Mumbai Art Sighting
The Month that was
September – October 2011
by Jasmine Shah Varma
Sakshi Gallery hosted Staging Selves: Power, Performativity & Portraiture curated by Maya Kovskaya featuring photography by Ravi Agarwal, Sheba Chhachhi, Gauri Gill, Samar Jodha, Tejal Shah, Waswo X. Waswo, Malekeh Nayiny, Han Bing and O Zhang. The exhibition explored the concept of portraiture, the idea of representation and the politics of gazing through the works of artists from India, China and Iran. From portraits of father and child, workers, immigrants, families, homes, the exhibition also touched upon the roles of the photographer and the subject and the power play that goes in to this mix.
The collection of pictures and their presentation Samar Jodha's photos of laborers printed on concrete blocks, Gauri Gill's portraits of young village girls on transparent sheets seen both ways further brought context to the subject and what the photographer would like the viewer to take away from the array of images. A portrait is not just the likeness of a person, but tells a story too.
The exhibition concluded on September 25, 2011.
Gentle Breeze From The Past
Written history is a perspective on past events shaped by individual writers and historians. Down the years the less celebrated or unfashionable ideas true to a certain time are forgotten. But then there is such a thing as revisiting of history. The Lost Movement: Emerging Art From Sir J J School (1939-1956) is one such exhibition held at Chatterjee & Lal in collaboration with Chemould Frames.
The exhibition featured small format works on paper made by students of the painter Jaganath Ahivasi who was the Head of the Indian Art Section of the JJ School of Art between the late 1930's and the mid -1950's. The technique used to paint is influenced by Classical Indian art practices such as the Rajput miniature style. Once celebrated for subjects that ranged from idyllic imagery to nationalist fervor, this style fell out of favour in the late 1950s once the artists started adopting trends of art practices from western countries. The modern art vocabulary took precedence over this Classical based painting.
The sizeable collection of works on view at the gallery gave a glimpse of an art movement and a generation of painters that have missed out on being included in the Indian art history. Of the many artists in the exhibition, probably Almelkar's is the only name of prominence and known.
The exhibition concluded on October 1, 2011.
Run of the mill
Looking is not Seeing at The Guild showcased Balaji Ponna's paintings and three dimensional works. Artist response to socio-political and culture has become a hackneyed meme and young Ponna finds himself following a well-trodden and worn out path. He explores the issue of have and have-not divide with the metaphor of ants that build hills and the snakes that come to reside in them, “If ants construct homes... Snakes live in them”. One frame of the painting shows migrant laborers building a bungalow and a faded hill serves as the backdrop. In the other half, the building is complete and the hill is inverted under the ground and the workers are absent. The obvious statements on class divide leave little for contemplation or imagination of the viewer. New Designs for Our Country's Pavements has cement block on each of which is the figure of a worker or a migrant sleeping. The contradiction between the bubblegum coloured blocks and the artist's morose preoccupation is supposed to shock the viewer.
But can borrowed headlines from newspapers and television news channels make an artist's statement any more effective to the viewer?
The exhibition will conclude on October 3, 2011.
Among other shows
Ganesh Haloi's works from 2006 were exhibited at Jehangir Art Gallery by Aakar Prakaar, Kolkata. On view were mostly works on paper and two large canvases. Nature informs the veteran artist's abstractions. The colours and strokes are like musical notations representing the artist's feelings and memories of nature. The exhibition concluded on September 4, 2011. Art Musings is exhibiting the works of another senior artist Lalu Prasad Shaw. The exhibition is on view till October 13, 2011. Graceful Silence includes his well-known stylized portraits recalling idyllic beauty. Chemould Prescott Road is presenting Atul Dodiya's Bako Exists. Imagine until October 20, 2011. On view are 12 oil paintings and an installation based on a work of fiction, written in Gujarati by the poet Labhshanker Thaker.