Tuesday, June 11, 2013

‘Chance Pieces’ at Nature Morte, Berlin

Gallery Nature Morte hosts Anita Dube’s first solo in Germany at its Berlin venue. ‘Chance Pieces’ collates a variety of sculptures, wall-based works and text pieces by the Delhi-based artist. Primarily known to be a sculptor, she works in a wide variety of media and materials.  Her aesthetic language incorporates ubiquitous objects, everyday materials and images that together resonate with a meaning far beyond perceived local and prosaic associations. Employing a variety of found objects drawn from a wide array of domains and sources, she shares her concerns.

Anita Dube’s on-going investigations into personal and societal loss and regeneration pry apart the political obstacles that get in the way of the human element, sometimes in its bare rawness. ‘Ah (a sigh)’ enlarges a degenerated newspaper image of striving Indians and spells out a Hindi character across its surface with velvet-covered tree roots.

Such works are indicative of her use of a conceptual language that valorizes the sculptural fragment as a bearer of personal and social memory, history, mythology, and phenomenological experience. Her aesthetic approach to textuality is combined with an engagement with the intimacy of touch and a Gnostic exploration of the abstractions of linguistic systems.

She employs a variety of found objects and materials drawn from the realms of industrial waste (foam, plastic, wire), indigenous craft (thread, beads, fabrics), the physical human (dentures, bones, body parts), and sacred iconographies (enamel idol eyes, mantras, hymns, poetry, calligraphy).

The sensitive practitioner brings together experiences of mortality, desire, pain and pleasure –all rolled in one.  Throughout her career, the versatile artist has resisted making her work too absolute; her avoidance of pronouncements allows her to see art as ‘a form of speculation that attempts to turn people’s attention towards something’. In the large-scale sculpture ‘Little Weapons of Defense’, she has constructed a freestanding jali screen (similar to those found in Mughal architecture) from discarded styrofoam packing materials.

Nestled into the jali’s spaces are rudimentary weapons, rock-shaped objects with skins of black velvet which seem to bleed over the structure. Exploring issues of the body, gender, and beauty, velvet has long become a signature material of the artist.

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