Shilpa Gupta’s India has travelled the world over — from Montreal to Ecuador, Italy to Hong Kong. The sketch of India on carbon tracings does not have the exact physical boundaries that we recognise, but Gupta intended it to be notional. She had asked 100 people to draw the map-logo of India by memory, none of which matched. “The work is about the different ways the idea of a nation is imagined by those who live there. The project sought to rethink relations of power inherent in cartography, to take it away from institutional forces and use it for reconsidering existing boundaries,” says Gupta.
In the ongoing exhibition “Impulses in Drawing”, at Delhi’s Vadehra Art Gallery, Gupta’s celebrated work questions not just the topographical borders but also the bias for mediums in art. “It is an exercise in understanding and philosophising the process, the physicality and the temporality of making a drawing,” says curator Shivangi Singh.
So works have been paired across the display, establishing links between artists. If Gipin Varghese’s The Wind Blows Wherever it Pleases is juxtaposed with Bhupen Khakhar ceramic sculptures, Gupta’s 100 Hand Drawn Maps of My Country is paired with Ram Kumar’s 1961 pen drawings. Through the former, Singh comments on the process of creating a sculptural form where drawing could play an important part, while in the latter, the discussion is around the landscape.
Comprising works across mediums and generations, the collection delves into the instinct for drawing, a medium that has often scored below others in the art mart. “For several artists, the form of expression is the starting point for their work,” says Singh. In the exhibition, she has brought together 14 artists, including the likes of Aami Atmaja, Zakhir Husain, Arpita Singh, Chameli Ramachandran and Jagannath Panda. “We are moving away from the definition of drawing as something on paper, to it being a process,” adds Singh.
While she successfully interweaves a display, questions are raised regarding the very basics — Aruna Rao pulls a leaf out of a rule book, deciphering the alphabet from the known to gibberish in “Say,Trace and Write!”. Rakhi Peswani, on the other hand, is deconstructing the human body. In “Envisioning the Seer (Studies on Seeing)”, she picks the needle and thread to study human anatomy.
The exhibition is on till August 25.