The Month that was
by Franck Barthelemy
New discoveries always amaze me. Whether they are in the field of medicine, physics or sociology, I always admire the researchers who have an idea, most of the time a conviction, and spend years demonstrating they are right. Their faith is so powerful that it makes them move mountains. And challenging the status quo or innovate is never easy. In 2007, Pascal Cotte and Jean Pénicault, from the Lumière Technology photo laboratory based in Paris, published an article to attribute a drawing, La Belle Princesse1, to Leonardo da Vinci. The art community was highly sceptical. Very few supported the theory. A few years later, three small holes caught the attention of the team. The art historian David Wright suggested it could be a 'Sforziade', a page of a series of codex commissioned by the Sforza family. One indication leading to the other, the team found enough presumptions to convince Martin Kemp, the da Vinci world expert, that the drawing is a Vinci! Lucky owner who bought the drawing for USD 21,000 in New York in 1999 and might now have a Vinci worth more than USD 100 million. Art lovers and collectors, find your Vinci's portrait … maybe in Bengaluru!
You might find it in the form of a video. Jagaa hosted an eye catching exhibition, I Am Here, curated by Lina Vincent. Fifteen artists produced self portraits or rather explore various ways of representing them. Some used their bodies like Baptist Coelho in Corporal Dis (connect). The 2-channel-video focused on the artists' hands repeating a rhythmic movement. On the left, the movement is precise. On the right, the movement is 'intoxicated'. The video camera captures them in parallel with the artist's nude body as a background. Baptist explores how the mind and the body react to rhythmic patterns under different external stimuli, in that instance, alcohol. The mind might endeavour to control the movement, the body cannot follow. An interesting reflection on controlling our life? A second batch of artists chose to represent and investigate the uniqueness of their identity. Kiran Subbaiah in Concealments (trailer) opposed a self representation and the perception of others. He put together extracts of 13 videos showing different simple and general life moments, eating a meal for instance. Most of the time, the artist double acts the doer and the viewer commenting the action with absurd disconnected sentences. Life in its beauty … maybe. The last group of artists represented the point of view of a collective. In Agony Tayeba Begum Lipi reflects on how an individual reacts at news. The video shows the artist cutting stripes of news magazines and piling them up in a mountain in front of her until she disappears behind it. A reflection on how individuals are not bothered any more with every days news from too many sources dealing with too many conflicts … until they are goggled up by them.
Gallery SKE brought to us the fascinating works of Srinivasa Prasad. For the second time at the gallery, his solo show takes the viewers to another dimension. Nirantara is a discovery journey into our representation of homes. Animals and humans have homes, shelters, refuges or residences where they feel safe and protected. They adjust them to their needs and the environment. Homes will be warm and comfortable, cool and water proofed, in wood or in concrete. In four representations, Srinivasa makes a concept home. His home is made of recycled material, household's objects covered with fabric, paper, and gunny bags. It looks like an igloo, a rock or a tree house. It looks small and gigantic, messy or tidy. It looks utilitarian and colourful. It looks emotional and disturbing. The artist from Sagara, a small city in North Karnataka, develops consistently his practise with natural elements. His relationship with the environment is a major reading key to understand his works. His reflections about what the society does, or rather does not, to the environment are sharp and aggressive. Each work is a statement and an open door to challenges and questions. His invite to come into his home is an experience not to forget and not to miss.
Tasveer brought to us a very insightful collection of photographs by Nicholas Vreeland, Photos for Rato. Vreeland, the son of an American diplomat, lived all around the world. Very early, he had a fascination for Buddhism. He started studying the philosophy of life in New York with Rato Khyongla Rinpoche and joined the Rato Dratsang monastery in 1985. He never really put his cameras aside and had amazing opportunities to capture the daily life of the monastery. He even covered the Dalai Lama's first visit to the USA in 1979. The photos exhibited are a sample of Vreeland's sense of natural composition. They show tiny details. They bring to life older monks teaching or younger ones studying. This exhibition is very special: Vreeland is trying to give back to the monastery that opened him to Buddhism. The proceeds of the sales will directly support the renovation cum extension of the Rato Dratsang monastery. Owing to Tasveer, Zuari Cement and maybe you, the monastery might get the attention they need for many years.
October was a month of dance and music and November is on the same track. The Goethe Institute started the celebration of the Year of Germany in India with a performance by Storm, the hip hop legend in Berlin. His Solo for Two surprised the audience. The performer and his alter ego on a screen took us through a mega city jumping here and walking there. The street culture seems to have a lot to offer. The same institution brought to us a western classical music concert by the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck, one of the best orchestras in Europe. Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms were on the programmes. Great performance! The Alliance Française also added a bit of peps in the city. Akim El Sikameya and his band re created a bit of Andalousia2 in the city. The chocker block auditorium quickly got into the move, sang and danced with the musicians. A concert that became a party together, this is what it was! The audience could have grooved till the end of the night.
1The Beautiful Princess
2Check the next issues for a paper on arts in Andalousia