May – June 2011
by Franck Barthelemy
Sales! This word is everywhere, on every shop windows, there is a board or a poster carrying this word in the city of malls. This is not new. Nowadays, we regularly see it on gallery’s invitations. Is it a Bangalore trend or a market trend? Over the last few months, many galleries are trying to push sales offering discounts. They call it show but they exhibit what they have in stock and what has not moved for months sometimes years because works are poor quality or not interesting at all. Art can be expensive and the prices can discourage young or new buyers, no doubt. But I feel throwing discounts is not the way to rejuvenate the market. Maybe one can convince the artists that their supposedly 'quotes' have reached unreasonable levels and those levels are gone with the winds of recession. It is time to come down to earth and offer good works at good price.
No sales at the NGMA but an exceptional exhibition where photo connoisseurs can enjoy until July 8th a Retrospective of works by Homai Vyarawalla, the first woman photojournalist of independent India. From 1937 to 1970, she captured in black and white moments of Indian history. Her camera caught great personalities, the end of the Second World War, the first steps of Nehru as a prime minister and his daughter Indira. Homai was everywhere. Her main professional regret: she missed Gandhi's assassination because her husband called her back to the office for admin work while she was on her way to a prayer ceremony at Birla House. 276 photographs will introduce the viewers to Homai's huge body of works. And at 98 years old, the lady came to Bangalore to inaugurate the show, talk to the journalists, and explain the story behind each photo with passion and energy. Hats off to the Alkazi Foundation and Sabeena Gadihoke for curating a marvellous journey in the history of India. An exhibition not to miss!
Gallery SKE, managed to be on two continents at the same time with a great boot at Art Brussels and Breakdown of Shorter Concerns in the city by Mariam Suhail. Mariam ingeniously associates drawings and text and take the viewers to different stories and situation. The viewers enter the works the way they read a novel, with lots of room for imagination (and laughs). To take the public to her world, Mariam invented guides, just in case we don't know how to fold a table for instance. She introduces objects before transforming some of them and dropping them in a corner, on the wall or in the middle of the room. Did you know an LPG bottle is inflatable?
Apparao Gallery showcased a retrospective of A. Balasubramaniam. Various styles, various media, different universes. The artist tried everything with maybe one red thread: he goes to the point. He is sharp and minimalist. He uses colours with parsimony. Overloading the viewers with so many different techniques can lose them though. That might be the risk of a retro...
1 Shanti Road presented Bondage and Beyond by Veena Basavarajaiah, Gaps in Rendering by Vijay Sarathy CN and THAI a photo installation by Krithika Srinivas do Canto. THAI resonates particularly well in the city of Bangalore: the artist reminds the young successful professionals that somewhere home, maybe far away, sit old parents or grandparents who gave everything they could for them and are now old, sick and alone. 1 Shanti Road also invited Rakhee Balaram for Fearful Symmetry: Amrita Sher-Gil's Two Girls, a talk analysing the 1939 painting in the light of new materials published by Vivan Sundaram. Great, as usual!
Mahua staged Creating with ceramics where nine artists from Bhopal experiment the medium. This is an unusual venture in the art scene. One needs a taste for it in order to appreciate the audacity of the artists.
Jaaga organized Sound & Lights, the last show of the season at their current location. Italian, English, American, German and Indian artists have created an interactive installation to celebrate the living building. The experience is based on the essay Enlightened Singularity by Jaaga Juice. I am looking forward to seeing Jaaga in its new avatar in a few months time.
Jagriti offered the city a Tagore Festival. For a week, movies, plays, poetries, songs, music and talks paid tribute to Rabindranath Tagore. The new theatre finds its way to the Bangalore audience. Many enjoyed Necessary Targets by Eve Enslers narrating the encounter between five women in a refugee camp, an experienced psychiatrist and a young counsellor determined to write a book on 'women in war'. Very atypical!
And Bangalore is getting ready for Art Bengaluru, the annual art fair that pulls together all the city galleries organized at UB City from 17th to 24th June. Last year, over 5,000 visitors came over 10 days. For the second edition, the organizers have opened the fair to all India galleries. Paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, talks, workshops, Art Bengaluru is a unique opportunity for the art community to interact with the art lovers. Yusuf Arakal is polishing his interpretation of an Ambassador to be unveiled to the city during the show. And many other Bangalore artists will make a point to present their latest works. The summer will be hot!