11 shows you must see at the start of the new year
The next two months promise a packed programme, with a host of solo and group exhibitions, often happening simultaneously within the physical and virtual space. From questioning the 'gaze' in modern Indian art to celebrating narrative figurative painters, these new shows offer much food for thought
‘If a Tree Falls (Somewhere in Northeast India)’
Gallery Latitude 28, New Delhi
There is one particular work from this series, which beautifully evokes the essence of Assam’s countryside. A thatched hut is set amidst dense foliage. There is no distinction between the wild and the domestic, with the vegetation having claimed parts of the built structure for its own. It is a scene which one comes across if you traverse deep into the heart of Assam. There is a wonderful play of light and shadow, with the darkness bringing out the depth of the dense vegetation beyond the hut. This visual seems to be straight out of a photograph, but it is actually a woodcut meticulously created by Chandan Bez Baruah by carving upon medium density wood-fibre matrix. The artist, born in Guwahati and based in Delhi, has translated photographs of the chaotic, wild landscapes, skilfully into wood. “Chandan’s stark, mountainous undergrowth exists within ecologies and geographies of history, culture, and contemporary conflict,” writes Udaipur-based artist Waswo x Waswo, who has curated the exhibition. “There is an intimacy to these images, as if the artist has trekked us through the jungle to his most favoured haunts, asking us to stay silent and observe what he treasures and wishes to reveal.”
On view at Gallery Latitude 28 between 15 January to 25 February, 2021, Monday to Saturday, 11 am to 7 pm. The works can also be viewed on theartplatformindia.com
Adip Dutta & Meera Mukherjee
The association between artists Adip Dutta and Meera Mukherjee goes back a long way, starting in the mid-1980s till the latter’s death in 1998. “She was like a mentor to him, when he was a young artist. One has never seen their work together. Meera’s way of seeing and Adip’s way of seeing is so unbelievably united,” mentioned Priyanka Raja in an earlier interview.
The works can be viewed at the Hindustan Road space between January 22 and March 6, 2021
'Cabinet of Curiosities’, a photo series by Anuj Ambalal
Gallery Espace, New Delhi, for TAP 4x: India
In its fourth edition, TAP India presents a set of curated exhibitions and talks by galleries such as Akar Prakar, Gallery White, Apparao Galleries, and Exhibit 320. One of the most striking shows is by Gallery Espace, which presents a photo series by Anuj Ambalal, an equity researcher turned artist, with a design studio in Ahmedabad. This particular series has been shot on an old 35mm Pentax camera as well as a digital one inside an antique dealer’s warehouse. The photos showcase an assortment of objets d’art, ranging from headless drummers and animal figurines to miniature explorers, bust of clowns and tulip-shaped vases held up by cherubs. There is a certain otherworldly quality about the images. It seems as if the viewer has stumbled into a parallel universe, inhabited by these little objects, with their exaggerated mannerisms. “The quotidian strangeness of this hermetic world and the incidental conjunctions the objects made struck a chord with Ambalal, who was then reading Haruki Murakami and immersed in the familiar, yet magical world of his novels,” mentions the curatorial note.
The works can be viewed on theartplatformindia.com
‘Ways of Seeing’: Women Artists Women as Muse
DAG, New Delhi and Mumbai
The “gaze” has been one of the most debated topics in art, with the female form having been painted mostly from a male perspective through history. A new exhibition at DAG, with a mammoth number of 180 works, questions the way the body has been “seen” differently by female and male artists, the attendant privileges of patronage almost exclusively male till a certain point in history, and more, in the context of modern Indian art. The show has been divided into two parts, the first featuring 26 women artists such as Sunayani Devi, Devyani Krishna, Amrita Sher-Gil, Gogi Saroj Pal and Rekha Rodwittiya. The second part, ‘Women as Muse’, showcases work by M.V. Dhurandhar, Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy, K.H. Ara, and Jogen Chowdhury, among others.
The works will be on display for a month at DAG’s galleries in New Delhi and Mumbai, 5 February, 2021, as well as on the viewing room on its website
‘Somethings Are Always Burning’ by Aditi Singh
Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai
At first, there seems to be a certain fragility about Aditi Singh’s works. But if you look closer, there is a tenacity in her brush strokes, which lends gravitas to her creations. She manages to capture the pulsating rhythms of the swirling rivers, delicate flowers and the near-empty landscapes. Singh is back with a solo at Chemould Prescott Road after 12 years, which opens as part of the Mumbai Gallery Weekend. “I love repetition. Repetitions turn time into a place, turn the days into a space. Repetitions form the foreground, middle-ground, and background of the picture plane. And inside this plane, the lattice work of routine stills. It is as if time is suspended, since every gesture and movement echoes the preceding one, and, in this way, holds time within itself,” she writes.
The works will be on display between 14 January (preview) and 31 March, 2021
‘Notes for Tomorrow’ by Divya Singh
Shrine Empire, New Delhi
Young visual artist Divya Singh’s practice revolves around her “poetic engagement” with time. She works across mediums such as photography, writing, cinema and painting. In her latest solo exhibition, Singh focuses on the transient moments in a day, and their relational co-existence with constant variables such as light. The title of the show stems from her childhood memory of a visit to a newspaper printing press. “Within that industrial setting, it had seemed to me for the first time that reality and time were both engineered within such factories, and that the news to reach the world tomorrow was printed today, well into the late hours of the night,” she mentions in her artist statement. Singh started the current body of work in 2018, after finishing her master’s programme. The trigger was a death in the family some years prior to that, which acquainted her with the transient quality of life, mortality and time.
The show will be on display between 21 January and 20 February, 2021
‘Museum of Memories’ by Anjaneyulu G
Art Alive, New Delhi
An archive of stories—that’s one way to describe Anjaneyulu G’s body of work. He takes everyday objects, which formed an integral part of his childhood spent in a small village in the Suryapet district of Telangana, and isolates them from their daily existence and function. These are then captured with great precision and detail, gaining a sense of timelessness in the process. “Through an exploration of Anjaneyulu’s personal memories and intellect, we attempt to dive deep into the myriad stories that are told by each of his objects,” mentions the curatorial note.
The show is on view by appointment at the gallery between 20 January and 20th February, 2021. The works can also be viewed online at artalivegallery.com'
‘(Me)(Mory)’, a group show curated by Dipti Anand
Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
This all-women group show features strong voices from across the subcontinent such as Faiza Butt, Anoli Perera, Apnavi Makanji, Himali Singh Soin and Shrimanti Saha. The works create interdisciplinary conversations around the constructions of self, identity and experience. “In (ME)(MORY), the artists approach the construction of these artworks as they might the construction of themselves, from a quasi-dream-like state, or an ecstasis, or states of overpowering emotion, seemingly shedding their exterior bodies for the visceral and whimsical world of within,” writes Anand in her curatorial essay. Himali Singh Soin has created an immersive project, based on her sensory and algorithmic assessment of the semi-colons used in Virginia Woolf’s novel, The Waves, to look at ideas of continuity. There are unique juxtapositions within the show, with artists either continuing strands from each other’s thought processes, or offering a counterpoint to them. For instance, Rakhi Peswani’s fabric panels, which look at the tediousness of channeling self-expression into a skill, offer a temporal counterpoint to Apnavi Makanji, whose drawings look at an erasure of inflated values in anthropocentric human forms. While the show can be viewed physically, the gallery has also experimented with a new immersive 3D technology experience on the website.
The works can be viewed at Vadehra Art Gallery, D-53 Defence Colony, New Delhi, and on vadehraart.com from 22 January to 27 February, 2021
‘Proximate Paths’: Bhupen Khakhar | Jogen Chowdhury
Akara Art, Mumbai
The gallery looks at two leading voices from the generation of figurative painters, who came to the forefront 1970s onwards. The show focuses on the very different styles of the two artists, and how they both were drawn into a “larger movement towards politically engaged forms of narrative figuration”. While Jogen Chowdhury moved between introspective self-portraits and satirical renderings of Bengal’s middle class, Bhupen Khakhar found inspiration in the street, creating portraits of barbers, tailors and watch repairers.
The show can be viewed between 14 January and 28 February, 2021
‘Khoai Landscape’, works on paper by Ghana Shyam Latua
Emami Art, Kolkata
Khoai refers to an eroded, arid lateritic landform surrounding Santiniketan, which attracted the attention of some of the early artists working there. One such artist was Ghana Shyam Latua, who chose not to go down the same route as his contemporaries in his depictions. Instead of creating a panoramic landscape, he painted a series of fragmented monochrome frames. He created white-on-white drawings by pricking and peeling off the paper surface with needles and other tools. The slightly raised, white on white drawings perfectly capture the dialectics of presence and absence, on which the aesthetics of Ghana Shyam’s Khoai landscape is based. It is not mourning, but rather an anticipatory nostalgia, which evokes a sense of loss for the present before it is gone,” mentions the curatorial note.
The works can be viewed till 5 February on emamiart.com
‘Birth of a New World’ by Rithika Merchant
In a new series of watercolours and collages, the artist looks to a more primordial time. By seeking answers in the stars, she proposes to create paths to a new world, akin to what you would see in an observatory. According to a curatorial statement, these works take a holistic view of the universe and answer what comes after the Holocene and the Anthropocene.
The show opens on 14 January as part of the Mumbai Gallery Weekend
FIRST PUBLISHED05.01.2021 | 01:00 PM IST