When gallerist Tunty Chauhan approached Desmond Lazaro to work on the concept of time, the Puducherry-based artist turned to the Dunhuang Star Atlas, the oldest star map discovered in 1906. Fascinated by how the heavens were perceived in ancient times, he decided to paint his own “mythological and empirical views of the heavens”. Titled Mapping the Heavens, the work illustrated with “star constellations and cloud divination” is on display at Gallery Threshold. It accompanies another of Lazaro’s works, Dymaxion map IV, based on Fuller’s Dymaxion map, and the works of eight other artists — all of whom feature in the exhibition “Painted Almanac — Framing Time: Past, Present and Future”.
The brief was simple yet complex: Chauhan wanted artists “to explore personal, historical, geological and cosmic time, investigate past traditions and beliefs, as well as old and new visual representations of the calendar as a measure of the passage of time”. With freedom to interpret and draw references, each artist has explored a varied facet. If Ruby Jhunjhunwala looks at time as a “series of frozen moments” and “frozen in a continuous moment”, for Manisha Gera Baswani time is “a companion in our journey gathering memories”. Gulammohammed Sheikh’s watercolour Between Famine and Floods reflects on the vagaries of nature, and Anindita Bhattacharya’s delicate work Thick as Guilt depicts the extinction of different species. Italian artist Tarshito Strippoli collaborates with miniature artists Raju and Mukesh Swami for his series that he describes as “Warriors of Love”,
inspired by Buddhist meditation master Chogyam Trungpa.
Baroda-based artist Roshan Chhabria turns to popular art, calendars and advertisements of the past. The satirical watercolours question norms and present the changing dynamics, throwing questions at the viewers. The yesteryear poster of a woman advertising surf is juxtaposed with a man washing clothes, and gifting a sewing machine is no assurance for a good marriage, as once advertised by Usha, warns Chhabria. In the present times, “Hind devi” (reportedly on a packaging label for the Ahmedabad New Textile Mills in the 1920s) has innumerable questions that she needs to answer, including, “Should I wear saffron colour?” and “What is the colour for Indian saree?”.
The exhibition is at Gallery Threshold till December 24