Anatomy of Art

Anatomy of Art

Amrita Sher-Gil National Art Week concluded with artists reflecting on museums,the body of Indian art and altering perceptions.

The new face of Indian art,with art moving out of museums,new interpretations and mediums,the anxiety of artists,art education and the new media — many such reflections,insights and dialogues floated around on Sunday,the concluding day of Amrita Sher-Gil National Art Week. Organised by the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi,the three-day event got together artists,historians,authors,curators,writers and photographers on a single platform coupled with slide shows,lectures,exhibition,film screenings and discussions.

Atul Dodiya,one of the most well-known Indian artists internationally,showcased his 2012 work,From Timbuktu to Cincinnati. Dodiya,who expresses in many languages,admits that owing to his interest in literature,he has brought storytelling,figuration and anecdotes into his art. “My biggest regret about my college days is how little I got to see great artwork and the Masters. We had no real museums in Mumbai,even the JJ library stopped at the early moderns. It was such a sense of loss; we had no way of knowing the contemporary world,” said Dodiya,emphasising his interest in the past. “There is so much joy in it. These works become part of my visual vocabulary. Everything belongs to me and I belong to everyone else. If I say the moon is mine,no one can snatch it from me,” said Dodiya,talking about how students and artists today are in a better place as they are not deprived of seeing the body of Indian art.

In an absorbing slide-lecture presentation,Tasneem Mehta,director of Mumbai’s Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum,talked about altering perceptions and contemporary art in historic museums. “It’s important to break the concept of a museum,which is like walking through a graveyard. The need is to link the past and present. We have trained guides,who take visitors through the gallery. We have developed areas to hold workshops where people can look at art and soon,we will have a space for artists to come and work at the museum. These interventions are important to make museums interactive,” she said.

The need to organise more biennales in India,create platforms for critical creations and the need to get visual art closer to the audience were some of the absorbing issues that curator and writer Dr Alka Pande,Sadanand Menon and Nanak Ganguly,an independent curator and critic discussed. “Yes,people are apologetic about visual art and fine arts. They don’t understand it,which is not so with classical music,theatre or literature,” said Dodiya.


On the other hand,artist Vivan Sundaram presented his recent works and installations that make the viewer part of his thought process. “If you have an idea that’s provocative,you have it going for you,” said Sundaram,adding that there is a deep melancholy in his works. The artist presented works with “trash” as the core,and also talked about his works set in a studio and affected by the Gujarat riots and Gulf war. He showcased Black Gold,an installation created using discarded terracotta shards.

Art historian Bhavna Kakar introduced Take on Art to the viewers and readers. The latest issue is dedicated to sculptures and she has included Nek Chand in the issue,with an article on Rock Garden. Roobina Karod,director,Kiran Nadar Museum of Art,talked about the labour of love of creating a private museum,and presented a slide-lecture on “Difficult Loves”,an exhibition on Amrita Sher-Gil looking at her self-portraits as well as an exhibition of many of the unknown works of artist Nasreen Mohmedi.

“The event was designed to have a peep into the art world around us. The idea was to bring art to the forefront of the public agenda,” said Diwan Manna,chaiperson of the Akademi.