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Art review

Last updated: 17 July, 2011
Marta Jakimowicz, July 17 23:45 IST

Art, craft of the book

One really admired the idea behind the ''Unbound'' exhibition (Scion, July 8 to10) which, instead of merely illustrating texts, as an artist’s books in an unconventional manner probed diverse associations, issues, literary memories and less tangible feelings that are triggered by the book culture.

Also, its anchoring in the emotive physicality of its material and craftsmanship, the works were done during a paper workshop; seemed especially relevant against the growing phenomenon of e-reading. As such, perhaps, it was valid to place the thirteen often accomplished artists and designers on par and in proximity, however, this potent experiment had to become both advantageous and a drawback.

On the one hand, in a few cases, it is emphasised that there cannot be a complete distinction between art and design, art needing to base in purely formal calculations too, even if it turns decorative at its weaker, and fine craft sometimes offering profound experiences, while the impact depends on individual capabilities.

On the other hand, the same circumstance revealed its overall self-limitation through the presence of spectacular designs that conveyed meaning in literal ways; hence lacked true expressiveness and so did not quite connect with the serious pieces despite the whole having been very aesthetically displayed and a rich gamut within the theme was explored.

Naturally then, one responded primarily to the art proper part of the show. Here the gravity and vast reference of Sheela Gowda’s piece could be received all the stronger that it came in an intimate closeness. Against the current scams and sham use of the progressive Constitution, she let one sit at a desk and leaf through the national volume, its almost empty lined pages stamped with the words of conscience and lamentation, a diminutive image of Gandhi followed by one of a rat, while a the weight of its charred, brick variant brought a tender sort of sadness.

The corporeal and emotive sensuousness of Surekha’s ‘dark’ works suggested enigmatic, warm human moods, as though dormant narratives compressed in a nearly architectural stack of richly textured yet minimal rolls and a fabric-like flowing out or unfolding on the ground. Ayisha Abraham arranged her revolving book pages as if in a zoetrope, thus conjuring a feel of life’s constant, gently intricate, charming yet fierce and ominous evolution, as beautiful creeper traceries metamorphosed into a strangulating parasite.

The book metaphor for the environmental condition was corroborated by sourcing the material from printed text and newspaper photography. Whilst S G Vasudev’s sculptural incarnation of his painterly vriksha was graceful but craft-like, designer Jenny Pinto strove to condense the intuition of human history on the illuminated and radiant parchment of frayed, skin-resembling fibrous pages.

However resplendent the paper looked, the signifying textile and found object elements were slightly obvious. Among the designers’ contributions, one appreciated the plastic landscape chessboard of ‘transactions’ in notebook sheets and carbon paper by Umesh Kumar P.N. with Gururaj H S, the dollhouse-book of Alice in Wonderland by Yasmin Sethi and Radha Pandey’s musing about plant seeds as repositories of possible stories.

Jayshree Poddar and Sarita Sundar were fabulous but mainly in terms of design. Nikita Cherian, Jason Cherian and Geetanjali Sachdev appeared enchanting and playful or a little too rudimentarary.

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