Monday, November 21, 2011

Reshawishkar -2: An exhibition on 'lines'

Sudhir Patwardhan has brought for us the 2nd show of the series of two exhibitions focusing on ‘lines’, called ‘Reshawishkar-2’(expressions of lines). ‘Pune’ites had a great opportunity to look into some of the very personal artist sketchbook pages, exercises and finished artworks created using various renditions of lines in the first show held in September.

Reshawishkar-2 gives us an excellent opportunity to see works by veteran artists K.G, Subramaniyan, Himmat Shah, Sudhir patwardhan himself, Dilip Ranade and Parag Tandel. We will also be able to interact with artist Dilip Ranade and sculptor Parag Tandel during the viewing of a slide show of their works on Sunday, 27th Nov., 10:30 AM at Sudarshan Gallery, Pune.

K.G. Subramanian (b.1924) - One of the very senior artists from India, K. G Subramanian is well known for his expressive figurative compositions. For him, the sketches which are exhibited in the show are like daily ‘Riyaaz’ (dictionary meaning is ‘practice’, which is often used in the context of everyday practice in Indian classical music tradition). If you are familiar with the K.G.’s work, here is your rare chance to also have a look at his artistic preparations and candidly done ink drawings on paper.

Himmat Shah (b.1933) – A well known sculptor of India, Himmat Shah is recognized for his experiments with various materials in his works, from terracotta, bricks, to metals and plasters. It is very interesting to study his sketches which are quite different in approach from his sculptures. These sketches are not meant to be exhibited as art creations but as his personal studies. This gives us a feel of how a sculptor exercises art in 2D, forming ideas and later taking them to a different 3D expression.

Sudhir Patwardhan (b.1949)- I was lucky to meet him on the opening day of the show and get a first hand view of his graphite sketches exhibited in the show. Patwardhan is well known for his multi-faceted figurative cityscapes. His concern is with everyday metropolitan Indian life, particularly of Mumbai. Thus his sketches are also a sort of information gathering of his subject matter. With observations and photographic references, he brings in this atmosphere into his sketches which then translates into full-fledged paintings. It is quite wonderful to see some of his preparatory sketches in the show.

Dilip Ranade (b.1950)- Mumbai based artist Dilip Ranade is well known for his mystical line drawings. His drawings are mostly done with the geometric pen on paper. Ranade’s work is a walkthrough into the world imagined by him. Objects and people we may recognize otherwise look absolutely different here, they appear like metaphors of the unspecific. It is very interesting to see how simple thin black line can create a space that looks so vast on a small paper.

Parag Tandel (b.1978) - Parag is a Mumbai based sculptor, recognized for his contemporary sculptures and sculptural installations. His innovative sculptural works created out of unconventional materials like plastic, fiber and rubber are very different from his ink and graphite works which are part of this show. These are works consisting of irregular line patterns and geometrical forms or interwoven structures. They are not initiated to achieve any predefined artistic goal but loosely experimented compositions. It is a treat to get a closer look of the works of this young sculptor.

This show is a must for artists, art lovers and art students in Pune. For all those who will not be able to attend, here is a small glimpse of the artworks (Click to enlarge).

Sincere thanks to Sudhir Patwardhan for bringing this 2nd show to Pune as promised! :)

Reshawishkar-2 (Expressions of lines)
18th November-30th November2011, 11AM to 8PM.
Address : Sudarshan Kala Dalan (art gallery is in the basement of the Sudarshan Rang Manch,- a place well known for the experimental theater shows) Near Ahilya Devi high school, Shanivar Peth, Pune-30.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Adapting the eye: An archive of the British in India, 1770-1830 at the Yale Center for British Art

Adapting the eye: An archive of the British in India, 1770-1830 at the Yale Center for British Art
(Click for a larger view)

Thomas Daniell, Sir Charles Warre Malet, Concluding a Treaty in 1790 in Durbar with the Peshwa of the Maratha Empire, 1805, oil on canvas, © Tate, London 2011.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reshawishkar : An exhibition on 'lines'

Pune art lovers have a rare opportunity to see five different approaches of handling ‘lines’ in the exhibition calledReshawishkar’(expressions of lines). This exhibition is conceptualized and curated by the renowned Indian artist Sudhir Patwardhan. The five artists on display are art veterans Krishan Khanna, Gieve Patel, and well known artists from contemporary Indian art scene Jyoti Basu, Tushar Joag and Vilas Shinde. The exhibition opened on September 17th and will run till the 1st of October at ‘Sudarshan Kala Dalan’ (detailed address at the end of the post). This show is the first part of the series of two exhibitions planned, the second of which will be in November.

Line is a fundamental element of art and every artist has his/ her unique personal relationship with it. A line can be simple or complex, fine or brute, drawn or painted. Artists explore a multitude of possibilities and make diverse statements through the handling of lines in their art. Patwardhan has chosen these five artists to give the viewer a glimpse of these very possibilities. But this small show (around 35 small and medium size works) is not only about lines, it is a rare opportunity to peek into the artists’ close and personal preparations that stand firmly behind the final artwork. For this reason the pages from the sketchbooks of the great figurative artist Krishan Khanna are an absolute delight to watch! 

This show consists of: Krishan Khanna’s sketchbook pages, Gieve Patel’s large free flowing graphite drawings exploring compositional possibilities, Jyoti Basu’s pencil drawings experimenting with the weight of various line forms and its subsequent culmination into line motifs, Tushar Joag’s stark commentary on war and conflict in which lines play the protagonist of the intense drama, and Vilas Shinde’s dense gathering of lines coalescing into a stunning artwork.  Besides the work on display, we also get to read the highly insightful views of these artists on the subject of ‘lines’. 

Many thanks to Sudhir Patwardhan for hosting this unique exhibition in Pune!  The show is a ‘must’ for the art students and is also highly recommended for all serious lovers of art.

As a part of the same show, there will be a lecture series on the same subject. 
Sepetmber 25th 2011, 10:30 AM, by artist Madhav Imaratey
October 1st 2011, 6:30 PM, by artist Tushar Joag 
Sudarshan Kala Dalan (art gallery is in the basement of the Sudarshan Rang Manch,- a place well known for the experimental theater shows)
Near Ahilya Devi high school, Shanivar Peth, Pune-411030. 

Friday, September 09, 2011

Jangarh Singh Shyam: An ‘important outsider’

On 15th September 2011, Sotheby’s New York auction of South Asian art will present a significantly important piece of work by prolific Indian tribal artist Jangarh Singh Shyam (1960-2001) alongside well recognized and frequently auctioned artists from Indian modern art scene. It is a 7 feet x 6 feet acrylic work painted on paper, mounted on canvas. Although this is not the first time that Jangarh’s work has made its way to the important art auction, it is not a frequent occurrence either.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Jehangir Sabavala (1922 - 2011) R.I.P.

One of the prominent figures from Indian art scene Jehangir Sabavala passed away on 2nd September 2011 at the age of 89. He was extremely active as an artist till recent and was known to work on his paintings for long hours. He has produced numerous works which can be classified into various art styles, and which had emerged from his subtly evolving artistic phases. But to speak broadly, he was an academic easel painter who seemed to enjoy the warm relationship with canvas and colors throughout his long career. His style had a strong cubist influence perhaps inherited from his decade long academic stay in Europe in late 40s and early 50s.

For the sake of conveying a better idea of his work, I would say that his paintings give a feel similar to that of Robert Delaunay or Lyonel Feininger.

Born in a highly esteemed Parsi (Zoroastrian) family from Mumbai, after an initial art education in India, Sabavala spent his long academic tenure in prestigious art institutions of Europe such as the Heatherley School, the Academic Andre Lhote, the Academic Julianfrom and the Academic de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris. He was often described as ‘a gentleman’ of Indian art scene, and his grace and elegance also reflected in his painterly brush work and marvelously subtle tones. Sabavala participated in numerous exhibitions, solo shows and represented India in various international shows like Venice Biennale. His works have been collected by museums worldwide and are often seen in important group shows that cover the last 50 years of art in India. Sabavala was awarded the prestigious civilian award ‘Padma Shree’ by the Government of India in 1977.

Sabavala had witnessed and had also been a part of the critical art timeline of India. Before India gained its independence in 1947 from the British colonial rule, modern art education had been introduced in India, like many other educational streams, as a part of the educational policy (designed for ‘natives’ by subject experts). It had been established in rush and never got a chance to organically evolve in that short period. But post independence, things changed rapidly. Two types of artists were seen active in those years, the ones who remained academic and explored within the boundaries of conventional easel work, or the artists who tried to adapt bohemian lifestyle and worked similarly. Clashes and criticisms were inevitable between these two loose categories of painters but all these conflicts ultimately helped the art in free India to move forward and evolve. Jehangir Sabavala’s contribution to the Indian art will remain indisputably important in this respect.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

‘The Grange Prize’ finalists for year 2011

Four photographers have been shortlisted for the $50K ‘The Grange Prize’, awarded for the best photographer for the year 2011. This prestigious prize is presented by the partnership between Aeroplan and the Art Gallery of Ontario. 

The winner will be chosen by public vote, and voting is open till October 23 at

The shortlisted photographers are Canadians Elaine Stocki, Althea Thauberger, and Gauri Gill, Nandini Valli from India. According to the press release, the reason behind selection of these four photographers is their common interest in human subjects that explore personal identity, performativity and social politics. 

Gauri Gill: Born in 1970, she lives and works in New Delhi. Gauri has done her MFA in Art at Stanford University,CA in year 2002. Her work has been exhibited in India and worldwide. Her photographs have appeared in several renowned publications across the world. She also teaches photography in New Delhi, and has conducted photography workshops for students from Tibetan settlements in India, and photography students from Kabul. She is represented by Gallery Nature Morte in New Delhi.

Elaine Stocki: Born in 1979 in Canada, Elaine currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She has completed her Master’s degree in Photography at Yale University (2009). Elaine has exhibited at the Deutsche Guggenheim and Zach Feuer, NY. Her photographic compositions involve subjects on the pressing issues of race, class and gender etc. 

Althea Thauberger: Born in 1970, Althea lives and works in Vancouver. She has participated in several exhibitions and museum shows across the world and has received many accolades. Very often her work involves interactive processes with groups of people or communities through various forms of communication such as films, books, audio recordings etc. 

Nandini Valli: Born in 1976, Nandini lives and works in Chennai, India.  She has done her B.A. Honours in Photography from The Arts University College at Bournemouth, UK. Her works are very popular in which she has revisited the popular Indian tradition of performative photographs. Nandini is represented by Sakshi Gallery in Mumbai, India. 

Visit to learn more about these four talented artists, their work and vote for your favorite one!  

Monday, August 22, 2011

My first post @ Hyperallergic

It’s been quite some time that I’ve been following ‘Hyperallergic’, an enthusiastic art forum published from Brooklyn, NYC by Veken Gueyikian and Hrag Vartanian. Now, it is my privilege to become the first contributor from India. I’ve recently written a post for Hyperallergic, discussing my views on the iconic ‘HOPE’ poster from 2008 US elections. Please check this out here.

I’m hugely excited and looking forward to be a regular contributor @ Hyperallergic!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

V.S. Gaitonde: Triumph of the solitude

This post is dedicated to the greatest ‘non-objective’ artist from post independence India, Vasudev S. Gaitonde (1924-2001), popularly referred to as just ‘Gaitonde’. His positioning and influence on Indian contemporary art can be compared to that of Agnes Martin, Clyfford Still and Mark Rothko’s. (This is my take on Gaitonde and I don’t think that I’m exaggerating :-) )

It is frequently written about him that he insisted on not being categorized as an ‘abstract’ painter, but a ‘non-objective’ one instead. It is a topic of debate whether non-objectivity is a form to be recognized separately or if it is a subset of abstraction in the broader sense. But in Gaitonde’s context, I think I can understand why he insisted on the differentiation. The answer lies in the modern history of abstract art in India. Abstract painting in India was dominated by gestural figurative abstraction, and the common practice of ornamenting the ideas with ethnic references and cultural motifs. In such times, Gaitonde’s richly evolved forms and luminous colors must have appeared ‘outsiders’ to some, and it is no wonder why Gaitonde himself must have preferred to remain detached from the established school of abstraction.

It was just not only about established practices, but he also remained aloof from people. ‘Gaitonde enjoyed solitude and spent hours philosophizing about art while his beloved Indian classical music or Beethoven or Mozart played in the background’, mentions well-known Indian artist Prabhakar Kolte in his essay about Gaitonde.

Gaitonde graduated from the renowned Sir J.J. School of art of Mumbai in 1948. As a very original and talented young artist, he was invited to join the ‘Progressive artist group of Bombay’, then. Although this influential group was short-lived for various reasons, all the artists from the group created their own successful careers later. Gaitonde chose a path which was different from that of his peers at that time. His interests in linguistics and ancient scripts, his deep study of Japanese Zen philosophy, and his tremendous artistic capacities led him to create his own original understanding and style. His forms are supremely balanced, robust and most importantly they do not carry any forced baggage of the cultural metaphors. Gaitonde’s colors vary from mystic grays to shimmering reds, but they remain in separate peripheries within the painting space. Why I strongly associate his works with Agnes Martin, Clyfford Still and Rothko is for these vary reasons.

When it comes to exploring form, he is more like Agnes, but makes a stronger statement with colors. At the same time he does not seem as keen in exploring interactive possibilities of colors as Rothko. Gaitonde takes a middle path (and here I find a similarity with Clyfford Still) and indulges into form and color relationship. What is common in all these artists is their ability to project coherent relationship of forms, colors and emotions. There they share a same universal platform and create a phenomenal art.

Like his contemporaries mentioned above, Gaitonde had a long lasting impact on the process of understanding the emotional complexity that resides underneath the artistic rendition. Many artists (even today!) tried imitating him, some succeeded in creating lookalike imagery, but none could achieve what Gaitonde did. His innate spiritual temperament and studies of philosophy are also misinterpreted by many by saying that that was a ‘subject’ of his works. Perhaps it sounds more intellectual to quote something around spirituality rather than his painterly process. The fact is that he was an explorer of forms and colors with meditative qualities deep inside. As a technique, Gaitonde used rollers and brushes, and he used oil paints to create multiple layers of varying viscosities, and all of this assimilated on his canvas to bring out a pure experience of sublime quality.

Here ends my post. It should be treated as a brief introduction to this great artist, and needless to say don’t miss his work if you ever get an opportunity. It leaves a lasting impact on the mind!

(Click on the image for the larger view)

Acknowledgment for images: Glenbarra art museum and Saffron Art.

Friday, July 29, 2011

When ‘Red’ takes the center stage

My friend Andrew has posted this very interesting photograph in his recent post. Andrew is an avid traveler and photographer who now lives in beautiful Santiago, Chile. This picture I simply loved for its stark, unambiguous compositional quality and it prompted me to write this quick post.

Take a look at the bright cadmium orange cylinder in the boat. There is a vast body of water, hills and several small boats behind it, but the red color grabs all our attention, not leaving any other possibility for visual expectation. Even as the photographer must have looked at it, the bright cylinder must have demanded the center stage.

Red family of color is a big attention grabber. It demands prominence, and artists obey it many times. It is as if the color will create a major ruckus if not pampered so in the composition. The biggest celebration of this demand is in Matisse’s Red Room and Red Studio. Matisse has left no chance for Red to complaint :-)
Here is a small collection of some beautiful paintings of various artists where Red has graced the center stage.  
Click on the Artist's name to learn more about them.

John Sloan (1871–1951) 'Red Kimono on the Roof' 

Raoul Dufy (1877–1953) 'Three Umbrellas'

Gabriele Münter (1877–1962) 'Village street in winter' 

Amrita Shergill (1913–1941) 'The Storyteller' 

Ben Nicholsen (1894-1982 ) 'Still Life' 

Adolph Gottlieb (1903 -1974) 'Brink'
Thanks to Andrew for the nice picture and many such amazingly candid snaps that he has taken on the streets and shared in his blog. :-)    

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mumbai Galleries

Here is some interesting news I think worth sharing, particularly for people staying in Mumbai or visiting over weekends. Many art galleries in Mumbai are generally closed on Sundays and this can be quite inconvenient. But fortunately this is about to change. Last week, I received news that some galleries in Kulaba area of South Mumbai (now almost recognized as an Art district) have decided to remain open on fourth Sunday of every month. Not bad! 

Click for the map

Sunday, July 03, 2011

El Anatsui: Shimmering display of the African sensibility

If you are already exposed to the astonishing wall hanging sculptures of El Anatsui, then you will need no further introduction of him. But if not, here is a brief introduction about this legendary Ghanaian sculptor who lives and works in Nigeria. 

Brahim El Anatsui was born in 1944 in Anayko, Ghana. After graduating from Nkrumah University of technology in Ghana, he moved to Nigeria in 1975 to take up a teaching job at Nsukka where he is lecturing at the University’s art institute on sculpture till today. Trained as a sculptor, earlier Anatsui worked with wood, found objects, iron, clay and paint. He established himself and got recognition for his free, unrestricted style of mixed media sculptures. These were non-representational as well as minimal figurative with strong connection with the African symbolism, particularly motifs from Ghanaian culture. Eventually Anatsui’s sculptural quest took him further in his explorations and he experimented with used metal, recycled materials like milk bottles, tins, bottle caps etc. A significant advance came in the late 90’s, when he started creating sparkling tapestry by using flattened liquor bottle caps and beer cans. 

The ‘Anatsui’ that the art world now cherishes and values immensely is through this recent work in particular. Glittering, substantially large in scale and sharply hinting of its African sentiments, Anatsui’s hanging sculptures are free to take any shape and do not display any narrative consciously. But that’s not all about it, behind these magnificent metal hangings there are stories. The stories of conflicting African urbanization, unknown stories of human beings who have touched and used these materials, and also a great attempt to answer some misinterpretations about modern art that has emerged out of African subcontinent form a force behind his work. El Anatsui is praised for his efforts for opening a gateway to contemporary African art, which until now was rather misjudged as mere ethnic native art.
Anatsui’s work has achieved the rare feat of holding on to its innate roots and then going on to transform it into a work of indisputably universal appeal. Today his metal hangings strongly entice the art world and in future, whichever form, shape, and structure they may evolve into, they will always be highly treasured. I strongly feel that his work has created a long lasting impact on the thought process of the art world and a unique place for modern art emerging from Africa.