Sunday, March 3, 2013

Two celebrated Indian artists showcase their works in Ohio

The Contemporary Arts Center located in Cincinnati, Ohio presents works by two renowned Indian artists of this era, namely Atul Dodiya and Hema Upadhyay. She looks to address aesthetic aspects of the everyday via imagery drawn from Mumbai’s densely populated neighborhoods and slums, in particular.

The centerpiece of her exhibit, Moderniznation, is inspired by Dharavi slum community. Once it occupied an undesirable piece of marshland just outside of the city, but as Mumbai started expanding, the area occupied by the slum became a central part and highly contested, subsequently. She is attracted to the juxtaposition of vibrant colors and diverse materials there, as well to the microcosm of the slum and its relationship to the surrounding posh neighborhoods.

The installation recreates an aerial view of the slum on the floor of the gallery made up of the materials the buildings themselves are comprised of - aluminum sheets, car scrap, enamel paint, plastic sheets, and found objects. In it many visual signifiers are distilled into a minimalist patchwork of squares. This is Hema Upadhyay’s first exhibition in the US.

On the other hand, Atul Dodiya melds the Eastern and Western cultures’ iconography via film, literature and popular culture. His installations and paintings, deeply personal in nature, reflect on his own narratives with reference to the art history and that of the home country. The artist’s imagery created on storefronts’ metal shutters is salvaged from the Mumbai streets. A symbol of security, it marks the sharp change in the aesthetic between day and night.

At times, they become armor that protects the various goods of shop owners from the dangers of the outside world. He invites the viewer to interact with them – to open and close the shutter with its original pulley mechanism in order to see their entirety as both the front and interior of the shutter work is meticulously painted. Apart from metal shutter paintings, the exhibition features some masterfully painted watercolors as well.

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