Art News & Views

Mumbai Art Sighting

Can't let this pass

One of the oldest establishments in Mumbai Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum opened its doors to contemporary art with Sudarshan Shetty's 'this too shall pass' on September 26th. Earlier known as the Victoria and Albert Museum, it went through a massive four-year renovation drive by INTACH and reopened in 2008. Shetty's show curated by Tasneem Mehta is the first show since when contemporary art is being showcased and many such projects are expected to take place here in future.

Shetty, who is represented by GallerySke, Bangalore throws up engaging questions in this exhibition. As you enter the museum, your first encounter is with a beaten-up old car made of wood that is revolving on a motor as if it were a prized object. The pivotal argument of contemporary art in general that context defines the status of art or non-art, craft or fine art gets thrown open right at the start. It must be noted Shetty's works are placed alongside Bhau Daji Lad Museum's collections of antique objects and paintings including clay models from 19th and 20th century showing the lifestyles of various communities of Mumbai among sundry objects of historical importance.

Next up, aligned right in front of the Museum's statue of Prince Albert, is a statue made of firbreglass coated with gold leaf titled “Sudarshan Shetty 1961-2010”. This statue is on a plinth but is off-centre and about to topple of. But chains are holding it in place. Wittily, Shetty places a steel box, balancing the opposite side of the statue. Visitors are suggested to throw coins in the steel box to help get the statue upright. The ideas of the Janus-faced nature of power and the will of the majority come across in this interactive work that inspires awe with its monumental size.

The exhibition continues to the next floor where there are neon signs beckoning visitors to stop and read as one goes along to see other works amidst the Museum's collection. One of other striking works in the show is the carved wood archway that appears pretty with its intricate wood carvings of leaves and twines from a distance. Only on closer look you would be able to see a sword in the centre swinging like a pendulum under the archway. He plays with contradictions in other works too. A rocking horse made of metal and wood seems playful enough, but it's bare and shows the bones of the 'play' horse making it immediately unplayful and rather macabre.

The strategic display of the works in context with the museum's memorabilia is commendable adding to making this solo show a memorable experience. This is not an exhibition that will easily be wiped away from one's mind for a long time.

Concluded on October 31

Happenings at Chemould

Chemould Prescott Road is geared up with an impressive line-up of exhibitions. In October Shezad Dawood's first solo show in India was held. Titled 'Cities of the Future' it included two bodies of works. One was a series of wall-mounted stretched "vintage” quilts. On these, Dawood's abstract renditions were printed and painted. The other set of works was made up of neon light wall sculptures.

Following this on October 30th, Nalini Malani's 'Splitting the Other' opened at Chemould in a joint venture with Chatterjee & Lal. Works made over the last five years which have never been shown before in India are being shown. While Chemould hosts the multi-part painting titled 'Splitting the other', C&L is showing a video/shadow play titled 'Remembering Mad Meg'. Both these works are dated 2007. The video work is three-minute, two single channel sound animation. The work at Chemould is a 14-panel painting on reverse on acrylic sheets. A note on the vide work explains: “As a woman who has existed in a world of 'man'-made disasters, Nalini has often referred to the stories of women, such as Aka, Medea, and Mad Meg. The work 'Remembering Mad Meg' thus refers to the woman from Flemish folklore who led an army of pillagers to invade hell and came back to recount the stories as depicted by Pieter Breughel in his painting 'Mad Meg'.”

Following Nalini Malani is Aditi Singh solo show of new works.

'Splitting the Other' concludes on November 30.

In other shows

Delhi-based Amitava Das had a solo show at Sakshi Art Gallery and Pune-based Vijay Shinde showed at Tao Art Gallery.

Amitava Das is showing in Mumbai after a long gap. His latest suite of paintings reflects his observations and reactions to materialism and violence in the society. The show is on till November 16. At Tao Art Gallery, Shinde's solo collection titled 'Shakti' included works from 2009-10, demonstrating his continued practice in abstraction inspired by the concept of supreme energy and nature. The play of Hindu symbolism manifested in lingam or triangle or 'Om' forms could be seen in this set of works. The show concluded on October 30.

In a novel concept celebrating the format of picture postcards, fifty-five artists came together to create more than 300 works on paper for The Art of Luck: CARD-O-LOGY II for Samsara Art. Artists explored the idea of what 'good luck' meant to them. Sudhir Patwardhan thought the luck can be experienced when two individuals have the privilege of sharing moments of intimacy. His series was titled 'Couple'. Samir Mondal made a flourish of flowers in a series of nine works titled 'Wishes'. Every participating artist, from senior to emerging artists, worked in his or her genre to communicate their thoughts on a small format of affordable works. The show concluded on October 12.


By Jasmine Shah Varma   





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