Mumbai Art Sighting
January – Febryary 2011
by Jasmine Shah Varma
Art on the street
The installations and sculptures at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (February 5 and 13) displayed on the Rampart Row received a mixed response. Going by the lay crowds that gathered around the unmistakable art objects, posed with them for photographs, touched and felt it seemed like the job of the Visual Arts section was done. It got people to notice them, catch valuable attention in the mela that the KGAF is. You couldn't get that kind of curiosity and enthusiasm even you paid the crowds to enter an art gallery or brought a show of world-famous artists. One of the sculptures made of mechanical parts had broken arms and the computer desktop-head was completely dismantled by unruly crowds. To the art gentry the works were mediocre, symbolic, obviously propagandist, crass and so on. There were clever works like 'Ambey-se-daar' - an ambassador was decorated to look like a temple on wheels and played on the pun with a message about religious extremism. One of the noteworthy displays was an art performance by Germany's Paper Theatre. On the first two days of the Kala Ghoda festival, February 5 and 6th, Johannes Volkmann and his team laid out a large table on the street covered with white paper. On it were plates, spoons and forks also covered with blank white paper. They asked people to write an answer to 'What is priceless for them?' In no time the plates and table were filled out with umpteen answers and had to be replaced with fresh paper. This traveling art performance was first performed in 2009 in Nuremberg in Germany during the financial meltdown in Europe. Since then Paper Theatre has taken this installation and performance art to various countries seeking answers to the same question. They photograph and document the answers and make them into postcards.
Shruti Nelson's Recent Works mounted at Hacienda Gallery drew one into her dreamy land with worldly, earthly delights in tow. Images of animals, four-wheelers, birds, flora, mountains, pirate ships and castles dissolve into one another in her layered compositions just like scenes in a dream. The horns of a ram in place of the headlights of an automobile or a leopard perched on the bonnet of a vintage car is the imagery of reveries where the worlds of the wild, the glamorous and luxurious meet.
Her works on paper and canvas are painted, but it's inadequate to refer to them as paintings alone. The 42-year old artist seems to be itching to go 3-D. Thick paper cut-outs of animals, cars and flowers are painted over and stuck on a larger paper surface and the assimilation creates a sculptural relief. She shows her versatality in works where colours take a backseat and the composition is all about the form as seen in the work titled Camouflage.
Shruti comes across as an artist who enjoys the process of creating and of handling her material. From working on the flat surface of canvas and paper to creating 3D objects out of them, Shruti extends the area of art from seeing them on the wall to living with them. She has stitched a bag and a cushion out of canvas and painted over with the intention that they be used. These objects cause a discomfort at first for one is so used to viewing art from a distance and not touching them. With these objects she would have viewers handle, interact and enter her fantastical land.
The show concluded on February 12.
Among other shows
Pundole Art Gallery exhibited Pages from A Sketch Book by Sakti Burman from February 8 to 28. Burman's sketchbooks are filled with watercolours and drawings made over the past several years. The sketches that serve as preparatory studies for further larger paintings made an interesting viewing and understanding of the artist's work and thought process.
The Guild Art Gallery showcased the works of Arunkumar HG and Sunoj D in an exhibition titled Route / Root. Arunkumar HG displayed photographs of deformed, rather mutant potatoes and tomatoes with the idea of ranting against the most natural human condition – consumption. Sunoj D paid homage to the tree by painting on canvas an uncanny semblance of wood planks that were rested against the wall rather than hung. A clever display tactic furthering the illusion he wanted to create. The show concluded on February 28th.