by Franck Barthelemy
Anju Dodya, Archana Hande, Jayshree Chakravarty, NS Harsha, Jittish Kallat, Nalini Malani, Anant Joshi, Mithu Sen, Aditi Singh, Vivan Sundaram and Reena Saini. This is only the beginning of a long list of Indian artists who are showcased at one of the most high-profile art fairs, Art Basel Miami Beach, which has just kicked off. It is a buzzing event to follow. There are novelties everywhere. And talking about novelties, Bangalore had her share this month.
Apparao, the new comer on the Bangalore art scene, presented us three shows. FN Souza's Before the Canvas Series was probably the surprise of the month. Those who ventured to the gallery could enjoy a series of drawings, most of them sketches, by the legendary painter. They are from the Madras Sketch Book done in 1987 when the artist visited the city. Village scenes, nudes and portraits --- all depict Souza's extraordinary style.The gallery also showed us The Messiah Today, a series of canvases by Alex Kersey. In this series, Alex reinterprets biblical scenes, “The Garden of Eden” or “The Last Supper” for instance, in a way similar to the style of a traditional Indian billboard artist working in the 1980s. It surely creates a style, maybe a trifle baffling at first sight. And finally, the gallery brought to us The Sun & Moon, a series of canvases by N. Ramachandran, a Chennai-based artist. Once in the exhibition space, the viewer is hit by the dominant colour of the series, gold. It shines and creates this particular atmosphere of a Constantinople church centuries ago. The second feeling might be the one of the Matrix, the movie. Stripes of newspapers are cut and displayed on the canvases in such a way that the viewers can easily imagine a movement of words flashing by in front of his/her eyes. To add up to the movement, the artist creates different zones on every canvas. In each zone, he plays with directions and takes the viewers upward or leftward, rightward or downward. The artist sets up the ground for a potentially interesting dialogue with his public.
Mahua gifted us with two wonderful evenings combining painting, music and dance, Seasons of Love and Longing. Dr Goswami took us to two journeys into Indian miniatures. The first one focused on the Baramasa, a poem articulating the feeling of a woman longing for her lover throughout the twelve months of the year. The Rajasthan miniaturists produced hundreds of beautiful paintings to illustrate the poem. Each detail has significance and symbolizes a feature of the month, whether it is the cold of December or the heat of August, whether it is the jealousy of the lady or the frivolousness of her lover. The songs of Ashwini Bhide completed the journey through the Baramasa. It was the ideal match to end up the first part of the show. The second talk by Dr Goswami took us into the Gita Govinda, a 12th century text illustrating the love story of Krishna and Radha. No need to say that the poem has inspired many miniaturists. Their interpretation of it brought to the posterity some of the most detailed romantic miniatures portraying all the emotions and the pleasures of a loving couple. And to conclude the evening, Mahua offered us an Odissi dance performance by Madhavi Mugdal. Another perfect match to wrap up a talk on Krishna. Mahua also organized a more traditional exhibition of bronze sculptures, Breaking Barriers by Elanchezhiyan. The artist speaks about women and stages them fighting bulls or doing Kalari, the Indian martial art. She has opened an ever- lasting debate on the place of the women in our society and, in his own way, and with a lot of strength, he answers the question on women / men equality.
Sara Arakkal features Hampi Stones, water colours by Mohamed Rizwan. The artist's obsession with history takes us through a walk across the beautiful city of Hampi. Works are very figurative and simple. Riswan has made most of the series on sight, the way documentarists would have done it two or three centuries ago.
Right Lines ventures into the world of prints with Graphitas. Lithographies, etchings, linographies, digital prints and serigraphie are the stars of the month. Of course,for those who dream to have a feel of Tyeb Mehta or a KG Subramaniam on their walls at home without getting broke.
Gallery G was in a festive mood and introduced to us Kole Basava, Kala Basava are very colourful, figurative and lively paintings by Mohammed Osman which are accompanied by a show of Indian contemporary dance. The blend has worked well and brought extra life to the paintings.
The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA)'s walks are back mostly every week end. The gallery's curators have organized different themed walks across the collections in order to show the curious viewers the richness of Indian paintings. It is a privilege to have such a collection in the city of Bangalore, a privilege yet to be discovered by most of the city's art lovers.