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Art News & Views

In the News-February 2012

Exhibition of Works by Detained Chinese Artist

China. Photos by Liu Xia, wife of Nobel Peace prize-winner Liu Xiaobo, went on show in New York without her knowledge.

The Dark, bare photos of modern Chinese society were taken out of China by French academic, writer and economist Guy Sorman who is also a friend of the artist. She gave permission to Sorman to show them, but she did not want to know when or where. Liu Xia is under house arrest in Beijing while her husband serves an 11-year jail term for propagating democracy.

The 25 photos in The Silent Strength of Liu Xia will be displayed at Columbia University in New York opened on February 9 and will be displayed until March 1, 2012.

The black and white images show dolls in different positions in Liu's apartment in Beijing.  Dolls are used to show the suffering of the Chinese people, one shows a pained Liu Xiaobo holding a doll on his shoulder. The French academic stresses that the world is now discovering an "important" Chinese artist.


Eminent Sculptor, Sarbari Roy Chowdhury  Passes Away




Kolkata. Eminent sculptor and professor at Kala Bhawan, Santiniketan, Sarbari Roy Chowdhury passed away on February 21, 2012. His works have travelled all over the world and are in the collection of major organisations. He had been awarded ‘Gagan- Abani Puraskar by Visva Bharati in 2004 and the ‘Abanindra Puraskar’ by the Government of West Bengal in 2005.





Opening Date for Koch-Muziris Biennale, 2012 Announced

Delhi. The opening dates for the Koch-Muziris Biennale, 2012 were announced on January 28 at Delhi by the Trustees of the Kochi Biennale Foundation. The Koch-Muziris Biennale 2012 is scheduled for December 12, 2012. Over 80 artists will be invited to participate in the 2012 Biennale.

Artists invited by the Koch-Muziris Biennale include Alfredo Jaar, Amar Kanwar, Atul Dodiya, Bani Abidi, Fiona Tan, Kiran Subbaiah, Ranbir Kaleka, Shreyas Karle, Srinivasa Prasad, Subodh Gupta, Surendran Nair, Tallur L.N and others.


Ancient Olympia Museum Robbed

Athens. More than 60 priceless artifacts including a gold ring dedicated to the ancient Olympic Games were stolen from ancient Olympia Museum on February 17, 2012.

Officials said that two masked men knocked out the alarm, then overpowered the museum's sole female guard.

Last month a painting, personally gifted by Pablo Picasso to Greece, was stolen from the Athens National Gallery.

The police placed traffic checkpoints in the area and were examining the museum's cameras for clues. The incident prompted the country's culture minister, Pavlos Geroulanos, to resign, though the resignation has not yet been accepted.




NGMA, New Delhi Presents Ramkinkar Baij's Retrospective

New Delhi. National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi presented the exhibition Ramkinkar Baij- A Retrospective, curated by sculptor K.S Radhakrishnan, who was also a student of Ramkinkar. Prof. K.G Subramanyan and Prof. A. Ramachandran have been advisors to the curator. The exhibition was inaugurated on February 8, 2012.

The retrospective includes over 350 works from various important collections including paintings, drawings, graphics and sculptures- covering about six decades of his artistic journey. The exposition is also enhanced by diverse media interventions such as photographic blow ups, digital prints, texts and video clips in an attempt to ontextualize the man and the artist in the most comprehensive manner.

The exhibition will subsequently travel to its regional centers at Mumbai and Bengaluru.


Spanish Artist Sets Franco in Fridge

Madrid. A sculpture of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco set inside a refrigerator by Spanish artist Eugenio Merino was the biggest draw at a major contemporary five- day art fair which opened on 15 February in Madrid.

The sculpture, titled Always Franco, is made of resin, silicon and human hairwas one of the most sought after by visitors to the fair, which featured works from 215 art galleries in 29 countries. The sculpture shows the general wearing a green uniform and dark sunglasses with his knees bent inside the fridge, which is decorated with a white and red design similar to the Coca-Cola logo.

Merino said his piece is meant to be a statement on how the former dictator, who ruled from the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 until his death in 1975, continues to make headlines in Spain.

Barcelona-based gallery ADN is asking $40,000 for the sculpture.


India's First Permanent Prison Art Gallery in Kolkata

Kolkata. India's first permanent prison art gallery opened at the Alipore Correctional Home in Kolkata. The gallery named Srishtikala Bhavan is a joint venture of Flight to Harmony Foundation and Directorate of Correctional Services, Government of West Bengal.

The gallery has opened with 50 paintings of 30 convict-artists of Alipore Correctional Home.

The opening of Srishtikala Bhavan came up after two days of intensive art workshop where about 30 inmates and 30 professional artists including artists like Shanu Lahiri, Robin Mandal, Ganesh Haloi, Subrata Ganguly,  Uma Siddhanta and Bipin Goswamy worked together.


Canadian Museum Artifact Stolen

Montreal. Two rare and valuable archeological artifacts were stolen late October last year from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Founded in 1860, the museum is Canada's oldest art institution.

Details of the theft of the archaeological fragmentsan Assyrian low relief and a marble head dating from the Roman Empirewere withheld to avoid compromising police investigation. Tyler & Co. fine art loss adjuster Mark Dalrymple said the items are "very rare" and estimated to be worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The thief blocked motion detectors and dodged video surveillance and round-the-clock guards at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Now the museum's insurer AXA Art is offering a $10,000 reward for help identifying a male suspect in his 30s from surveillance video footage, and an additional "substantial reward" for the safe recovery of the artifacts. The museum published photographs and a video of the suspect wearing a black vest, jeans and a baseball cap, but his face is blurred. Investigation is still going on.


Kolkata Art Galleries to Pay Amusement Tax

Kolkata. Artists and galleries have now come under the ambit of Amusement Tax which is about to be implemented by the present administration of Kolkata Municipal Corporation. According to the corporation officials gallery owners have to pay Rs.5,000 per annum, and the artists exhibiting in the galleries concerned will have to shell out Rs.300 per day to fulfill the obligations of trying to reach out to a audience. Not to speak of the state of economic affairs affecting the business of art, even staying afloat in this struggling scenario can now become a big question mark. Some of the most prominent artists and critics from Bengal have voiced their concern regarding this. Jogen Chowdury was quick to search for a few answers as to ‘what will happen to the young artists who are striving to survive on very meager ends.’ He thought ‘galleries might begin to rethink about their business, and in the process any meaningful activity would be affected due to dearth of funds or lack of initiative from most quarters.’ Sharing the plight of the proposed burden, Shuvaprasanna is of the opinion that ‘the artist community should come together and try their best to make the corporation officials understand the difficulties of going with this implementation. A draft has to be prepared and put forward the difficulties associated with this plan’. Art scribe and historian Pranabranjan Ray was more forthcoming in his protest. He said that ‘Under the present economy of art activities such a proposal is not only absurd, it is designed to kill-off art activities in Kolkata and West Bengal forever. This insane proposal has to be dropped to sustain the visual culture of Bengal.’ Vikram Bachhawat, Director of Aakriti art gallery and Emami Chisel Art is concerned with this new development and is striving to get some answers. ‘How much will the Government achieve through this. The amount collected will be very negligible for the State, and it will be very cumbersome for the struggling artist.’ The state of affairs for the artist community certainly doesn’t look very hopeful with these kind of ‘implemented rewards’. – Ritendra Roy


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