[The Month That Was]
by Franck Barthelemy
The India Art Fair is over. The event was nicely handled and is set to grow bigger. Over 80,000 people visited the 100 booths. Few bought art works. Though I personally found interesting and good quality works, the bulk of the experts complained about the bazaar ambiance in some of the boots. Showing as many works as possible is very often a strong temptation for many galleries whether they are participating at a fair or organizing a show. Very few believe minimalism will help the potential buyers to find their way around on the art scene. I am convinced focus and guidance can convert potential buyers into collectors.
As soon as they came back from Delhi, Gallery SKE organized a solo show for Eva Schlegel, the Austrian visual artist who curated the Austrian pavilion at the last Venice Biennale. If Eva's works need no introduction in Europe, her practice remains unknown in India. At a talk introducing it, Eva explained how much experimenting is at the heart of her practice. She experiments different media and techniques. She tries a lot of new materials, in which, at times, she fails. But she considers failures as part of her practice. She explained that failure is conventional and she tries to reverse the perception. In this particular solo show, Eva explores 'the mid-point between heaviness and lightness, flying and falling, motion and stillness, failure and success'. Her two large size vertical photographs welcoming the visitors with disappearing (or appearing) figures make a great introduction to her show. Straight away, the viewer is giving the opportunity to feel a movement, a sucking movement into the images. Another work is filled with a dozen mirror shelves put on top of each other to create wells and towers. When the viewer looks down, he/she sees an infinite well going deeper and deeper. When the viewer looks up, he/she sees an infinite ceiling going higher and higher. The small room suddenly becomes an open space towards the infinity. The viewer feels the expansion of the space. On the way to another installation, the viewer drops his/her eyes on two photos on lead plates. They show (falling) sky-divers. The contradiction between the heavy lead plates and the flying figures helps the viewer to feel the fall, as if he/she would be tied to an anchor. The next room is full of big white balloons flying up. An image of the viewer is captured and projected back to the floor into dozens of pieces make him/her feel the fragility of life. The last installation set up large fans as rotating screens on which the artist projects flying and falling figures, sky-divers or future astronauts in a training room. She shows birds flying in the sky going from one fan screen to the next. She shows words and texts in spiral or line movements describing first feelings of the novel flying experience of the astronauts. The viewer feels dizzy with the pace and actions. It gives him/her a dream like sensation; it takes him/her in this small interstice between fiction and reality. Over the years, Eva has become an incredible space choreographer using traditional and new media. Captivating!
Crimson invited SG Vasudev, one of the Cholamandal founders and actors, to Recollections Reconnections. The artist showed tapestries, drawings and paintings. The tapestries took more than one viewer by surprise. Vasudev explored this medium with dexterity, originality and a great sense of aesthetic. The silk creations reflect the artist's colourful universe. They had been made in co-operation with master weavers. Vasudev likes these interactions with master craftsmen, taking him and his art beyond the traditional boundaries. Surely a good recollection!
Artville, a new comer on the Bangalore art scene, brought to us Birds from Mum's Kitchen Cupboard, a solo show by CG Prince. The artist created sculptures using kitchen crockery. The tea spoons became butterflies, the forks became cranes and the knives turned into owls. Though the concept of using kitchen utensils is not brand new, the output is kitsch and cute.
Talking about animals, Right Lines is back from its ashes (like the phoenix). After an official shut down of their galleries a few months ago, the owners could not resist the attraction of the art world and reopened with Time Past is Present, a solo show by Sudip Roy. The artist presented a retrospective, his journey from figuration to abstraction. Washes, watercolours, oils, Sudip experimented all kind of media and still does. His latest works consist of abstract triptychs where he smartly married oil and steel. Metal is in the air these days!
1 Shanti Road exposed Christian Engelmann's Traffic Masala. The 1970 born Bavarian came to Bangalore for a few months and got stroke by the traffic. Who would not, actually? Not only the jams, but all the various vehicles one can see on the road, on wheels or legs. Christian mixed up everything and conceived for us an installation with humour and assertion. He usually likes asking his viewers: Where are we going? Such a relevant question in the city of Bangalore!
The Hadouk Trio came to the Alliance Française with their lot of unusual and weird instruments to play jazz! Doudouk, hajouj, khene, hagini and computers took the listeners to a maze of notes and sounds that created an unforgettable journey around the world, a warm break in the cool nights of Bangalore. Don't you want more?