Counting birds together: Can you guess these avian species?
In the recently concluded Great Backyard Bird Count, India climbed to second spot, behind Colombia, in terms of number of species observed. A total of 941 species were recorded. Here are some highlights.
For bird watchers in Bengaluru, it was a double treat. They spotted not only the Ruddy-breasted Crake (seen above) but also the Spotted Crake. They are both rare migratory birds at Anekal Lake, Elusive and shy, these birds dart around the reeds at the edges of lakes. As a result, one has to wait for hours to get a sight of one, says Deepa Mohan, one of the count coordinators for Bengaluru, (Deepa Mohan)
A medium-sized wading bird, the Ruff travels to India during winters from the colder regions of Europe and Asia. Usually, only one individual has been recorded throughout Visakhapatnam. But during GBBC, this species was recorded in two major birding hotspots by birders from Wildlife Conservation through Research & Education. (WCTRE)
While the Indian Golden Oriole is distributed in the Indian subcontinent and central Asia, there have been only a couple of reports of its sighting from Assam till now. This picture was captured during a bird count at Don Bosco University's Tapesia campus. It is the first photographic evidence of the bird from the state. Even for the campus, it was a rare record. (Nilutpal Mahanta )
One of the most majestic species, the Asian Paradise Flycatcher was one of the highlights among the birds spotted during a campus bird count at Christian Medical College, Vellore. (Latif Rajesh Johnson)
The Grey Breasted Prinia is a winter migratory bird not often seen in the Pune region. But during the count, a group of bird watchers saw four individuals at Vetal Hill, which is in the heart of the city. (Siddharth Biniwale)
This was a surprise find for birders at Pune’s Empress Garden campus count. The Mottled Wood Owl, which is not a commonly seen owl species in the city, has never been recorded from the garden till now. Found usually in wooded areas, this owl is difficult to spot as it camouflages easily with surrounding trees. (N.S.Sivasankaran)
The Crested Serpent Eagle is not an easy raptor to find because of its limited population. Birders at the Gandhisagar Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh, spotted them during the count. (Loukika Lakshmikant Neve)
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‘In Nepal, we talk about it all the time, what is present and how soon it can go,’ he told The Associated Press in a backstage interview. ‘And there’s actually an optimism to that, especially during these challenging times.’ (AP)
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19 works that you simply must see at the India Art Fair 2023
Nearly 85 exhibitors are presenting from South Asia at the 2023 edition of this annual cultural event. Lounge helps you navigate this art maze with a list of eclectic works
Imagined worlds: The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art is showcasing a work by Raqib Shaw, which has not been shown in the public sphere so far. True to the artist’s signature style, this work too draws on iconography from the East and the West. It stands out for its comment on the violence that has spread through the world today, destroying the beauty of cultures and places in its wake
Metaphysical ideas in metal: Interior designer Vikram Goyal has unveiled a new series of sculptural pieces at the fair, taking his engagement with materiality and craftsmanship to the next level. Especially interesting is ‘The Tree of Good Fortune’ set of sculptures, which draws from the Brutalist style. “Each limb is made with multiple, unpolished parts in brass, the studio’s signature material, welded together with exposed edges and a patinated gold surface,” states the artist note.
Stitching personal narratives: Shrine Empire is presenting a series of thread works by Renuka Rajiv. The artist, in works such as Virus Body and Blood Tradition, brings together their childhood interest in fabric and the handmade. Using techniques like tie-dye and embroidery, and materials such as old garments of family and friends, Rajiv’s works have always been deeply autobiographical—often being a comment on gender, sexuality, and relationships.
Capturing paradoxes: One gets to observe two facets of artist Shivani Aggarwal’s practice as part of an outdoor project as well as the showcase by Studio Art at the fair. Her massive steel-finished fibreglass sculpture, How do I Measure The Scale, placed outside, aptly looks at the paradoxical attempts at measuring the intangible. At the Studio Art booth, you can see a set of five wooden newspapers, as part of Lost Stories—Time and Transformation, which look at the transient nature of news, the idea of preserved time and attempts at small radical changes by the common citizens.
Feminism in gold-and-white: A childhood memory of her ammamma, or grandmother, in a kasavu mundu veshti has informed artist Lakshmi Madhavan’s practice. The smell and fabric of the kasavu textile, now a dying art practised only in Balarampuram, Kerala, has stayed with her. “The kasavu mundu veshti comes with highly coded designs and ways of wearing, depending on its wearer’s gender, class and caste,” states the artist note. Madhavan, who is the artist-in-residence at the fair, has created a series of gold-and-white panels, Hanging by a Thread, with the words ‘some/body’, ‘every/body’, ‘no/body’, woven into the border to highlight the fact that the very weavers who create the textile are not allowed to wear it. The panels are being presented by the Devi Art Foundation.
Transcending boundaries: Mrinalini Mukherjee is known for defying categorisation—through her career she sculpted unusual anthropomorphic forms in fibre, which defied scale, and were erotic, sensual and unsettling at the same time. Now, one can see a different facet of her practice at the Jhaveri Contemporary booth, which is showcasing rare works in bronze by the artist along with a pair of watercolours. The set of reflective landscapes feature muted colours—in her signature style—and inky tones.
A vibrant showcase: Galleria Continua, which has spaces in San Gimignano, Paris, Beijing, Dubai, and more, has an eclectic presentation at the fair, featuring works by Ai Weiwei, Kiki Smith and Nikhil Chopra. German-born, American artist Smith, who is known for her figural work themed around regeneration, sex and the natural world, is showing her acclaimed work, Shadow, which features celestial motifs. Then there is Osvaldo González’s Camino, which makes use of LED lights, and showcases the artist’s fascination with space.
A pioneering practice: New York-based Aicon Contemporary is showing a poignant series of works, Allah (an acrylic on canvas) and an untitled painted wood piece by Rasheed Araeen, a Pakistan-born, London-based artist, writer, activist and curator. According to the gallery, the artist is recognised as the pioneer of minimalist sculpture in Britain. “His work in performance, photography, painting and sculpture throughout the 1970s to 1990s challenged Eurocentrism within the British art establishment and his curation and writing championed the role of artists from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean,” states the note. Since the 1970s he has published his own art journals and authored several books, with Islam & Modernism being the latest, published in 2022.
All the world’s a stage: Hyderabad-based Kalakriti Art Gallery is presenting a new body of work, titled ‘Masquerade: An Endless Drama’, by Avijit Dutta. He uses tempera to reflect on the theatricality of life, with different scripts and characters engaging with one another. “An unseen tug of war thrives- between creative liberty and concept notes, fact and fiction, love and false affection, class, and mass. Truth is lost in this whirlwind melee of pretence and projected reality,” states the curatorial note about the premise of this set of artworks.
Hybrid worlds: The Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art is showcasing a special artist project, ‘Alternate Evolutions’, by Shrimanti Saha. The artist creates vivid visual worlds out of paper cutouts and drawings. Unhindered by a frame or borders, these visuals spread across walls like an “organism”. “The installation assumes multiple (after)lives, having been conceived in the various studios and residency spaces that she has worked in,” states the curatorial note. Saha has also extended these cut-out drawings into her animations, in which she approaches the moving image with the temperament of a painter.
The body as a site of art: Experimenter has brought extremely thought-provoking works to the fair by artists like Sohrab Hura, Adip Dutta, Biraaj Dodiya, Julien Segard, Kallol Datta, Kanishka Raja, Praneet Soi, Sahil Naik, and more. Make sure to view the work, Self Portrait at Dawn, by Bhasha Chakrabarti, who is deeply interested in exploring the world through the body and the skin as a medium. Her ongoing show at Experimenter-Ballygunge Place, curated by Shaunak Mahbubani, reflects on this aspect of her practice, in which she looks at gestures enacted by wrists, fingers, calves and feet in moments of togetherness. (Seen here: Sohrab Hura, ‘The green dress,’ 2022 – Ongoing)
Mirroring reality: New York-based Israeli artist Yigal Ozeri is premiering his series, ‘Americana’ at the Bruno Art Group’s booth. The set of photo realistic works are dedicated to the ‘diner’ as an American pop culture icon. This year is all the more special as it marks the gallery’s tenth year of participation at the fair. Ozeri is known for his large-scale cinematic portraits of women framed against lush landscapes. “With tinges of Pre-Raphaelite aesthetics, Ozeri brings an ethereal and uninhibited sensibility to his paintings,” states the gallery note.
New stories in miniature: Gallery Espace is presenting a new series of miniature paintings by Udaipur-based artist Waswo X Waswo. Titled ‘Last Ride in the Wild,Wild, East’, this new body of work features elements of realism with the fantastical. This series has been produced in collaboration with the 29 year old Chirag Kumawat, who is making his debut at the fair. As always, Waswo presents deeply-layered works, in which the unfamiliar shares space with recognisable imagery. (Seen here: Last Ride in the Wild Wild East (detail 1), 2022)
A different way of seeing: Akar Prakar is showcasing a set of works by artist Jayashree Chakravarty, who is known for her innovative techniques using organic material and paper. Especially interesting is her work, Rajbari, made with oil, acrylic, cotton, tea stain, grass, seeds, roots, jute and synthetic glue on canvas. One has to closely observe her creations to understand the many parts that come together as a whole. Nature and metamorphosis feature as themes in her practice in a big way—something that she attributes to the time spent in Santiniketan. Some of her other works at the fair include Simmering Synergies and Alien Sphere.
Art that pulsates with energy: The Baroda-based artist, T Venkanna, is known for his powerful and fantastical imagery. His work, which is being shown by Gallery Maskara, represents “an uncommon expressive versatility and freedom of brushstroke to create a dreamlike atmosphere.” The gallery will also be unveiling a special work by Rooshad Shroff and Venkanna, called ‘PleasurePain’, with details of the latter’s drawings having been translated into a marble inlay on recycled old Burma teak wood with natural PU polish.
A unique indigenous language: One can see the masterpieces of Indian folk and tribal art at the booth of Inherited Arts Forum. The presentation features works collected from the interiors of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, created by artists like Balu Jivya Mashe, Bhuri Bai and Mangla Bai. The idea is to showcase the incomparable diversity and the extremely contemporary language of artists from the Bhil, Warli and Pithora traditions. (Seen here: Mangla Bai, ‘Untitled’)
Making a strong statement: At the booth of Gallery Art and Soul, one can see a layered work by Mayuri Chari, in which text is juxtaposed against imagery on cloth. “I was not born in this society, I was created by the society,” read the words in one of the works. This creation is part of Object Making Exercises’, a dual solo of Upendra Ram and Chari, curated by Prabhakar Kamble. Both the artists are deeply embedded in the acts of the artisanal. “The works intend to narrate and speak with an audience whilst delving into the propositions of visuality of how we view the folk, gender and the narrative in Rural India. Are these voices heard even when they hold aesthetical and conceptual merit within an art fair? States the note by Kamble.
A plurality of approach: Emami Art is presenting new works by ten contemporary artists, themed around pressing issues of the times such as agrarian politics, issues of sustainability and gender politics. One can see a mix of mid-career artists such as Soma Das with younger artists like Arpita Akhanda, Debashish Paul, Ujjal Dey, and more, working with diverse mediums ranging from textile, ceramics and printmaking to paper weaving and tempera painting. In a first, Emami Art will also be showcasing video works and sculptural dress engaging with issues of the body and identity. (Seen here: Arpita Akhanda's ‘Berunda’)
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Vaishali S. presented her collection, Abyss, on 24 January under the landmark, La Pyramide Inversée skylight, at Carrousel du Louvre. The collection included 35 garments, made using different silks and uplifted with traditional embroideries.
Vaishali S. greets the crowd after presenting her collection
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Counting birds together: Can you guess these avian species?