The art season is here and raring to go
Following the lull of the lockdown, art galleries are back with shows in the virtual and physical space. Here are Lounge’s picks of the season
BYRNE: PLANE IN SIGHT
AKARA ART, MUMBAI
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There is a sense of solitude in George Byrne’s photographs of vibrant landscapes bereft of habitation. The quietude of the streets and the emptiness of the strip malls and second-storey car parks bring back the sense of eerie isolation that pandemic-induced lockdowns created in urban spaces around the world.
The images seem akin to an abstract painting, with clear geometric shapes juxtaposed against one another. A sense of fantasy leaves you wondering if the landscapes are real. “He also references the New Topographics photography movement via a subject matter firmly entrenched in the urban everyday,” states the curatorial note.
These works by Byrne, an Australian photographer who lives in Los Angeles, are part of his first solo show in India, at Akara Art, Mumbai. This is the gallery’s second physical show after Horescope, an exhibition of Somnath Hore’s works, in July. “The physical viewing is by appointment only and we are staggering the visits,” says Puneet Shah, director, Akara Art.
He first came across Byrne’s photographs online; and they evoked a strong response. “There was a very modernist painterly quality in his photographs,” he says. The photographer’s gaze scans streetscapes like a flâneur, collecting fragments of the urban landscape. “Returning to his studio and to his computer, he then laboriously sifts through these sharp, contrast-heavy images, and choosing elements from these images he starts to meddle, using photographic software to cut, paste, re-colour, and edit the final image,” explains the note.
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The works for the show have been chosen to appeal to the aesthetic of younger collectors.
The exhibition can be viewed till 24 October at Akara Art, Colaba, Mumbai. Phone: 022-22025550
APPROPRIATION DISINFORMATION—NATURE AND THE BODY POLITIC
Geneva-based artist Apnavi Makanji’s drawings and installations have always added a layer of meaning to archival material, creating complex constructs informed by botany, memory and displacement. In their new series, Makanji has taken archival material from a French atlas, Atlas International Larousse Politique Et Economique, dating back to the 1950s, and layered it with collages of fictitious dead and decaying monsters made with found pages of a magazine. “By taking this atlas, she has looked at tools of capitalism and proof of systematic violence. The atlas also lists the materials that came from the colonies. Hence the work examines the injustice of resource distribution,” says gallerist Hena Kapadia, who is showing these works as part of the show Appropriation Disinformation—Nature And The Body Politic, at Tarq, Mumbai. These collages were shown earlier this year at the Dhaka Art Summit as part of the exhibition Seismic Movements, curated by Diana Campbell.
This is the first time works are being shown in India “These collages are not only a representation of what has been forgotten, buried or annihilated, they also stand in for a subconscious that is mutant and diseased,” says the curatorial note. The series seems particularly relevant at a time of geopolitical flux. “It looks at how much colonialism has shaped our lives,” adds Kapadia.
The exhibition can be viewed by appointment at Tarq, Mumbai, till 30 September. Phone: 022-6615 0424
FUTURE IS NOT FIXED
NATURE MORTE AND VADEHRA ART GALLERY, DELHI
Alongside Masking-Shell, a watercolour and charcoal on paper work created earlier this year, one can read artist Anju Dodiya’s words about the process of creating it: “The great Venetian painter Tintoretto died in a plague pandemic and Munch survived the Spanish flu. I can only laugh at my audacity in February, when I had told a friend that I was planning to do some joyous paintings. What the hell are joyous paintings? Munch gives me joy, most Italian pietas make me sing and the bleak wartime still-lives of Picasso are sumptuous. So will we sustain our joy? What lies ahead?”
Her work is part of a virtual exhibition, The Future Is Not Fixed, organized by two Delhi-based galleries, Nature Morte and Vadehra Art Gallery. The title of the show, featuring 24 artists like Dodiya, Bharti Kher, Dhruvi Acharya, Gigi Scaria and Jitish Kallat, mirrors the nebulous times we live in. “None of us ever had a fix on the future but we liked the illusion that we did. But now even that illusion has come crashing down,” says Arjun Sahwney, the curator. “Everyone is mulling over this at different levels.” As he wondered how this period would be documented by the visual arts, the galleries approached him separately for a show on these lines. “When they realized both had a similar idea, they volunteered to collaborate on a single show in which the artists illustrate these thoughts and feelings,” he adds. Every work on display is accompanied by an artist’s note on their interpretation of this period.
In addition, Vadehra Art Gallery has started an initiative called Fresh to support young, emerging artists. The first in the series is an online showcase of Shrimanti Saha’s works, Fire In The Greenhouse And Other Stories. The artist draws heavily on myths, pop culture, Company paintings and science fiction, creating dreamlike vistas and dystopian landscapes. “It was more important than ever during a time like this to support emerging artists. Shrimanti’s work is also extremely evocative and interesting for young collectors,” says Roshini Vadehra, gallery director.
‘Future Is Not Fixed’ can be viewed on NatureMorte.com and VadehraArt.com till 20 September, and ‘Fire In The Greenhouse And Other Stories’ can be viewed on VadehraArt.com till 30 September.
SEEDS ARE BEING SOWN
SHRINE EMPIRE GALLERY, DELHI
The Shrine Empire Gallery in Delhi has an earthy smell floating around it’s newest exhibition. The smell of tite-pati, a healing herb, envelops the senses. At the entrance, images from the Gorkhaland Picture Archive come into view. Artist Aqui Thami has presented a collection of striking images from newspaper archives recounting the often invisibilized movement of the people of Gorkhaland. There is a deeply personal element to this work as Thami presents images of the curfews and communication blackouts she witnessed while growing up in Darjeeling. “And there is the ceremonial smell of tite-pati, which her parents have sent from back home,” says Shaunak Mahbubani, who has curated the show, Seeds Are Being Sown, for the Prameya Art Foundation. This is the second physical exhibition in the Capital, open to visitors by appointment.
The themes of hybridity and resistance to diverse voices and cultures run through works by feminist artists such as Tehmeena Firdos, Baaraan Ijlal, Arshi Ahmadzai and Anna Ehrenstein. This is the third part of the series, Allies For The Uncertain Futures, being curated by Mahbubani. “One of the core threads that emerges within this assemblage of feminist artists is the practice of conscious commemoration, of a listening and holding space for those who have faced great losses in struggles for identity and self-determination,” says the curatorial note.
Mahbubani, who witnessed protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Delhi last year, has used the past couple of months to reflect on conversations with artists in the context of questions of citizenship, who belongs and whose voices will be heard and whose images will get invisibilized. “Artists have come from these experiences or have been involved in moments of resistance,” says Mahbubani.
Last year’s experiences prompted them to give free rein to artists. “Each voice is important in its own space,” they say. For instance, Tehmeena Firdos’ small-scale sculpture refers to the emotional uncertainties of families living in the area where anti-CAA protests took place. Firdos’ new body of work, created in the lockdown period, carries heavy residues of violence but also contains important markers of directions ahead, “such as Dr (B.R.) Ambedkar’s emblematic pointing finger coming together in the word sabr (patience) painted on one of the sculptures,” says the note.
Then there is Baaraan Ijlal’s Change Room project, which holds space for multiple voices that have experienced conflict and abuse. “It features a testimony of a woman from Ahmedabad who got relocated from her home. It circles around the violence and how life changed after moving from one locality to another—it looks at the residue of the violence,” says Mahbubani. They are happy to be back in the gallery. “It’s about re-engaging with multiple senses after the isolation of the pandemic,” they say.
The exhibition can be viewed at Shrine Empire Gallery, Defence Colony, Delhi, till 24 October.Phone: 011-41327630
FIRST PUBLISHED11.09.2020 | 10:33 AM IST