The Mumbai Gallery Weekend was started in 2012 to showcase the diversity and depth of art in the city. Currently, in its tenth edition, the event—an annual fixture on the city’s cultural calendar—has witnessed several uncertainties during the pandemic. This year too, the art showcase was to take place in January, but due to the Omicron wave, it was shifted to February. But now 23 galleries —from both midtown and South Mumbai—are opening their doors to art enthusiasts with new exhibitions of contemporary art. On display are woven tapestries made with recycled material, avant-garde films, special exhibitions such as Ufuq that is a tribute to the late artist Zarina, and investigation of personal memories by artists like Sosa Joseph and Saju Kunhan. Here are the top picks:
‘Savage Flowers’ at Art Musings
Smriti Dixit’s works are deeply tactile. With a long standing commitment to recycling, she uses textile, found objects, plastic tags and other elements drawn from the everyday to give expression to her ideas. In her solo exhibition at Art Musings, curated by Nancy Adajania, Dixit creates woven landscapes and sculptures, which seek to highlight the fragility of the planet. “Dixit’s work points to the complicated slippage between the spiritual and the commercial, the organic and the industrial, the sustainable and the unsustainable,” writes Adajania in her curatorial note.
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‘Trinity’ at Chatterjee & Lal
The gallery is releasing a new film by London-based artist, Hetain Patel, which is the final part in his trilogy — the earlier films were The Jump and Don’t Look at the Finger. “A coming of age story intermingled with supernatural references…the film explores the representation of the British Indian experience on screen, emphasising the female voice, intergenerational conflict and the truth that our bodies hold beyond language, foregrounding a strong sense of hope,” states a note by New Art Exchange, which is currently showing the largest solo of Patel's works in London. According to gallerists Mortimer Chatterjee and Tara Lal, Trinity contains a gripping narrative with amazing cinematic effects and an arresting score, and they are looking forward to sharing it with the Mumbai audiences.
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‘UFUQ: Zarina a Tribute’ at Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery
This one is truly special: a tribute to the Zarina by a group of artists such as Anita Dube, Astha Butail, Mithu Sen, Shambhavi Singh, and more. Curated by Dr Arshiya Lokhandwala, the exhibition has been inspired by the late artist’s work Ufuq (horizon in Urdu), a 2001-woodcut in which she viewed “the horizon as the ultimate goal of the travelling soul”. The participating artists have interpreted different facets of her practice: either the ethos of minimalism that Zarina followed in her art or the ideas of displacement and borders that she worked with. They have evoked these concepts in monochromatic prints, papier mache sculptures and pin prick drawings.
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‘Where do we come from?’ at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke
The gallery has consistently shown works by Kerala-based artist Sosa Joseph. And now, as part of the Mumbai Gallery Weekend, one can see new works such as Feasters (2021) from the show, Where Do We Come From. This is the third solo by the artist at the gallery. Joseph, whose works have been exhibited at the Centre Pompidou and the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, has shown a steady commitment to the medium of painting, especially at a time when some of her contemporaries might have veered towards new media. The 15 new oils on canvas (2019-2021) have been inspired by scenes and sounds of her immediate environment—the river Pamba, the sugarcane fields, the ferrymen, and more.
‘The Mud and the Rainbow’ at Jhaveri Contemporary
The gallery is hosting a solo exhibition of ceramic sculptures by Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, his first in south Asia. Inspired by his roots in Sri Lanka, the works on display have been put together at his studio in Sydney. “These multi limbed, zoomorphic beings embody elaborate modelling and glazing techniques. Together they explore queer politics, zoology, idolatry, anthropomorphism, popular culture,” states the gallery note.
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‘Home Ground’ at Tarq
Kerala-based artist, Saju Kunhan, has always moved from the personal to the sociopolitical in his works. In his second solo at Tarq, he once again delves into family histories to talk about issues of migration and displacement. A lot of this is shaped by the oral narratives shared by various generations of his family with him. Kunhan explores these themes through his unique method of image transfers on teak wood. "Also featured in this exhibition for the first time, are the artist’s works on paper. The body of work displayed in this show investigates the more personal side of Saju’s practice," states gallerist Hena Kapadia, who calls his style a speculative historical and cartographic practice.
‘Tropisms’ at Project 88
Amitesh Shrivastava’s new works pulsate with energy. Marked by vibrant use of colours, the Mumbai-based artist splashes his canvas with intense brushstrokes to evoke the worlds within him. Composed largely during the lockdown, the oils on canvas are shaped by his experiences and memories of his hometown in Chhattisgarh and of Mumbai, the city that he now calls home. “These stories emerge from the dark, from specific experiences that have struck him with epiphanic force, and from dreams that play through his waking consciousness,” writes art critic-cultural theorist Ranjit Hoskote in an essay.
‘Portraits of Intimacy’ at Akara Art
Sathi Guin’s monochromatic works are an expression of time. “Lines of her hand”, as Guin likes to call them, serve to illustrate her past, present and future. She leaves a lot to the viewers’ imagination, allowing them the freedom to create mountains, rivers, galaxies and clouds out of the lines and spaces in her works. “You wish to see, but the texture is no more simply the touch of a surface, it is in fact the intimacy of a Time spent with the skin of a form taking shape, where a creator-self has indulged in this manifest sense of lines and time, spaces and moments; and intimate yet eluding you just then, as well,” states the gallery note.
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‘Cosmos’ at Chemould Prescott Road
Desmond Lazaro’s new solo at the gallery carries forth his preoccupation with the cosmos, through which he explores ideas of identity, migration and home. While creating contemporary works, he draws on his early beginnings as a miniature artist in the way he creates pigments. Lazaro’s colour bands, geometrical drawings and jottings bring together his interests in mathematics, science and art. Some of the concepts and texts that have influenced his works are Isaac Newton’s colour prism, Father Angelo Secchi’s illustrations of a star’s light spectrum from his 1870 Spectroscopy catalogue, and the Vastu Purusha Mandala.
The Mumbai Gallery Weekend is on till 13 February. Visit mumbaigalleryweekend.com