December 2010 – January 2011
by Franck Barthelemy
January treats us with lots of festivities. It is still a month of parties and get together. Many of us celebrate the New Year in lots of different ways and that makes it colorful and full of life. Some of us start new diets and some quit smoking. Many of us are looking for changes. What about moving around your furniture and make your house look different? This is where art can help you. Get new paintings, drawings, sculptures. Is there still a corner available that need character? Think installations. And there is no better time to do it. All the galleries are celebrating the India Art Summit with shows and exhibitions. And the buzz will go on for a few months!
Shanthi Road held Beyond Oxiana, an exhibition by Unni Gjertsen. Unni, a Norwegian visual artist, chose a wonderful title to talk about travels. Oxiana, though a region of the world around the Amu Darya River, resonates like a sesame to enter the magic world of her travel logs. Unni works with words. She talks to people; she asks them questions about their memory of their birth place and starts an exchange she usually relates to contemporary socio-political events. Beyond Oxiana is the last part of an ongoing series about travels. The first three journeys Unni talked about were Cairo, Istanbul and Armenia. In Bangalore, she chose to talk about China. She displayed on high white walls her memories of the conversations she had with 8 Chinese. Amid them were a philosopher, a dancer, an architect, an art critic, and a visual artist. Their memories are thrown to us like bits and pieces of life extracts. Unni builds a space where she shares with the viewers the personal perception of each individual she met and her own perception of the moment she spent with them.
Serendip presented the first solo exhibition of Mantu Das, a Santiniketan artist. The works especially done for the exhibition took the viewers to a world of vibrant colours and narration. Mantu put on canvases stories that he picked up from everywhere, on TV, in the newspapers, from his reading, from his friends. He condensed them and staged them in a very captivating way. Through his stories, Mantu gives us strong and acerb statements about the society he lives in. He reveals its contradictions and highlights its beauty, sometimes in a very romantic way. If you see one of his works, there is a good chance you are going to spot the artist represented on the canvas. Mantu surprised his viewers with the sharpness of his lines. His drawings are done with no hesitation. Serendip has indeed discovered a very talented artist, Mantu Das, a name to remember in the next few years.
Gallery SKE brought to Bangalore Disturbia, Utopia, House Beautiful by Bharti Kher after a long, probably too long, absence from the city. The show, and the term is important, it takes the viewer to a house. We walk in and discover the madness of the house, a madness that is not too far from most of our own houses when we have no time to tidy it up due to lack of time, kids' pressure, work pressure, etc. On one side, someone left an open book of maps in English and French, the fan is on, the pages are floating, as if an invisible reader was turning them. Is the house haunted? Had the reader left in a hurry? What was he doing? What is he doing now? And the cat is sleeping. We moved on and are stopped by the showcases. Tea cups are piled up. One is broken, hidden between the others. The other showcase contains rice and ceramic samosas. Where are we? Is there something wrong, something misplaced? We peep in the room on our right and distinguish a makeup table covered with bindis. Red, pink, blue, purple spots make it live. And it takes off. Two legs up, drawers open. We peep in the left room. A globe is turning on its axis. We feel someone was there not so long ago. We finally enter the last room, maybe the living room. Chairs are scattered around the space. A sari covers the first one. A panty covers the other one. A blanket covers another one. What a mess. In some sort of contradiction, we feel life as well as the absence. We feel like intruders in a house that was left open. We imagine who could live in this house. Have the habitants of the house gone for a last minute trip around the world leaving their house open to the public? Bharti opens doors for us. She does it well, as usual.
Crimson came back to the scene with Quarter Art, a group show for we have not heard about for quite some time. Trend or accident, they focused and advertised the price of the works they showed, everything for less than 30k. The show was a success. Interesting come back...
The NGMA, as active as ever, is trying to become the art epicenter of the city as it should be. It hosted a talk by Prof BV Doshi on Revitalization of the Rur-Urban Galaxies in collaboration with the Max Mueller Bhavan. And it plans many more events from guided walk in the Gallery to movies. It is always worth checking their website. Lots are happening!
Tangerine organized Real (sur) Real showing realistic paintings by a bunch of talented artists. Right Lines is getting ready for Mayur, an exhibition of paintings by Dnyati Wagh, an artist from Pune.
This review is nothing without the dozens of artists who are creating events and arts for us. Two Bangalore based artists made the new outside of the city. Yusuf Arrakal showed An Inner Fire, his recent works, in Delhi. Shantamani created Red River, an ephemeral performance realized in the bed of the river Mahi. Red, water, women, environment. A performance to remember.