[The Month That Was]
by Franck Barthelemy
The spring signals are green: the cherry blossom festival in Tokyo confirms we have entered the new season, the season of rebirth. The trees are beautiful all around the northern hemisphere. What a pleasure (except for those who are allergic to pollens)! And look at your e-mails: the art festivals have started too. It is time to travel. The museums are competing to attract the art tourists. They show forgotten pieces. They exchange collections. They organize exhibitions. Cima da Conegliano in Paris, John Chamberlain in New York, Picasso in London, Louise Bourgeois in Basel, Murakami in Doha. The list goes on and on. My advice: if you are planning any trips abroad between now and September, check the museums' websites and keep a few hours to enjoy the spring exhibitions.
While the city of Bangalore is drying, Swapan Nayak brings us clouds, rains and wind of fresh air with his black and white photos, Being and Nothingness, displayed at Tasveer. The artist's works, as well as his life, explore migration and displacement. In cities or villages, by the sea or in the mountains, every day or during conflicts, Swapan finds and captures peace. Swapan masters the light, delicately chooses a foreground and immortalizes that second that makes the shot a soothing piece of art. Surely a photographer to remember and an exhibition not to miss!
Time & Space presented Lalu Prasad Shaw's, The Interpreter of Dream, his recent works, drawings and tempera. The Indian master was up to his reputation and tradition and exhibited neat portraits with confident lines and colours. Though there was no surprise, Lalu's fans were happy to meet the living legend and the new comers could discover a style. In Bangalore, always check what is happening in this space. Those into traditional art form will find it attractive.
SKE offered four artists to showcase their works in the gallery's four rooms. Four Projects put together works by Abhishek Hazra, Orijit Sen, Sunoj D and Abir Karmakar. Abir showed the one of its kind video, Scent of a Bed. Inspired by a personal experience, the artist requested three complete strangers originating from joint families to come and sleep naked alone on a bed for three consecutive nights. He shot them sleeping from above the bed and edited/superposed the videos. For a few hours, the viewers see the first sleeper. For the next few hours, they see the first sleeper and the second one. For the last few hours, they see the first one, the second one and the third one. He superposed the three videos. The space, the colour and the time the artist chose make this video absorbing. The viewers are sucked into it. They don't have to go far into their memories to remember the feelings and sensations of a bed sheet on their naked body. They easily remember the scent of their pillows. They quickly remember the air of the fan caressing their skin. Abir's video becomes interactive bringing out sensations we usually don't think about. An astonishing piece of art! Sunoj D transformed his room into a manifesto for a balanced relationship between nature and human intervention. He passed to the viewers one of his obsessions: recreating artificial nature at home in the city. His painting of a piece of wood is eye catching and summarizes so well his practise at the moment. Abhishek Hazra invaded his room with a video showcasing two dozen mouths enunciating in a very articulated way Bengali scientific words and at the end providing an English translation card. The artist keeps exploring the social history of science and is never short of an idea to surprise the viewers! Orijit Sen made his room a journey in the form of a cartoon. A Place in Punjab is a huge narrative where the conscientious viewers will find hundreds of stories and legends, sometimes complete, sometimes incomplete. An invite to explore Punjab! Four Projects is on till mid May.
1 Shanti Road continues its mission to showcase Sri Lankan artists with Stories of Small Things. This time, the unconventional art centre exhibited prints. Quite different and somehow refreshing.
A live Traviata came to the city with the European Chamber Opera (ECHO). The Giuseppe Verdi's drama (extracts only) surprised the audience which is not very used to this form of art. Some were trying to understand every single word. Some could not follow the story. Some just gave up and enjoyed the music. The première was given at the Fenice (Venice) in 1853. And it was a fiasco! Since then, the opera in three acts became one of the most represented in the world and is always a success whether played in New York, Paris or Beijing. Maybe one day a great success in India too.
Ranga Shankara shines with its programme and brings us plays for all tastes this month. The famous comedy Boy with a Suitcase, by Mike Kenny, made us laugh to the glory. A boy leaves his war torn country to London to join his sister. His journey to the city of "milk and honey" is filled with encounters, experiences and stories. There is action and emotion, and a great dose of live music on stage. A real theatre treat!