Friday, May 31, 2013

Rituparno Ghosh- an Obit by Siddharth Sivakumar, News and Views


Rituparno Ghosh: The Brave Narrator 

Rituparno Ghosh” cannot be defined by the dozen of National Awards, or the international recognitions he received. He lived and died in paradoxes.His presence meant uneasiness to a section of the society, observes Siddharth Sivakumar.

(Rituparno Ghosh in Chitrangada)

It was raining in Santiniketan when the news of Rituparno Ghosh’s death reached me.This was supposed to be a sunny summer afternoon, but the clouds, the drizzling rain, and the violent wind that danced on tree tops,were unaware of it. In my mind, the unseasonal weather stood metaphorical of Rituparno’s untimely demise at 49.

The steady down pour, pronouncing a premature separation reminded me of yet another rainy day from Raincoat (2004), a film made by Rituparno inspired by O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi(1906).Among his several critically acclaimed films, this one was a rare gem in Hindi. Raincoat presented a poignant love story, where economic crisis and fruitless love met fate, depicting the unintelligible ways of life. Instead of tying the story in a neat knot Rituparno kept things open for interpretation.

(Scene from Chokerbali)

Rituparno’s films were instrumental in bringing a change to Bengali cinema by their realistic depictions of interpersonal relationships and urban-educated middle class angst. When he was making his mark in the contemporary film world, we were children who cycled to school. The water-tank we crossed each day bore all sorts of posters including the colourful film-posters. Through him, the inception of anew-wave quite literally washed away the emblematic posters of familial films. We noticed how the bunch of people, who crowded the posters as representatives of a joint family, disappeared slowly.

From his early films such as Unishe April (1994), Dahan (1997), Bariwali (1999), Ashukh(1999) to later films such as SubhoMuhurat(2003) and Dosar (2006),with dexterity Rituparno brought to life an array of characters. With a superior sense of aesthetics at his disposal, the universal human nature as well as emotions and passions that often ignited selfish drifts from socio-moral norms, were dissected and projected onto the screen. They were illuminated like the complexities of the human-body, scrutinized under the bright light of an operation theatre. The masterly use of Silence, an integral part of his operation theatre, also helped Rituparno cut across various minds and mind-sets. 

Rituparno was well known for his thoughtful representation of women, and conspicuous was his ability to penetrate the female psyche. While owing to what he calls “the privilege of gender fluidity”, in a conservative nation like ours, Rituparno bravely portrayed the sensitive subject of same sex relationships. His love for dressing himself as a woman made him stand out from the regular crowd. But once, when I spotted him sipping his coffee at Alcha, I realized that it was not his sexual-orientation, but the confidence with which he carried it that distinguished him as a person.

However, through his films explicit sexuality was introduced to the Bengal film industry. Chokher Bali (2003) and Antarmahal(2005) particularly stunned the middle class Bengali movie goers with their frank portrayal of sex. His idea of sexuality on screen was well articulated when he appeared in a Television show to defend the actress Paoli Dam, who was attacked by the conservative Bengali community for explicit frontal nudity in her 2011 film, Chatrak. Rituparno posits that making a film in Bangla does not necessarily imply it to be a regional film. Cinema is a powerful medium that can transcend borders of all sorts, including that of language. And Sexuality in cinema, he believed, should be allowed for the sake ofartistic expression. Rituparno who was deeply influenced by Satyajit Ray was also a serious Tagore scholar. In his 2012 film, Chitrangada - The Crowning Wish,which was based on Tagore’s famous dance drama Chitrangada (1898), Rituparno foregrounds his thoughts on sexuality. This can be seen as Rituparno’s exploration ofhis own sexual identity. Directors tell stories, but seldom, they have the courage to narrate their own stories. In this regards, Rituparno was an exception. 

Rituparno was also an unapologetic actor while dealing with cross-dressing or homosexuality. In Kaushik Ganguly's Arekti Premer Galpo and Sanjoy Nag's Memories in March, both of which released in 2010, Rituparno played pivotal gay roles.Rituparno’s career as an actor, a later addition to his life in celluloid, was his attempt to voice the disempowered sexual minorities. Quite naturally it got a mixed reaction from the audience. I remember my experience of watching Arekti Premer Galpo. The hall was empty baring my friends and a large conservative family. While Rituparno romanced his fellow actor we could hear the grand old lady snarling at her middle-aged son for bringing them to see such a “horrible sight”. However, the children like their father watched the film in complete silence.    

“Rituparno Ghosh” cannot be defined by the dozen of National Awards, or the international recognitions he received. He lived and died in paradoxes.His presence meant uneasiness to a section of the society, including the Grandma I encountered at the theatre;but there are others, a larger segment, who will find it hard to cope with the lacuna caused by his death. In various walks of life, we pass a lot of people. Some of them we do not know, some are distinctly familiar, while there are some whose presence is ambivalent. We know them, but not to heart’s content. At times, quite ironically Death happens to be the perfect occasion to know more about them. 


Self Reliance through Art

Seven ex-students of the Society for the Education of the Crippled (SEC) with physical disabilities have come together to display their art works in a show aptly titled, ‘ Living Their Dreams’ at the Hirji Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai.

Zarine Chothia, the Vice President of SEC, organizes a show for the students each year with the sole purpose of encouraging the students towards self reliance and economic independence.

Having a range of physical disabilities, these students are taught to become self reliant and work towards a self respecting existence in society. SEC has brought together the works of the ex-students, Bandenawaz Nadaf, Shahnawaz Sheikh, Nitin Bhise, Rahim Khan, Sunil Derkar, Haseeb Chaudhary, and Shubham Rajshekar Paitti for the show.

The paintings are inspired by various established artists and are portrayals of the student’s determination towards freedom.

The show is on view from the 7th of June 2013 to the 9th of June 2013.

Brothers in Arts

An exhibition of paintings, photography and digital art works will be on view at Amdavad ni Gufa, Ahmedabad. The show will take place from the 4th of June 2013.

This two persons show displays paintings, photography works and digital art work by artists, Dharmesh Prajapati and Nikunj Prajapati. Both M S University, Baroda graduates exhibit their paintings, especially portraits, and landscapes. Showcased also are photography works of the two artists, which is unique and innovative.

They have displayed digital art work along with traditional forms of art expressions like paintings and photography.

The show will be inaugurated by RJ Devaki, of Red FM, and the Chief Guest of the show is Ketan Modi, Course Director at Navgujarat Multi Course Training Institute of Photography

The show is on view till the 9th of June 2013.

Some Things can be Black / White

Art Musings Gallery, Mumbai presents a group show of works of seven eminent artists of India today, titled, ‘Black/ White’. The show displays most works which are rendered in monochromatic style. Line drawings, intricate detailing in some and water colour washes in some are seen on most of the paper or canvas works.
The participating artists are Paresh Maity, Jayasri Burman, Laxma Goud, Laluprasad Shaw, T Vaikuntam,  Ajay De, Viveek Sharma, Nandan Purkayastha, and  Ajay Dhandre.
Paresh Maity’s works are landscapes vary from ghats of Benares, Kerala backwaters to the canals of Venice. Jayasri Burman’s works depict the pantheon of Hindu gods with a lyrical and dream like lyrical quality. Laxma Goud’s work is from his earlier days, etchings prints and water colours, of rural villages and in monochrome grays. Vaikuntam portrays rural Andhra Pradesh. Lalu Prasad Shaw’s draws inspiration from nature and his still-lifes and portraits are well composed and serene. Ajay De’s uses his trademark black interspersed with blobs of blue and red paint, depicting Ganesha and Mother Teresa. Viveek Sharma’s captures the enduring Mumbaikar’s life in a biographical way. Nandan Purkayastha’s in black and white have depth and dimension. Ajay Dhandre’s work captures meticulous details, giving the paintings a science fiction perspective making them specimens for observation.
The show begins on 3rd of June 2013 and will be on view till 15th July 2013.
A Riot of Colour and Form

The Artist’s centre, Mumbai presents a solo show of works by artist Abdul Moujan. The show commenced on 27th May 2013.

The works on display are figurative in style and rendered primarily in acrylic on canvas. The figures in the paintings often seem to be in deep conversation with each other and the elements incorporated into the visual subtly. The gentle interpersonal relationships are brought to the fore by subtle suggestion by the artist. The figures appear rustic and village folk, untouched by the urban hand.

The show focuses on human relationships and their complexities. The paintings are rendered in vibrant and rich colour, giving them an instant folk art appeal yet contemporary in style. The canvases appear to be a riot of colour and form yet maintaining a quiet serenity.

The show is on view till the 2nd of June 2013.

(News Reports by Sushma Sabnis)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Yuktha Moukthik, Shukla Sawant Lecture and More


A Mural Conjoining Lands-Art at Airport

Eminent artists Nilima Sheikh and B V Suresh, have collaborated with several master craftsmen from the Kashmir valley to create a unique mural installation for the new terminal in the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai.

The exhibit titled,‘Conjoining Lands’ is yet to be completed and it will stand at a mammoth 6800 sqfeet of a multimedia mural. The mural comprises of paintings on papier mache, carved sculptures in wood with portions of Khatamband and Pinjrakari works indigenous to Kashmir.

Artist Nilima Sheikh’s recent works have been focussed on Kashmir inspired from the poetry of Kashmiri poet Agha Shahid Ali, which formed the core of her recent series titled “The Country Without A Post Office – Reading Agha Shahid Ali.”

The mural will be inaugurated by Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir on 31st of May 2013 and will be on display till 2nd June 2013.

Landscape Beyond the Picturesque Frame

(Shukla Sawant)

A lecture by artist Shukla Sawant, has been organized at the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai on the 1st of June 2013. The topic of the lecture is ‘Out of India: Landscape Paintings Beyond the Picturesque Frame’.

The lecture focuses on landscape painting in India, from the year of 1793 to1947, roughly a hundred and fifty year time frame. The focus also is on the artists who emerged from the social and intellectual world of art institutions introduced to India in that time. The historical context of the native artists attending these institutions and how they broke away from imperial landscape painting discourses to connect with surveillance and documentation, especially with references to work from Mysore and Kolhapur  will be talked about.

Shukla Sawant is a visual artist and currently an Associate Professor of Visual Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She works with photography, installation, and printmaking and her theoretical interests extend to writing on contemporary art.
The lecture will be held on Saturday, 1st June, 2013, in the Origins of Mumbai Gallery at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum. 

Children’s ‘Nazariya’ of the Environment

Options Conceptual Services Pvt Ltd, Bangalore, presents their annual show, ‘Nazariya’ at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat. Nazariya is a Go-Green initiative and the show is held each year with the participation of children’s art.

The aim is to build a solid foundation towards environmental awareness, and to grow a greener future for the generations to come.The show exhibits the best paintings done by chilren who take part in the Nazariya painting competition each year.

Each year the show is held on the occasion of World Environment Day at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat.

Over the years the themes have become more serious and adhere to spreading the awareness on environmental issues and methods to reduce the effects of rapid destruction of natural resources through art and other mediums.

The show begins on 5th of June 2013, and will be on view till the 7th of June 2013.

Capturing Divinity Through Art

 The Hirji Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, presents a debut solo show of unique works by artist Sanjay Thapar. The show displays works of this J J School of Art gold medalist, in a variety of mediums ranging from digital work to oils on canvas to pencil and ink on paper.

Sanjay’s works on display at the show are mainly figurative and portraitures of people one would consider inconspicuous in the hustle and bustle of an urban existence. Millions of such people leading their lives quietly coping with the pace of a city in a hurry, inspire Sanjay’s works by making them seem rich in experience and portraying a complete contrast of peace and turmoil in their expressions.

The conflict of the two very opposite emotions in one face simultaneously can be seen in majority of his canvases. The urban sanyasi, the Vietnamese old woman, all of these faces of strangers exude a familiarity and a narrative of the human condition. They seem at once human and at once divine in their calmness.

Heavy relief and textures in some of the works and some simple line drawings, dispaly Sanjay’s range of skills as an artist.

The show is on from the the 5th of June 2013 to the 11th of June 2013.

(News Reports by Sushma Sabnis)


Chalking out angels: Hyderabad's very own miniature artist

Creating carvings on chalk is child’s play for 30-year-old miniature artist Yuktha Moukthik — the result of long hours of persistent hard work

(Yuktha Moukthik)

Chisel the chalk, that’s what she does to create endearing motifs from them.
The firm hands of 30-year-old Yuktha Moukthik move with precision on a piece of chalk. And guided by the deft movement of her fingers, the shapeless chalk transforms into a miniature angel, replete with detailed engravings.

Delicate work
A small slip-up or an innocent gesture of the hand is enough to destroy hours of her hard work. At the end of it all, she holds up the figure of the angel proudly before tucking it away safely in a thermocol box.
“Chalk figures are delicate and have to be stored carefully. Four years ago, I lost 34 art works because of a mistake. Carving a chalk requires a lot of patience, perseverance and soft hands. I think God has given me a gift,” she says, while showcasing her other works which include a miniature statue of Radha-Krishna, a village belle carrying a pot of water, a bride holding a garland, angels with extended wings, faces of gods and goddesses, etc.

Chance occurrence
There is no school where the art of carving miniature figures is taught.
“It happened all of a sudden. A few years ago, I was holding an idol of Lord Krishna and abruptly I felt I should carve it. I drew a two-dimensional figure. The next day, I carved ballet dancers on a chalk and that came well. Then, I started to chisel regularly,” she recalls.

Given the delicate nature of the art, Yuktha points out that one should not be bogged down by frequent failures and be disappointed.
“There are instances when I managed to finish the statue completely before losing it just for one small mistake. It also depends a lot on the quality of chalk,” she says.

While strangers might need a magnifying glass to appreciate the intricate designs in her miniature art work, Yuktha says that she does not need them while carving.
“I have become accustomed to using just a needle to carve the figurines on the chalk. I don’t even wear glasses or take help of magnifying lens to carve,” she points out.

(Report by M.Sai Gopal, Courtesy The Hindu)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Are We Forgetting Our Artists and More Stories


Are We Forgetting Our Artists-3

E.H.Pushkin- Someone Who Arrived but Forced to Leave 


E.H.Puskhkin- the name itself was quite exotic. Gallerists not even cared to ask for his bio-data. He was a super hit in 2006 and two years that followed. In 2009, some collectors tried to put his work back in the secondary market. There were not many takers for those works. “I thought he was a very young artist,” said one of the gallerists, who had tried to get Pushkin’s works during the boom days. When he hit the national art scene, Pushkin was already in his late forties. But the mad search of the gallerists for new names and ‘young’ artists from Kerala was so fast and furious that none cared to think much about the artist’s past or present. They liked the works because he was showcased in a few good curated shows and there were takers for his works.

The story of Pushkin starts in Trivandrum. He was one of the Radical Group artists who had done his Bachelors in painting from the fine arts college, Trivandrum. He took a Masters in Painting from the faculty of Fine Arts, M.S.University, Baroda. It was in mid 1980s. There was no art market then and Radical Group was fighting against a non-existing market. Disillusionment came so fast that by 1989 the Group activities were over. Artists who walked together under the Radical umbrella either went into existential silence or migrated to places that got them material comforts. Pushkin migrated to the Middle Eastern countries and stayed there for almost ten years. His love for ecology and environment made him an activist and as a volunteer he participated in many Animal Protection Conventions in Jordan and Canada. Even while pursuing a job abroad, Pushkin was painting. Back in Trivandrum in 1990s, Pushkin kept on painting and writing poetry. He showed his works in small solo shows in Trivandrum.

In 2006, when I curated ‘Compensation for What Has been Lost’, a group show at the Travancore Gallery, New Delhi, I included four canvases of Pushkin in it. Three works were sold on the first day itself. It was the arrival of Pushkin in the art market. In the same year, I included Pushkin in another landmark show titled ‘Paper Flute’ at Gallery Espace, New Delhi. The works were sold instantly. Everyone became a Pushkin fan. They all wanted Pushkin and Pushkin’s works. While staying in a guest house in New Delhi, Pushkin got a huge offer from none other than Amit Judge; the man who had changed the complexion and dynamics of Indian contemporary art market with his unique style of functioning. Renu Modi of Gallery Espace was also trying to rope in him as her artist. Finally, Pushkin decided to go with Gallery Espace. The canvassing was so strong that even some of the top rung artists came down to speak to Pushkin to join Bodhi.

Group shows and solo shows followed. In 2008, Gallery Espace presented Pushkin’s solo show. On the first day, the gallery’s website showed a sale of eighty per cent works from the show through red dots. Pushkin agreed to do more solo shows and group shows with other galleries both in India and abroad. Solo shows in Ishka Gallery, Kochi and later at Niv Art Centre, New Delhi did not make any movement in Pushkin’s career. The reason was simple; the projection of sales shown by Gallery Espace was false. It was a false move to create curiosity and interest. The moment it was known in the market, people started pushing his works back to the secondary market. Pushkin, for no fault of his was in pains. He made his efforts to continue with his shows till there were offers. Soon they too got dried up.

Pushkin belongs to the Expressionistic School. His canvases with their pastel effects are rich with the references of literature and films. Also he derives his energy from his own environment. He depicts certain narrative scenes in some of his canvases and in some others he tries to portray static images that would invoke philosophical thoughts amongst the onlookers. People liked his soothing expressionism. His canvases were not violent; nor were they showing any painful incidents. But the avarice of galleries and secondary market players brought down his career. They should have carefully nurtured this artist and showcased him differently. The context of Pushkin’s artistic formation was completely obfuscated and he was presented as a raw talent. Pushkin continues his artistic life silently in Trivandrum. But think of it; an artist who was brought to limelight in 2006 and dropped unceremoniously in 2008. What about his life and emotions?

A question remains: Had Pushkin gone with Bodhi instead of Espace, would things have been different today? The answer cannot be so positive because by 2010 Bodhi had brought its shutters down. Perhaps, good planning and futuristic vision by Gallery Espace could have saved Pushkin’s career. Even in Kochi-Muziris Biennale, there was a strong presence of the former Radical Group of artists. None cared to push Pushkin’s name even there. In India only a handful of galleries do lobbying with museums and curators. Rest of the galleries are here to make hey while sun shines. Gallery Espace could have lobbied to place Pushkin in the right shows even if his works had not evoked enthusiasm in 2008 solo show. Now can anybody take the responsibility of Pushkin’s career and life? Any hands raised out there?

(By JohnyML)


Three Views of Environmental Art

GallerySke of Bangalore presents a group show of works by three artists in their own fields. Titled, ‘3D View’ on display are the works of an artist, a photographer and an architect in this one of a kind show.

The participating artists are, Navin Thomas, Amritharaj Stephen and Karun Kumbera. The show displays a selection of installation works, photographs and architectural perspectives

Comparing the practices of the artist, photographer and the architect, this show tries to bring together works that examine human intervention and the effects of it on environment.

The show is aptly called 3 D because it offers a three dimensional view into the environment and the effects of urbanization and man made calamities which effect it.
Rapid progress and human ambition has caused the natural resources to be taken for granted and abused in an irreversible way.

The show attempts to spread an awareness about this destruction and its costs to the earth and the future generations.

The show is on view till the 5th of June 2013.

‘Visvarupa’ - Koeli Mukherjee Ghose’s World

Poecile Gallery for Fashion and Art, Hyderabad presents a show titled, ‘Visvarupa’ by artist Koeli Mukherjee Ghose. The show displays a variety of works by the artist in the form of photography and paintings.

In the show ‘Visvarupa’, Koeli makes use of bamboo quills specially designed by her to create exquisite and intricate figurative works. Indian ink being the primary ink for giving definitions to the compositions, she also uses water colours, and oils along with the inks to give it depth.

Koeli is a Hyderabad based artist and her works in the current show is based on the the female protagonist primarily and addresses issues related to the conflicts and contrasts of a woman’s existence in a social and a personal realm. Inherently feministic, these works attempt to look beyond a feministic approach to life and Koeli ensures the works speak in a language to anyone willing to engage with them. Figuration dissolves gently into abstraction and vice versa in her works.

The show is on view till the 2nd of June 2013.

Anupa Mehta’s Arts & Advisory Event

(Anupa Mehta)

In view of the art market situation and making an effort towards revival of it, Arts Consultant Anupa Mehta, of the Loft, Mumbai, plans to formally launch her venture,  ‘Anupa Mehta Arts & Advisory’ on the 1st of June 2013 at the Loft, Mumbai.

The endeavour will be launched along with a show displaying a selection of works of well known and emerging contemporary artists and crafts persons in India today, at the Loft.

The first display includes an eclectic mix of works in the form of paintings, sculptures and cradt by artists, Dhruvi Acharya, G Ravinder Reddy,  Jogen Chowdhury, Maimouna Gueressi, Satyanarayan Lal, Moti Lal, Nandan Karn and Valay Gada.

The show is to begin on the 1st of June 2013 and will be on view till the 15th of June 2013.

Relations and Reflections of Art

Icon Art Gallery, Hyderabad, presents a solo show of recent works by artist Shambhu Prasad Reddy. The show titled, ‘Relations and Reflections’, displays works rendered in the figurative style with hints of abstractions.

Shambhu attempts to capture the daily emotional interactions between people and society,  and the figures in the paintings are often overlapped and the compositions appear to be forming like a structure, stories within stories can be deciphered in his works.

Most of the works on display are acrylics on canvas and open to interpretations by the viewer, as he does not title them. The forming of figures and dissolution of figures in the pictorial surface speaks of the transitional phases of life itself and how fragile human beings are in reality.

Imagery in the paintings touch on controversial subjects of relations, gender preferences, social acceptance, exploitation of either of the sexes in society, the society as a reflection of the individual etc. Shambhu displays remarkable talent in his skill of depictions.

The show, ‘Relations and Reflections’ is on view till the 3rd of June 2013.

(News Reports by Sushma Sabnis)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Animesh Maity, Zones of Contact and More


Bonjour, Monsieur Animesh Maity

Animesh Maity’s engagement is characterised by his rather old fashioned idealism. Beingan environmental-artist, he foregrounds his concerns with forms and visuals, arousing sensibility through aesthetics, says Siddharth Sivakumar

(Work by Animesh Maity)

Nature occupies a significant place in AnimeshMaity’s life and work. From his childhood days he had a keen interest in Nature, which was further fuelled when he joined college as a student of Zoology. During this time the knowledge he gathered about Nature made him dread of its future. After the completion of his course, he shifted to Kala-Bhavana where he could artistically express his apprehension regarding the exploitation Nature.

 Animesh Maity’s engagement is characterised by his rather old fashioned idealism. Beingan environmental-artist, he foregrounds his concerns with forms and visuals, arousing sensibility through aesthetics.Yet owing to his unique persona, Animesh remains under-qualified to be the artist who knows well how to sell his concerns regarding environment. Animesh’s identity is deeply rooted to his environmental worries, and art becomes the means of self-expression.For his service to animals in and around Santiniketan, the district Forest Department has presented Animesh with tokens of appreciation, validating his ardent love for nature at large. However he doubts whether a substantial difference can be made by an artist’s refute of the modern materialistic mentality, which thrives by sacrificing environmental concerns. Therefore in his works, Animesh represents the ailing nature with great anxiety, trying to preserve its essence, primarily not to form public awareness but for personal solace. Nature in its tangible self, and in artistic representations remain personal to Animesh. Although Animesh’s idealism continues to be ineffective in the contemporary society, it invigorates his creative-work. In paintingswhere he paints the very uneasiness that troubles him, the lingering fears are manifested in fragmented images, while an unfamiliar darkness descends on the greenery, the eternal symbol of life. Animesh uses contrasting patterns, illusions, and occasionallygoes further dividingan image into adjoining frames to recreate his ruptured emotion.

Animesh often visits “Sonajhuri”, the patchyAcacia and Eucalyptus forest near Santiniketan. While sometimes his paintings reflect the eucalyptus forest as it is, there are times when they are stained by his fears; and rarely does he embrace the image of the eucalyptus with hope. In his works local villagers whose lives are linked with that of the forest, can be seen moving about it gathering twigs and fallen leaves. On the other hand, avaricious people are never depicted, but their presence is hinted in the destruction they cause.

Naturalism which began as a movementof theartistic proletariat had Gustav Courbet as its first master. Courbet saw the natural beauty and native culture of different regions as ideal models for a socialist reformin France. Animesh who has an affinity to Courbet’s egalitarianism, identifies himself with Courbet as they share similar ideology. Thus Animesh envisions Courbet in “Sonajhuri”, and says,"Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet".

In his painting Stage, his idealism is staged in a theatrical manner. The black pitch road that goes deep inside the canvas stands in contrast to the multi-coloured hot air balloonsthat fly high in the blue sky. On the road, with a pile of branches and twigs, a boy in yellow rides his donkey. His head is turnedback in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the balloons. If this road be the stage where man plays his part, then the slender trunks of the eucalyptus, are its wings. The road, and the wings, soaked in black,take the shape of a sporting podium. And each ‘stage’ of this podium takes man a step closer to depraved aspirations. In such a scenario the balloons turn out to be the metaphor of an acquisitive ideology. The road that gradually narrows down to the genesis of bloated selfishness, is a grim passage through darkness. The boy in yellow is not one of those who mercilessly destroys woods for selfish gains; his life is bind with those of the trees that provide him food, shelter and wood. Startled he gazes at the acquisitive commotion in air as he rides his donkey away from the genesis of greed and multi-coloured bloated dreams.

Animesh has always enjoyed painting on large sheets of paper with water colours. But since last year, he has begun working with other materials, such as iron plates, woods and glasses, which to his delight allow the works a palpable presence. 

One such work is Cityscape. The painting is crafted with a six feet large rusty saw fixed against thesky-blue coloured plywood. Beneath the giant blade, a thin strip of dark brown soil is visible. But interestingly over every other shade, the silver of the saw makes its presence felt. The metal-panorama glaring from within the black protuberant, is a sight that hushes other voices around. The message is obvious and marked by classic simplicity of presentation. While Cityscape takes after Animesh’s firm convictions, the clarity of his derisive work makes it a statement of contemporary relevance.


Zones of Contact at KNMA

 Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, KNMA, New Delhi, presents a show titled, ‘Zones of Contact : Propositions on the Museum’. The show displays works and ideas of 14 artists and the theme of the entire show is about viewing a museum space as a place of artistic exchanges and conversations.

KNMA tries to break the norms of looking at a museum space as merely a dumping ground of old art and artifacts and tries to energize it with the new blood of contemporary art  in various mediums and art performances along with various lectures and interactive sessions.

The current works in direct connect with each other are the works of artist Masooma Syed, which are three dimensional structures made out of cardboard, paper and found images, and artist Samit Das’ handmade books which incorporate actual pages from unique book editions.

Some of the other participating artists are Amar Kanwar, Arunkumar H. G., Chittaprosad, Naeem Mohaiemen, N. N. Rimzon, Rakhi Peswani, Ranbir Kaleka, Ravi Agarwal, Sheba Chhachhi, Sudhir Patwardhan, Sumedh Rajendran, Sunil Janah and Susanta Mandal

The show is curated by Akansha Rastogi, Deeksha Nath and Vidya Shivadas, and is on view till the 30th of September 2013.

Translating Life Into Art

 Nature Morte Gallery, Gurgaon presents works of a group of artists in a show titled ‘Life Into Art-Works By’. The show displays an array of paintings, sculptures, mixed media and new media works by new age contemporary artists of India and abroad.

The participating artists are Alexis Kersey, Chitra Ganesh, Design Temple, Haraprasad Tripathy,  Josh P S, Manisha Parekh, Tauseef Khan.

The eclectic mix of mediums and expressions, displays fibre glass sculptures and mixed media paintings along with collage works and oil paintings. The artists in this show have been featured in solo and group shows by the gallery earlier.

Some of the works are in the style of realism and some of the works border on themes of fantasy and surrealism. Digital prints and prints on fabric are also on display in the show.

The show is on view till the 1st of July 2013.

Graphically Indian

 Time can never fade the impact of a good leader on the people of a nation. That is the same impact Gandhiji has had and continues to have on people of India. Artist Ashok Mody, presents his graphic art as a remembrance to the Mahatma. The show titled, ‘Graphic Expressions’ commences on the 29th of May 2013 and will be on view till the 3rd of June 2013 at the Hirji Gallery at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai.

Ashok Mody takes inspirations from the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi and displays his tribute in graphic art. The works on display portray a distinct style of depiction using reductive shapes, streamlined contours and flattened planes of colours.

Ashok also draws inspirations from the generations of Indians gone by, the so called dhoti and turban clad people of pre-independent India, and monuments from that era. Ashok captures the essence of the Indian people and displays it through a unique vibrant graphic style.

Figuratively Speaking Art

Third Eye - Indian Art Gallery, Bangalore, presents a show of two upcoming artists, titled, ‘Figuratively Speaking’. As the title suggests the show is a collection of art works rendered in the style of figuration and abstract figuration.

The participating artists are Mini Arora and Revati Gangal. The works on display depict very varied approaches to the term figuration and each artist has portrayed her understanding and emotions through it.

Revati ‘s work is primarily in acrylic on canvas, vibrant, fine detailing and colour intensive. She portrays faces of young women in various situations and moments in her works.

Mini’s works display a moving away from the rigidity of strict figuration yet her abstracts in a very subtle way embody figuration. Mini’s canvases are thickly layered and the relief works and textures give the works a new dimension. The colours are vibrant and interspersed with muted tones and values.

The show is on view from the 1st of June 2013 to the 30th of June 2013.

(News Reports by Sushma Sabnis)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Auction House Lessons for Contemporary Artists


Auction Houses teach us a Few Lessons 

(A work by Manjit Bawa- Image for Representational Purpose only)

After the 19th March 2013 Amaya Collection Auction by Sotheby’s in New York, once again the auction house major is going to test the values of Indian Modern and Contemporary art with its 16th June 2013 auction in London. Going by the reports and looking at the cross section of the works of art which would go under hammer, one could make it sure that the Indian contemporary art has to wait for a few more years to earn respectability and profit in auction. Though the names likes Atul Bhalla, Abir Karmakar and Pablo Bartholomew have been popped up in the list, the Rs.9.44 Crore auction is pitching its focus on the moderns that once again include the works of M.F.Husain, Souza, Raza and Gaitonde. Hopes are invested in the works of Jogen Chowdhury and Manjit Bawa also.

What do such auctions and their result indicate? Vintage makes profit not the recent fads. Works of art that have been made, sold and bought during the euphoric days of market boom do not feature anywhere in these auctions. If the reports are to be believed, the successful Indian art auction house, Saffron Art makes two types of auctions; one the regular ones that emulate quality and quantity of the international auction houses and two, the absolute auctions. While the former has a base price for bidding, the latter has no such base prices. Anybody who offers an initial price of the works of art which come under hammer sets the tone of the absolute auctions. A work of art with an original market price of Rs.Two Lakhs could easily go for Rs.40,000/- (Forty Thousand) or less than that if the bidder makes a very mean move. While the moderns command a decent base price, the contemporaries are hawked out through the absolute auctions, once again making the potential buyers of the primary market lose their interest and trust in contemporary art.

It is not a rosy picture for contemporary art so far. The auctions by now have set a clear pattern: the artists who had been active till 1980s are adjudged as modern masters. The current pattern shows that the post-Independence Modernism of India starting with the Bombay Progressives is yet to be monetized. Many people have bought the works of the Progressives and also the artists who were functioning from different parts of India at that time. All these works have to be now brought into the market through auctions. The auction houses will cleverly go by decades. The introduction of Jogen Chowdhury and Manjit Bawa shows that now the auction houses are focusing on 1970s and 1980s. Good thing is that those artists who have been pushed into oblivion might get recognition as Gaitonde or Tyeb Mehta got their due through these auctions and the bad things is the artists of 1990s to now will have to wait another twenty five years to get their prices. The days of making instant money have become a thing of past.

In a way, these auction houses do a good service to the art scene in the future economies like India. The auction results that majorly focus on the Moderns and the following periods step by step will stabilize the primary market for the contemporary art. Though there will not be any blind buying, those futurist buyers and collectors would come back to the primary market to collect contemporary art for fairer and logical prices. None would pay a ridiculous Rs.24 Lakhs for a five by five canvas while its actual price could be and should be somewhere around Rs.5 lakhs, if one thinks in terms of investment and profit using the logic of banking. The new reality would put the contemporary artists in a tight spot. They need to work hard and should be satisfied with realistic prices. It is applicable to the gallerists and middlemen too.

I am happy that these auction houses fill in us with a sense of reality. Each auction result should hammer sense right into the heads of all those players in the art market, including the artists and gallerists. Last winter and the ongoing summer have been quite terrible for art players as the funds have been considerably dried up with the absolute absence of buyers from the market. The auction results, I hope, will bring right thinking buyers to the primary market who would offer (and would be offered) logical prices to the works that they would like to collect. I am sure that those collectors with a plan for the coming twenty five years only would make some profit out of their collection of contemporary art. This is a challenge for all. My words on art have never gone wrong.



The Cusp of Culture Change

Kynkyny Art Gallery, Bangalore presents a solo show of recent works by artist Elayaraja. The show titled, ‘On the Cusp’ is a series of oil on canvas paintings, rendered in a realistic style and captures the essence of rural life which is fast fading.

Elayaraja, a Tamil Nadu based artist with a Masters degree in painting from the Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai, works in various mediums, oil on canvas being his stronghold.

Taking inspirations from great masters like Raja Ravi Varma, Elayaraja tries to capture the essence of Indian-ness and rural life in his works. Essentially painted in the realistic style of figuration, he builds the visual with sensitive light and shade play in the image and the protagonists, mainly women, seem to blend in the composition yet appear distinct and appealing.

Elayaraja’s show, ‘On The Cusp’ is about his concerns for the slow degradation and diminishing of culture and tradition which was rich and vibrant especially in rural India, by the onslaught of rapid urbanization.

The show is on view from the 30th of May 2013, to the 17th of May 2013.

United with a Difference

Galerie Max Mueller, of the Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai, presents a unique show titled, ‘United Machines and A Collar System’ by two artists with a disparate background of professional, social and every other aspects between their lives. The show is a unified yet individually incompatible array of artistic expression.

The participating artists are Jens Ulrich a German artist in residence in India, and artist Davinder  Singh Sokhi, originally from Punjab, but settled in Mumbai for decades. Jens on his research in the gullies of Mumbai came across specific hand- painted signboard cutouts in the business district of Mumbai, which mostly were of machines and machine parts. The sign boards done by Davinder, were rendered in a matter of fact unostentatious way and with precision.

Jens himself has adapted to the way of dressing ever since his stay in India and he creates his own clothes out of fabric and paper cutouts. In this show, painted metal cutouts of machines, made by Davinder are juxtaposed with the paper and fabric cutouts of Jen’s clothes designs to portray two very varied aspects of culture and their possible similarity. Though the similarity may only arise in the liking of materials, thin oil paint on metal and casein paint on fabric, by the artists.

The show attempts to essentially comprehend the nature and beginnings of their exchange to fully understand the scope of this exhibition, socially and aesthetically.

The show is on view from the 30th of May 2013 to the 18th of June 2013.

Revisiting Kalighat Art

Arts Of The Earth gallery, New Delhi, hosts a show of traditional paintings, of the Kalighat style. The show titled,’ Kalighat - II’ presents works from the patua artists of Bengal and the Kalighat paintings on display are a reminder of this beautiful and simplistic art form.

The golden age of the Kalighat paintings stretches from the mid 19th century to the 1920s, when it flourished.The painters of this art were found in specially set up bazaar like places around the areas of the Kalighat temple  from where they get their name and anyone could find the works for purchase easily.

The charm of the Kalighat paintings lies in the fact that they captured the essence of daily life and they influence modern artists like the late Jamini Roy in his works.

This show is an attempt to revive those moments of fame of the diminishing art form and perhaps encourage people to buy and learn it from the masters of this art. This show exhibits some rare and never seen pieces of that period on display.

The show is on view till the 24th of June 2013.

Moving Ahead with Abstraction

Jamaat Art Gallery, Mumbai, presents a solo show of recent works by artist Krishna Pulkundwar.  Th show titled, ‘ Moving Ahead’ is Krishna’s progression in his abstract language and art practice from his earlier series.

The development of an artist’s oeuvre is amply visible in Krishna’s new work. He has chosen to display his recent works which derive inspirations from his childhood and his movement in life from a rural to an urban scenario. Krishna has been a landscape painter, and his earlier work saw glimpses of nature related abstractions. This series however, displays distinct understanding of the surrounding changes, and visuals of a daily commuter in a city. Buildings, windows, doors, interspersed with memories of childhood gulmohar trees, rays of sun light in the homes, all of these things act as muses to this artist.

His recent works, dominated by the use of bold colours, and definitive, confident textural nuances, and inimitable relief work on the canvases, announce the arrival of the new age, dynamic abstractionist.

The show is one view till the 30th of May 2013.

(News Reports by Sushma Sabnis)