Canvas Rain: A group of international artists uses the Mumbai monsoon as their muse

The show titled “The Monsoon Show” depicts Mumbai’s infamous rains — as perceived by six western, contemporary artists.

Written by Niya Shahdad | New Delhi | Updated: July 14, 2015 1:32:26 pm
talk, exhibition, delhi talk, international artist, Mumbai art, Galerie Isa, Ashwin Thadani, The Monsoon Show, Indian Express Dan Rees’s work at the Mumbai exhibition.

As the monsoon season sets in every year, much of Mumbai’s art scene sinks deep into lull. This year, Galerie Isa, Fort, chose to instead celebrate the rains. Conceptualised by art collector and founder of the gallery, Ashwin Thadani, the show, titled “The Monsoon Show”, depicts Mumbai’s infamous rains — as perceived by six western, contemporary artists. While four of them — German Gregor Hildebrandt, Tunisian Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Welsh multi-disciplinary artist Dan Rees, and Spanish artist Oliver Roura — created artwork especially for this exhibition, those by Olafur Eliasson, of Danish-Icelandic origin, and German Anselm Reyle, are relevant works from their previous collections, the curator explains.

In this intimate exhibition of seven pieces, on till September 11, the abstract works have been made using cassette tapes, industrial foil and ice blocks among other things.

Thadani, who acknowledges the heavy rains for the disruption they cause, points out that they also make for good art. For Hildebrandt, it was the image of a peacock that evoked inspiration. “I have always been intrigued by the majestic peacock, which opens its feathers and dances during the monsoon,” shares the artist. Titled after a song by the French singer Brigitte Fontaine, Peacock Fountain was created through a layered process of placing and removing peacock feathers, amid coats of paint and tape.

Memory features significantly in the thought process and works of artists. Drenched in the contrast of dark and bright tones, Rees’s painting trails the monsoon’s four-month cycle using colour. While blots of brown, black and maroon are reminiscent of the season’s leaden sky and storms, glimpses of yellow evoke the occasional sun and rainbow. Driven by memories of childhood craft and daily life, Rees uses materials such as plasticine and artex combs, which were used in his hometown to render textures to the walls.

Similarly, Kaabi-Linke’s works are rooted in the aftermath of rain. “I wanted to capture the contingency in my painting by imitating the cohesion of water and creating an organic image,” says Kaabi-Linke.

The exhibition leaves one deeply aware of the many moods of this season. As Thadani says, “Whether it is joy or sorrow, the monsoon season is certainly the time of deep human awareness — as are the works of these sensitive artistic minds.”

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