationally is based in Mumbai with her renowned architect husband, Charles Correa. Incidentally, Monika Correa was introduced to weaving by the distinguished American weaver, Marianne Strengell of the Cranbrook Academy, Michigan, way back in 1962. On her return to the home country, she continued her training at Mumbai’s Weaver’s Service Centre.

Her work explores the underlying relationship between weaving and the diverse textures and patterns of nature, is in many major public collections like the ‘Quartet of Tapestries’ commissioned by Philip Johnson for The Four Seasons restaurant in New York and the Constitutional Court of South Africa in Johannesburg.

Her works are unique in that they take extremely inventive concepts at the technical level and translate them into visual and tactile products, which exude a sense of monumental peace and classic.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Celebrating a master’s visual power and intellectual rigor

Tate Modern is set to host a massive show of artworks by one of the great American artists of the twentieth century. ‘Lichtenstein: A Retrospective is probably the first full-scale retrospective of this important artist in over twenty years.

Co-organized by The Art Institute of Chicago and Tate Modern, this momentous show brings together 125 of his most definitive paintings and sculptures and will reassess his enduring legacy. An accompanying note elaborates: “Roy Lichtenstein is renowned for his works based on comic strips and advertising imagery, colored with his signature hand-painted Benday dots. The exhibition showcases such key paintings as ‘Look Mickey’ (1961) lent from the National Gallery Art, Washington and his monumental ‘Artist’s Studio’ series of 1973–74.”

Other noteworthy highlights of the showcase include ‘Whaam!’ in 1963 - a signature work in Tate’s collection – and ‘Drowning Girl’ from 1963 on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The artist’s rich and expansive practice will be represented by a wide range of materials, including paintings on Rowlux and steel, as well sculptures in ceramic and brass and a selection of previously unseen drawings, collages and works of paper.

The American Pop artist, lithographer and sculptor studied at the Art Students League 1939, and at Ohio State College (1940-43). He returned to Ohio State College (1946-49), and taught there until 1951. His first one-man exhibit was at the Carlebach Gallery, New York in 1951. Initially, he painted in a non-figurative and Abstract Expressionist style, but gradually began to incorporate loosely handled cartoon images, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck etc., in his paintings.

Lichtenstein made a breakthrough into his characteristic work in 1961; he painted pictures based on comic strip images, advertising imagery and overt adaptations of works of art by others, followed by classical ruins, paintings of canvas backs or stretchers etc. He made land, sea, sky and moonscapes in 1964, sometimes in relief and incorporating plastics and enameled metal. His later body of work included some sculptures, mostly in polished brass, based on Art-Deco forms of the 1930s.

The exhibition is a tribute to his extraordinary oeuvre, celebrating the visual power and intellectual rigor of Roy Lichtenstein’s work.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A great platform for contemporary Indian art

Art columnist Jhupu Adhikari in a recent write-up (Deccan Chronicle) describes the background and core idea behind ‘Kochi-Muziris Biennale’, now almost midway through its 3-month exhibition period. Explaining how it’s striving to provide a truly global platform and identity to contemporary Indian art, the writer makes some interesting observations. We summarize them for our readers:
  • Probably the country’s biggest exposition and public showcase (area-wise) of contemporary art, this is a unique example of government and private enterprise. It brings together some of India’s biggest names in contemporary art in an innovative manner, together with several international artists.
  • It was in May 2010 that two Mumbai-based artists of Kerala origin, Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu, were approached by the then culture minister of Kerala, M A Baby, to seriously consider launching an international art project in the state. The ambitious contemporary art event and seeks to fill the gap of an international platform for contemporary art in India.
  • Spread across various venues including the Aspinwall House, the Parade Grounds, the Fort Kochi Beach, the Jew Town Godowns, Cochin Club and many more locations in the unique Fort Kochi area. As a run-up to the event, in April, the Durbar Hall in Kochi had hosted German modern artist Eberhard Havekost’s exhibition Sightseeing Trip, held in collaboration with the Dresden State Art Collections.
  • Taking a cue from the Venice Biennale, the duo proposed a similar exposition to connect Kochi and the maritime era of the ancient Muzaris port. The proposal was accepted and after considerable effort on their part, the event materialized on December 12, 2012. The first edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale offers a chance of seeing works of around 90 artists, half of whom are Indian and many from Kerala.
  • Most of the better-known Indian contemporary artists are creating works on location. Subodh Gupta has chosen to use a 60-ft wooden boat filled with old local cooking vessels, furniture and other odds and ends; Vivan Sundaram has created a 40-foot installation on the Muzaris theme, using pottery shards and Atul Dodiya presents an installation of photographs.
  • Kochi has been transformed in more ways than one, as dramatic graffiti has changed mouldy walls and houses into backdrops for unique works of art. Using the dark moldy areas as black, artists have created strange sea creatures running along the walls.
The Biennale, on for a period of 3 months, is one not to be missed by and for art lovers, for its quality content and the exciting spirit of enterprise it demonstrates.

Deciphering the distorted identities

‘Thresholds’, an ongoing group show at Tate Liverpool seeks to question the uncertain and slightly blurry boundaries of geographical, political, cultural and personal, identities. The exhibit explores an array of powerful themes like British identity, the global effects of acute regional conflicts and migration. Split into three different sections, it displays artworks drawn from the vast Tate collection.

‘Stranger than Self’
This particular section explores how artists in the UK have responded to British identity in terms of its culture and history. Artists in this section raise questions about ‘quintessentially British’ notions of beauty and tranquillity, address the political nature of images constructed by mainstream media, and offer a wider context of contemporary Britain in its cultural expansion and inclusion.
‘Shifting Boundaries’
The second section looks at mobility and migration in relation to globalisation. From tourism to shared tastes, the impact of worldwide travel is explored in works by Martin Parr, Eugenio Dittborn and Pak Sheung Chuen.
‘Territories in the Making’
Last but not the least, this one seeks to address the political implications of regional conflicts and their global effects. Highlights include Yukonori Yanagi’s subtle critique of European imperialism, Pacific 1996, and insights into a banal side of Palestinian daily life by Yael Bartana, in Kings of the Hill 2003.
Among other artists who have been featured in the thematic exhibition are Hurvin Anderson, Kadar Attia, Keith Arnatt, Sophie Calle, Jimmie Durham, Layla Curtis, Peter Fischli, Gilbert & George, David Weiss, Simryn Gill, William Kentridge, Thomas Hirschhorn, Mark Titchner, Mark Wallinger and George Shaw. The show is being hosted as part of the ongoing Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art that showcases artworks, holds projects and includes a wide range of art related events.

One among the biggest international contemporary art festivals in Britain, it unfolds through a series of projects and exhibitions that try and rediscover the city through existing and newly commissioned works presented at some unexpected and unusual public spaces apart from the city’s galleries, cultural venues and museums.

Opting for diverse materials for sculpture making

Hemali Bhuta's latest solo of works entitled, ‘Point-Shift and Quoted Objects’, at Mumbai-based gallery Project 88 is apparently a linear progression from her ‘The Hangover of Agarlum’, though it extends well past it in terms of daring and detail through a tantalizing tug-of-war with set materials’ limits.

While the artist, it seems, goes back to the very basics as far as form and subject matter is concerned, she also tries to push the boundaries of sculpture making in context of materials. In fact, she has been widely experimenting with an array of natural materials since her student days. In a way, the new exhibition is a vivid snapshot of her relationship that she shares with alum, cement, silver, graphite, soap, and plaster of paris as part of her art process.

An accompanying essay by Diana Campbell elaborates how the artist’s sculptural interventions all strive to extend from the natural and simple form of a line, and also how her artworks deftly highlight the fact that even while lines separate end-points, they simultaneously connect the same. To put it in her own words, Bhuta is constantly concerned with the ‘poetics and politics of line.’  She appropriates architectural structures, and her interventions lead to their collapse in terms of both their meaning and function. This process allows for “an introspection of the self” for her.

first completed her diploma in Fine Art (painting) fromMumbai’s L.S. Raheja School of Art (2003) and then did her MFA (painting) from M.S. University, Baroda (2009). She was part of a residency program at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park last year and also exhibited her work at the Sculpture Park as part of the Frieze Art Fair, London.

She has been part of many significant shows such as ‘Lines of Thought’, Parasol Unit, London (2012), ‘India: Art Now’, Arken (2012-13), ‘Indian Highway IV’, MAXXI, Rome (2011) and ‘Indian Highway III’, MAC, Lyon (2010). The artist lives and works in Mumbai.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jitish Kallat’s ‘Circa’

Jitish Kallat’s ‘Circa’ is being showcased at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne in association with Utopia@Asialink. Curated by A Jamieson, N King and B Starr, this is the renowned Indian artist’s first solo in an Australian museum.

As the curators elaborate, his interventions in the Classics and Archaeology Gallery, including a 120-part sculpture, are installed in relation to a display of ancient Indian carved stone sculptures and colonial-era maps. Set in poetic and playful conversation with the venue’s atypical architecture and also the broad time-scale of the whole event, it simultaneously presents art right from the Neolithic period to the present day.

Taking a cue from his recent art projects and their reflective nature, the series is developed as an evolving narrative – emerging as an experiment involving multiple interventions. At the heart of it, is the core concept of ‘time’ and ‘recursion’, with chance, contagion and contingency, all playing a role! One utterance tends to infect another and procreating possibilities give rise to a tentative, dispersed, inconclusive and evolving oration in several parts of the museum in this shape-shifting project.

Some of the works appear only for a few days, whereas some remain on view for a much longer duration. Others await conception when the departure of interventions happens to make space for them as part of a process incorporating entry and exit of different ideas.

Born in 1974, the internationally acclaimed artist Jitish Kallat lives and works in Mumbai, India. On 11 September 2010, Kallat presented his landmark solo exhibition, Public notice 3, at the Art Institute of Chicago. His site-specific work brought together two events: the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and the First World Parliament of Religions which took place on 11 September 1893 in what is now the Art Institute of Chicago building.

The basis of 'Public notice 3' was an inaugural speech delivered by Swami Vivekananda at the Parliament calling for an end to fanaticism and a respectful recognition of all traditions of belief through universal tolerance.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A multi-talented master’s glorious career

Veteran artist K.G. Subramanyan, whose works are being currently shown at Chennai-based Focus Art Gallery, has played a seminal role in propagating the Santiniketan philosophy, emphasizing that traditional visual idiom was a rich art historical resource. His sharp, albeit subtle narratives strike a deft balance between morality and eroticism, public and private, wit and satire.

Like several other of his contemporaries, he desisted Western Modernism as a sole privileged yardstick. He instead turned to indigenous folk and tribal culture of India. As a result international modernism and Indigenous folk references are intertwined in his paintings. Renowned artist Nilima Sheikh has mentioned of his oeuvre: “His contact with surface, whether it is brush, tool or hand, is always light. His eye receives signals quickly - it follows that laying out of surface and contour is rapid; no time spent obscuring the process.”

A multi-faceted artist, he is a printmaker, muralist, art scholar, writer, philosopher, designer and a teacher, all rolled in one. His style inspired by rich folk art traditions also refers the Western Modernism’s cubistic styles. Exploration of art as language of expression – the personal and social – is the binding thread of his art practice in diverse media, styles and techniques that have subtly blended traditional elements and modernist sensibility.

Throwing light on his art practice, renowned critic Ranjit Hoskote has noted: “The basic tension in his art is that between vulnerability and inviolability, secrecy and exposure: he mediates this through the constant opposition, in his tableaux, between dress and undress, face and mask.”

In an interview with Subhalakshmi Shukla courtesy the Seagull Foundation for the Arts in Kolkata, the celebrated artist has stated: “I don’t have a one-point agenda. I find what I see around exciting, but at various levels. I do not swear by a method nor stick to a process. I don’t want to lose this mobility, and with that my desire and power, to discover the world afresh. I look at it from various viewpoints, and represent it through various media, each and all of which have the ability to unlock new perceptions. I want it to flourish (so-to-say) in a cloud of unknowing...”

The eminent painter has received the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian award.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

'Ice Age' at The British Museum

Visitors at The British Museum can discover masterpieces from the last Ice Age drawn from across Europe in a new groundbreaking show slated to be held in February 2013.

Created by artists with modern minds like our own, this is a great opportunity to view the world's oldest known sculptures, drawings and portraits. These exceptional pieces will be presented alongside modern works by Henry Moore, Mondrian and Matisse, illustrating the fundamental human desire to communicate and make art as a way of understanding ourselves and our place in the world.

Ice Age art was created between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago and many of the pieces are made of mammoth ivory and reindeer antler. They show skilful, practised artists experimenting with perspectives, scale, volumes, light and movement, as well as seeking knowledge through imagination, abstraction and illusion.

One of the most beautiful pieces in the exhibition is a 23,000-year-old sculpture of an abstract figure from Lespugue, France. Picasso was fascinated with this figure and it influenced his 1930s sculptural works. Although an astonishing amount of time divides us from these Ice Age artists, such evocative pieces show that creativity and expression have remained remarkably similar across thousands of years.

The British Museum opened to the public on 15 January 1759. Its origins lie in the will of the physician, naturalist and collector, Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753). Over his lifetime, Sloane collected more than 71,000 objects which he wanted to be preserved intact after his death. So he bequeathed the whole collection to King George II for the nation in return for a payment of £20,000 to his heirs.

During the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Museum has continued to expand its public facilities with the opening of four new permanent galleries in 2008-9, namely Chinese ceramics; Clocks and watches; Europe AD 1050–1540; and The Tomb-chapel of Nebamun: Ancient Egyptian life and death. It’s working on an ambitious World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Concerns and milestones Jitish Kallat

Jitish Kallat is known for his large-scale ambitious works. Jitish Kallat’s subject matter has often been termed by some critics as 'the old, recycled and patched-together fabric of urban India'.

He studied at the Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai. He has had several solo shows in India and abroad apart from participating in the prestigious group exhibitions and important museum shows like 'Thermocline of Art – New Asian Waves', the ZKM Museum, Karlsruhe (2007); The 5th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Australia (2006), and The 6th Gwangju Biennale, Korea (2006). His recent solos have taken place at galleries in Beijing, London and other prominent cities.

Born in 1974, he has had many solo exhibits in top international galleries like Haunch of Venison in London, Arario Gallery in Beijing, and Arndt in Berlin. His works have been exhibited in group shows in leading international museums, institutions and fairs around the world, including Martin Gropius Bau (Berlin), Queensland Art Gallery (Brisbane), Tate Modern and the Serpentine Gallery (London), Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels), ZKM (Karlsruhe), Kunstmuseum (Bern), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), and MAXXI (Rome).

Many of the sensitive artist's works focus on Mumbai's downtrodden. He mostly treats them in a bold, bashful, and highly graphic manner. At the heart of the Jitish Kallat’s interest in the bustling metropolis of Mumbai lies the experience of the confused individual within the crowd. This is essentially driven by a play on scale, understood more in terms of a subject's physical as well as metaphorical presence.

Undermining peculiar notions of the local and universal, putting aside the conventional view of micro and the macro, and the way the two may infect one another, his new set of work, entitled ‘The Astronomy of the Subway' turns into a sustained meditation on the existing urban dwelling condition.

His wider concerns remain about India's attempts to negotiate its entry and presence into a new world economy, even while struggling to address housing and transportation crises, woeful city planning, escalating caste and communal tensions, and (lack of) government accountability.

Major milestones in Zarina Hashmi career

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

Born in New Delhi in 1937, she spent her formative years in Aligarh. After getting married to a diplomat, she often relocated to different countries and continents, profoundly impacting her creative and sensitive mind. This reflected in a sophisticated web of maps and diagrams, embodying the memory of a place, an event, an atmosphere, or the fleeting experience of a sound, a smell, or an emotion.

The artist first did her B.Sc. (Honors) from Aligarh Muslim University (1958). She later studied printmaking with Stanley William Hayter at Atelier-17, Paris (1964-1970), and woodblock printing at Toshi Yoshida Studio, Tokyo (1974). Among her selected solo shows are recent works at Gallery Espace, New Delhi; ‘Zarina Hashmi: 1961-2011, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; ‘The Ten Thousand Things’, Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York (2009) ‘Directions to my House’, Shanghai Contemporary 07 Art Fair; ‘Kagaz Ke Ghar’ (Paper Houses), Gallery Espace, Delhi (2007); ‘Weaving Memory 1990-2006, Bodhi Art, Mumbai; ‘Silent Soliloquy’, Bodhi Art, Singapore, Thailand (2006); ‘Counting’, Bose Pacia, New York (2005); ‘Maps, Homes and Itineraries’, Gallery Lux, San Francisco (2003).

The major group shows that she has featured in include ‘Roots in the Air, Branches Below’ San Jose Museum of Art, California (2011); ‘Drawn from Life: A Green Cardamum Project’, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Cumbria, Britain (2011); ‘Voice & Vision’ Grolier Club, New York (2011); ‘Mind and Matter: Alternative Abstractions’, The Museum of Modern Art, NY (2010); ‘Luhring Augustine 25 Years’, NY (2010); ‘Orientations: Trajectories in Indian art’, De 11 Lijnen, Oudenburg, Belgium (2010); ‘The Third Mind’, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2009).

Mention must also be made of ‘Expansion-Résonance’, Jaeger Bucher, Paris (2008); ‘India Moderna’, Institut Valencia d’art Moderne, Valencia, Spain ((2008); Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2008); ‘Gouge: The Modern Woodcut’, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2008); ‘Frontlines: Notations from the Contemporary Indian Urban’, Bodhi Berlin (2008); ‘Drawn From Life: Drawing Space’, Green Cardamum, London (2008); and ‘Everywhere is War’ Bodhi Art, Mumbai (2008), among others.

An amazing timepiece that unwinds history

Christian Marclay’s captivating work, ‘The Clock’ has been on view at Contemporary Galleries of the MOMA. Winner of the 2011 Venice Biennale’s the Golden Lion award, Marclay has produced this amazing cinematic tour de force, which unfolds on the screen all in real time via countless of film excerpts, forming a 24-hour montage.

The versatile polymath composer, video artist, collagist, and pioneer turntablist has put together an amazing assemblage of time-related movie moments, which debuted in London in 2010. He has brought together uncountable of clips from the whole history of cinema, right from silent films to the present era. Each happens to feature an exact time on a clock, on a watch, or in dialogue.

It’s a hypnotic and spectacular 24-hour work of video art created by renowned artist Christian Marclay. He also composed the soundscape, ably driven by a swelling and racing symphony of ringing, ticking, footsteps, laughter, tears, and music. The captivating collage that results out of the masterly weaving of audio-visual elements narrates the accurate time, transforming it both an artwork and a working timepiece - a sort of cinematic memento mori.

Already a popular classic, the work is also a fabulous functioning timepiece – a highly elaborate, rhythmic musical composition; a meditation on time as an inescapable aspect of everyday life and cinematic artifice; apart from a highly compressed, peripatetic history of both film and film styles. It demonstrates how existing artworks - in this instance films – act as raw material for new ones. The real ultimate validation of appropriation art, it counts off the minutes meticulously employing tiny segments from literally thousands of films.

One notices bits of ‘Gone With the Wind’, ‘Laura’, ‘High Noon’, ‘The Godfather’, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘On the Waterfront’, speeding past, mixed with silent films and those less familiar foreign ones.

The New York city got a glimpse of a spellbinding, precise time-telling 24-hour wonder of sound and film montage last year.  ‘The Clock’ had come to Lincoln Center after being featured at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Hayward Gallery at London’s Southbank Centre.

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Photography 2012 at MOMA

A group show at MOMA, entitled ‘New Photography 2012’ presents works by five artists, namely Birdhead (Ji Weiyu and Song Tao), Michele Abeles, Zoe Crosher, Shirana Shahbazi and Anne Collier. Their diverse backgrounds and varied techniques represent the depth and vitality of contemporary photography.

Cramped urban landscape
Shanghai-based duo Birdhead (Ji Weiyu, born 1980, and Song Tao, born 1979) captures the lived reality of their community against the urban landscape of Shanghai. Their mass accumulation of snapshots of friends and family eating, working, sleeping, and hanging out, speaks to a world of total image saturation and the obsessive documentation of the Facebook generation.
Technique of re-photography
Often created using a technique of re-photography, Anne Collier’s (American, born 1970) meticulous compositions are informed as much by West Coast Conceptual art practices as by product photography and advertising. Her dryly humorous pictures evoke formal and psychological associations that frame recurrent tensions of power and gender.
Questioning photography’s veracity
Zoe Crosher (American, born 1975) calls photography’s veracity into question by rearranging, re-photographing, and re-imagining the archive of Michelle duBois, an all-American girl who was devoted to relentless self-documentation in the 1970s and 1980s.
Shades of commercial photography
Drawing on the language of commercial photography, Shirana Shahbazi (German, born Iran 1974) approaches recognizable photographic genres like portraiture, still life, abstraction, and landscape with a distinctly analytical eye. She investigates the circulation and production of images today by outputting her pictures in multiple forms, from photographic wall murals to discrete photographs and photorealist paintings.
Still life and nude photography
Michele Abeles’s (American, born 1977) elegant studio constructions combine common objects, such as potted plants, printed fabrics, and wine bottles, with nude males whose bodies are often truncated by the frame, to create images that renegotiate the creative process of still life and nude photography.
Together, the talented photographers stand for the diverse permutations of the medium in a new era wherein its definition is continually changing.

K.P. Reji reveals his tender home connections

For his work that formed part of the inaugural Kochi-Muziris Biennale, K.P. Reji drew upon enchanting oral histories from South India to convey a sense of ‘his very own Kerala’. Stationed at ‘Pepper House’ in Fort Kochi, a lovely historical building, he blended local, everyday common elements so that the viewers can easily draw connections both with the setting of Kochi and with the painting.

A detailed note on the Biennale’s official website lauded this artist, hailing from a remote village, who endeavors to infuse into his work local oral histories. For example, the mystical myth of ‘Thumbinkal Chathan’ formes the basis for his painting that depicts a man lying down to form a dam, ready to sacrifice his life and save the farmland.

He arrived in Kochi a couple of months before the event’s launch date, he worked in the Pepper House’s lofty upstairs space. He has been quoted saying about his work: “The elements are from here. The colour pallet is very traditional, if you look outside the window you can see green and grey and so they are used purposefully. If you look out you can see the water, ships, and cormorants fishing … New images are coming and this is very positive for me as an artist.”

For India’s first international Biennale, he chose to highlight his connection with the homeland. And for this reason he did not just draw upon Kerala’s history as the thriving port-town of Muziris with connections to Rome and West Asia, but also on the local oral histories, which have for centuries informed Kerala traditions.

Reji sounded optimistic about the immense opportunities the Biennale holds for the state, citing that a majority of art events are held in bigger centers like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. He sees an excellent scope here to enhance cultural awareness in the South. He added, “Kochi holds many possibilities given its local historical monuments. A biennale should be about more than the artwork, the space should give something more. This environment will add more to the event, and I think Kochi can support that”.

‘Diagonals Used for Mapping Brooklyn’s Overview’

Transparent Studio at Bose Pacia is hosting the current artists-in-residence duo, Faranú & Mike Redman. Their multidisciplinary project is cleverly named ‘Diagonals Used for Mapping Brooklyn’s Overview’. It conceptually maps the DUMBO neighborhood. Both look to come up with an enchanting representation of it by trying to investigate its past as well as present histories. The two have researched archives and captured the terrain through film, sound, drawing and photographs.

Launched in 2012, Transparent Studio is a meaningful artist residency venture founded by Bose Pacia specifically for emerging and mid career practitioners. The new project is going to be on display on 7th February with an evening of transformation and collaboration along with avant-garde jazz musician, Bomb Sun.

Mike Redman born in 1978 also lives and works in Rotterdam. A multidisciplinary artist, independent filmmaker, music producer and owner of the record label Redrum Recordz, he has won several prestigious international awards for an art documentary ‘Anagram’ (2008). He has screened his films at internationally renowned film festivals. As a visual artist Redman has exhibited his work at prestigious venues like Museum Boijmans van Beuningen and the World Trade Center Art Gallery, Rotterdam, NL.

Redman is also the founder of the long running music project ‘Deformer’ with whom he has collaborated with rap group Public Enemy. His latest film project entitled ‘Sample: not for sale’ features international artists like Guru, Public Enemy, Amon Tobin, and KRS-One.

Born in Rotterdam in 1980, Faranú completed her BA in 2008 from Willem de Kooning Academy of Fine Arts, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. She was mentored by several established Dutch artists such as Diet Wiegman and Kiki Lamers. Her work has been exhibited in Amsterdam, New York City, and Beijing. Faranú has been recognized by the Dutch art platform Kunstweek as ‘Talent of the Year 2012.’ She was also nominated as artist of the year 2013. Faranú lives and works in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Art lovers can visit Transparent Studio throughout Faranú & Mike Redman’s residency to talk with the artists about their process.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

‘Anatomy of Silence’ at The Guild Art Gallery

‘Anatomy of Silence’ is the third solo show of artist Rakhi Peswani with the Mumbai-based Guild Gallery, the second one as part of ART HK. 

Taking a cue from her earlier artworks (‘Matters under the Skin’, and ‘Intertwinings’) coupled with a sustained and deep engagement with the psychological dimensions of ‘Thinking through Craft’, the new series assess the particular zones of comfort and stability. They try to re-present the inherent character that is latent within such spaces.

The relationship between hand crafts and the status of the maker in urban society is explored in the new body of works. A press release states that ‘Silence’, in its very narrow sense is often seen as a state of being mute or silent, an aspect integral to the languages of painting, sculpture and object making. The artwork, or the cultural object, in this context, tends to hold a ‘mute’ relationship with the society it survives in. And in this sense, object making as a form of art is essentially a language dealing with this aspect of silence and initiates a discourse from there.

“In its broader usage, the essay elaborates: “The new series refers to the state of being in oblivion or silenced through omission or non-mention. In this sense, the show explores certain trajectories through the choices of materials and processes that become mute reminders of certain segments of our society that seem to be at neglect. Materiality becomes a quiet reminder and is juxtaposed with textual and visual quotations, bringing the critical nature of art and literature closer to the spatial field of the viewer; to locate a close relationship between process based practices and literature. Literary thought is transported into architectural spaces, inhabiting the physical reality of the viewer.

Spaces of stability and comfort- a house/home/room/bed are deconstructed and re-presented as replete with other forms of temporal and ephemeral intensities. Subtractive and additive processes are juxtaposed with spatial languages of intimacy and immersion to understand other relationships that stability and comfort ought to have. These processes hold themselves as metaphors to understand the qualities of destruction and restoration that are intrinsic to craft practices, otherwise seen as fixed and timeless in their skills and expressions. Fiber, fabric, literature and spatial languages become dissecting tools to disclose the reticence of the handmade today.” 

A new turn in Abir Karmakar’s oeuvre

His photo realist images - sharp and edgy, sensual and satirical - are as real as a picture, but as phantasmagorical as a quirky piece of art. They evoke an inward-looking world replete with imagined situations and layers of psychosomatic content.

In a note accompanying the artist’s latest solo show, entitled ‘Room, Interrupted in Passage’ at Mumbai-based GalerieMirchandani + Steinruecke, art critic-scholar Ranjit Hoskote explains how he returns to the interior spaces, which exercise a particular fascination over him: the bedroom, the bathroom and the hotel room, each a space of transient intimacy, each a repository of private and even secret experience rendered curiously, awkwardly public through the gesture of being imaged in a painting.

The writer explains, “An artist of the fraught interval, Abir Karmakar has measured it in various ways in his previous work: as the brief emptiness between exit and entry in the lamplit glow of a room; as the pause between one flamboyant, seductive act and the next in a masquerade of androgynous selves; as the threshold state at which an individual stands besieged by demons, uncertain whether to retreat into enclosure or escape into the open; or as the aftermath of mingled pleasure and regret following transports of passion, surrender or self-revelation.

These rooms, as if caught in an offguard moment, interrupted in passage, are obliged to cast up the mysteries they encode in a peculiar pattern of clues and traces; they resist the probing imagination, to their credit and our surprise. In the gap or lag between what we view and the way we interpret it, which he dramatizes, we discover the subtle moral slippages and psychological shadings, which define us as viewers.

In ‘A Long Whisper’, one of his video works, a solid figure tends to dissolve into shadows and phantoms, imprints itself on a curtain in segments, striations.  His ‘Shadows of Distressing Dreams’, on the other hand, features four protagonists, none of them apparently actors, to play their part in an involuntary, unscripted, awkward choreography of sleep, dream, nightmare and wakefulness. Here, too, the artist’s quintessentially painterly approach is evident. Numerous incarnations of these figures surface on the screen, one after another, in successive superimpositions.

An artist whose works feel and explore his own body

He is an innovative practitioner who leverages technology to juxtapose unconventionally sensuous images in his work, which often depict two personas residing within a single body. The artist’s primary intention is confessional. He lures the viewer into a secluded world where attitudes of homoerotic desire are performed before our gaze.

The domestic space or the lurid hotel room becomes for a brief period of time a stolen habitation.  The underlying theme is, of course, that of sexuality; our preset notions of body, our obsession of it, and the resultant glorification in media and society. The artist does not want to associate his concept with popular tags, such as ubersexual and metrosexual. In fact, he finds such terminology quite redundant and restrictive, at the best.

The shocking and the elegant come together in the subtly – aesthetically – provocative paintings, akin to his complex stories. Captivating and equally curious compositions by Abir karmarkar incorporate an unconventional subject matter that he portrays in his own inimitable style. His self-portraits occupy a psychic or inner space besides their opulent interiors.

Abir Karmakar's self-portraits clearly occupy – besides their opulent interiors – a psychic or inner space. The clothed and naked figures in his paintings are mirror images of each other, whatever the differences in their expressions and postures. He explains, “It’s a performance that I indulge in for projecting my artistic aspirations on myself. I use myself as a medium. It’s a self-image, not a self-portrait.” According to the artist, he simply looks to freeze a moment, a milestone in his curious artistic journey, on the canvas.

The canvases to him are more of an exploration into a fantasy world where he can touch, feel and explore his own body. He invariably employs himself as the model; often painting his own self as an androgynous double - a split image of him - both as a woman and a man.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

‘The Morning’ & ‘Yellow River’

Renowned Contemporary Indian artist, Paresh Maity, presents 12 watercolors plus a bronze sculpture-installation work he has recently executed at a solo during the prestigious event, Singapore's Art Stage courtesy Sumukha Gallery.

The world’s renowned artists such as at Art Stage China's Ai WeiWei, UK's Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor and Pablo Picasso have figured there. This is Maity's third solo showcase at Art Stage and incidentally his sixty-first solo worldwide, including those held in the home country, an achievement of sorts for this talented artist in his late forties.

Two of his watercolor works mirror the facets of Chinese modern art. According to him, his installation work is largely about the sounds as well as the perceived impact of the force of water on human life. He has made use of brass along with a mirror to build the idea of several reflections within our minds .He has had an instinctive attraction for the power and reflections of water and the boat employed in coastal areas across the world.

The artist looks at it as an instrument or a tool – vital in the livelihood or even survival of fishermen apart from serving as a means of transportation. He has drawn boats right through his artistic career – those from Tamluk, Kerala’s old rice boats, boats from China, from Venice and from the holy city of Benares.

In his couple of Chinese watercolors, the artist refers to Chinese art and combines both the classic & the modern. The undertaking of mixing watercolor with the inkwash method gives way to pristine lines, colors even as minimal strokes bring to life these paintings, fundamental in linking the future and past of China’s modern art. He offers a fascinating flashback in the Piccadilly & St. Paul’s Square, blending in the surreal with the impressionist. His technique looks to recall historical trends in the mode of abstraction. The Western artists like Piet Mondrian, Wassily Kandinsky etc during the 20th Century demonstrated the very purity of art in its amazing abstract forms.

What drives Paresh Maity's art practice?

Known to be a multi-faceted artist, Restless and introspective by nature, Paresh Maity crisscrosses his home country and the world, to derive artistic inspiration from the many sojourns he undertakes, the people he encounters and the experiences he distils during the spontaneous forays.

Enterprising and elegant, serene and soothing, his wonderful works lead you to an enchanting realm, filled with calm and solitude. His paintings, sculptures and intriguing installations exude a vibrant and vivacious streak. While he usually begins the painting with abstract shapes, it gradually develops into something easily decipherable. If what I wish to say is lost in the exchange, there is no point, he reveals. Isn't that what actually art is all about, he quips, explaining its crux lies in communicating with the viewers!

Gradually, his paintings take shape of recognizable scenes from life around, which are essential and fundamental to all society, as he puts it. While contextually, they fathom a contemporary India, soaked in a holistic feel and flavor, their intrinsic appeal becomes universal, owing to the myriad human threads the artist weaves in. The fabulous figures are suffused with as gamut of emotions and unspoken words surrounding them. The colors are vibrant and bold, whereas shapes and figures are very much Indian, drawn from the country’s rich culture, tradition and history.

Light is a crucial component in his works in setting the mood for each piece. The bronze sculpture ‘Face of the World’ is a case in point. In it light plays the central role, depicting the germination of art, symbolized by the light effect in the sculpture, and the former itself refers directly to the creative process.

The sculpture thus conveys that light (enlightenment) and art, when blended, lead to creation, as a world created. Irrespective of the medium, he invariably strives to fathom tender hues of human relationships and explore the beauty of life around. Even while history provides the essence, his aim is to grasp the Indian experience of today as he sees and perceives it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bringing out real talent in the domain of art to the fore

Traversing the boundaries of business, RPG Enterprises has enhanced its reputation as a socially committed organization. The group generously contributes toward the welfare of various meaningful social causes. It is actively simultaneously involved in promotion of the sports and arts through RPG Academy of Art & Music.

The academy has been a great promoter of art and music ventures. It endorses and promotes thriving Indian art scene by sponsoring significant art exhibits, including ‘Amazing, 2008, featuring 27 young and established artists; ‘Sacred Space’ (2004); RPG Collection of Contemporary Bengal Art, The NGMA, Mumbai (2003); ‘Mela: A Carnival of Indian Art (2002); ‘Self-Portraits & Bombay Artists- Progressive Perspectives’ (2001); ‘The Flashback- Flashforward’ (1999); ‘The Bombay Show’ (1998); ‘50 Years of Freedom of Expression (1997); ‘The Mother Theresa Exhibition’ (1996); and an exhibition of modern paintings & sculptures in Mumbai in 1995, among others.

RPG Academy of Art & Music continues to support and encourage upcoming and talented artists. The idea is to bring real talent to the fore. Another prime example of their commitment to the cause is the annual RPG Art Camp, one among the most eagerly awaited art gatherings in Indian art calendar. The academy has been organizing the camps since 1991.

Ever year established and emerging artists from across the country and abroad assemble at the RPG beach house at Mumbai’s magnificent Marve Beach for a week. They come together amidst picturesque settings, away from the clutter to paint and exchange ideas with each other. Many artists like Charmi Gada Shah, Debraj Goswami, Chinmoy Pramanick, Dileep Sharma, Yashwant Deshmukh, Prasanta Sahu, Mithu Sen, Samit Das, Prajakta Potnis, T. M. Azis, Suneel Mamadapur, Anjolie Ela Menon, Krishen Khanna, and Paresh Maity have featured in the annual event.

The interactions and discussions between senior and younger artists lead to amazing creative expressions. The relaxed habitat only enhances the creative quality of their wonderful works. The gathering constitutes a perfect setting for painters to create some inspiring masterpieces.

A series that deals with remembrance and recollection

Pro.ject has conceptualized an exhibition by one of young and established Asian artists in collaboration with the Shrine Empire Gallery. Titled ‘Memory Keeper’, Anoli Perera’s solo unveils on 19th January 2013 at the New Delhi-based Shrine Empire gallery.

The artist mentions in her accompanying concept note, “I am the ‘memory keeper.' I have become a memory keeper because I was born wedged between the sun set of one era and the dawn of another.” Anoli Perera, a renowned contemporary artist from Sri Lanka, is currently based in the capital city of India. Her series deals with remembrance, recollection and the danger of erasure. In terms of its conceptualization, in this exhibition the artist will relate a story she has seen unfolding.

For her and many others of her generation, “existing between eras is to live in a  liminal space where people forget to keep records because they are eager to forget the past and move on to the future.” She observes, “the last vestiges of the previous era and the transition itself, become insignificant moments and footnotes of history, not worth remembering in the larger contexts of events.”

The exhibition takes viewers to and beyond private and public memory mediated by the passage of time  as well as war, and traverses through a number of other discourses that includes  migration, globalization and advent of homogenous cultural forms and the expelling of the local.

However, in all cases, the artist’s point of departure and obsessive focus is what is remembered and what would lapse from memory.  As she observes, “what we lost was our innocence and our common sense… we, for sure lost the trust. Then it stopped …Soon the pain and what was lost might well be forgotten too…amnesia sets in…. People want to move on. I keep memories for posterity ...”

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Art Stage Singapore 2013

Keen to showcase the most exciting and best of Asia’s creativity, through the most stunning artists of the entire sub-continent, Art Stage Singapore supports the interests of artists and galleries in Asian by trying to elevate them to international importance, and position them as competitive and strong players in the world market. What else is it trying to attain?
  • More than a market platform, it is Asia’s definitive rendezvous point and place of dialogue and exchange between collectors, artists, art lovers and art enthusiasts. Art Stage Singapore, the East/West match point and the leading contemporary art fair in the Asia- Pacific area, is the ultimate destination for the super elite of the contemporary art world and its group of globally mobile collectors, curators, dealers, galleries and art enthusiasts.
  • It’s strategically positioning Singapore as the driving force behind the Southeast Asian art industry and to be the centre of the Asia Pacific art world. Located in the heart of Asia and well-connected to the rest of the world, Singapore offers a key vantage point for the exchange and confluence of ideas between East and West. Art Stage Singapore supports various marketing and promotional efforts to promote Singapore as a destination for tourism and investment. It works closely with respective policy makers to help develop and support art, culture and national heritage.
  • By showcasing some of the best and most interesting Singaporean artists in curated sales exhibitions, the Singapore Platform has become a key show component for every exhibition of the fair. In 2013, it will again provide these home-grown artists and curators with a remarkable opportunity.
  • Showcasing works in a proper artistic context and lending pieces international exposure and appeal is the aim of Art Stage Singapore. At the event, Asian galleries are juxtaposed against carefully selected Western galleries which complement and not conflict with one another. Art Stage Singapore strives to promote and drive Asia’s art market, giving the region a voice in the art world and a platform to become a competitive player on the global stage.

A glance at Ramkinkar Baij’s distinguished oeuvre

Rightfully called founding father of the modern Indian sculpture, Ramkinkar Baij’s oeuvre, including paintings and sculptures, involved immense experimentation. For example, his usage of cement, laterite and mortar for public sculptures marked a new precedent. His works made in sand and pebble are noteworthy for a lyrical sensuality that shares an extreme oneness with nature.

One of the most distinguished early modernists in the history of Indian art, he can also be considered as the modern Indian sculpture’s founding father. A multi-faceted creator - an iconic sculptor, painter and a graphic artist, all rolled in one - his blending of both Indian pre-classical sculptural methods and Western principles added a radical touch to his works that inspired the coming generations of artists.

Although more known for his elegant expressionistic sculpture, the artist was an equally gifted painter. Ramkinkar Baij was born in Bankura of West Bengal, into a humble family. He had to struggle hard to pursue his passion for art, and did so by sheer determination. In 1925, he joined Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan, where he studied under Nandalal Bose. The liberating intellectual environment at the world-renowned institution shaped his artistic skills.

After completing his Diploma in Fine Arts from the Visva-Bharati University, he became a faculty member there in 1934. Later, he headed the Kala Bhavan’s Department of Sculpture. In fact, the trio of Nandalal Bose, Benodebehari Mukherjee and Ramkinkar Baij played a major role in the evolution of Santiniketan as an important center for modern art especially in pre-Independent India.

Nature and his own versatile folk background were among the crucial aspects in the formation of his own inimitable style. He felt that it was only momentum that would create tension in an artwork characterized by a tremendous flow of energy. His art exuded vigor, joy, and vitality, keen to reach out to light.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Artists who challenge pre-set ideological divisions

Below are among India’s most promising contemporary artists, all working in a wide array of media so as to challenge prevailing ideological divisions, and do away with the perceived regional aesthetics in the domain of global contemporary art. Their works are currently on view at the New York-based Aicon.

Worn domestic furniture as the motif

Pooneh Maghazehe interrogates the functional and obstructed uses of worn domestic furniture by methodically peeling and stripping textiles, to reveal the underlying structural vulnerability from within. The recontextualized pieces investigate the collective identity, social psychology, and symbolic gestures and emblems that define belief structures by exposing the interdependence of materials inherent in these prefabricated former objects of comfort.

Didactic imagery of patterns
James Cullinane explores the diagrammatic possibilities and didactic imagery of patterns in process, navigating the tension between pictorial and physical space. His paintings act as architectural dictionaries and charts to navigate the labyrinthine paths forged in his layered dystopia of geometric forms, optic patterns and vibrant color.

Conveying concerns through photorealism

A Eric Ayotte explores photorealism as a medium by demonstrating the way in which moments of unrest are documented on both a grand and an intimate scale. This exploration is underlined by his characteristic fractural distortion of the image, in which it is broken down into layers of transparency collapsing foreground and background, commenting subtly on systems of organization.

An interdisciplinary artist
Jace Clayton is an interdisciplinary artist living in Brooklyn. Clayton’s practice has evolved out of his work as a DJ, built around core concerns for how sound, technology use in low-income communities, and public space interact, with an emphasis on Latin America, Africa, and the Arab world.

Work anecdotal and autobiographical in nature
Sarnath Banerjee is a graphic novelist and film maker. He is also the co-founder of Phantomville, a comics publishing house, with which he has published has published ‘The Believers’ and ‘Kashmir Pending’. One of his most high profile works was a recent public art project for the Frieze Foundation in London during the Olympics that was presented on 48 billboards throughout the city that explored the idea of the ‘loser’ in the Olympic Games. It is characteristic of his work to be anecdotal and even autobiographical, and he is liberal in his employment of humour in the context of everyday Indian experiences. Through the unusual medium of the graphic novel, he is able to describe the nuances of the rapidly changing landscape of India.

Tracing gender relationships and politics
Ruby Christi is a sculptor interested in gender relationships and politics among other themes of identity, love and loss. She works primarily in fabric and other delicate, ephemeral materials like twigs and straw, which reference the transitory nature of the human experience. Tending towards doll-like sculptures, her work serves as a continuation of the tradition of Pakistani doll making into the practice of contemporary sculpture.

‘Fact/Fission’: push and pull between the two

The New York-based Aicon Gallery presents ‘Fact/Fission’, a group show curated by Nitin Mukul involving fourteen contemporary artists, all keen to challenge preconceived ideological divisions, looking to break down the regional aesthetics in global art.

An accompanying essay mentions: “Daily unrest in the name of democracy seems endemic to some nations, whereas in others, complacency breeds blissful collapse. Volatile shifts in the balance of power appear inevitable, with over-consumption taking a tangible toll.

"The media's reductive narratives and sweeping generalizations over large swathes of the globe are no longer plausible as Fact. New patterns emanate, emerging at a pace more rapid than ever in regard to technology, nature, policy and social upheaval. Cultural practitioners yearn to reflect this multiplicity of voices.”

Enter ‘Fission. Fusion’, a term often used to describe the melding of different cultures, seems overused and worn out. A mainstream marketing gimmick, somewhat analogous to assimilation or multiculturalism, fusion advocates tolerance of the ‘Other’, albeit according to its own convenience and within the bounds of what it deems tasteful. What's more interesting is fission – when things split apart, reorganize and regenerate, smudging and splintering neatly kept categories and conventional wisdom in the process.

The results are not necessarily hybrids, but new inauthentic, hyper-local and interdisciplinary manifestations resulting from willful or imposed dislocation. The work in this exhibition will center on the concept of fission, while encompassing a wide range of formal concerns, the essay further elaborates.

Eric Ayotte, Ruby Chishti, Jace Clayton (aka DJ Rupture), Sarnath Banerjee, Gisela Insuaste, Mala Iqbal, James Cullinane, John Jurayj, Nitin Mukul, Seher Naveed, Pooneh Maghazehe, Yamini Nayar, Kanishka Raja, and Abir Karmakar feature in the show. All these participating artists explore and redefine spatial boundaries, of both collective and individual experience, through the distinctive ‘Fission’ of aesthetically divergent cultural visions, positing that ‘Fact’ itself must be unearthed, challenged and explored to best understand its fully-fused meanings.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

An artist who transforms known motifs to voice her concerns

Known for her usage of everyday, found objects and transforming their basic identity imaginatively, Bharti Kher expertly empowers her often otherworldly works to unabashedly present themselves as if they were all a natural aspect of both our culture and environment. Here are some unique facets of her oeuvre:
  • The artist looks to explore the notion of the self as a multiple, open to interpretation and shape-shifting. Her art practice is intimately intertwined with her life, not only because she borrows motifs and artifacts for her work, but also because she has an inquisitive mind and a strong desire to understand sociological issues.
  • She is perhaps best known for her elaborate and stunning bindi dot paintings: abstract, swirling constellations of colorful bindis glued to flat surfaces that create unique imagery somewhere between being illusory and hyper-realistic. In recent years her artistic creations have become increasingly bold and unrestrained, several examples of which are on show in the exhibition.
  • The phenomenal, life-size elephant ‘The skin speaks a language not its own’ (2006) made of fibreglass and covered with serpent- or sperm-shaped white bindis, bears a symbolism that leaves viewers uncertain about the animal’s condition. The title of the work, always an important component of Kher’s works, suggests that physical appearance and inner values are often in conflict.
  • Such characteristics endow this sensitive artist’s work with a narrative quality and fascinating interiority of things that frequently contradict her practice of addressing more global and collective concerns. This tension is precisely what leads us more deeply into her work and world and prompts us to reposition our own relationship to her individual pieces.
  • Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art recently presented works by Bharti Kher in her first solo exhibition held in a public art institution in London. It was composed of a selection of works from the recent past, with an emphasis on the artist’s sculptural works.

Ubiquitous objects and hallucinatory stage set

Nature Morte is set to present a solo of new works by acclaimed artist Bharti Kher. Looking to expand her vast repertoire of an array of materials and references, she has come up with new sculptures that relate largely to domestic spaces, and respond to the gallery’s interior architecture itself – a chair, a staircase, and a doorway - isolated and re-imagined, creatively installed so as to become apparitions of themselves or eclectic elements in a sort of hallucinatory stage set.

An introductory note to the exhibition, entitled ‘Bind the dream state to your waking life’, states: “Bharti Kher’s sculptures now employ a complex dialogue between the found object and their manipulation through juxtapositions and various processes. She both excavates and destabilizes the inherent meanings found in common objects to arrive at poetic conjunctions that speak of social tensions and personal discoveries (for the viewer as much as for the artist herself).”

Born in London in 1969, Bharti Kher received a BA in Painting from the Newcastle Polytechnic in Newcastle, UK in 1991. She has been based in New Delhi since 1993. Her recent solos have been hosted at the Parasol unit in London, Hauser & Wirth in New York and Galerie Perrotin in Hong Kong, apart from a series of group exhibitions at prestigious venues like the Centre Pompidou in Paris; the MAXXI Museum in Rome; the John F. Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.; the Serpentine Gallery, London; the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Mori Art Museum, both in Tokyo, among others.

Also on view as part of the new solo show, will be her signature bewildering bindi works that occupy the space of painting yet expand upon its histories and possibilities. Now approaching a monumental scale, these works contrast minute detailing with an almost panoramic scope. A large diptych makes use of mirrors, smashed and violated, as its ground. Bindis applied on to this shattered reflective surface are subsumed into it, the artwork acts as a residual evidence of a performative catharsis as a whole, a gallery note mentions.

Another diptych has bindis organized along a more formalized program; their geometric progressions relate to the warp and weft of woven carpets, the patterning of Islamic architecture, the molecular ordering of matter itself or the digitization of both information and imagery.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Portraying an artistic realm ‘beyond borders’

New Delhi-based Vadehra Art gallery is currently hosting an exhibit of recent works by renowned artist Faiza Butt. Entitled ‘Aalmi’ this incidentally is her first solo in India. The term in Urdu denotes universal, a concept which is very much dear to the artist. It stands for a realm beyond borders, both conceptually and physically. What are the other noteworthy aspects of her series on view? We take a quick look: 

Series of works named ‘One’
In this series, the artist looks at the objectification of women and the relationship between religion and sexuality in response to taboos and views towards the female body in Islamic cultures. A woman’s mouth seductively plays with a bejeweled pendent in the shape of the word Allah. Butt speaks to the consuming nature of religion and faith and to the challenging interplay between the worldly and the spiritual. The pendent presents two distinct affiliations—one of high class and one of religious devotion. For some these associations are at odds, while others see them going hand in hand. What is emphasized is the primacy of the word itself. 
‘My Love Plays in Heavenly Ways’
In the series, ancient Chinese dragons are locked in combat with the artist’s young diasporic sons. The work addresses a personal mythology – a game, played by Butt’s sons, in which the young boys attack make-believe dragons slithering on their beds in the form of blankets. The imagery is reminiscent of precious blue Chinese porcelain. The border of the work has hairdryers and tennis shoes interwoven with more orthodox depictions of dragons, koi fish, and flowers. The mythic and the banal collide in an image - both an expression of innocence and violence.

‘Zevar Zanjeer’
The importance of words is further explored here by depicting a poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz in the form of a large freestanding light box. On one side is the original poem in Urdu and on the other, an English translation. On the side bearing the original text, the words are assembled from bejeweled weapons and pieces of raw meat. On the reverse, the translation is inscribed in honey atop a background of colorful trash bags and debris. Language itself takes on an aesthetic quality. Faiz’s poem addresses his time in prison in beautiful, lush language. As the title suggests the words like the poet are in captivity.
To sum it up, the works that form part of the solo exhibit expertly juxtapose vivacious cultures from different eras.

An artist true to her roots despite global outlook

Faiza Butt’s elaborate drawings, crafted with rigor and passion, create subtle surfaces hovering between embroidery and photography.

They are often made from found and scavenged journalistic photos, though her artistic instinct is to deftly decorate the images, turning them into a source of gratification and enjoyment.Feminist themes invariably form core of her work.Although she is aware of the Post Impressionists and the Pointillists, her work comes from an entirely different origin, and whilst the Pointillists wanted to capture the effect of light Butt is interested in capturing the beauty and contradictions of the Islamic tradition.

An accompanying essay to her ongoing solo show at New Delhi-based Vadehra Art mentions: “Her paintings are laboriously crafted using a near obsessive technique of tiny dots – reminiscent of the par dokht style in miniature painting – a rigorous process that involves the covering of the painted surface with individual dots.

"One can trace origins of this style in her work from the training she received in miniature painting at the NCA, Lahore.However these dots also replicate pixels structure of a photograph, on polyester translucent films. This is especially relevant given that the artist created these drawings from photographs in newspapers and magazines. The pieces are mounted on light boxes, activating the process of development and creating an ethereal iconic appeal."

Faiza Butt, born in Lahore in 1973, received her BA from the National College of Arts, , and was awarded a gold medal. She holds a master’s degree in painting with a distinction award from the Slade School of Fine Art. In 1995, she received a UNESCO-Aschberg Bursary, and was artist-in-residence at the Bartle Arts Trust (BAT) in Durban, South Africa where she held workshops for women from shantytowns, presented talks and produced a solo. Although living in London, Faiza Butt’s Pakistani roots are evident as she brings to our attention various social, gender and political issues faced by a young Pakistani.

Apart from a series of solo shows, Her work has been exhibited at various art fairs like Art Dubai and the Hong Kong Art Fair, and extensively in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and the United States. Her work can also be found in private and public collections around the world.