Revisiting the golden era of Hindi cinema
On view is an evocative image of a young Naushad, with a play of light and shadow on his face. In another corner, you can see a dramatic photo of Nalini Jaywant, gazing into the distance, with a lamp, which has just been extinguished and is still fuming with smoke. These exquisite photographs of actors from post-independence Bombay cinema by J.H. Thakker form a part of a new show, ‘Sitaare Zameen Par’, at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art. The exhibition revisits the ‘golden era’ of the Bombay film industry, from 1947 to 1968, which were defined by melodious music, beautiful lyrics, melodrama, unforgettable dialogues, and more. “These figures from the past are like those distant and disappeared heavenly bodies which now exist only in their silver shadows, cast on the retinas of earthly beings,” writes Karode. “Thakker not only utilised his technical acumen and astute sense of the “chiaroscuro” (the light and dark gradation of tones) but deployed imagination to formalise and posture glamorous subjects as the icons of popular romance.” ‘Sitaare Zameen Par’ can be viewed at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Noida, till 30 April, 2023
Arpita Singh’s ‘thinkscapes’
Arpita Singh’s works have always been deeply feminine—both in terms of the subject and the artistic gaze. Most of the themes are related to the “secret world of women with their rites and activities,” as Singh had once described her paintings. And now, Vadehra Art Gallery invites you to take a closer look at the post-modernist artist’s oeuvre at the exhibition, ‘Meeting’. It features a body of oils, and black-and-white works on paper, which evoke fantastical landscapes with imagined characters and a dream-like quality. “In her earlier works, she had usually foregrounded the human figure. In this series of paintings, the figure is part of the entire scene where each element—the sky, the greenery, the water, the built spaces—contributes to a pulsating whole,” writes author Ella Dutta in the introductory essay to the exhibition. Meeting can be viewed at the Vadehra Art Gallery. D-40, Defence Colony, New Delhi, till 14 March, 2023, Monday - Saturday 10am - 6pm
Voices that shaped Indian modernism
Dhoomimal Gallery is presenting works by 20 iconic artists, who played a crucial role in shaping modern art in a post-independent India. Drawn from the Ravi Jain collection, ‘Raza and His Contemporaries’ has been curated by art historian and author Yashodhara Dalmia, and features works by F.N. Souza, M.F. Husain, Krishen Khanna, Zarina, Sailoz Mukherjea, K.G. Subramanyan, and more. The show starts with a focus on S.H. Raza, this being his centenary year, and then moves on to explore the diverse voices that shaped Indian modernism. According to Uday Jain, director, Dhoomimal Gallery, the exhibition design plays a crucial role in engaging viewers in deep conversations with the stalwarts of Indian art, while reflecting on their ensuing relevance. ‘Raza and his Contemporaries’ can be viewed at Dhoomimal Gallery, Connaught Place, New Delhi, till 10 March, 2023, Monday to Saturday, 11 am to 7 pm
Shelves full of memories
Dia Mehhta Bhupal’s practice has always focused on “fine-art conceptual images”, as part of which she constructs larger-than-life sets, photographs them and then dismantles the structures. In the past, she has recreated cinema halls, washrooms, and more to capture the lived experiences within a public space. Her new body of work, however, is more intimate in nature, with the artist presenting a series of still-life images based on bookshelves and the memories that they evoke.Titled ‘Shelf Life, the exhibition is on view at GALLERYSKE, New Delhi, and carries forth Mehhta Bhupal’s process of collecting magazines and segregating them into colour fields. These are then rolled to create 3D objects, which are then arranged into an image. “Each book on these shelves is exquisitely crafted and created, one could wonder who each of these fictional characters are who inhabit the world inside,” writes filmmaker and visual artist Aradhana Seth about the works on display. ‘Shelf Life’ can be viewed at GALLERYSKE, New Delhi, till 10 March, 2023, Monday to Saturday, 11 am to 7 pm.
Of pixels and glitches
The artist duo, Thukral & Tagra (Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra), have always used technology—be it through games, performance art and design—to highlight the condition of humanity. And their new body of work, ‘Arboretem’, on view at Nature Morte, is no different. Triggered by the new norms defined by the digital world, the artist duo has set out to explore the blurring of lines between the real and the virtual realms. In each of the works, visuals of trees—painted in photo-realistic detail—are suddenly punctuated and interrupted by pixelations and glitches. “What makes the wilderness special is reckless abandon, the giving away of quotidian worries to the moment. Yet, the cameras in our pocket and the way we relate to nature have altered. The graceful arc of a branch inspires the instinct to pull out a device and capture it,” the artists posted about the work. ‘Arboretem’ can be viewed at Nature Morte, The Dhan Mill, New Delhi, till 26 February, 2023, 11 am to 7 pm, daily
A showcase of suzani
David Housego and Mandeep Negi, founders of Shades of India—a label that brings together design and textile heritage—, are presenting their private collection of textiles for the first time. Titled, ‘Bukhara: A Journey on the Silk Road’, the exhibition features a selection of suzani hangings, Beshir rugs woven by Turkmen tribes and ikats typical to central Asia collected by the couple in the past 30 years during travels across the continent. National Crafts Museum, New Delhi. The ‘Bukhara’ showcase will be on display at the special exhibition gallery of the National Crafts Museum, New Delhi, till 15 Februrary, 10 am to 6 pm.
Celebrating artistic practices from south Asia
The Anant Art Gallery in Noida features a very striking series by Mohammed Rabin. In Disclose Myself, it shows the unravelling of a human figure. Though he works with woodblock prints, his thread-like visuals depict the fragility of the human mind. They are deeply reflective works, in which the figure constantly seems to be gazing back at itself, or trying to reveal its innermost being. It is works such as these that form a part of the first joint exhibition between Anant Art and The Arts Family, a not-for-profit organisation based in London. In 2021, the latter instituted the TAF Emerging Artist Award South Asia to support artistic practices, and this show celebrates the ten artists shortlisted from that first edition. One can see works of the three award winners—-Bushra Waqas Khan, Madhu Das and Shivangi Ladha—besides a glimpse of practices of other shortlisted artists like Devika Syndar, Vipeksha Gupta and Rabin. The Arts Family Award Exhibition can be viewed at the Anant Art Gallery, Noida, till 25 March, 2023, 11 am to 7 pm.
Santiniketan, with a new lens
Art Alive presents a solo by Chandra Bhattacharjee, in which the artist has created a deeply personal and intimate portrait of Santiniketan. The place emerges as an ‘idea’--a concept—in the artist’s work, which he first explores through the camera lens and then through charcoal sticks and brushes. Bhattacharjee finds a keen affinity with the red-soil ecosystem of Santiniketan. As he sees the place transform, with asphalt and barbed wire creeping in, the artist tries to translate his memories of an earlier nearly-utopian time into his work. ““Cities will sprout where trees were king. Factories will harden forest floors. Nature will give way to the drum roll of development. All that is inevitable. But what if a few wondrous places were simply left alone? Sheltered from the assault of progress? Maybe that would do us humans and our eponymous humanity a world of good,” states the artist in his note. ‘Santiniketan’ can be viewed at Art Alive, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi, till 3 March, 2023
Pertinent to the times
Latitude 28 has collaborated with Lisa Ray’s new curated digital and NFT platform, TheUpsideSpace, for a unique exhibition, ‘Mobocracy x Democracy’. Featuring a mix of digital and physical art by artists like Aban Raza, Sarnath Banerjee, Thukral & Tagra, and UBIK, the show explores the chimaera that democracy has become since the advent of social media. The works highlight the divide between perception and reality, amplified by the noise on various virtual communication networks—a particularly interesting work in this context is Ketaki Sarpotdar’s lenticular print, ‘The Crow Said I am Black’. The show is extremely pertinent to the times, both in terms of theme and format. Bhavna Kakar, founder of Latitude 28, feels that the participating artists have played with different perspectives to form an understanding of the contemporary social, economic and political terrains. “An apt example would be Yogesh Ramkrishna’s ‘I Apologise to Your Soul. Maybe That’s Where the Healing Begins…’, which investigates factors behind the manipulation of news, which results in mobs forming their own opinions based on such stories in the post-truth era,” elaborates Kakar. “Ultimately, all of us are arriving at a vantage point from which we can situate the changing landscape of contemporary art in south Asia.” ‘Mobocracy x Democracy’ can be viewed at Latitude 28, Lado Sarai, New Delhi, till 28 February
A fantastical visual journey
Ojas Art is presenting an exhibition by Abhishek Singh, making this the artist’s first solo after a decade. With his art straddling the realms of myth and imagination, the artist takes the viewers on a journey of “perennial wisdom, existential curiosities and spiritual oneness” in this show titled, ‘Hymns of Medhini’. The 30 works in ink and gouache on paper and canvas present a series of fantastical stories, featuring tiger-like figures playing the veena and tiny elephants that can fly. It feels like you have entered a magical realm, where forests and beasts speak a unique language known only to them. ‘Hymns of Medhini’ can be viewed at Ojas Art, New Delhi, till 22 March, 2023.