Art News & Views

Art Bengaluru

The Month that was

August – September 2011

by  Franck Barthelemy

While the politicians were fighting for power (and maybe more), while they blocked the roads to reach their meetings faster, while they sought blessings from each and every holy person in the city and in the state of Karnataka, I wish they could remember that there is so much to be done to develop all forms of arts in the city. I wish they could spend money to maintain the museums and enrich the collections. I wish they could create more public art spaces in the city. I wish they could support programmes to give exposure to the local artists. Fortunately, the Bangalore art institutions played their role wonderfully this month. They brought to us such a diverse programme that every art lover could find food for thought.

Gallery SKE is showcasing Synesthesia, installations by Andrea & Luigi Anastasio and Avinash Veeraraghavan, till September 3rd. Are you also wondering what this word means? I looked at its roots. In Greek, "syn" is union and "aesthesis" is sensation. The union of sensations … that is what the show is all about. And the three artists made it with everyday objects. Andrea used empty cartons to create Jungle Mall, an original and unique set of trophies of the consumption society, Avinash used postcards to create I am my own past, memories dropped of a souvenir box hidden under a bed, Luigi played with layers of pigments and wood, the way the Japanese masters would create lacquer. In very different ways, the three long time friends present to the viewers their own definition of time passing. An exhibition where you feel like spending hours without getting bored!

Gallery Sumukha brought to us Twotally, Ravi Shah's latest works, a Bangalore based artist who has a passion for wood. For several years now, Ravi works on various essences of wood to give birth to more or less figurative characters. Those who know him well can sometimes recognize the models … The oblong shape and the raw cut finish of the sculptures give them a very primitive look. Ravi also showed a few drawings, mostly portraits, and photo montages, mostly trees. The clever set up of the different works chosen by the gallery created an unusual dialogue between flora and fauna, a kind of private forest where the viewers could wander.

Apparao offered us a very different exhibition of works by T. Vaikuntam. The gallery managed to find very rare colourful paintings on wood, very representative of the artist's Andhra Pradesh style. An unusual series of etching depicting men's grave and dark portraits caught the attention of many a viewers. A good opportunity to peep into the works of one of the most popular artist in South India.

The National Gallery of Modern Art launched An Artist's Quest: KK Hebbar- A Retrospective, commemorating his hundredth birth anniversary. From drawings to paintings, Hebbar captured the movement of life of everyday scenes by common people in a sensational way as well as social concerns with the strength of an activist. The exhibition offers, till the end of October, a wonderful sample of his works. A must see!

Tasveer takes us to Mexico with The Eye of Graciela Iturbide, an exhibition of photos by the eponymous artist. Though Graciela became famous for her shoots of Mexican women, she also travels the world looking for images to freeze memories and maybe to tell stories too. Her photos make visual novels. They take the viewers on a journey to discover people and places in black & white. Graciela said she was inspired by Cartier-Bresson and Salgado. Not sure she needs the comparison. Her work stands by itself!

The British Council organized the launch (or re-launch) of the Spy Princess, a biography by Shrabani Basu. The book takes us through the life of Noor Inayat Khan, a direct Tipu Sultan descent, who became a World War II heroine. From having a pretty comfortable princess life in a posh outskirt of Paris to volunteering in the RAF in London and becoming a spy back in Paris, Noor Inayat Khan surely had some blood of the Mysore Tiger in her veins. Basu is not only campaigning for this story but, she is also raising funds to build a statue in Gordon Square (London) to commemorate the heroine. She would be the first Indian woman to be celebrated in the British capital. Let us support the cause!

1 Shanthi Road offered its art space to Caught by Traffic II: Autoraj. The project re-imagines the city in the position of a rickshaw driver. What could be his approach? What would he do with the rules and regulations? How would he care for the environment? All interesting questions treated by a group of artists in a city where 99% of the population complains about the traffic and 99% of the drivers and pedestrians complain about the rickshaw drivers.

Time & Space is getting ready for a Shuvaprasanna's retrospective to be seen at Chitrakala Parishath till early October. The gallery collected over hundred works taking us through the artist's career. The Kolkata born based artist has a passion for his city. All the components of the city found its place in his works: the darkness, the violence, the vulnerability. With the same sensibility, he made series of iconic portraits of deities. There is something appealing for everyone in Shuvaprasanna's works. An exhibition not to be missed!

Attakkalari, the Bangalore based dance company, is preparing to première MeiDhwani's on September 7th before touring Germany and Italy. Echoes of the Bodies explores how individuals could be captives of circumstances and history. Sensual and powerful, the new performance hints at the five elements to reposition the human being at the centre of the universe. Good luck with the tour!

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