[The Month That Was]
by Franck Barthelemy
May… Bangalore went into a sweet lethargy. The heat and the rains along with the school holidays and the international art fairs and shows abroad made the art spaces empty, or almost so. If you take a map, move east and reach China, the scenario seems to be very different, there is art everywhere! Art Beijing, Art Hong Kong and Young Art Taipei. Visitors and buyers came in large numbers to support mostly local artists. The quality of exhibited works varies a lot from galleries to galleries. But the art scene is live and buzzing and that is what really counts: creative artists showing art works to excited viewers ready to comment and sometime ready to buy. Far from China, in Paris, Monumenta 2012 opened with an amazing show by Daniel Buren, Excentrique(s), work in situ. After Anselm Kiefer, Richard Serra, Christian Boltanski and Anish Kapoor, Buren invaded the 380,000 m3 of the Grand Palais with a sea of stained glass pergolas bringing colours and playing with the viewers' vision, sometimes magnifying the reality, sometimes just colouring the reality as it is, sometimes distorting it. A pleasure to the eyes!
For the movie freaks, Suchitra, the School of Cinema, organized a Satyajit Ray movie festival. The very active movie school regularly puts together festivals showcasing films from a country, by a director or dealing with a particular theme. The programme is always interesting and the show happen in the week days as well as during the week ends. So everybody finds it comfortable. Ten of Ray's movies were shown, most of them from his early days as a director, including Pather Panchali (Song of a Little Road), the first one made in 1955, and the one that won the Best Human Document at the Cannes Festival the following year. The hyper realistic director from Bengal became a legend in no time. Wonderful to see his movies on a large screen!
The Alliance Française, besides having invited many dance and theatre troupes to illuminate a few of our evenings, had organized a special screening of The Artist, the Oscar winning movie by Michel Hazanavicius. The silent and B&W moment was a success. Believe it or not, the catching up projection attracted quite a few late viewers. The Alliance's Cine Club might help many of us to catch up with other movies that too have made history. Who said the world is moving too fast…
Sumukha brought to us Face Two Face, the first solo exhibition by Cop Shiva (Shivaraju B S), a policeman by profession and a photographer by passion. For his first time, he chose to show two series of photographs dedicated to performance art. He followed Bagadehalli Basavaraju (BB) disguised as a silver Gandhi in the streets of Bangalore; he shot Vidya Sagar (VS) in his house in the costumes of MGR, the legendary Tamil Nadu actor. The photos are simple, to the point. They intend to capture emotions in the eyes of the performers. Thanks to the gallery for exploring new talents.
The Delhi based artist Anjali Sapra had been invited to show Timeless Travels at Mahua. The artist explores her quest for spirituality with tempera, natural pigments and gold and silver foils. Her works are peaceful and charged with simple and easily understandable emotions she wants to share with her viewers: a tree of life, a smiling Buddha, a butterfly. Mahua is coming back to the art scene after a long absence with one of its regular artist. Welcome back!
Jagriti, the Whitefield theatre, produced The Dreams of Tipu Sultan by Bangalore based author Girish Karnad. We all know Tipu Sultan as a warrior spent his life on a horseback and did his best to oust the British from the kingdom of Mysore and India. But do you know that he used to record his dreams on diaries? His closest associates never had access to them. They give an amazing opportunity to understand the inner life of a great man. The troupe brought in the right amount of emotions to move the audience without plunging into senseless nostalgia. Well done!
The slow summer months are also a good opportunity to visit or re-visit the city's art museums. They might be a bit dusty and you might need a great dose of passion to find your way around, but they host good art collections. You can start with the National Gallery of Modern Art, the latest addition to the city art-scape. The permanent collection gives a great overview of Indian art history. You can then head to Venkatappa Art Gallery showcasing the eponym artist and a few more. You can end up at the Chitra Kala Parishat Art Gallery presenting the biggest Nicholas Roerich Collection in the country and a part of the HK Kejriwal's contemporary art collection. Enjoy the art!