Musings from Chennai
August – September 2011
by Vaishnavi Ramanathan
Last year, Lalit Kala Akademi hosted Lamp of the East an exhibition of Korean artists curated by curator Insang Song. This year too Lalit Kala Akademi and InKo Centre in association with K-Art Pusan presented Korean Contemporary Spectrum. While the previous exhibition had only a few artists from whose sculptures, painting and videos it was possible to get an overview of Korean contemporary art, this time the emphasis was more on capturing the diversity of the art scene through the works (mainly paintings) of over a hundred artists. The works in the exhibition were a mixture of traditional, contemporary and calligraphic paintings but a common feature that linked many of the works was the mastery over the medium.
Cholamandal Artists' Village presented V.Ravindran's works during its Artist of the Month event. A sculptor who graduated from the Government College of Fine Arts, V.Ravindran currently works out of the studio at Lalit Kala Akademi. His exhibition at Cholamandal consisted mainly of bronzes of human figures, animals etc constructed from pieces of metal. Influenced by the concept of futurism, Ravindran has tried to interpret it in his works, but paradoxically using subjects such as elephants, roosters etc., which are also symbolic of the 'timeless' rural life. Apart from bronzes, the show also included a few sculptures in wood. In contrast to some of the bronzes, these sculptures with their textured surfaces had an element of vitality.
Gallery Sumukha held a show of paintings and sculptures featuring the works of Vivek Vilasini, Riaz Komu, Baiju Parthan, G.R.Iranna, Paresh Maity, H.G.Arun Kumar, Sudhanshu Sutar and Krishnamachari Bose. Vivek Vilasini's photograph of a busy road in a western metropolis cut in the middle by a large pedestal with a burqa clad woman in the pose of Rodin's Thinker, spoke about the different socio-cultural worlds that the woman and the people on the street inhabit. Sudhanshu Sutar's works brought out the fragility of the political situation in the country by using motifs such as eggs, glass juxtaposed with images of icons such as Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru. Baiju Parthan's works seemed to look at the futility of education by depicting a person who seemed to be seriously reading the book in his hand while his entire face remained covered. While the rest of the works in the show included critiques of different kinds, Paresh Maity's canvases of faces captured using different textures was the only work that struck a different note.
Focus gallery presented Metamorphosis a solo show by S. Mark Rathinaraj. Mark Rathinaraj who comes from a village in Tamil Nadu was previously known for his canvases of rural people and artistes. These canvases covered in transparent layers of earthy colours painted with broad brush strokes drew parallels between the act of painting and the act of mapping the land before sowing. However, in recent times his interest has shifted to the Yogic idea of the body as a vehicle for physical and spiritual change. This change has also reflected in his use of the canvas and colour where the form painted in bright opaque colours and surrounded by thick hard lines stands apart from the canvas as though making distancing itself from its environs.
Sarala's Art Centre celebrated the seventy-fifth year of Prof. Dhiraj Choudhury with a solo show of his paintings and sculptures. His paintings as well as sculptures were dominated by voluptuous forms that were reminiscent of the fertile lands of Assam in which he grew up. Linking his bronzes and paintings were his painted wooden reliefs of feminine forms, foliage and other figures. Of these, the painted relief of Christ expressed best the spiritual quality of the theme where the gouged out surface and hard textured marks spoke of death and violence while the organic quality of the wood and earthy tones spoke about regeneration.