[The Month That Was]
Musings from Chennai
by Vaishnavi Ramanathan
Ashvita Arts presented Contradicting Equilibrium of the Existing Senses, a retrospective of C. Krishnaswamy's works. A young artist from the city, Krishnaswamy is familiar to viewers for his technique of performing yoga on wet canvases. However in the show, this series of works (Kundalini Rising) constituted only a portion of a wider foray into materials, techniques and forms. His yoga canvases where the body's presence is marked on the canvas as a memory of a performance is replaced by a different kind of exploration as he tries to revisit childhood memories. His installation, videos and photo-performances (done in collaboration with Yuvaraj Vivek) reflect on his experiences of watching Mahabharata plays in his village where people familiar to him would transform overnight into heroic actors. This element of metamorphosis is what he engages with as he places himself amidst old cooking utensils and freshly tilled fields to connect with a way of life that is different from his own existence as an urban-artist. Though few of the works were lacking in visual impact, by and large, the show was engaging.
Following Yuriko Lochan's solo show, Focus gallery hosted an exhibition of Chennai based artist A. Vishwam's abstracts. While the show was ambitious in including over fifty works, the final effect was a little overpowering due to the sheer number of works on display. The exhibition consisted of both large works, where colour was applied in broad strokes that merged and dissolved into one another, as well as smaller composite works that appeared stilted in comparison.
Quiet Conversations from the Courtyard curated by Rekha Rodwittiya at Ashvita Arts presented the works of four young women artists working out of the Collective Studio in Baroda. The show provided the viewers with an eclectic experience as each artist had used a poem as a starting point to reflect and create a body of works. Malavika Rajnarayan's works evoke a sense of fragility as she renders acrobatic figures in a language that borders between painting and drawing. The linear or pattern like forms that the group of women create in their journeys, conveys a sense of intimacy and the knowledge of a shared destiny. Karishma D'Souza's works are inspired by the city as she uses infuses an element of the surreal into familiar everyday scenes of the city and the middle class home to create a sense of alienation. Kim Kyoungae's works have a contemplative quality as she uses sober colour in flat patches. By reducing recognisable forms to unfamiliar silhouettes she evokes a sense of loss in her work. However Sonatina Mendes' monochromatic canvases best reflect the spirit of the show as the hazy yet glowing forms set against a soft background communicate while also leaving things unsaid.
Prakrit gallery presented Paalam, an event where young upcoming artists including those from the folk stream were given an opportunity to sell their works directly to buyers. The response to the event was overwhelming as both buyers and artists got an opportunity to interact as well as collect art. Two art camps were also organised in the last month. The first was Lalit Kala Akademi regional camp held at Government College of Fine Arts where artists such as M. Vennimalai (Chennai), Srikath W. Kole (Hyderabad), Maripelley Praveen Gaud (Baroda), Rama Suresh (Chennai), C.F. John (Bangalore), R.B.Holle (Thane) and others participated. The other camp was organised by Prashant Tulsyan and Sarala's Art World in connection with K.C.S. Paniker's birth centenary. Artists such as Achuthan Kudallur, C. Douglas, P. Gopinath, Haridasan, Senathipathy, Sunil Das, Aditya Basak, Shipra Bhattacharjee, Shuvaprassana and others participated in the camp.