Art News & Views

Mumbai Artsighting

Unconventional projects were seen from Lakeeren Gallery that showed '1001 works 25 Rupees Upward', and Guild Art Gallery in collaboration with Gallery Maskara presented Riyas Komu's venture 'Subrato to Cesar'. Much of the action was at Art Basel in Switzerland, as five Indian galleries participated in it for the first time.

Fishing for a deal
It felt like going through a treasure trove of more than 1000 works of art at Lakeeren Gallery. Framed and unframed paintings, etchings, watercolours, drawings and, sculptures by known and lesser know artists were piled up on the floor or hung studio style requiring one to sift through the large collection. Arshiya Lokhandwala, the director of the gallery has had some of these works since the mid 90's when she encouraged young, emerging artists. Some of those artists are now recognized and their older works in the gallery's stock make for quite a buy today. A mixed media work on paper by Hema Upadhyay, almost imperial size, priced at Rs 4.5 lakh, drawings on paper by Tushar Joag at Rs 60,000 each, a mid-90's paper work by Bose Krishnamachari also at Rs 60,000 and a M F Husain serigraph at Rs 50,000 are some of the deals one spotted. But the show isn't only about the signature artists, of which there are plenty in the stock, but also of fine works at affordable prices by artists one doesn't hear of much. As for the Rs 25 worth work, indeed it wasn't just a tag line. Through this exhibition the gallery attempted stock clearing, but also made art accessible and competently priced. The show ends on June 30th.

The ball is in your art
Artists are known to politicise their passions. Riyas Komu's soft corner for football has been noted since 2007 starting with the series on the winning Iraqi football team and solo show 'Mark Him'. Since then he has worked in all three mediums to explore the sport which is one among many marginalised sports in India barring cricket. Through portraits of players, sculptures of giant wooden left legs and photographs Komu has used the sport as a metaphor for the marginalised and to tackle issues of identity and death.
In his latest venture 'Subrato to Cesar' Komu has dealt with his pet subject playfully. The exhibition opened at Gallery Maskara in collaboration with the Guild Art Gallery on the same day as the inauguration of the FIFA World Cup on June 11th, amidst the live screening of the first game. Instead of hushed conversations about the art of display or general chatter, there was loud shouting and cheering as South Africa took on Mexico.
A lone sculpture stood against the wall for us to see as one entered the gallery. The match and the cheering took place on the other side of a concrete, dour-looking wall that divided the gallery space into half. The sculpture comprised 126 balls, each one of them in that many glass cases with wooden frames like prized objects in a museum. It didn't make for a spectacular sight, but evoked intrigue. Each ball has unique texture, smooth and shinning in places or rusted indicating wear and tear. Komu informed that the balls are not cast. The hexagonal pieces have been welded together, making each ball one of its kind, even if they appear to be the same. So is the message many nation, one world?
Komu has attempted to simulate the experience of being at a football stadium in the gallery. This venture leaves you wondering did art meet sports here? Were people enthused about the sport more than before? Will this constructively give the game a push in India? On display till July 13.

Away at Basel

Mumbai's Sakshi Gallery, Chemould Prescott Road and Chatterjee and Lal participated in the 41st edition of Art Basel held from June 16-20th. There were 300 galleries in all from across the world. Delhi's Nature Morte and Bangalore's Ske Gallery also participated. This if the first time India was represented by the five galleries in this art fair. Participation in this Swiss art show is not cheap, costing more than 30,000 euros for just a booth to display the works.
Not all galleries exhibited works by Indian artists. Sakshi Gallery showcased Taiwanese artist Chen Chieh Jen's film titled 'Factory' in the Art Feature section. According to the statement released about his work: “Chen mainly deals with issues of globalisation, labour, consumerism and migration in his works.”
Chemould Prescott Road presented works by Atul Dodiya and Bhupen Khakhar. Dodiya showed the shutter series as a response to the early, trade paintings such as 'Janata Watch Repairing' by the late Bhupen Khakhar. Known to quote references from well-known works of art, Dodiya appropriated Khakhar's shop scenes as well as Russian Avant-Garde painter Kazimir Malevich's peasants stating his concerns for the common man.
Chatterjee and Lal showcased emerging, live performance by artist Nikhil Chopra in the Art Statement section.

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





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