Bring Back the Bauhaus

18 Apr

The German National Tourist Office, (GNTO) Celebrates 100 years of the Bauhaus with exciting plans for the summer

Georgina Maddox

It is perhaps not a complete coincidence that the first Bauhaus exhibition outside Germany took place in Calcutta in 1922 under the leadership of Abanindranath Tagore—just three years after the movement took root in Weimar in 1919, under Walter Gropius, an architect. Both Gropius and the Tagore brothers were possessed by the same idea—of creating an all-encompassing art school that brought together design, craft and architecture under the rubric of high art, which prior to the movement, included only painting and sculpture.  The Bauhaus was the very first German art school reformed after World War I, to teach in the Weimar Republic.

The exhibition was organised by the Indian Society of Oriental Art, and has now become part of India’s legend. It featured drawings by Wassily Kadinsky, water-colours by Paul Klee, 29 woodcuts from Gerhard Marcks, paintings by Feininger and graphics from Georg Muche among others. Both Kandinsky and Klee belonged to the Munich-based Blue Rider group and was known as breakaway, non-conformist and Radical.

Cut to 2019, where Romit Theophilus, the Director for India, The German National Tourist Office, (GNTO) alongside Jasper Wieck, the Deputy Head of Mission of the German Embassy and Hans Christian Winkler, the Spokesperson and head of Public Affairs, announce their big world-wide campaign to celebrate 100 years of the legendary Bauhaus movement in Weimar.

 “The Bauhaus is a lively school of ideas and a field of experimenting in the free and applied arts, design, architecture and educational methods,” says Theophilus.  As a form of celebration, the GNTO, and Destination Germany is inviting culturally minded travelers to explore the birthplace of Modernism. Theophilus also has a secret public art project tucked up his sleeve, for the city of Delhi in the month of September. He’s keeping the details under warps for now, but all we can say is that its going to be an immersive experience, involving the general public and brining art to the common man.  

The Bauhaus is a young art movement and During its short lifespan it moved to Dessau and then to Berlin. “The architecture, art and design that was created there is still revered around the world to this day,” says Wieck adding that the German National Tourist Office (GNTO), India forecasts a 6-8 percent growth in visitor overnights for the year 2019.

In addition to the Centenary Bauhaus campaign, the GNTO is developing marketing campaigns on the major trends of culture and nature. In 2019 the “German Summer Cities”, the touristic offerings of larger cities and those in more rural areas, take center stage as part of a worldwide marketing offensive.

These tour packages will be promoting sites like the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the Court Garden of the Wurzburg Residence, the Neuschwanstein Castle, the epitome of a fairytale castle with its romanticized medieval design. Popular belief is that the castle’s designer, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, is said to have sometimes driven workers to insanity with his extravagant requests.

The external appearance, is grand, but the interior conveys a sense of wonderment as well with its magnificent halls, an artificial stalactite cave, an opulent bed-room with an embellished bed that is thought to have taken four years to carve. Giant murals depicting scenes from medieval legends and operas by the King’s friend Richard Wagner decorate the castle walls.  Other contents of the campaign are the five clusters Urban city, Romantic, Holiday on the water, Sightseeing as well as Arts and Culture. “We are hope to promote Germany as a wedding destination,” says Theophilus.

This summer, one can look forward to a happy exchange of vibrant nightlife, prodigious art and glittering celebrations. In 1933 under Nazi pressure, the Bauhaus school was dissolved but it remains a touchstone for movements that revolutionise lifestyles. Even today, the legend of the Bauhaus continues to thrive, from Weimar to Calcutta and now New Delhi!

(Images courtesy, GNTB, http://www.germany.travel and stock-photos)

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Individual Palettes

14 Mar

Georgina Maddox

The word Individuality or individualism, comes up frequently when Rameshwar Broota, a reputed Indian artist whose work primarily interrogates the male body, talks of his current curatorial intervention in bringing together the exhibition, Individual Palettes, featuring artists from the Triveni Kala Sangam Studio, supported by the Raza Foundation.

While describing his curatorial selection of artists from the Triveni Kala Sangam Broota holds forth that individualism defines the Triveni artists approach to art. The idea of mentorship at Triveni’s art class and studio is not one where artists are encouraged to clone the ‘guru’. Rather they are stimulated to find their individual voice. While experimentation is important, it is not approached in a superficial manner, rather after deep inquiry and reflection the artists have arrived at their individual expressions. Broota is the head of the department and studio at Triveni that was founded in 1950, by Sundari K. Shridharani. He has mentored many artists, the experienced and trained, the young and upcoming or even those who return to painting after many years.

At Triveni, artists join at various levels of their career. While the system employed at Triveni is not academic, there is a vigorousness with regard to the formal aspects of painting, sculpture and mixed media work. The studio environment within which these artists grow, observe and explore, is an organic one that is not separated from the process of daily living. The studio is open to their comings and goings, as they work around schedules of childcare, day-jobs and navigate the everydayness of life. Their aesthetic concerns are born out of the quotidian, yet these are distilled through artistic rigor till it reaches philosophical levels. 

In their piece “Bohemia: The Underworld of Art” (1939) George S Snyderman and William Josephs contend that the idea of Individualism is associated with artistic and bohemian interests and lifestyles where there is a tendency towards self-creation and experimentation as opposed to tradition or popular mass opinions and behaviors, [3] [8] as with humanist philosophical positions and ethics. [9] [10]

The Intimacy of creative activities required an individual to live a certain lifestyle that is free of the constrains of societal norms: The Bohemia or individuality of artists, is a theme that has been explored by Heri Murger, Du Maurier and Balzac…it is a literary tradition, a dreamland, an El Dorado of Youth, an intellectual pose of the artistic lamb, a philosophy composed by one part idealism, one part eccentricity, and one part opera bouffe heroics…” (Bohemia: The Underworld of Art,  George S. Snyderman and William Josephs, Social Forces, Volume 18, Issue 2, 1 December 1939, Pages 187–199).

The reason I use Snyderman and Joseph’s text as a prelude to this essay is because it has not lost its potency or relevance even 80 years later. In the modern context Individualism became an aesthetic project for the Modernist thinkers and artists, valorized by the writings of 20th century philosopher Walter Benjamin. In particular Benjamin theorized how the way in which one looks at objects and the manner in which one navigates urban geographies, becomes a marker of one’s individualism rather than societal norms and constructs of identity.  (Benjamin, Jennings (ed), 2006.)

The selection of Broota’s mentees if one were to use that term, given that each artist represented in this exhibition is highly individualistic and driven by a strong sense of self, reflects their individual nature that is born out of the higher-calling of the aesthetic mingling with the quotidian. Artists like Shruti Gupta Chandra, Vasundhara Tiwari-Broota, Valentina Churilova, Sanjay Roy, Meena Deora, Prathibha Singh, Vikram Nayak and Renuka Sondhi Gulati, belong to a tradition of figurative painting and an evolved sense of humanism underpins their primary concerns.

Satish Sharma, Neerja Divate, Surendar Kaur, Prabha Shah, Honey Pandey and Rubikat Vohra are Neo-abstractionists (https://www.theartstory.org/movement-neo-expressionism.html) who unleash the spirit of inquisitiveness through a quest for the deeper subconscious truth that goes beyond a narrative style. Anju Kaushik, stands apart from this loose grouping of stylistic concerns, since her approach is one of abstraction through reclaimed objects, a kind of Arte Povera. 

In her series of works titled Holding it Together, Vasundhara Tewari Broota approaches the female protagonists, a leitmotif that surfaces in her work out of the perception of women and the psycho-political existence of the female body. The female acrobat, a multitasking woman who balances the fragmented worlds of home and the world, spaces of interiority and the external, takes center-stage.  This plays out in a series of three small mixed-media works and one large painting, that are permutations and combinations of the same central figure. Despite existing in situations where we are often expected to perform even if upside-down, Tewari-Broota, speaks of retaining poise and confidence under these vicissitudes. The experience of constantly feeling threatened and surveyed in lonely spots translates into acts of defiance, where these spaces are re-negotiated through the repetition of the female form.

Tewari-Broota’s work forms an interesting foil to Sanjay Roy’s series of acrylic on canvas, titled Back to Earth, an aesthetic expression of the collision of chaos and spirituality. In the fast-paced world where economic, political and social concerns compete for attention, mankind often expresses a desire for a savior, whether it be Christ, Buddha or the Prophet. The work is a meeting ground of figurative and non-figurative expression and explores the idea of subjecting the self to rigors upon the anvil. The figure is incidental rather than the focus of the painting and appears almost camouflaged behind a busy network of lines and colours. The work is experimental and moves away from the traditional realism.

Shruti Gupta Chandra embraces vignettes of realism, although she creates an air of enigma around the architectural spaces, that is now bereft of the human form, yet hinting toward it. Staircases ascend into space and nothingness, although they appear to lead towards an unrealized Utopia. Working in the format of diptychs and triptychs in acrylic and oils, she orchestrates the space to convey a sense of contemplation and memory.  One of the paintings uses the device of the screen and plays with the idea of the viewer and the viewed, of perspective and shadow. It evokes a retreat to an era where latticed wooden screens defined personal spaces. In another painting, light upon a sloping wooden ceiling conveys a sense of repose and dreams.

Vikram Nayak’s work in pencil, ink and charcoal bring together the worlds of the organic and machine. He creates hybrid beings, as a result of chaos. A jumble of flowers, rivets and screws come together form a third being. While sharing his process, Nayak indicates that the forms that emerge from this spontaneous doodling are not pre-planned. We do see a recurring shape or circular form that is situated at the centre of each composition which may be a subconscious tribute to feminine energy. Nayak’s work is informed by his travels as he makes short films and also illustrates books.

Meena Deora uses rhythm and dynamism to represent the human body and perpetuates the idea of mobility and motion. The works celebrate the agility and plentitude of the human form. The vibrant colour scheme along with the musculature of active dynamic bodies becomes a narrative or testimony of vitalism realized in artistic terms. Her works are sensuous interplay of anatomy and metaphysics.

Pratibha Singh’s artwork pushes the idea of the human form further to incorporate the hybrid. Through the fusions of organic and inorganic, human and machinic, the works transpose into explorations of subjectivity. The Pratibha’s works explore an urban sense of the mythic in a post-industrial world, engaging with the idea of the post-human, or age of the machine. 

Valentina Churilova’s paintings are energetic and full of motion and movement, created by texture and brushstrokes. Each work involves an orchestration of many elements of earth, water and air, human forms in relation to objects that symbolize a moment in our life. She engages with realistic forms having studied the human figure while in the Ukraine, but now she transmits to them a symbolic meaning. The Id, ego and superego come into conversation with each other through the human form that appears at the center of all her compositions. Much of her work deals with human identity, our attachment to objects and then a renunciation of them as we realize a higher reality. Her process while painting involves holding back and allowing the painting to speak to her while she is creating it. The work usually indicates to her where it wants to take her. She invites viewer-participation and interpretation. Since her works are layered with a plethora of forms, many meanings and narratives emerge from them.

Sitting between the cusp of the figurative and the abstract Surendar Kaur, weaves a world out of colourful geometric forms with the woman at the center of her compositions. Works like, After Aman Ki Asha takes a tongue-in-cheek view of the condition of women in Indian society, and while they appear in a contemplative mode, bits of text, cut out from newspapers, indicates that their position in the hierarchy of a patriarchal society is all but ideal.

The subtle symmetry generated by rhythmic movements in nature is a strong source of influence in Geetanjali Kashyap’s work. She has been inspired by natural forms as they are awe-inspiring in detail, yet fascinating from a purely abstract perspective. The work is however entirely moving in the direction of abstraction.

Departing from the universe of imagery and human form, an artist like Satish Sharma, revels in pure colour and texture. For this exhibition Satish has chosen a set of small works that are intensely packed with texture and thick impasto paint. Impasto is a painting term that refers to the use of thickly textured, undiluted, paint that appears almost three-dimensional on the canvas. Through these works he is experimenting with various applications of earth shades, working in a manner that is less constrained by mark-making. He has now begun to work directly on the canvas with his hands, creating textures that are perhaps less conscious or controlled. He has abandoned recognizable forms in favour of pure abstraction. The painting transitions its source, becoming a being in and of itself.

In a similar vein of non-figuration is the work of Neerja Divate. Her minute pinpricks are on paper, usually white on white or black on black, where the mark making is a form of meditation rather than a display or call to attention. It is the labour of mark-making that characterizes the energy of these minimal works. In the world of manufacturing the skills of dexterity and consistency are positively valued as prized indicators of workmanship, and from repetitive techniques innovations in practice would emerge. In comparison these art studio acts of ‘sewing without thread’, where the labour of mark-making ends in points of ‘nothing’, there is a struggle to claim aesthetic or economic value. (Barnaby, 2013) Nevertheless, even here, with repetition comes the possibility of variation and difference. Repeated acts do not necessarily exclude creative agency.

Prabha Shah’s depopulated landscapes compel the viewer to look at the city differently, and creates new perceptual mechanism. Depicting everyday worlds, she de-familiarizes the ordinary. Her primary focus is on the inorganic world denuded of human presence, a life and agency given to these artefacts. Layers of light, deserted buildings and a slightly dystopic suburbia carry forth the narrative. The drama of life plays out through these deserted cityscapes evoking loneliness, fragmentation and displacement. Prabha is hearing impaired, and for her art serves as an alternative language of expression. To quote Amitava Sanyal “she has formed her own patios within the meta-language of visuals.”

Honey Pandey fashions a world of architectural objects that employ lines and geometrical forms. Her set of for 1×1 canvases create a sense of rhythm, and objects from everyday life acquire a graphic representation. Rubkirat Vohra works with metal and wood creating composite forms from malleable lead that has a low heat point. The abstract forms hint towards architectural forms and human existence and yet they exist in and of their own right. They are aesthetic objects, disassociated from the world of narrative. Born into a family of architects, where her late grandfather S. Gurcharan Singh worked closely with the French architect Le Corbusier, Vohra grew up being influenced by an architectural environment that consisted of lines, designs, layouts, sketches, and perspective-plans. This filtered into her work, brining to it an abstract quality. Her works are permeated by a sense of mystery, evoking thought and curiosity in the viewer yet leaving the narrative open-ended.

Visiting the idea of rebirth and recycle, artist Anju Kaushik tends to work in high-relief surfaces, embedding discarded objects into plaster of Paris and concrete surfaces. The act of reclaiming old, rusted and discarded objects and giving them new life is particular to Anju’s practice and ties up with the contemporary arte povera movement that sought to break down barriers between performance and everyday life. Anju’s relationship with the objects is however driven more by instinct rather than the ideology of the arte povera movement with which her association is an act of coincidence and not a conscious alignment. Grouping her works into clusters she makes a commentary on the environment where a fossilized fish shape is a poignant reminder of urban detritus and waste.

Alka Jhamb’s two works, Flow in Form, and The Space Without, demonstrate her ease with mixed media on Canvas. Alka’s works are largely non-figurative, evoking architectural spaces, objects and abstract forms. The works carry the hint of human existence, while the energy of the city is conveyed by a grid of towering buildings. Yet there is a sense of isolation and confinement, that is betrayed by the empty window frame which allows the viewer to look at the city without being viewed. It is trope that many women use to convey the sometimes-stifling presence of the domestic space.

Conversely, Renuka Sondhi Gulati’s figurative painting expresses freedom and flight. The mirror image of a woman, seated on a flight of steps is filled with positive energy, as it plays upon an often-used Surrealist trope of nature and the female form. As an eco-feminist she approaches the idea of the female form signifying mother earth, which is currently in dire straits.   

Neha Talwar, evokes the twilight world of dreams, sleep and repose in this intimate, yet large format mixed media work of her son and husband. Neha works with a variety of materials, usually discarded cloth pieces collected for the local tailor. Her paintings evolve to include the pattern of the fabric, creating layers of imagery that convey a plethora of emotions and psychological states.

Ritu Mehra, translates her fascination with everyday objects into three-dimensional form, with her mixed-media installations and assemblages. The bulb is a leitmotif that conveys several meanings—of modernity and light, of productivity and illumination, even as domestic objects like cutlery and crockery play a central role in her compositions, bringing to the fore these otherwise neglected objects that are taken for granted.

Manu Singh’s artworks are mostly figurative and draw their surrealist qualities from human anatomy. Her paintings are a comment on key human emotions. She experiments with different media and uses familiar imagery such as figures and everyday objects to produce the desired effect. One is left to introspect when confronted with her paintings that have elements of memory and fantasy in liberal doses.

We are finally brought to the works of artist Vipeksha Gupta whose sensitive nature is embodied by soft graphite works on paper. Through a maze of lines and grey shades she conveys natural forms like rocks and cave-like structures while situating her protagonist within the protective womb of these structures. In Ocean, Anoma, she evokes a surrealist language, by distorting scale: a young girl is confronted with her past that rises to the top of the water as a large fish. This could signify the surfacing of hidden emotions informed by a sense of personal loss.

This stunning array of artwork only confirms the premise that individuality as a concept is holding together well. While each work indicates a diversity, they are brought together under the rubric of the creative agency that Triveni Kala Sangam makes available to all its artists without creating hierarchies and dichotomies.

Image and Text

27 Dec

A group exhibition that explores the relationship of text and the material 

 

Georgina Maddox

“Written and readable text has been of interest to artists from diverse cultures since the decade of the 1960s. While the twenty-first century’s world’s spectacle occupies artworks which are spectacular, artists who work with text have voiced out simple and deep insights, caring for text as material. This makes text as an alternative expression in contemporary times,” writes Shubhalaxmi Shukla of the exhibition, curated by her in September in Mumbai. It featured artists Aqui Thami, Himanshu S, Anjana Mehra, Jyotee, Sanjeev Sonpimpare, Lalit Patil, Rajesh Pullarwar, Mithu Joardar, Sarita Chouhan, Kim Kyoungae, Gayatri Gamuz, Rupali Patil, Kiyomi Talaulicar, Sudhir Pande, Abhimanue Govindan, Arpita Bhavsar, Bharati Kapadia, Vidya Kamat, Murali Cheeroth and Mithu Sen.

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To bolster her observation Shukla sites the works of Yoko Ono, “Listen to sound of the earth turning”, Barbara Kruger’s biting “I buy therefore I am” and Jenny Holzer’s truisms (texts that explored the dimensions of femininity while reflecting upon the city’s fabric. In India she sites the works of artist Anita Dube’s whose text-based works explores a journey with “language” like a weaving that unveils the poignant paradoxes of human life.

The artists featured by Shukla engage with the idea of text through various fonts, sizes and play with language itself. For instance, Hanif Kureshi, presents us with four rows on almost illegible text, that read as follows, “Now you know – you never know-between the lines-distort reality.” The work is clearly demanding, even while it engages the viewer to peer and ponder at the text, which is not easily decipherable. Perhaps Kureshi is commenting on our easily consumable culture and intends to provide an alternative, where taking time and engaging with is imperative to understand the work.

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Jeetander Ojha’s collection of aphorisms are cryptic and lead one to conclude that the artist is leading us towards an inner discovery of the self. Lines like “I love my Sins” and “I heard My Cry” may be seen as juxtaposed by more generic sayings like, “Whoever lives in love lives in art.”

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Rumi Samadhan’s ‘Absence’ appears as a poetic comment on the ephemeral nature of human mortality, the void and the present both integral to the act of existence and being. Santosh Kalbande’s Jai, is a powerful work that obscures the name of the deity, perhaps making a comment on the generic nature of religion and the hidden violence within. The disappearing text is as significant as that which is visible and, in a sense, it ties in with Samadhan’s work.

The second instalment of Shukla’s curatorial venture features artists Jeetander Ojha, Hanif Kureshi, Surekha Sharada, Nikhil Purohit, Ajinkya Patil, Jenny Bhatt, Mithu Joardar, Yashwant Deshmukh collaboration with his son Soumitra, Baiju Parthan, Santosh Kalbande, Hemanta Roul, Sanjay Nikam, Moutushi Chakraborty, Ushmita Sahu, Prasanta Sahu, Manjri Varde, Nikhileshwar Baruah, Nilesh Shilkar, Alennott and Ashok Kadam’s Rap Group, Yuval Waikar, Pranav Rajput, Ankit Harchekar, Mayur Waikar, and Akshay More.

“I would like you to thoughtfully assemble what seems to be broken or scattered in language unveiling the layers of words historically,” says Shukla.  The project certainly has the scope of extending into a second part where more of the vision is realized and more of this lost art of communication is uncovered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workshops for the winter

13 Nov

Poonam Sahi Poster

1. Stop Motion Animation Workshop – by Nitin Donde
    9th to 11th November 2018
     Fee: Rs. 4500, for students Rs. 4000
2. Bane or Boon – What are photos to a layout? –  by Poonam Bevli Sahi
    15th December 2018
     Fee: Rs.1500, for students Rs. 1000

Interrogating truth

4 Nov

Saavdhaan: The Regimes of Truth poses questions to the voices of authority

 

Georgina Maddox

Stumbling through the dark, avoiding stones and brambles, one is not quite sure what one will discover down the rabbit hole that is Saavdhaan: The Regimes of Truth. The recently concluded exhibition, curated by Shaunak Mahbubani at the little-known venue, Kalakar Theatre near Saket Metro Station, Saidul-Ajab, is not the conventional well-lit, white cube gallery display, that we have all come to expect when attending art openings. The raw brick and motor bowels of the theatre, is shadowy with wisps of cobwebs festooning nooks and crevices. The exhibition is not easily forthcoming rather it slowly reveals its contents as one negotiates through the slightly bewildering space.

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Arko Datto’s nigh-time photography captures the essence of the word Saavdhaan, a military call to attention as well as a neighbourly
hark of safety. All photographs of the exhibition are by photographer Polina Schapova

Digital ticker-tape projected into one of the niches ask if you know where to look for ‘Vikas’, as the arm of the waving cat meant to usher in good-luck and prosperity eerily waves at you from the other end of the hall. A shrill voice on a loudspeaker seems to be announcing some kind of political propaganda, while in another corner books and pamphlets are kept out for the purpose of reading them, earphones and a monitor beckon you to sit and listen to Ravi Aggarwal and Anita Dube holding forth, while another installation shocks you with the macabre sight of human body-parts hanging off meat hooks. If you are a little over-whelmed and expecting to meet the Minotaur in this labyrinth, then that is exactly what Mahbubani designed through this multi-media show.

“The exhibition is intended to be demanding and it requires you to take out time to read, listen and interact with the works. On many levels it poses questions to the voices of authority, history books and news in the digital era of political propaganda. It questions public pedagogy and the communalizing of our political and cultural spaces,” says Mahbubani, the recipient of the Apex Art scholarship with which he funded the exhibition, which is Part 2 of his series Allies for the Uncertain Future. He is also currently Curator, Programming at The Gujral Foundation.

 

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Exhibition view of Saavdhaan: Regimes of Truth at Kalakar Theatre in Saket Metro Station, Saidul-Ajab.

 

The artists and collectives featured are Asim Waqif, Arko Dutta, AltNews, Dalit Panther Archive, Johar Jhangram, Mandeep Raikhy, Payal Arya, Sanket Jaida, Samar Grewal, Sarah Naqvi, Smita Rajmane, material and reports from The Wire, Vidisha Saini, Video Volunteers, Vishal Kumaraswamy and Zine: Medium as Message, by Karan Kaul.

The installation mentioned earlier, Ask Where is Vikas, is by Saini who takes a stab at the whole mythology of progress created around the Modi government, while the wool sculpture of human body parts hanging off meat hooks is by Sarah Naqvi who comments on the lynch mobs that have killed innocent Muslims in the name of Gauraksha (Cow protection) over the years.

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Ask Where is Vikas, multimedia installation by Vidisha Saini;  wool sculptures of human body parts hanging off meat hooks is by Sarah Naqvi.

The interviews with Aggarwal and Dube are part of Waqif’s video-work that tackles the wave of fake news spreading through the country. Raikhy’s choreographed performance unfolds to the beat of disciplinary power. Arya’s immersive mood-piece creates a mimeo of a migrant worker’s home, with rickety and impermanent bamboo structures, fog created by a fog-machine and an old TV in the corner playing footage of children running around old structures and homes. The fog is symbolic of the fog of fear that has engulfed our society.

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Payal Arya’s installation questions the fog of fear that has engulfed our society, through the metaphor of construction worker’s dwellings.

Sanket Jadia’s layered drawings mounted on a glass and wooden stand and lit by naked bulbs investigate the politics of visibility in the media coverage of these incidences. Violence against Dalits and other lower-caste communities has been an abominable part of sub-continental life for centuries but there has been no checks and balances put in place to stem the violence. Interestingly Jadia has intentionally blackened the faces of the perpetrators reducing them to a faceless mob.

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Sanket Jadia’s layered drawings investigate the politics of visibility in the media coverage of  incidences of violence against Dalits and other lower-caste communities

Smita Rajmane​’s installation of broken earthen pots references the arcane and inhuman practice by the upper-castes, of insisting that Dalits carry an earthen pot around their necks so that their spit doesn’t touch the ground. The installation works in conjunction with footage of a film by Somanth Waghmare titled The Battle of Bhima-Koregaon Park playing on a TV monitor. The documentary was also screened as a separate part of the exhibitions programming on November 3. It questioned the domination of upper-caste where Dalit narratives continue to be over-simplified and misinterpreted in situations like the Bhima-Koregaon violence in Maharashtra in 2018.

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The installation by Smita Rajmane and film by Somanth Waghmare titled ‘The Battle of Bhima-Koregaon Park’,  questions the atrocities committed against the Dalit community.   (Below) A detail of the installation. Also, a view of the exhibition indicating the Dalit Panther Archive, and the curator Shaunak Mahabubani at the entrance of the exhibition.

However, more importantly Waghmare’s film is a rare documentation of the annual celebration at Koregaon Park. Here Dalits of all age groups and gender gather around the war memorial pillar that commemorates the contribution of the Dalit Mahar community who fought alongside the Peshwas. Together the installation and film interrogate the reportage or lack of it, around Dalit issues in newsrooms dominated by upper-caste editors and journalists.

 

 

As we proceed through the exhibition we come to the second half of the show that examines how citizens can hold agency and moved forward to participate and question the nexus of alarmist culture and communalism. A display of the work done by Video Volunteers​, a network of over 250 community correspondents across the country, speaks of how individuals are empowered to take control of their narratives through the technology of video production. Other sections of the exhibition display the work done by the Wire, and AltNews​ that takes on one of the more dangerous tools in the neo-fascist arsenal: fake news.

The Dalit Panther Archive​ is committed to digitizing the archive of writings, magazines, and other materials from the Dalit Panther movement. The little magazine movement also erupted in India within and around the latter now popularly called the zine​, has grown in recent usage with illustrators, poets, and artists drawn to its subversion of capital and censorship. There are also other zines like Punter and Aunty Boom’s Almost Feminist Confessions that document queer struggles and lives.

RJ Shikha Mandi evokes narratives in a different format through her radio show, Johar Jhargram, spreading the Santhal Indigenous language and culture. The show broadcast entirely in Santhali, marries social issues with humor and village music, making it a big hit with local communities.

The exhibition leaves one with a lasting impression, one that grows with repeated visits and certainly it creates an atmosphere for debate and awareness about the times we live in. Mahbubani hopes that the exhibition builds connections beyond its physical avatar, into the realm of digital existence, which will continue to dissent and debate the issues tabled herein.

 

 

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Asim Waqif’s video-work that tackles the wave of fake news spreading through the country.

‘Home and Beyond’

30 Oct

Chameli Ramachandran’s gentle brush strokes revere nature

 

Walking into the newly renovated Surrendra Paul Art Gallery in Sangeet Shyamala, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi, one comes face to face with the gentle creations of Chameli Ramachandran Tan Yuan. Mountains touched with gold, ocean-scapes that dance and pulsate with an internal rhythm, trees that sway and wave in the wind, carnations that yield their sensuous intoxication of pink and the curvaceous lip of a red dog rose, envelope one’s senses. The works are not very large and yet their delicateness and technical flair invite you to come closer for a more intimate look.

Chameli Ramachandran (2)

Chameli,  was born in Santiniketan, West Bengal in 1940 to artist parents. She imbibed the spirit of Santiniketan at a very early age and was surrounded by nature and sensitized to art by the likes of Rabindranath Tagore, who indecently picked out her name. After her schooling, in a Bengali medium, at Patha-Bhavana,
she joined Kala-Bhavana to study art under masters like Benode Behari Mukherjeeand Ramkinkar Baij.

Under their tutelage she perfected the wash-technique, a Japanese style of painting that utilized ink and wash. “I was very lucky to have been born in Santiniketan and whatever I know about art is because of that place. Its very different from the rest of the world,” says the artist. Through this technique Chameli captures
the gentle amity amongst natural elements with a meditative gaze that extends
beyond mere botanical observation.

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“Chameli depicts the character of each tree with the flow of her brush. The
rhythmic treatment of the different kinds of trees that she paints while she
spends her winter months in the USA reflects her oneness with the spirit of
nature,” writes Ella Dutta.

The exhibition at Surrendra Paul Art Gallery is an abridged version of the larger solo that opened at Vadehra Art Gallery, which constituted around 90 paintings by the
artist executed in ink and water-colour since 2015. The artist is inspired by the vegetal life in her residential garden in Delhi and those in
the USA. Each study is an intimate conversation with her muse, nature.

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Her meditative gaze that extends beyond mere observation, for she brings to each study a lyrical intensity which is in keeping with her own personality. Aware of the historical representation of the flowers she depicts in her compositions (such as the lotus, chrysanthemum and peony) in Asian art, Chameli opts for an amorphous, and often haunting,  performance of nature in her works that defy the limits of the page and express a wild sensuality.

Married to the doyen of an artist, A Ramachandran, Chameli has carved out her own niche as an artist and her style is very distinct to her husbands. Her palette is often muted and gentle while his flames with colours. However what both artists definitely share in common is the love for nature and a wish to surround themselves with its abundance and beauty.

Colours, only

14 Sep

Thanks Ankush!

the art1st blog

A new exhibition in Delhi introduces the rare genre of ‘colour field’ painting to art lovers

Ankush Arora

How does an artist’s canvas reflect natural landscapes, without using any kind of recognisable shapes, images, forms or human figures? A good example of this style of art-making is the work of Pandit Bhila Khairnar, who is known as a ‘colour field’ artist. Delhi-based Gallery Threshold recently inaugurated a solo show of the artist, who hails from Nashik city in Maharashtra.

Nashik_Flickr_Deeku's.jpg Nashik. Courtesy: Flickr

As a young man, Khairnar found himself drawn towards abstract painting, and began his training in art at Yashwant Kala Mahavidyalaya, Aurangabad, and L. S. Raheja School of Art, Mumbai. His early interest in abstract painting deeply influenced his artistic vocabulary that we see today, so much so that he is now considered one of the lesser known, but foremost, colour field painters of India.

Pandit Bhila Khairnar Profile Photo.png Pandit Bhila Khairnar…

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