March 6, 2021 9:10:00 am
Even as the art world gradually gets back on its feet and White Cube spaces welcome visitors by appointment, there comes an exhibition in Delhi that urges viewers to introspect and inquire, discover and negotiate. It brings together some of India’s most prominent galleries — Experimenter, Nature Morte, Chemould Prescott Road and Vadehra Art Gallery — and some of its most recognised artists, also sharing with us works made by them in the recent months ravaged by the pandemic.
Before the entrance of one of the majestic buildings of Bikaner House stands NS Harsha’s Desired for Arrived at (chaha kya paya kya). The 14.6 x 1.6- ft ladder contemplates the “ever changing position in one’s life journey and how the destiny we experience always appears shifted/altered in the end”. The Mysuru-based artist recalls how the idea stayed with him ever since he observed a bamboo ladder maker at work, choosing straight or almost straight bamboos over bent ones “so that he can make ladders that eventually help the climber to reach the desired space”. “Since the ‘truth of life’ is in a hidden/shifted position, our journey towards it is bound to be bent but certainly not straight as the wish of a bamboo ladder maker who exists in all of us,” notes Harsha.
While that sets the tone for the exhibition “On/Site”, Mithu Sen shares a set of more than 25 “uncoloured happy prick drawings” in the series “Until you Unhand” that probes, among others, the perception of images. On the central wall, she writes, “Given the current unprecedented climate, as an artist, I am socially distancing myself from all unhappy, dark, negative images by strictly following the Yes/No list below”. If Beauty and Smiley get a ‘Yes’, there is ‘No’ for Protest, UnSocial Distancing and Essential Culture, among others.
If Atul Dodiya catalogues “fear as a driver of both hope and anxiety”, Shilpa Gupta’s 6,10.3,2 explores “the over-intensification of individual emotions resultant from the unexpected and in some ways ongoing lockdown due to the global pandemic — where ‘6’ refers to the minimum social distance to be maintained in feet, ‘10.3’ refers to the same distance as measured by Gupta’s palm, and ‘2’ is its conversion into metres”.
Creating a dialogue between art and science are Asim Waqif, LN Tallur and Martand Khosla, each of whom explore different dimensions. If Khosla’s miniature furniture assemblage explores domesticity and gravity at the same time, in his new sculptures, LN Tallur questions the relationship between the traditional and the contemporary.
It is for us to find solutions to modern-day problems, as is evident in the showcase titled “Remnants of Memories” curated by Khushnu Panthaki Hoof. Older drawings by architect BV Doshi as well as his recent canvases reflect how the Padma Bhushan recipient put emphasis on sustainability and navigated the relationship between space and culture, creating a balance between local needs and culture and Western inspirations. Occupying a corner is a teakwood door designed for Gunvant Mangaldas House in Ahmedabad.
In her latest watercolours and oil paintings titled “Homeward”, Arpita Singh adds new elements to her autobiographical renderings, sharing her turmoils and celebrations. The lines are more entangled in Reba Hore’s confident strokes — the late artist’s works form part of “Do You Know How to Start A Fire”, a group exhibition of intergenerational
women artists featuring work by Ayesha Sultana, Biraaj Dodiya and Radhika Khimji.
If the starting point is Harsha’s bronze installation, Prabhakar Pachpute and Naeem Mohaiemen offer a befitting conclusion. Pachpute’s recent oils imagine “the future of a post-mined and post-industrial landscape”, proposing a possibility of the afterlife of objects and people. It’s a proposition also suggested by Naeem Mohaiemen in the film Jole Dobe Na (Those Who Do Not Drown), that enunciates how the departed live on in the minds of those left behind.
The exhibition is on at Bikaner House, Delhi, till March 9
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