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)

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