Saturday, June 1, 2013

Editorial, Nyela Saeed, Kynkyny Workshops and more


A Means Against Forgetting
Today the Art Daily completes one month. When we go into the second month, I feel the urgency to review TAD’s relevance in our contemporary art scene. On 1st May, when TAD went online most of the people in our art scene approached it with a sense of scepticism. Not too many things were happening in the art scene due to the ongoing economic recession in the art market. In such a scenario what could be the relevance of an online platform that informs people of the art events; the doubt lingered on. But soon the readers realized that relevance of such a publication is a self generated phenomenon. It depends on the focus of the daily updates. TAD has been successful because of its focus; it updates art events, shares news and links and above all it debates some vital issues pertaining to our art scene.
Recognition is one thing that any young artist craves for. Perhaps, the established artists do not care much about critical recognition. But for a young artist, when a critic writes about his or her works, whether it leans towards scathing criticism or unbridled praising, it comes as a boon. His/her works are suddenly noticed; some sort of familiarity is created. As it is an online platform, whatever is posted here remains and whoever searches for information regarding a particular artist the TAD writings come up. This becomes a primary research material for many. As far as the writers are concerned most often they complain that there are not enough publications to present their writings. But I have complete faith in online platforms. If you are a writer and want to share the ideas, and above all if you are passionate about your practice, in our times you need not wait for a print magazine. As an editor I am happy that a few new writers are emerging through TAD.
The relevance of TAD has to be assessed in comparison with other art journals in print also. We have Art India Magazine, Art and Deal and Take on Art as prominent ones. The periodicity of both Art India Magazine and Take on Art has gone out of sync ever since the market took a downward slide. Art and Deal is the only magazine that sticks to its periodicity. And I am happy that Art and Deal finds TAD’s editorial content important and invites contributions from our writers. Such collaborations in art criticism and writing would make a healthy scenario and I am sure more writers would come forward to write for TAD and other magazines including Art and Deal.
As the editor of TAD I believe in bold criticism. The series that I write here, ‘Are We Forgetting Our Young Artists?’ is with a particular intention. While it does not intend to create a sympathy wave for the artists, it does aim at making the galleries responsible towards their artists. It demands a restructuring of their promotional plans.
In many ways, TAD is like a registration of memories of art and its times. Forgetting kills things. TAD is a proud fight against forgetting and I am sure about victory. 



Confessions of a Prayer Mat -  Nyela Saeed

Be it a comforter, a blanket, a desperate prayer or the church bells ringing, the figurative and video works of artist Nyela Saeed all call out in unison to a higher force, a force of creative cognisance, where the lines between the corporeal and the ethereal blur and form a union in poetic abstraction, says Sushma Sabnis.

Mumbai based artist Nyela Saeed’s works are steeped in strong and poignant visuals. This J J School graduate displays a keen sense of understanding of that which is material and that which is spiritual. Here the spiritual is akin to the spirit of the artist unlike the term used loosely in reference to religious affiliations. Nyela is affected by the contradictions faced by an individual in societal systems, religion, politics, gender and how in turn it effects the internal dichotomies of the living. The artist looks at her own body as a repository of such contradictions over time and the incessant conditionings which shape every facet of life. 

As a breaking free of these contradictions, she uses her own body as an expression, as a tool and as a medium. Breaching the lines between the artist and the art work, Nyela performs on the canvas or in her case, prayer mats, in actions and acts which question and seek the  answers of bodily desires that are subjected to strict doctrines of society, etiquette and social behaviour. The range of rational acts, which eventually metamorphose into social and cultural commitments is what she tries to unearth through her performance on these prayer mats.

(The work 'Security Blanket' by Nyela Saeed)

Titled ‘Security Blanket’ the series is rendered on a velvet mat and acrylic on canvas, the artist herself dips into paint and performs on the mat. The forms that are left behind on the mat are like prayers left at the door steps of heaven, awaiting validation and attention. Each mat has a different kind of form that emerges from it after every performance, emulating the movements and leaving memories in the mat as if it were an object akin to a sponge which absorbs the essence of the performer and internalizes it, or like a viewer.

When the viewer sees these odd shaped almost erotically suggestive forms, one is left with an anticipation of the possible performed act, at once bringing a future and a past into the present, thus blurring the essence of time itself.

(A still from the video 'Confessions')

Nyela also works in various other mediums like video art and poetry. Her video works and performances titled, ‘Le Printemps’ and ‘Confessions’, have her enacting and recording her own self with voiceovers and poetry along with the visuals. Le Printemps is about the spring, and birth of new life in a possibly cold climate and on rock surfaces, how life flourishes. The artist touches leaves and plants, in a way that she probably is trying to recollect a lost memory, she picks up old leaves and dead flora as a metaphor for the time passed by. The video ‘Confessions’ is shot inside a church/ chapel, and is a quiet one sided conversation between the artist and the society imposed higher power, God. She ‘affirms’ to not believing in the concept of God or religion or sin or heaven or hell. She affirms her own mortal, human and fragile existence and asks the ‘God’ to let her go from the very concept of belief. Nyela, ironically calls the video work, ‘Confessions’ 

Having participated in several group shows and solo shows, and with several residency programs in the country and abroad, Nyela Saeed promises to be far from the ‘escapist’ she calls herself in the video. This artist has an artistic language which addresses the contrasts and conflicts of faith and lack of it, the burden of faith and freedom from it with a voice completely her own, human and audible enough for a long time to come.

Nyela Saeed lives and works in Mumbai.


Artful Thinking Workshop at Kynkyny

Kynkyny Art Gallery, Bangalore presents three unique workshops this summer focused on demystifying Indian contemporary art and contextualising it to everyday experience. The ‘Artful Thinking’ workshops have been specially designed by art curator and art consultant, Lina Vincent Sunish and also will be conducted by her, with the aim to question, explore and understand contemporary art.

The sessions are as follows:

1: ‘The Visual World and Our Responses’  to be held on the 8th of June 2013  from 11am to 12 30 pm, dealing with the aesthetics and art we come across in everyday lives, how visual symbols form a necessary mode of communication and information.

2: ‘Understanding Mediums’ to be held on 15th of June from 11 am to 12 30 pm, offers a glimpse into the tools of art making. Painting, sculpture, and printmaking and the diversifications from there on to experimental mediums and contemporary and public art.

3: ‘The Artist’ Process’ to be held on 22nd june 2013, from 11 am to 12 30 pm, is the final session which focuses on specific art making processes and traces the path of a concept to the stage of its display at a gallery. This session has documentaries on artists’ art practices and discussion rounds.

The workshop size is limited to ten participants and for any further details contact by the email id : or call on +91 80 4092 6202.

Switzerland of India at 1Shanthi Road

Photographer Christine Rogers has been living in India for the past seven months on a Fullbright Scholarship. Her visits to Northern parts of the country, from Darjeeling to Dalhousie and all the places in between have given rise to a body of work which is a unique perspective of an outsider’s view of the insiders.

She tells a story of love, separation, marriages, honeymoons, Bollywood industry, mountains, travel, landslides, magic, snow and forest fires at the threshold of the Indian tourism industry. Her perspectives are vary from the locals or the middle class Indian’s view of their own country’s simplistic beauty.

Christine Rogers is an artist from Nashville, Tennessee. She received her BA in Anthropology from Oberlin College in 2004 and my MFA in Studio Art from Tufts University in 2008.  Her show at 1.Shanhti Road,  will be the first show in India.

The works will be on view from the 1st of June 2013 to the 5th of June 2013 in the show titled, ‘The Switzerland of India’ at 1 Shanthi Road Gallery, Bangalore.

Pundole as Sovereign in Dubai

(Dadiba Pundole of  Pundole/ Sovereign at Dubai)

Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai is to inaugurate their newly acquired gallery space in Dubai, the Sovereign. The decision to branch out was a curatorial one, by the owner of the gallery, Dadiba Pundole. Set up by his father, Kali Pundole, the gallery has been a pivotal platform for young and upcoming Indian artists, in an era when Indian art was still in its nascent stages in the global art scene. Pundole  Art Gallery was associated with the Progressive Artists Group (PAG) set up by artist F N Souza in 1947 and later dissolved in 1956. 

Reviving memories from this relatively short era of absolute creativity seen in the Indian art scene, the launch of the Sovereign, Dubai will see the presentation of a show of art works of some of the well known names from the Progressive Artists Group and the show will work as a tribute to the masters who put Indian art on the global map.

(M F Hussain's 'Horses' at the show at Sovereign)

The exhibition will see six works from well known masters like S H Raza, M F Hussain, V S Gaitonde, Ram Kumar, Tyeb Mehta, Akbar Padamsee. The decision to keep the display to a limited six pieces was entirely made by the curator, Dadiba Pundole, with the sole intent of drawing the serious interest of the art viewers and the art collectors alike in the UAE. The works have been priced between $3,50,000 to $2.7 million, and the numbers are merely  a small price to pay for the artistic excellence of these masters of Indian contemporary art.

Sovereign art gallery also plans to build bridges with the middle east and introduce Indian art to the UAE, along with showcasing their artists in India. With a positive outlook on a more globally sensitive note, Pundole art gallery once again acts as a catalyst and promoter of Indian art in India and abroad.

The show ‘ Pioneers of Indian Modernism’ will be on view till the 30th of June 2013.

(news reports by Sushma Sabnis)

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