The do-not-touch policy no longer applies to artworks as they evolve and change with the participation of the audience, says Chahak Mittal
It was on a summer evening in 2013 when a video, showcasing a group of performers who presented a flashmob recreation of Rembrandt’s famous painting The Night Watch, surfaced on Youtube and went viral overnight. One must remember that this was a pre social media sensations world. The stunt was organised to coincide with the return of the painting, which is considered one of the Dutch artist’s greatest works, to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.
Fast forward to 2019 and you have “Public Radio,” a unique art installation at District Hall’s outdoor plaza in the Seaport, Boston’s home for innovation. Standing 10 feet tall, elegantly sloped along at its front face with the soft rainbow LEDs glowing behind half inch of frosted acrylic, it’s an innovative way to activate a public space using a combination of interactive art and technology. You can turn the metal-rimmed dials to tune to a different station as the corresponding LEDs light up on this giant radio inviting the public to play with and listen to the latest broadcasts and music. Built by New American Public Art in the Microsoft Garage at the New England Research and Development Centre, Public Radio is an interactive art installation with microprocessor parts and a futuristic look that encourages a spirit of community, working and grooving together.
In interactive art works, where the art itself engages with the audience at a public space, it is presumed that the viewers are no longer passive onlookers but the ones who complete the work’s purpose through participation. These could also be deliberately left open-ended in order to make it more understandable and readable for the audience and draw them into what was once considered erudite and classic.
From art in caves to graffiti and sign illustrations in churches, fresco in mosques and tombs, Madhubani art to miniature paintings on fortified walls, the age-old tradition of street art is the first one that comes to mind when we talk about art in the public space.
Giulia Ambrogi, co-founder and curator of the St+art India Foundation, talks about how street art directly engages the population, triggering conversations and beyond the confined walls of a gallery.
“The idea was to move away from the elusive nature of the uptight art gallery concepts that the cities offer. It’s important because cities need identities. The great power of street art, the skills and the sensitivity of the artists speak, everywhere they go they try to respond to the local narratives. Street artists have to keep in mind a lot of things while making the murals — the architecture, texture of the wall, specific city in which they are, country, colours around them, the people that they meet, area that they breathe in, flora and fauna, everything should merge together in conceptualisation and eventually execution of their pieces.”
She feels we live in a time and age where people are disconnected because of the fast chaotic life, “There should be some moment in which we recognise ourselves in our own cities.” For instance, artist Dattaraj Naik, who recently painted one of Goa’s biggest football-themed murals, where a child is sitting in a classroom and thinking about football, which is below his feet. The artwork aimed at representing the common aspirations and feelings of school students who try hard to keep a balance between academics and sports.
Artist and illustrator Rohan Chakravarty’s Gaj Yatra was a series of comic strips displayed at the Mandi House Metro Station, engaging people and triggering conversations around vanishing habitats of elephants.
Time Changes Everything at the Lodhi Art District changes with the angle of the sun. Come at noon to see the wall’s metal cut-outs cast perfect shadows that spell out words like “hope”, “ambition”, time”, “people”—all concepts that shift meanings over time. At 6 pm, the shadows are melting; at night or early morning, there are none at all. It is a commentary on the nature of street art. which is ephemeral because once a piece has been made, it is abandoned.
At the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) recently, a group of performers dressed in the costumes from the 19th century, who casually converged in the central atrium of a mall and broke into a dance in the city. The presentation aimed at recreating artist Raja Ravi Varma’s Portrait of a Family, where the artist captures a South Indian family in their respective attires.
Kiran Nadar, chairperson, had earlier said that since Indians are deeply fond of dance and music, so what could be a better way to connect with the public for spreading awareness for Indian art heritage?
In most art galleries and museums, the ‘Do Not Touch’ rule is non-negotiable. But there could be some people who can’t resist flouting rules. However with more innovative art coming to the fore, the rule doesn’t really stick to them by including people in the pattern that the artwork follows.
For instance, the Mirror Box at the Museum Centre in Krasnoyarsk, Russia creates a never-ending myriad of reflections of everyone who peeped inside the box. On the other hand, Alan Parkinson’s Luminarium installation allowed the viewers to step inside a circular pavilion surrounded with vibrant colours and soft lights. It is important not to confuse these for 3D artworks.
Anahita Taneja, director, Shrine Empire, tells us about their recent curation at the gallery, which allowed viewers to engage in a direct conversation with the artwork on display.
The installation titled, One Thousand Tears by artist Suchitra Gahlot, asked a thousand people from the audience ‘Why did you cry last?’ Their one word replies were labelled on to a thousand small vials. They were then filled with a saline solution that matched the exact composition of human tears. An accompanying use and throw book had the one-word replies printed on tissue paper. Once read, the answers are lost forever.
Taneja says, “It was so beautiful to see how people were constantly getting attracted towards the work. It showed how interactive works make a difference to people, especially the artwork that is touchable. Other sculptures and paintings in a gallery are mostly looked at and forgotten but such works stay within the person even when s/he walks out. They would not only be engaged with it at that time, but would also tell the story to people they know outside.”
Priya’s Mirror, the art exhibition, curated by art connoisseur Mukta Ahluwalia, brought together a range of artworks and augmented reality installations by four different artists that aimed to invoke in people a sense of responsibility towards the society. The artworks were divided into four chapters, featuring India’s first female superhero, ‘Priya Shakti.’ She is a rape survivor, who helps a group of acid attack survivors to find their strengths and overcome their fears — finding similarity with the way she had conquered her fears after the brutality she went through.
One of the visuals had a young girl, in a quiet land, sitting on the back of a tiger. To make it appear real, one had to install a free application on their phones called Blippar, and scan the image through their phone’s camera. The app would activate the digital programme, which in turn would allow people to see the images moving. Here, the girl sits on the back of the tiger and flies away.
She explains that since art is capable of instilling in people a sense of responsibility, then “why not make it more interactive through various media we have today?”
Astral, by Australian illustrator and designer Stuart Campbell (popularly known as Sutu), features a sequence of 21st century tableaux vivants that give participants the sense that they are actually stepping into the paintings.
In another illustration, Dark, by California-based digital artist Steve Teeple, technology and organic matter converge within an inverted, globular space where a few multi-coloured lights pierce through the uncharted inky black terrain of deep, dark space.
Writer : Chahak Mittal
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Sakshi Sharma Anu Menon, popularly known as Lola Kutty, asserts that regional accents are bound to influence the way we speak English. By Sakshi Sharma
A centre parting with braided hair, profusion of jasmine gajras, a small bindi on her forehead, Kanjivaram saris teamed with heavy gold jewellery and a strong as can be Malyali accent. If you put out this description to a 90s kid, nine times (or maybe even 10) out 10, the answer would be Lola Kutty.
Anuradha Menon, who played the much-loved Channel V VJ, will be seen in a stand alone comic show on Amazon Prime called ‘Wonder Menon’. The show is a collection of her observations, a style that she has favoured since she started out. Through this, she aims to boldly expose the absurdity of life and language with humour and multi-lingual jokes. “In this show, I have tied together all my observations and writings, which luckily make that one hour special, really special,” she says.
Her style of comedy is observational coupled with humour rather than one where she delivers traditional punchlines. With Wonder Menon, Anu has exhausted all her writing for this Amazon show so much so for any other programme she will have to start from a scratch.
Anu started comedy in the 90’s when it did not feature high on the list of ‘the thing’ to be pursued. She paved her own path while combating challenges that are inherent in a field that is new and relatively unexplored. Talking about the evolution of the comic industry, the chirpy VJ cum actress says, “I think in the current scenario, there are far more platforms to showcase your talent and connect to people”. In keeping with the times, she feels, if she was doing Lola Kutty today she would have gone through the web route as opposed to television. “The game is changing as there are so many web platforms which have created more avenues and opportunities for stand-up comedy to flourish as well other different kinds of stories.”
For her, comedy is merely jokes and does not convey any lesson. “Everyone portrays comedy differently. Some people are into dark humour, others do lighter comedy while still others are more political. Each one of us have different strengths and this is what makes the comic industry appealing. The various voices offer different perspectives which perhaps one might have not thought about,” she says.
In India, off late, it is the political satire that has been making waves. Anu feels that everyone has a different route to humour. “People believe, with humour, the point is understood smoothly and it also lightens a heavy topic,” she says.
Menon has been accused of making fun of the Malayali community because she imitated the accent. However, she counters saying, “In this country we take offence easily. For me, stereotypes are there for a reason, because they are true. In fact, I don’t think there is anything wrong with people having a strong regional accent as the way we speak our regional tongue possibly infiltrates our English accent.” She strongly feels that we should not be apologetic about the way we speak. As she was playing a character from a particular social setting, it was essential for her to zone out of Anu in order to play it convincingly. She is also the last one to pay heed to what people think about her. Asserting that it is fundamentally impossible to please everyone every time, she is glad that because of her some people feel that Malayalam is a cool language.
With respect to films, she laughs and tells us, “I would not fit into the role of a conventional heroine because I would never survive in this industry as she is a healthy Malayali girl.”
Anu has always given primacy to stage, for a reason. “The stage has always been my first love and it will always be the focal point of my life,” she asserts.
Since Lola Kutty was an iconic act, does she have any plans to reprise it? “I would be happy to to do so if people want to see Lola back in 2.0 avatar. It is always overwhelming to see people remembering Lola,” she says with a sigh.
Writer: Sakshi Sharma
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Olga Bogroff’s small suite is testament to the genesis of Indian contemporary art in Paris. By Uma Nair
Picture this, artist Ram Kumar arrives in Paris at the end of 1949. He has a few works with him, which were done in India. Among them is a work titled Twins. The price of this gouache on paper is Rs 65. Another is called Why Can’t I Get Sleep, which has a romantic reverie about it as you see a young maiden reclining with a woman who is sitting next to her in companionship, perhaps presiding over the travails of the world. The work belongs to Olga Bogroff, a gallery persona in Paris, who used her home as a gallery for young unknown artists. It was called Galerie Olga Bogroff and these works today form Grosvenor’s stunning South Asian Modern Art exhibition.
Romancing the figurative
Kumar’s works are a reflection of an early romance with the figurative and a study on female studies that unravel like jewels from the yesteryear. Twins and Why Can’t I Get Sleep are two succinct works steeped in history. This is perhaps the best time to go back in 1993 to Ram Kumar’s words as he recalled, “Perhaps every artist starts with the figurative because when we go to an art school, there is a model and we have to do drawings, learn anatomy and all that. So perhaps it is a very natural thing, along with landscape, at least for me. The reason I made these sort of paintings, was that I was a bit inspired by the left politics at that time and I was inclined towards the tragic side of life. It all started here, becoming more mature in Paris. And even if I had not been inspired by politics, perhaps I would have made the same kind of paintings because that is a part of my nature some sort of sadness, misery or whatever it is. Also my short stories are always towards people who have suffered.”
Twins has two female figures, their saris billowing in the breeze, while Why Can’t I Get Sleep has a reclining young woman with a bare midriff, eyes wide open resting in leisure while another sits next to her. The division of the space into a grill and the foreground textured with small strokes speaks of both simplicity and sophistication. In this composition, Kumar creates a tableau vivant. This painting combines the realism and cultural symbolism of a social construct with the contrast of two complexions — the bronze skin and the fair toned lass, who is unable to get sleep. Indeed it also reflects a romantic dalliance in the features that Kumar created with a softness and feminine aura that sparks hope, and the subtle play of pensive poise.
The third figurative is another head turner from 1949. Sorrow has a number of women with the elongated dark faces and hollow eyes. The drapes on these women are indeed a testimony to modernism and the beauty of weaving in a language that was ahead of its time. Even when he created figurative, Kumar had a deep understanding of fluid lines, fervour and creating an expression in his triangular faces that was unique to its time and place. Kumar was acutely aware of his urban surroundings and the sense of togetherness in sorrow is the mood that he binds in this historic image. It is an insight to both technique and treatment. In this image of women in sorrow, Kumar treats the feminine figures with a sombre tenderness, invoking the idioms of both sympathy and sorrow. It is the mood of the gathering and the grace in sadness that transcend their own circumstances.
While looking at these epic early works one recalls the words of India’s greatest abstract guru, the thinker, the critic and the genius J Swaminathan when he wrote in an essay on Trends in Indian Modernism, for the Lalit Kala Contemporary published in 1995.
“Ram Kumar, an artist born and brought up in the atmosphere of the city middle class, looking into the empty souls of people ground down by the gruelling run of the daily mill, looking into eyes that have lost their animation, eyes that are windows opening into nothingness, is again a painter who has relied on his personal vision for his artistic endeavors, sad drooping figures, rendered with childlike directness, lingering like shadows in gloomy surroundings of gaunt and empty streets and houses.”
And then there is the brilliant observation of Shyam Lal who wrote, “As a young artist, Ram Kumar was captivated by or rather obsessed with the human face because of the ease and intensity with which it registers the drama of life. The sad, desperate, lonely, hopeless or lost faces which fill the canvases of his early period render with pathos his view of the human condition.” This small suite belonging to Olga Bogroff is the stuff of history, the testament of Indian contemporary art’s genesis in Paris and the connection of great French ambassadors and diplomats who played such a seminal game in the growth of Contemporary Indian art’s masters The Progressives.
Writer: Uma Nair
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Great music, good food aplenty, guests from different walks of life and the underlying bonhomie between our two countries made for a memorable Russia Day
Classical music that was zesty and foot- tapping wafted through the air at the Russian Embassy as it geared up to celebrate Russia Day. The occasion commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) on June 12, 1990. Given the long-standing relationship that India shares with the country, the embassy in Chanakyapuri was abuzz with guests from all walks of life.
Foreign Secretary V K Gokhale was the chief guest while Najma Heptulla, Governor of Manipur, was the guest of honour. Heptulla was also presented with the Russian State award called the Order of Friendship.
The food at the do was catered by the LaLit Group of Hotels. The highlight of the evening was the ensemble, STRADIVALENKI, which comprised four virtuoso violin, accordion, piano and double-bass players and played numbers that had the guests shaking their heads.
Nikolay Kudashev, Ambassador of Russia to India, while addressing the guests, reiterated that Russia highly valued and respected India’s rich history, culture and traditions. “We are very proud to note that one of the first major international initiatives taken by new Russia was the signing of the Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation with India on January 28, 1993 which reaffirmed the continuity of our unique relationship,” he said. He further elaborated that the Declaration of Strategic Partnership of 2000 laid the foundation of the modern relationship, which since 2010 has enjoyed the status of Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership that is immune to any changes in domestic affairs or vagaries.
He went on to add, “In 2018 our leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, met twice for bilateral summits both informal and the full-fledged one and several times on the sidelines of various international fora.”
The ambassador also highlighted that Russia and India are time-tested partners in the military and military-technical spheres and recent years have seen a host of deals being signed for production of military equipment under the Make in India programme. “Economic cooperation is also one of the top priorities of our relations. The 2018 October summit in New Delhi resulted in a new series of important agreements and MoUs, introducing a new platform for aspiring entrepreneurs — Russia-India Business Summit, which showed eagerness and ability of our companies to enhance trade, economic and investment partnership.”
He was pleased to note that the relationship was not confined to the two governments as “it is gratifying and inspiring that people-to-people contacts and mutual affinity are the key drivers of the Russian-Indian friendship giving new impetus to the ever-expanding areas of our cooperation. This is the reason why we proudly declare that the amity between Russia and India has become a deep-rooted popular tradition in both countries.”
The evening ended on a high note for the guests and the delegates.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer
Ralph Rugoff’s choice of three Indian artists speaks of his acumen, his observation and his erudite understanding of knowing that his role is one of great responsibility and deep understanding.By Uma Nair
For his group show, May You live Interesting Times, at the Venice Biennale, curator Ralph Rugoff’s has chosen three Indian artists from 79. The choice speaks of his acumen, his observation and his erudite understanding of knowing that his role is one of great responsibility and deep understanding.
Amongst the three are Shilpa Gupta who has a penchant for reinventing herself with each installation, Gauri Gill who has spent years blending the verbal and visual in research tenets of marginalised communities in far-flung places such as Maharashtra and Rajasthan and the youngest of the lot, 30-year-old nocturne hunter, Soham Gupta who walks into the other side of midnight in Kolkata to find his subjects unravel an angst that we have never cared to observe.
When we look at the three artists, we are aware that he has picked them for the prowess in creating commentaries on the power and pathos found in communities, both past and present. When asked why he chose his title he has stated, “I also wanted a title that wasn’t too specific, but framed the times we live in. This Biennale responds to this moment in time and that is what is interesting about such events. They give you a form to think again about what happened in the last two years and what new ideas are changing the future that we are moving towards. What I was really interested in, was artists whose work is very open-ended and is more about asking questions than providing answers and experiments with the way we look at images and think about stories. A lot of this came from the ideas of Umberto Eco’s 1962 piece, The Open Work, where he gives a perfect description of what the culture of contemporary art has been for the last 60 years and continues to be and why it has value for society.”
Soham Gupta’s Kolkata
Soham’s Angst, a poignant series of portraits, entirely shot at night, portrays people in Kolkata who live on the margins of society. In an interview he states, “ I have been working on Angst since 2013. It is a work in progress. It has now evolved into a hopeless tale of a fictive night-time hellhole, whose nooks and crannies are inhabited by decaying souls. It has its roots in my childhood riddled with severe asthma attacks and in my troubled growing-up years spent trying to come to terms with the world’s expectations. I want this work to ultimately stand as testimony to the requiem of countless dreams, even as it is a record of my angst-ridden youth.”
Shilpa Gupta 100 poets and Gateway
Shilpa Gupta creates history of sorts for having two immersive installations in the Venice Biennale. Rugoff obviously understood her brilliance and her ability to reinvent the vitality of research and installation to present a comment on society. Shilpa Gupta’s new multi-channel sound installation gives voice to 100 poets who have been jailed through time for their writing or their beliefs. On entering the dimly-lit space of the Fire Station, visitors will encounter 100 microphones suspended over 100 metal rods, each piercing a verse of poetry. Over the course of an hour, each microphone in turn recites a fragment of the poets’ words, spoken first by a single voice then echoed by a chorus which shifts across space.
The poets’ words emerge from microphones, fitted with speakers, a device Gupta has adopted in earlier works to remind us that the microphone is not simply something to speak into, but a means to broadcast a message on a large scale. Here the microphones literally and symbolically give a voice to those whom regimes from around the world have sought to silence.
The idea of creating an archive of 100 emblematic instances is an approach the artist has adopted in previous works as well. Someone else: a library of 100 books published anonymously or under pseudonyms (2011), had brought together 100 books published by an author under another name as the author wanted to remain anonymous. Each one was etched in metal.
Shilpa’s second installation is a gate that swings back and forth as it hits and breaks the wall that it is embedded in.
Gauri Gill, India’s archival photographer who has been creating stunning narratives of groups of people in marginalised peripheries, unveils two important series of works.The first Acts of Appearance was shown at the Met museum last year. It is a series of vivid colour photographs for which the artist worked closely with members of an Adivasi community in Jawhar district of Maharashtra. Gill’s collaborator-subjects are renowned for their paper-mâché objects, including traditional sacred masks. In these pictures they engage in everyday village activities while wearing new masks, made expressly for this body of work, which depict living beings with the physical characteristics of humans, animals, or valued objects. A range of scenarios and narratives, situated in both “reality” and dreamlike state, come together in the photographs, which simultaneously portray symbolic or playful representations as well as the familiar experiences of community members against the backdrop of their home and culture.
Gill’s second set of works is entitled Becoming 2003 and deals with a study of narratives that envision a documentation of the tapestry of time.
In choosing all three Indian contemporary artists Rugoff presents the finest in the search for societal commentaries that talk about universal truths and the widening of gaps between the richest and the poorest.
(The Venice Biennale runs till November 2019.)
Writer: Uma Nair
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Himmat Shah’s deep understanding of dimension and dynamics is evident in the display of his terracotta works at Bihar Museum, says U Nair
The generous 5.3 hectare plot along Patna’s Bailey Road allowed for a variety of site planning approaches, while demanding sensitivity to its low-scale surroundings and prominent tree growth. Architect Fumihiko Maki has recreated an art oasis, like the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, in the country with the Bihar Museum in Patna.
To witness Himmat Shah’s retrospective by chief curator Roobina Karode of KNMA, at its temporary exhibition space at the Bihar Museum, is an awakening about the creativity of the artist in his lifetime of 60 years where he kept reinventing himself. This shows the evolution of Himmat Shah. Of course he and Roobina share the relationship of an artist and a critic which goes back 30 years and gives a deeper understanding of his oeuvre. At the Bihar Museum it is the terracotta sculptures of Himmat that entice the eye.
The setting, too, is of importance for architect Maki conceived the Bihar Museum as a “campus” — an interconnected landscape of buildings and exterior spaces that maintain a modest but dynamic profile, in harmony with existing site conditions. For Mohammed Yusuf, director of Bihar Museum, the space lends itself to many kinds of discourse. “A large number of visitors tell us that art is being valued and appriciated. Each programme zone (entrance/event, exhibition, administration and children/educational) has been given a distinct presence and a recognisable form within the complex,” states Yusuf. The various zones are linked together via interior and exterior courtyards and corridors ensuring that all spaces retain a connection to the surrounding landscape while remaining sheltered and comfortable throughout the year.
Fervid and fired
There are sculptural wonders that embrace both still life and restrained rotund compositions which cover the entire spectrum from quaint to curious. The terracotta works speak of ferment in the oldest medium of art — the humble clay. The works give a deeper understanding of the sculptor through a careful analysis of his hand-moulded terracotta models. These not only shape his artistic ferment but also showcase his inner rumination of simplicity born of history and memory and experience.
Dynamics and dimensions
Himmat’s deep understanding of dimension and dynamics come into play when we see his terracotta compositions. The circular orb with a large aperture is a catalyst for combustion in terms of ideation. We can imagine how he began by rapidly modeling small clay forms in geometry and symbolism with his own hands. Fired as terracotta, these studies are small yet expressive works in their own right. Together with small monochromatic drawings, they preserve the first traces of Himmat’s fervid imagination and unique creative process that evolved into some of the most quaint and curious sculptures in tone and timbre.
The small rotund form with folds, a sliced image of a bottle and other works in the exhibition retrace Himmat’s unparalleled approach to sculptural design and his use of vigorous clay studies in directing the language of his own solitude when he began working in the studios of Garhi in Delhi. The terracotta panels in this exhibition offer viewers a more profound insight into the artist’s dazzling, creative mind and his impact on the fabric of texture in a medium that is as ancient as civilisation itself.
Solitude and the studio
“I worked in terracotta because it was full of possibilities,” says Himmat. The mind and the hands both work in sync because you can see that he examined problems of construction and design by modelling damp clay with his fingers and tools with incredible dexterity. It is amazing to think about his perseverance and his patience as he created works in the solitude of his own studio and how he would decide carefully on the perspective of his magical terracotta compositions. It is Himmat’s underlying understanding of both modernism and the power of contours that we see in his brilliance and his ability to sculpt in clay. Just a few pieces of terracotta are enough to showcase his range as a modeller in this historic museum in Patna.
Himmat’s terracotta pieces divulge an impassioned imagination and also raise the curtain on the deeper intensities of sculpture-making. The beauty of these works is that occasionally, he also presented both finished and unfinished models. The rough hewn edges speak of the testimony of time and the power of juxtapositions in the creative process. These explain the evolution of Himmat’s work, as he shifted between media like bronze as well as drawings.
At the Bihar Museum, it is the few but small terracotta works that create a rich, unique experience for visitors because they speak of the ethos and essence of time and continuity. They also reflect the truth that Himmat Shah is a modernist who has worked in the solitude of his own penumbra for 60 years, and it is time that the Indian market wakes up to the tenor of his genius.
Writer: U Nair
Courtesy: The Pioneer
A celebration of life and the incandescent beauty of nature comes under the spotlight during an exhibition of artworks by artist Venkat Raman Singh Shyam. Curated by Ina Puri, Art Alive Gallery presents Clouds of Wings Till May 30 at the Art Alive Gallery, S-221, Panchsheel Park.
India International Centre presents screening of And the Alley She White Washed in Light Blue, a film by Nili Portugali, which takes us on an intimate journey to the Galilean Kaballa, holy city of Tzfat in Israel. This will be followed by a panel discussion. When: April 23 Time: 6.30 pm Where: C.D. Deshmukh Auditorium.
Cosmo Arts India Gallery presents Cosmic Voyage, a show by Indian masters and contemporary artists, that takes us on a journey through the galaxy of Indian art. Time: 10 am to 6 pm When: April 24 to 25 Where: Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road.
GAG Moderne presents Underground Talks, a series of conversations between artist Manish Pushkale and an eminent guest from the art scene every month to bring creative minds together and provoke conversations that matter. This month’s Pushkale will be in conversation with designer and art curator, Rajiv Sethi. when: April 27 TIME: 5.30 pm Where: GAG Moderne, Sadhna Enclave, Panchsheel Park.
Art Magnum presents a solo exhibition of artworks by Goa-based artist Mohan Naik. The works are inspired from his immediate surroundings, an isolated village in South Goa, amidst nature. when: April 24 to May 12 TIME: 11 am to 7.30 pm Where: 6C/4, 2nd Floor, Yusuf Sarai, Indian Oil Complex, Aurobindo Marg.
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Stopping the spread of pornography won’t be attained through the act of banning Tik Tok, or any other act for that matter. When the first camera-enabled phones came out, the Nokia 7650 in fact, a senior journalist mentioned that we have opened a Pandora’s Box by giving easy access to photography and videography devices in the hands of everyone. Without the slight control of a film processing shop, the world changed. Today mobile phones sell on the basis of how good and powerful their selfie cameras are. And smartphone cameras have changed the way we communicate with each other and even consume media. Many media houses are talking about a pivot to ‘Mo-Jo’ meaning mobile journalism.
But like with any technology, the ability to misuse also arose very quickly. A famous video of a Delhi schoolgirl involved in a sex act made headlines across the country back in 2002, and that was just the start of the garbage heap. The advent of the hand-held computers that we call smartphones today made matters worse. Because while they enabled the rise of applications that allow people to share anything and everything, people literally shared anything and everything. In the Philippines and to an extent across South Asia, young girls and boys are exploited and made to perform using such apps, which keep the identities of the abusers completely secret. It is alleged that the Tik Tok application was one of those apps that allowed sexual exploitation to take place very openly and instances have emerged of young women and clearly underage girls performing using this application. But banning this is not the solution, many other messaging and sharing applications have similar privacy issues and short of banning smartphones, nobody can really control such content from spreading. So stopping Tik Tok is like lighting a coil to prevent mosquito bites, it might temporarily solve the problem but is not a long-term solution. Once the Pandora’s Box had been opened, it could not be shut again, and this is the same here. What we can do is better educate young children to raise their voices if they are being abused. And also have far better vigil of the digital environment. Policing is inadequate in the physical world but that is no excuse to not be better prepared online. Banning is not the only solution.
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Vriksh, the theatre, presents Thespis 3: the third season of the National Micro Drama Festival. The event has scheduled around 40 plays on a single day with maximum span of 10 minutes. When: April 21 time: 10 am onwards Where: Kamani Auditorium.
Abhisarika is a solo exhibition that showcases works by artist Sukanta Das. The show will be inaugurated by artists like Aruna Vasudev, Sunit Tandon, Sudip Roy, Asit Patnaik, Dharmendra Rathore, Shampa Sirkar Das, besides eminent Tapas Sarkar. When: April 20 to 26 Time: 10 am to 7 pm Where: Lalit Kala Akademi, Rabindra Bhavan.
Cosmo Arts India Gallery presents She-Shakti, a solo exhibition by director Meenu Kumar. The event will witness the celebration of women empowerment. Time: 9 am to 6 pm When: April 21 to 26 Where: Galeria Romain Rolland, Alliance Française.
Artist Neena Singh presents Paridrishya, a solo exhibition of her paintings, in which she reflects the beauty of nature with fresh and vibrant colours, motivating the viewers to preserve it for the future. when: Till April 18 TIME: 11 am to 7 pm Where: Lalit Kala Akademi.
Art Magnum presents a solo exhibition of artworks by Goa-based artist Mohan Naik. The works are inspired from his immediate surroundings, an isolated village in South Goa, amidst nature. when: April 24 to May 12 TIME: 11 am to 7.30 pm Where: 6C/4, 2nd Floor, Yusuf Sarai, Aurobindo Marg.
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Five states from India will grace the 5th edition of London Craft Week as it showcases 10 rare crafts and diverse skills from the territories. The craft sector has gone through many phases of transformation over the years, and many believe that there is an emergence of a new culture which at the same time retains tradition. With the success of India Craft Week held for the first time in India last year, the Craft Village has been invited for an exclusive preview to showcase 10 rare crafts from India at the forthcoming fifth edition of London Craft Week.
“The preview has a montage of 5,000 years of rich heritage of Indian crafts in wood, textiles, metal, narrative art, weaving and much more in form of exhibition, workshops, demonstrations, talks. One can experience the finesse, beauty and style of timeless treasures,” says Iti Tyagi, founder of Craft Village.
The preview also brings on board the diverse skills from five different states, acquired over thousands of years in Pashmina weaving, Rogan textile art, Chamba Rumaal — double-side embroidery, Kagzi pottery, Bidri — metal carving and inlay and Phad — Narrative folk art.
the best part for the visitors is that they can learn these skills from the master craftsmen. Iti says, “Most of these rare crafting skills have either been lost or forgotten as very few masters practise them today. It is an opportunity for all the visitors to explore and learn these rare and authentic techniques from award winning masters, using a range of traditional material, media and processes. Interestingly, most of the techniques are tactile in nature and help one concentrate thus giving people a break from the digital world in order to do something which is more humane, sensory and experiential.”
All demonstrations are hands on and authentic material would be provided by the master craftsperson for each of them. This helps each participant to explore their modern creative and imaginative ideas using authentic traditional techniques. The demonstration will have six craft forms:
Bidri — Metal ware from Karnataka
Master Rashid Qadri is a dynasty craftsperson who has been instrumental in reviving Bidri silver crafts. He has innovated new methods of carving, inlaying and finishing of metal inlay in zinc and copper alloy with silver.
Pashmina — Weaving from Kashmir
Master Majid Mir, one of youngest Kashmiri weaver comes from the family whose forefathers had evolved and innovated calligraphy weaving in Pashmina centuries back. Being a National award-winner and having developed finest weaving techniques in Urdu calligraphy, most of his shawls talk about heaven on earth.
Chamba Rumaal — Embroidery from Himachal Pradesh
Gold medal winner, master Lalita Vakil has been one of finest craftswomen to practice this embroidered form in region of Chamba valley, inspired from pahari miniature paintings. It is only form of textile which has no wrong side.
Rogan — Textile art from Gujarat
Master Gafoor Bhai Khatri is the last generation to practice this intricate textile craft. He was recently conferred with a Padmashri, the fourth highest civilian award of India for protecting and reviving this craft in 2007. The Rogan craft practiced by the master (looks like 3-D printed textiles) is done in natural oil colours using a stick.
Kagzi — Pottery from Rajasthan
Master Om Prakash Galav comes from a community called Prajapati, who has been engaged in Ramgarh clay and pottery for many centuries. Besides being a National award-winner, he has many international records to his credit for making the world’s smallest pottery to the largest hukkah.
Phad — Narrative art
Master Kalyan Joshi hails from Bhilwara, Rajasthan. The Joshi comes from “Jyotshi” meaning astrologers and he is one of the seven authentic phad artists practising this art form in the world. He has been conferred the National award and many other prestigious accolades. He has also helped in creating wall narratives using this art in various villages across India on conserving water, sanitation and planting trees.
(London Craft Week will be held between May 8 and 10 at Hyde Park, London.)
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Tales about disparate homes and civilisations come alive in Artist Keshari Nandan’s tall cylindrical pots with small mouths. The Artist has been known for his love of nature and pottery skills, which he has pushed further with his latest stoneware collection. “I am developing new techniques to recreate the magic of the old potter’s wheel by using traditional motifs and shapes but I add a modern touch, without losing the established aesthetic.” The Rajasthan dweller and AIFACS award-winning artist’s experiments with stoneware go back more than 20 years and are a testimony to his perseverance at a wood-fired kiln in his studio near the mines in Rajasthan.
The particles, pores and textural terrain that we see on his pots, platters and tree symbolisms are reminiscent of stories of the accidental, the deliberate and the perfection that must go into the blending of glazes and precision in firing techniques that he has practised over the years.
The first thing that comes to our minds is the difference between stoneware and earthenware. It is much less porous than earthenware, about one to five per cent. It is stronger too, in some ways than earthenware.
Keshari says that everything in stoneware is about the finality and understanding of the recipe and ingredients. Stoneware recipes usually have a combination of fire clays, ball clays (and/or kaolin), quartz and feldspar. In vitrified bodies the larger grains of quartz and other refractory particles remain unmelted while the clays go into solution in the feldspar glass and transform into mineral forms that impart rigidity to the mass.
History tells us that stoneware was first developed in the Indus Valley Civilisation and in China around 2,000 years ago. However, we see that stoneware in studio pottery has taken over the West and there are a number of potters creating avant grade works. Keshari’s tall cylindrical pots with small mouths go back in time and tell us tales about different homes and civilisations.
Glazes and wood firing
The most telling testimony in these works is the persistent quality and finish of the glazes that Keshari uses. The glaze does not merely lie on the surface but rather melts at the interface and therein lies the key to the amalgam. Keshari’s stoneware and clay platter is a cynosure of all eyes. It talks to us about the painstaking accuracy needed for stoneware recipes. He combines the density of the tenmaku glaze with crackle glaze to create a platter that unveils lunar modulations.
In his taller cylindrical pots that echo earth songs, he uses the tenmaku glaze with crater glaze and wood fires at a temperature of 1,260 degree centigrade. In yet another set of lighter palette ensembles, he uses stoneware glaze and white matt with crater glaze and wood fires them. His unglazed stoneware vase is a delightful tall urn like creation with rough hewn clumps that can go back to the days of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa civilisations.
Materials in stoneware
Stoneware is noted for its excellent working properties. The workability of these materials results from the fact that their recipe does not need to contain a lot of plasticity-reducing feldspar or silica (natural clay materials usually contain their own fluxes). Stoneware bodies often contain particulates that produce gases on decomposition that can cause bloating if the body is fired to near zero porosity. They contain refractory particles that do not melt during firing. They form a fired skeletal structure with voids between the particles and in these the feldspars melt to bond and densify the structure. These works are collectibles that must be used as punctuations in spaces.
Writer: U Nair
Courtesy: The Pioneer