Art News & Views

Mumbai Artsighting


Art reflects the world around us. Artists interpret their understanding of humanity, and the happenings, presenting select aspects of what they experience. And with every interpreter reality wears a different shade. Two shows, 'Docu Tour' and 'Constructed Realities' dealt with questions regarding capturing reality and the means to do so. Elsewhere Mumbai got to see an ambitious exhibition of printmaking, a medium that inexplicably remains in the sidelines.

Art of documenting life
When does a photograph become more than a visual document to be called an art object? Do we begin at defining what an object of art is or do we ask what are the parametres signifying photographic works of art? 'Docu Tour', an exhibition of photographic works by Anup Mathew Thomas, Gauri Gill, Shankar Natarajan and Vivek Vilasini, curated by Bose Krishnamachari calls for answers to these longstanding questions. All works are photographs of documentary nature and are not photo-montages. Each artist's concerns with different aspects of the world we live in are reflected in this collection.

Since 1999 Gauri Gill has been portraying black and white pictures of places in Rajasthan that are seldom documented. Her view goes beyond the usual celebrated notions of pink or blue tourist destinations. Each picture evokes a narrative and engaging curiosity about humanity and nature. Vivek Vilasini's 'Unconstitutional' from 2007 is an image of a statue that seems to have lost its torso and head. A telling picture of changing ideologies and political and social allegiances in India. Shankar Natarajan wonders what happens to the meaning of documentary images of works of art by other artists when presented in a different context. Anup Mathew Thomas attempts to engage our interest in the ordinariness of life through family pictures and pretty neighbourhoods in Kerala.

Show is on till August 14 at Gallery BMB.

Concrete sense of reality
Curator Gayatri Sinha features the works of Baiju Parthan, Gigi Scaria and Prajakta Palav in 'Constructed Realities' at The Guild Art Gallery to explore the nature of reality as a physical, man-made structure. She notes: “Every 'reality' has a potentially different 'construction'.”

Prajakta Palav's canvas works which fitted in two doorways of the gallery are the most impressive in the show. In 'Outside' she creates a fission effect with numerous cars, buses and motorbikes portrayed to be moving at snail's pace from the four edges of the canvas to the empty, but narrowing centre space, painted white. A few cars, painted cut-outs of canvas, are pasted on the wall beyond the canvas. These 'escaped' vehicles are moving in the opposite direction away from the centre. Next to this evocative work is 'Inside' which is a sublime work that is painted as the interior side of a door. A landscape which also appears like paint peeling off the door has tiny window and door frames painted in places. Here's a noteworthy young artist from Mumbai whose compositions, concepts and execution come together exceptionally in these works.

The rest of the show consists of photo-montages by Baiju Parthan on the theme of Mumbai and a painting titled Soft-Graffiti-Placebo. Gigi Scaria exhibited a witty photo-montage 'Face to Face' of two unfinished flyovers with buildings constructed over them. There's also a video work and a painting on canvas by him.

The show concluded on July 26.

From the sidelines
Priyashri Art Gallery organised an exhibition with the aim to represent the scope of printmaking in India. 'Contemporary Printmaking in India' featured works of 100 artists across the country from various generations going back to pre-independence to the current emerging practitioners. One got to see works in different techniques such as lithographs, etchings, intaglio, aquatints, oleographs, serigraphs and digital prints. The gallery attempted to give a sense of history of printmaking featuring some of the known printmakers such as Chittoprasad Bhattacharya, Jyoti Bhatt, Anupam Sud, Bhaskaran RB, Krishna Reddy, Lalitha Lajmi and PD Dhumal. Works by painters such as Akbar Padamsee, Jogen Chowdhry, Paramjeet Singh, Anjolie Ela Menon among many others were also included.

The grand show was first held for a week at Jehangir Art Gallery and then shifted to Priyashri Art Gallery. The effort to highlight this sidelined medium is commendable. But the impressive collection was marred by a less than professional display during its inaugural run at Jehangir Art Gallery and suffered from inclusion of works that varied in degrees of finesse.

Show concludes at Priyashri Gallery on August 12.


   - Jasmine Shah Varma   
(Mumbai-based art writer and curator)  



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