The Month that was
July – August 2011
by Franck Barthelemy
Bengaluru witnessed a new art season which started slowly in the city when the international art scene is buzzing in every corner of the world. But Bengaluru is a kind of place, which has a life of its own, cut off from the main stream hullabaloo, taking its time to bring to the art lovers the best it has to offer. Some Bengaluru artists are leading the show abroad. Some are distilling their works in the Delhi and Mumbai galleries. Some are studiously preparing their next shows in the loneliness of their studios, while some are hibernating. Most of the city galleries and institutions like Tasveer, Time & Space, 1 Shanti Road, The Goethe Institute, The National Gallery of Modern Art, Ananya Drushya, and Apparao are following the same pattern. July was as unpredictable as the monsoon.
With T S Satyan's photographs, Recorder of Life, Beauty and Truth Tasveer opened its season. I admit that I have never heard about this late master photographer1 from Mysore. Satyan was a photojournalist, freelancing throughout his career. His works were published in all the leading magazines. He was commissioned several books about Karnataka. Exploring Karnataka or Hampi, The Fabled Capital of the Vijayanagar Empire, have marked the memories of the connoisseurs. There is a great sense of freedom, discretion and intimacy in Satyan's photographs. Like many illustrious photographers, he gives viewers the feeling that he was always at the right place at the right time to click the most amazing shots of his life. He had to be close to these ordinary men and women we can see on his snaps, emotionally if not physically. He said, "by making their private life public, they have enabled me to discover the extraordinary in the everyday"2. When I look at Satyan's photographs, I am on a backpack trip across India and her neighbouring countries. I feel he shows me life as it is, without embellishment, just focused on the subject he decides to reveal. I hear the voices of the kids diving in the lake; I smile with the proud mother of the dancer getting ready for her show; I smell the incense a lady is carrying on an offering tray. A fleur de peau 3!
2 Reaching Out, Essay by TS Satyan, published in In Love with Life
3 Highly sensitive
Time & Space organized The Taste of a Collector, an exhibition of paintings showcasing a part of Vatsal Poddar's large collection of art. Over the last 15 years, Vatsal collected several hundred paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures. He sometimes patiently, more often impulsively, acquired works by masters, established and young promising artists. He tried many styles, from figurative to abstract. He basically experienced art as much as he could to come to a conclusion that he cannot like everything. So in collaboration with Time & Space, he decided to sell a share of his collection to the public at amazing prices. A unique opportunity for young collectors to acquire high quality works and, to train their eyes to form interesting concepts like Vatsal!
1Shanti Road brought to us Screening from Cairo, a collection of short movies about the recent Egyptian revolution as the media called it. They captured moments before and after the upraising. An interesting evening between art and documentaries and moreover a different way of looking at the events. Looking at things differently has probably become the trademark of the Bengaluru residency and art centre.
The Goethe Institute that recently welcomed its new director, Christoff Bertrams, presented an artist's talk by Alice Creischer, an artist, writer and curator from Berlin. In her practice, Alice explores the relationship between the subjects and the society. She introduced us to two of her recent projects, Apparatus for the Osmotic Pressure of Wealth During the Contemplation of Poverty, an attempt to draw a portrait of today's world through texts and photographs taken during her travels in Argentina, India and Bolivia. And The Potosí Principle, a bridge between colonial art and the function of art today. Always fascinating to get a grasp of what's happening in the global art scene.
The National Gallery of Modern Art started a movie festival on French Masters by French Masters, Guernica by Alain Resnais or La Victoire de Cezanne by Jacques Deschamp, and many more. The movies provide the public with an opportunity to get insights on some of the most popular artists, Picasso, Cezanne, Degas, Hybert or Courbet. The movies' directors brought in their interpretations of the artists' practices and provide the viewers with reading keys.
Ananya Drushya, an artists' collective venture, came back to the front stage after many months of silence. They organized two artists' presentations, one of which was done by VG Venugopal, a young painter from Mysore, working and living in Bengaluru. Venugopal's practice explores his identities in many ways. His works are very autobiographical, portraying himself many a times in his paintings: a reflection in a mirror, a profile, a face behind a mask or a very academic portrait. In a very realistic way, with accurate strokes and sharp lines, Venugopal gives us a representation of his everyday struggles whether it is loneliness, pollution, stress or the relationship with others. His work is an invite to reflect with him about themes that slowly build an identity. Surely an artist to follow up.
Apparao put together tête-à-tête, an exhibition of paintings and sculptures representing heads. The 2-D and 3-D works by FN Souza, Vaikuntam, Anjali Ela Menon, Shipra Bhattacharya or Laxma Goud created a ground for an interesting dialogue within the artists' practices and/or between the artists too. A good opportunity to be surprised by techniques we might not naturally associate with the artists.