Friday, June 21, 2013

Are we forgetting our artists series, Reena Kallat, Chatak and more


Are We Forgetting our Young Artists ? - 5

Martyrs of Insignificant Lives: Pradeep L Mishra
(Artist Pradeep Mishra)
In his ‘two-room’ flat at Borivili, Mumbai, Pradeep Mishra moved like an agile athlete who practiced steeple chase. The space was cramped with frames, rolled up canvases, stretched canvases emanating their crimson glory, books and clothes. He was unapologetic about the untidiness of the place. His parents had come visiting him from the village. His sister was staying with him and was working in a reputed gallery as an executive. Right in the middle of the front room there was a huge fish tank with fishes moving in lethargy. They looked visibly ill. He took them out one by one, while talking to me, applied some ointment on their quivering bodies and released them back to their watery abode. They were suffering from a strange skin disease and he was taking care of them for a long time. I looked around. His canvases did not show any image from aqua life. But they were infested with the iconic images of buffaloes, goats and other domestic animals. Pradeep’s works were noticed during the boom years for their stark representation of animal life, interestingly and curiously without any background reference to an urban locality where he studied and lived.
(a painting by Pradeep Mishra)

Why these animals? I had asked. Then Pradeep told me a story: There was a flood in Mumbai in 2004-05. He had just finished his Bachelors and Masters in painting from Sir J.J.School of Art, Mumbai and had made up his mind to live in Mumbai. Borivili was the heaven of artists as the locality provided comparatively cheap accommodation and all what an urban neighbourhood could offer. Besides, most of the J.J.School alumni had migrated to this suburban fringe. Gallerists, buyers and collectors had started making their pilgrimage to Borivili. For Pradeep it was a right choice to make. Then came the flood. People escaped to safety taking valuables along with them. But they had left their live stock in harness at the stables thinking that once the water receded they could come back and reclaim their animals. Flood water did recede to the thirsty innards of earth through broken gutters leaving puddles and slush on the surface. But something horrible had happened by then. The harnessed animals, as they could not break the ropes and chains died a terrible watery death. Their bloated bodies floated around for many days filling the lungs of people with the putrid stench. The bulging dead eyes of the cattle haunted people for a long time.
(an installation by Pradeep Mishra)

Those eyes followed Pradeep in waking hours and sleep alike. They were asking for justice. Life had come back to the normal tracks. Local trains had started plying again. In Mumbai, they said when local trains ran life became normal, or at least it appeared so. But for a sensitive young artist like Pradeep life was never same again. His canvases became justice seeking places for those dead animals and for all those animals living only to face an untimely death. Didn’t those images slowly take the shape of a strong metaphor; a metaphor of human avarice, apathy and at the same time a metaphor of their own lives, harnessed by fate and forced to death by a calamity called survival. There were not many to mourn the deaths of the cattle. So had/s been the case of the human beings who walked into their deaths and forgotten unceremoniously. Pradeep’s art could not have been anything else than making them the unsung martyrs of our times. The dominant background of red in Pradeep’s paintings keeps reminding us about the death of the insignificant; but how significant they are for an artist or a sensitive human being!
(a painting by Pradeep Mishra)

When you drive along the roads of Bangalore, in one of the posh glass buildings that boast the city’s prosperity as an IT hub, you may come across a huge painting by Pradeep Mishra; the image is undoubtedly that of a buffalo against a deep red background, silently watching the life flowing outside like a muted spectacle. The collectors perhaps collected his art for its iconic starkness and innocent contrast. An urban creature could only imagine a cow in processed milk packets or innumerable milk products that come in glossy packets. Cows and buffaloes have hidden behind the cute Amul girl’s cartoonish image exactly the way once we had forgotten the problems of flying by Air India by looking at the polite bend of a moustached Maharaja. Or else cows could appear as a animated characters in a 3D movie or wouldn’t they be quite appealing when heard as mooing coming out of synthetic speakers inside the cool tube trains in Switzerland. On Indian roads cattle is an anachronistic obstacle, a possible target of vengeance only to be averted by religious fear.
(a painting by Pradeep Mishra)

Pradeep Mishra went on painting them, the live stock. His attention slowly turned to crows and other insignificant birds that are fast disappearing from the urban skies. He focused on small little plants, sprouts, saplings and other minute life forms of earth. He was sought after by many galleries. Collectors wanted to get a Pradeep Mishra painting. When Pradeep attended a Khoj Workshop in Delhi he made an installation by literally turning a room into an agricultural field. A soft spoken Pradeep even today does not explain his works in flowery terms. But when he speaks of the animals and birds, death and life, struggles and survival drama of the urban poor, there is a particular intensity in his voice.
(a painting by Pradeep Mishra)
These days Pradeep Mishra is not seen in too many exhibitions. Though he was internationally presented in art fairs and shows, not many galleries present him in a focused way today. Interestingly Pradeep’s clones have taken his space. Anybody who makes a red background and then paints a ‘photorealistic’ animal on it, becomes a ‘potential’ artist. And in the process Pradeep has been pushed to the backbench. Is he worried about the non-presence? I do not think so. An artist who could take his fishes one by one and apply ointment on their skin would not have changed his life view and philosophy by the skin show of the boom years. I am sure Pradeep would be re-assessed in the coming years.
My visit to Pradeep’s studio was in 2005. Since then I have been watching this artist’s career. During the boom years he had become a bit aloof, just like many other artists who became foolishly aloof from critics. But I have full faith in an artist like Pradeep Mishra.



Rendezvous with Reena Kallat

(an installation by Reena Kallat)
The Asia Society, along with support from Christie’s, has has organised a special walk through artist Reena Kallat’s studio in Mumbai on the 29th of June 2013 from 11 am to 2 pm.

The walk through is a part of the ‘Rendezvous with the Artist’ series of the Asia Society, in which several other well known Indian artists like, Shilpa Gupta, Atul Dodiya, Sudarshan Shetty have been featured.

The idea behind this series is to bridge the gap between art lovers and the leading artists of the country, in the privacy of their own studio space. The walk through serves as a means to learn about the art practices of the artist, processes, inspirations and the current projects. 

Reena will conduct a presentation about 20 years of the development of her art and art practices, motivations and how her studio metamorphoses according to her art practice requirements into laboratories for ideation.

The tickets for the walk through are limited in number and available at the Asia Society or email at

Haiku in three different languages

(a painting by G Subramanian)
Kynkyny Art Gallery, Bangalore, presents a group show featuring the works of  three leading artists of the country in a show titled, ‘Haiku’. The three artists in this show are, Dhrubajyoti Baral, G Subramanian, and Karma Tenrab.

The works on display depict three unique approaches to identity and consciousness, with respect to our history and cultural past to human interrelationships and to our own selves.

The personal and the social and the metamorphosis is what the show dwells upon in three distinct narrative styles of each of the eminent artists.

Tying together with a single thread of art, the mind body and spirit, this show explores the human as an individual and as a collective consciousness.

The show previews on 22nd of June 2013 at 7:00 pm, and is on view from the 24th of June to the 15th of July 2013.

Nvya Gallery Annual Show
(a painting by Sukka Sunder)
Nvya Art Gallery, New Delhi, presents a group show of  works of upcoming and established artists from the country, titled, ‘Within Reach IV’. This is the gallery’s annual summer show and displays an eclectic mix of works by artists with a variety of styles and at affordable prices.

The participating artists are, Ajay K Chowdhary, Anil Soni, Apet Pramod, Arpana Caur, Bhuwal Prasad, Bratin Khan, C D Mistry, Chander Shekhar Morkonda, Debashish Dutta, Jogen Chowdhury, K Laxma Goud, Ketut Soki, Khushboo Upadhyay, Krishna Trivedi, Kumaraswamy B, Lal Bahadur Singh,M F Husain, Om Swami, Pratap SJB Rana, Puja Bahri, Rahim Mirza, Rahul Mukherjee, Rajeshwar Nyayapalli, Ramesh Gorjala, Ranjit Singh, Riaz Samadhan, Sangeeta Singh, Santosh Verma, Saraswathi L, Saumya Banerjee, Shivaramachary Y, Suchit Sahni, Sudhir Bhagat, Sukka Sunder, Tathi Premchand, U S Pathak, Vijit Pillari, Vikash Kalra,Vinita Dasgupta, Vinita Karim, Viren Tanwar, Vivan Sundaram.

The show is on view till the 27th of July 2013.

Chatak - Monsoon Show Returns

(Nehru Centre Gallery)
Nehru Centre Art Gallery, Mumbai presents its annual monsoon show, Chatak 2013. This show is held every year with special aim and focus on student art works. This year, Chatak brings art works of students from several art colleges in the country in a mammoth monsoon show.
The show previews on 27th of June 2013 at 5 :00 pm , and is open for public view from the 28th June 2013 at both the A C and Circular Gallery spaces.

The participating student artists are, Sanjay Dhakulkar, Isha Bawiskar, Ketaki Sarpotdar, Asitya Puthur, Swapnil Mhapankar, Sachin Ambre, Rahul Ranade, Gayatri Bhutada, Shailaja Shitole, Asif Sheikh, Dinesh Chaudhari, Vinay Mhatre, Ravindra Patil, Prashant Awaghade, Ravi Waybhat, Amit Thorat, Swarup Jagtap, Bhushan Bhombale, Navanath Mulay, Amol takle, Prajakta Dhawale.

The show will be on view till the 4th of July 2013.

(News reports by Sushma Sabnis)

No comments:

Post a Comment