Monday, September 2, 2013

Deciphering Sunil Gawde’s art practice

A proficient art practitioner, Sunil Gawde, blends his artistic sensibility and immense creativity with highly refined fine design & craft skills. His set of tools often includes an array of sophisticated paint materials and peculiar implements, such as trowels, scrapers etc that together attain a layered depth and feel in his pigments.

This also leads to textured surfaces that appear both dynamic and dramatic. Often metaphysical and metaphorical, Sunil gawde’s creations deftly take shape, as he expertly mutates complex philosophy with ubiquitous objects from day-to-day life to which he gives a new interpretation.

A painter, sculptor, and installation artist, all rolled in one, his philosophy has always been not to lose his originality, always staying true to his inner voice and never resorting to short cuts. Known to be a perseverant innovator, he has steadily moved away from his earlier minimalist, 2-dimensional creations to large-scale, more ambitious and thought-provoking sculptures and dynamic multi-media installations.

Summing up his work and processes, he has stated, "I try and build up a rhythm; it's a physical thing. Intellect and planning only go so far. When I paint, something is hammering in here. At times, I like to go to extremes: to the edge. I know there are no short cuts. Each picture has to have its own sincerity."

Among his other selected solos are 'Alliteration', Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai (2010); '8 Seconds Ahead of Time, Sakshi Gallery, Bangalore (2002); '1mm', Sakshi, Mumbai (2001); and 'Oblique', a traveling show in Mumbai, Chennai, Baroda, and New Delhi (1998); shows at Prithvi Art Gallery, Mumbai, ABC Art Gallery, Varanasi (1995); Chitrakoot Art Gallery, Kolkata (1994), Cymroza Art Gallery, Mumbai along with Jindal Art Foundation (1993), and  Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (1990).

Regarding  his ‘Alliteration’, Jitish Kallat has mentioned: “It’s an advanced variation of a similar piece from his sculptural series ‘Blind Bulb etc.’ (2005). I have a distinct memory of standing before it even as the interplaying black-and-white lunar forms moved at different speeds evoking a mechanical montage of an anomalous sky. While viewing his work-in-progress two artists from very diverse cultural backgrounds and generations came to my mind; Nam June Paik  and Darren Almond. While their widely differing practices have very little formal or mediumistic affinity with his, a fleeting reference on particular works by these artists might aid the viewing of the series.”

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Insight and tips to buy quality art

Collecting is vitally important for the domain of art, to harness talented artists’ potential and boost the galleries in their endeavor to promote good art. Secret of building a quality art collection lies in remembering and understanding the fact that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts’. The key is to grasp what makes a collection timeless.

Contemporary art is sure one of the most bankable alternative assets that you can treasure even as it gradually appreciates. If you are not too much aware of intricacies of modern art, but have a fair understanding of what you like, now is the time to start investing into a work by the Subodh Gupta or the Jitish Kallat of tomorrow. But how really to spot the next superstar on the horizon!

This is a long-drawn process that should begin with the basics. And that’s what exactly what we are trying to spell out! In continuation of our series on simplifying the intricacies of buying art, we offer insight and tips for keen collectors who want to build a quality portfolio. The aim is to simplify the complex elements of buying art, trying to move away from the jargon of it!

Following pointers will be of help:

1.    In-depth market research in order to stay tuned to the latest developments in the domain of art

2.    Elaborate study of an artist’s growth trajectory, his academic background, galleries represented

3.    Clear idea about the time frame and gestation period for the work to grow in value

4.    Analysis of the formal concerns and how they relate to the core idea of the work

5.    Grasping of how well the ideas/ concepts are communicated in context of contemporary times

6.    Understanding the nuances of contemporary art practice and a grasp of art history

7.    Evaluating a piece of art in terms of its physical characteristics and longevity that also impact its value.

In essence, when planning to buy a work of art, do not merely think in terms of the market trends and value benchmarks. Try and understand what makes an artwork unique.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

50 years of contemporary art: Chemould

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 modern art in the city, Gandhy 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. Today Chemould Frames continues to operate as an independent company from the gallery, situated in the same premise as over 60 years ago.

Gallery Chemould, founded in 1963 by Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy, was one of the oldest established commercial art galleries. It has the distinction of having represented major artists, such as M.F. Husain, Tyeb Mehta, S.H. Raza, emerging from the first waves of India's modernist and contemporary art movements. Chemould was also the first gallery to host the first solo exhibition of the internationally acclaimed artist, the late Bhupen Khakhar (year of birth and death).

The Gandhys 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.

Chemould has been represented through loan, collaboration and participation in several major international exhibitions: the 1st Johannesburg Biennale (1995); ‘the Fire and Life Project’ in collaboration with Asialink (1996 & 1997); ‘Contemporary Art in Asia: Traditions/Tension’ (1997) hosted by the Asia Society; ‘Private Mythology: Contemporary Art From India’ (1998) in collaboration with the Japan Foundation Asia Center; Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis (2001) hosted by the Tate Modern. In 2007, Atul Dodiya’s representation in Documenta 12 was represented entirely through the gallery’s collection namely, ‘Antler’s Anthology’.

Exploring the evident urban disjuncture

Artists Arun Kumar HG, Avantika Bawa, Baiju Parthan, Chittrovanu Manzumdar, Gigi Scaria, Manjunath Kamath, Roshan Chhabria, Prajakta Palav, Sarnath Banerjee and Sudipta Das feature in a show, entitled ‘Diver-Cities II’ at New Delhi-based Latitude 28.

A press release based on an essay by theorist-writer-social scientist Sunil Khilnani (The Idea of India) states: “'India's cities are hinges between its vast population spread across the countryside and the hectic tides of global economy, with its ruthlessly shifting tastes and its ceaseless murmur of the pleasures and hazards of modernity. This three-cornered relationship decisively moulds India's future economic, cultura1 and political possibilities.

“The demographic drift across the world is unstoppably towards the urban.' 'Modern India's political and economic experiences have coincided most dramatically in its cities - symbols of the uneven, hectic and contradictory character of the nation's modem life. From the ancient sacred space of Benares to the decaying colonial pomp of Calcutta, from the high rationalism of Chandigarh to the software utopia of Bangalore, from Mumbai's uneasy blend of parochial politics and cosmopolitan to the thrusting new cities of the north.

“The evident urban disjuncture's have enlivened distinct political sentiments. The real and imagined experience of the city has individually and together reconstituted both the nature and the range of the selves, the ‘identities' that Indians can call their own.” The question is whether identity remain singular, multiple, dual or fused? Which intersections does it emphasize, which points of reference resonate? A globe called home, yet a search for imaginary homelands? A polyglot culture, where every being is in tumultuous transit between identities or composite identities...

In the context of the thematic group show, a curatorial write-up underlines how art today has become an exciting statement of the cultural diversity mapping diverse geographies. Homogeneity, which emerges as a by-product of globalization, leads to the growing importance of nudging the cultural producer to look for the celebration of difference.

The show, in keeping with the gallery’s motto of weaving a strand of artists spread across disciplines, to dig into the finer aesthetic grain and concerns of each works and puts them forth in a defined collation, continues until September 23, 2013. 

(Information courtesy: Latitude 28)

'Jelly with Nuts' by Prajakta Palav Aher

Prajakta Palav Aher explores her life and experiences in the ever-expanding mega-city of Mumbai. The megacity is a machine for the unceasing, untiring churning-out of reality. When the world is too much with us, we lock ourselves into a cocoon and create representations of the real that we can control.

In her new suite of works titled 'Jelly with Nuts', showcased in 'Diver-Cities' at Latitude 28 (2013), Palav delves into a series of paintings that challenge the notion of the Indian wedding pandal (pavilion) in terms of treatment and its inherent ideology and social significance. Pandal is a temporary structure which maintains privacy on busy streets by creating a personal territory which to Palav is akin to a fantastical land.

Retaining the pristine and aesthetic quality associated with the wedding pandal through meticulous rendition, the artist intervenes in a subliminal way to locate fragments of ‘ugliness’ within this space and hence introduce a tenor of disturbance into this protected cocoon. Palav paints every detail from a multitude of photographic references that she has archived over the years. The candid medium of photography allows her to unpretentiously penetrate the many aspects of middle class life in India, and capture its varied truths.

Although the artist's portrayals are realistic, they do not come across as documentaries but instead, allow the viewer to realize the disposition of the situations. Palav traces out using the historical journey in conjunction with urban references of the traditional motifs and their situated recycling and reclamation in the process.

The vibrant Indian motifs like paisley and floral patterns in her work displayed at 'Re-claim, Re-cite, Re-cycle', have traveled from being revered as fabric, jewelry designs to signifying their minor presence interwoven and molded as decorative jaalis in the urban households, which like their diminutive presence in the concrete jungles become the object of trivial mass productions.

Friday, August 30, 2013

'Plot' at GallerySKE

Artist Sreshta Rit Premnath's note to the recent solo show, entitled 'Plot', at GallerySKE:
I am perplexed, forgetting why I entered the room. Why am I here? As if reason stands separate from action. When asked "Why did you do this?" I recollect a series of events, which appear to inexorably lead to my present circumstance. If asked again "Why did you do this?" do I produce a new constellation or refer to my previous plan? "What is the plot?" As if a plot, like a key, is separate from a story and yet necessary for its comprehension.
II. Corpse

A mystery begins with a corpse. A chalk line that delineates the prone body—a minimum boundary that separates figure from ground. Eventually this boundary too disappears. Every form of presence has its analogous form of absence. Remove the word "form" from the previous sentence. 1-1?1, 1-1?2, 1-1?3, 1-1?4, 1-1?5, etc.
III. Property
The stray dog that circles a site the size of its body. Asleep, invisible until stepped upon it bursts into flight, baring its teeth or squealing. The volatile and vulnerable claim of the sleeping dog. Before this was my land, there was land. Before there was land, there was nothing. Yet, knowing nothing leaves me ignorant of concepts such as "my," "this" and "land." "With false documents and brute force the land was extorted from them." While the concept of ownership may be fundamentally unstable, this instability does not displace the ethical issue of rightful ownership. The two concepts are irresolvable but interconnected.

Law is both the means of instituting and of maintaining private property. Then there are those who occupy the fragile margin of this law. Their property is provided only so long as they are useful or invisible. The sleeping dog has no right besides its insistent occupation of space. Yet, we know that this may be wrenched from it in a moment. What is this existence, this right to be, that precedes (or exceeds) property?

'Utsha' at Nature Morte

The penultimate source of creativity, imagination and action is an extended dream project of the artist Jagannath Panda, to capture and enhance the richness of Odishan culture as well to promote art that reflects the contemporary realities of the urban, rural, secular and sacred identities of the region.

A press relase elaborates: "Utsha is a registered charitable trust based in Bhubaneswar with a commitment to capture, engage and nurture the Odishan culture and provides a space/platform to reflect and augment diversity of the state with all its urban, rural, secular and religious identities. We are intensely involved in promoting artistic excellence with exciting synthesis of contemporary and traditional arts, in all their forms and mediums. We are very keen to investigate the notions and dilemmas of contemporary visual culture (at large) by creating a dynamic and vibrant artistic and intellectual environment for experimentation and creativity.

Utsha supports a growing network of art practitioners, organizations, galleries, students, researchers and common people. We are unique in the sense of connecting parochial and traditional practices to the global and contemporary creative circuits respectively. We are more concerned with local, ethnic and regional practices that come from small towns such as in the hinterland and in spaces marked by conflict zones; As these are the realms that need urgent attentions and are full with possibilities.

Utsha invites critical reflections on the nature of the contemporary Odisha in global context. As we function internationally to realize the notion and dialogue with people around the world. we invite regular screenings and discussion of different areas and interest of visual culture which could be volunteerly or curated including documentary and video art, theatre, performance etc. we embodies a continuing engagement with creativity in different communities and locations.

Born 1970, Bhubaneswar, the artist lives and works in New Delhi. In 2002, he did his B.F.A Sculpture from B.K College of Art & Crafts, Bhubaneswar and M.F.A Sculpture, M.S University, Baroda in 1994, before joining Royal College of Art, London. He was a Visiting Research Fellow at Fukuoka University of Education, Japan.