Thursday, August 8, 2013

Featuring Ustad Mansur's Miniatures, Disappearances of Soad Hosni and more..


FICA 2011-Winners’ solos at Vadehra

(Works from the show)
Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi presents solo shows of the artists who were the recipients of the Foundation of Indian contemporary Art (FICA) Emerging Artists Award-2011, artists Charmi Gada Shah and Sujith SN. 

Charmi Gada Shah’s show is titled ‘Neighbourhood Souvenirs’ and include the artist’s penchant for creating miniature 3D assemblages of broken down buildings and demolished structures from her neighbourhood areas, using the debris or the left over materials after the demolition of the structure. Her aim is to preserve a smidgen of the structures’ pasts in those miniatures and try to capture the essence and the loss of memory of a thing which was of significance at some point.

Sujith S N’s solo show titled, ‘Psalms of an Invisible River’ are a series of water colour works on paper in large scale formats. The artist engages the view with his diffusing colour washes and deep observation and depiction of an urban rigmarole. The invisible river he refers to is a metaphor for the environmental decline one sees happening to water bodies in cities dwarfed by concrete jungles, and also refers to the streams of people who move like tributaries in a city through the day.

The show previews on 17th of August 2013 and is on view till the 12th of September 2013.

The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni

Khoj International Artists’ Association in collaboration with Sharjah Art Foundation presents the Indian premiere of ‘The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni’, a film by Rania Stephan. The film was awarded a Sharjah Biennial Prize in 2011.
‘The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni’ is an attempt to tell the story of Soad Hosni, one of Egypt’s most famous film stars who starred in eighty-two feature films between 1959 and 1991. From the age of 19 to 49, she plays in 82 feature films directed by 37 directors. 
Using the technique of filmic montage, Rania Stephan creates a moving portrait of the iconic actress, in which the rumours surrounding her life and death are translated through her image as a projection of the Arab imagination and its evolution over thirty years. The entire film is made from images and sound taken from Hosni’s films. 
‘The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni’ is on view at Khoj Studios, till the 18th of August 2013.  

Flavour Chart
(A work at the show)
Gallery Maskara, Mumbai presents the debut solo show of artist Meenakshi Sengupta, titled ‘Flavour Chart’.

Meenakshi  aligns a multitude of of familiar motifs, visuals and themes from both the Indian and Western pictorial traditions in her intricately composed works. She readdresses these motifs using the backdrop of contemporary issues, creating an irony about the high art and mass culture and questions it.

The hybrid nature of her works urges the viewer to question the existence of tradition/ modernity and Indian / Western dichotomy in the context of the world today. She also questions the concepts of art being regarded as the mirror of a state of cultural purity and its discursive quality shaped by history.

The show previews on the 8th of August 2013 at 6:30 - 9:30 pm and is on view from the 9th of August to the 28th of September 2013.

Forms : River and Earth show
(One of the photographs at the show)
DakshinaChitra Art Gallery, Chennai, presents a photography show by G S Bhavani. Bangalore based Bhavani is a post graduate in Painting from the Karnataka Chitra Kala Parishat, Bangalore.

The works on display have been a series she has been exploring for a while now on the theme of ‘water’. Titled, 'Forms: River And Earth' highlights urbanization and the deteriorating water levels  all over the country, especially in Karnataka where Cauvery flows and where the artist hails from. 

Besides her photography works, her videos titled ‘Journey with the river Cauvery - embedded water’ and ‘Avalahalli Kere’ are also being screened. 
The show is on view till the 18th of August 2013.

(News reports by Sushma Sabnis)


A riot of shapes and colours
A collection of Ustad Mansur’s natural history paintings is an invaluable addition to our knowledge of the miniaturist’s art.
The Emperor Babur, founder of the Mughal dynasty was, by any standards, an extraordinary man. An outstanding military strategist and statesman he was also a poet and memoirist, a calligrapher and naturalist. Jahangir inherited his powers of observation and his passion for flora and fauna. He kept a large menagerie and an aviary and nothing pleased him more than adding to them with gifts from his courtiers and neighbouring rulers. His approach was both aesthetic and scientific. Specimens were often dissected to examine their innards, while his artists were commissioned to depict rare birds, animals and flowering plants in the minutest detail.
(Wonders Of Nature: Ustad Mansur at the Mughal Court; Asok Kumar Das, Marg Publications)
Among them, the foremost was Mansur whose talents so impressed the Emperor that he honoured him with the title ‘Nadir ul-Asr’, the Wonder of the Age. His name first appears as ‘Naqqash’, calligrapher or designer and decorator of book covers and margins. Later he assisted his seniors in splendid collaborative paintings illustrating historical episodes from the Baburnama and Akbarnama, and soon he started to work independently, distinguishing himself as a natural history painter.
Mansur’s best-known animal studies are those of the blackbuck and nilgai, favoured targets of the royal hunt, though he personally preferred smaller creatures: a saltwater fish or a chameleon clutching a curving branch, its body taut with concentration. ‘Every pore, wrinkle, and toenail is recorded’ and its predatory nature is brought out in its stance as it prepares to pounce on a butterfly.
‘Squirrels in a Chinar Tree’ is a rarity in Mughal painting, a composite showing different species of flora and fauna together in an idyllic scene. Everything in this superb picture is three-dimensional, alive: the magnificent tree with autumn-tinted, star-shaped leaves, branching out to fill the top of the page; the hunter climbing upwards; lovable squirrels frolicking in the foliage; and deer browsing in the shade. Mansur’s genius for detail is particularly evident in the birds. No larger than two centimetres in the original painting, six different species have been clearly distinguished. Undoubtedly ‘Squirrels…’ is the greatest natural history miniature from Jahangir’s atelier.
The peacock appears frequently in Mughal painting, as do mynas and pigeons. Mansur painted falcons and hawks, vultures and cranes and even imaginary birds in a riot of fantastic shapes and colours. The Emperor was much taken by the strange appearance of the turkey-cock and the way it spread its tail feathers and changed colour ‘like a chameleon’ during its mating dance. He ordered Mansur to paint its likeness for inclusion in his memoirs, resulting in one of the artist’s most admired works.
The same delicate brushwork distinguishes the study of the Siberian Crane, which came as a revelation to Abanindranath Tagore three centuries later. He felt as if the live bird was in front of him, its wrinkled leg-skin and the tiny feathers sticking to its claws so minutely depicted that they were visible only through a magnifying glass. He was speechless, dizzy, he said, and so inspired that he stopped using oil paint on canvas and turned to gouache on paper, the traditional medium, starting a wave of revivalism in Indian art.
Jahangir’s passion for flora found expression in odd, sometimes comical, ways. Seeing red and pink oleanders in full bloom while on the march, he commanded his soldiers and cavalry men to wear bunches on their heads, thus producing ‘a wonderful moving flower bed’. On a visit to Kashmir, Mansur painted more than a hundred species, but sadly only five are left. The cover picture of the blue iris and a painting of the red tulip show the magic touch of the master. Both are composed with utmost care. The positioning of the blossoms and buds, the graceful swaying stems, and the satiny texture of the tulip leaves are outstanding examples in their genre.
In his Preface the author tells us how he pursued Mansur’s paintings with single-minded devotion for half a century, tracking them down in museums and private collections dispersed worldwide, relying on hearsay and inputs from friends and fellow scholars, and persisting through setbacks and delays.
Dr. Das’s commitment and erudition are as admirable as his meticulousness. Each species of bird, animal, or flower has been identified by experts such as Harkirat Sangha, Dr. Salim Ali, and our famous lion-cheetah man Divyabhanusinh. With superb illustrations adorning almost every page, Wonders… is a visual delight, and an invaluable addition to our knowledge of the miniaturist’s art.
(Report by Zerin Anklesaria for the Hindu)

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