Tuesday, September 3, 2013

EDITORIAL - The Importance of Having / Being a Complicated Title, and more..

The Importance of Having/Being a Complicated Title
May be in this editorial I want to talk about the titles of art exhibitions that I have seen recently. Titles are integral part of any exhibition. They set the tone and theme of the exhibits. Sometimes the titles intrigue a potential viewer with their deliberate coinage of words and phrases. These titles double up as advertisements in themselves. They are like the photograph of a semi-clad woman published on the cover page of a magazine but upside down. Human beings are such creatures destined to walk with heads up and legs down. So tilting the head is the only way to get the picture right. Too much of head tilting causes pain in the neck. So we buy the magazine only for rotating the cover page in the right direction. Titles of the shows do the same; lured by the title, you end up in visiting the galleries.
My friend, Ashna Singh is famous for her shows as well as for her shifting gallery spaces and changing names of the same. At Lado Sarai, her gallery is called Studio Art and she says this is for final. No change further. Her office room is tastefully done so is her gallery space. The show is titled, ‘August Auriga’. You understand August but you don’t understand Auriga. The wall text written by another friend, Manoj Nair, says, August is the decisive month that has brought changes in the universal calendrical months. Auriga is a constellation that stands for ‘the charioteer’. “The August Auriga’ is an illustration of the conceptual premise in which we see the ‘where from’ and ‘where now’ of the six contemporary Indian artists- from the Auriga in August to the Auriga much later,” says Manoj. Gaugin comes to mind and goes out just like that.
(Icarus - Yet Another Attempt, by Gigi Scaria)
The artists are Sumedh Rajendran, Riyas Komu, G.R.Iranna, Manjunath Kamath, Baiju Parthan and Chintan Upadhyay. They have done their best in their own respective styles. But I sense a cynical sub-text, which could be quite unintentional in the wall text. Auriga is brightest in August so are these artists. According to the conceptual premise, it shows where do they come from and where are they now? But once August goes and September comes, what could be the level of brightness of these stars? Does the wall text mean that? I feel these are the unintentional traps that intriguing titles provide.
(An Actor rehearsing the Interior Monologue of Icarus by Surendran Nair)
Rasika Kajaria’s Exhibit 320 has ‘The Possibility of Being’, curated by Rahul Bhattacharya. I ask you to keep looking at the title for some time; or read it aloud a few times. You suddenly understand that nothing comes out of it. I try to remember Sartre’s ‘Being and Nothingness’, Oscar Wild’s ‘Importance of Being Ernest’, Kundera’s ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ and Damien Hirst’s ‘The Impossibility of Death in the Mind of someone Living’. But possibility of being sounds a stretched premise to me. I could understand the ‘possibility of becoming’. ‘Being’ as a philosophical stage itself is an outcome of a possibility and one can push it to ‘become’ something else. Hence, I stand confused in front of the title and the works of art. I remember Muktinath Mondal’s work from this show and think his earlier series was a bit more powerful than the present one.
(Let It Be by Manjunath Kamath)
At Bhavna Kakar’s ‘Latitude 28’ (I wonder why other galleries in Lado Sarai don’t have numbers attached to them. They also have the ‘possibility of being’ Krishna 227, Artoholics 96, Art Konsult 365, Gallery Alternative 007, Art Motif 9871107007, VAT 12% etc), I see ‘Diver Cities’. This is a verbal pun as it could be read as ‘diversities’ also. The weak point of the show is its title itself. There is a note that talks about the curatorial logic of this show. “Identity as it is experienced lies at the elusive point of disjunction of oxymorons. In ‘Diver-Cities’, contemporary artists have sought to critically inscribe urban paradoxes by seeking out determinate local specificities, the transient self as well as ironic inversions of cultural identifications and histories.” I thought the writer could have stopped at ‘local specificities’.
(Samadhi by Sudipta Das)
However, this is a show with some interesting works. Gigi Scaria’s ‘Yet Another Attempt’ is yet another attempt on his ongoing interest in urban sites. The work shows Icarus standing at the top of a collapsible mountain sprouting from a parched wasteland with a suggestion of urban architecture at its periphery. Icarus wants to fly away. But I am astonished at the fact that none refers to the famous work by Surendran Nair, ‘An Actor Rehearsing the Interior Monologue of Icarus’ which had created a furore amongst the right wing fundamentalists in late 90s. I do not know whether Gigi himself has avoided that reference or the curator has done it so. Manjunath Kamath’s ‘Let it Be’ is a serene work from his usual repertoire. A cupboard turning into a home of sparrows/birds with the objects of daily life shoved on the top of it is a powerful image of urban ruthlessness. Sparrows are said to be extinct in Delhi. And he refers to a golden past by incorporating the image of an old cupboard.
(Untitled by Arun Kumar H G)
Arun Kumar H.G’s untitled works are thought provoking as they show the urban representatives in the form of gallery hoppers as broken reflections of self and the outside but with inviting frames of illusion. Sudipta Das is a repetition of Siddhartha Kararwal in a different medium. Chitrovanu Mazumdar does justice to his reputation. Avantika Bawa is a clear no no to my taste. Saranath Banarjee should focus on publication than exhibiting. Prajakta Palav Aher moves away from her mediatic realism to an explosive abstraction to represent the road blocking religious/family pandals. One could see there is an organic growth in her work but I keep my fingers crossed till she comes up with a solo of works with the same verve. 
Had it not been the intriguing titles, I would not have seen them critically for most of the works are done by artists whose working styles and concerns are very familiar to me. So the works do not surprise me. But then definitely, I have bought the titles therefore the shows to see them upside down so that I could get an interesting picture. 



Yatri-  a soul in search
(Work by Nakul Vengsarkar)
Gallery Art & Soul, Mumbai presents a solo show of fine art photography works by photographer,  Nakul Vengsarkar. The show is titled, ‘Yatri -  A soul in search of the Divine’
The show displays some fine art photography works with a singular theme of concepts of religion and spirituality exclusive to the Indian sub-continent. The works in mostly portraitures explore the nature of the pilgrim/ devotee and a traveller of life and a chosen path, his trials and tribulations. His understanding of faith and interpretations of the Supreme.
Yatri, the show, previewed on 1st September 2013, and the show will continue till the 10th of September, 2013.
Workshop on Drawing fundamentals 

The Penciljam Studio, Bangalore has organized a workshop exclusively for those closet artists, to hone their skills and create finer works. 
If interested in learning drawing and willing to try a hand at creativity, then this workshop titled 'Fundamentals Of Drawing' will be an avenue to unleash your talent. The experts of the field will teach art right from the basics for the less informed.

The participants will get to be a part of the theory as well as practical sessions where one gets to learn various concepts like introduction to drawing materials, hues and tones, composition, lights and shadows, perspective and much more. 
The workshop is on till the 8th of Septmeber 2013, on every Saturday and Sunday.

The Nocturnals
(Work by the Vargas brothers)
Instituto Cervantes, New Delhi, presents an eye-catching treat for all art lovers across the town. On display is an exclusive art exhibition ‘Nocturnal’, that will showcase the works by Vargas brothers. The exhibition will have on display the works by two Peruvians who are considered to be Arequipa's (the town where they were born) spirit. 

Specially known for their 'nocturnals', The Vargas brothers perfectly captured the night life of the American country in the beginning of the 20th century. Despite their different personalities, their work complements each other perfectly as one was the technical expert and the other held the artist point of view.
The show commences on the 16th of September 2013 and is in view till the 24th of November 2013.

The Colour Drama show
(Work by Arvind Kolapkar)
Veda Art Gallery, Bangalore presents a unique show titled, 'Color Drama'. The works on display are some of the exquisite artworks of Arvind Kolapkar. 
Ahmednagar based Arvind Kolapkar focuses on music which is his inspiration. The folk and the classical music play a significant role in his paintings. 
The most important elements that are found in his paintings include single colour painted background, stylized figures with coloured forehead and noses, the tanpura or the flute and eyes of the figures are often closed.

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

(News reports by Sushma Sabnis)

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