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Art review

Last updated: 20 December, 2009
Marta Jakimowicz
B M Kamatís bronze sculpture

B M Kamat’s bronze sculptureOut of tune with bronze

A year after its workshop, Sumukha displayed the bronzes cast from the terracotta sculptures done then (December 7 to 12). The effect of this transfer hesitated between appropriate, as in most cases, and formalist. In the modernist idioms it accentuated the vibrant, alluringly angular plasticity of the design (K Laxma Goud), otherwise its decorative stylisation (Jyotsna Bhatt, G Reghu).

Some sculptors primarily working with bronze offered fair instances of their mainstream practice. N N Rimzon’s ovoid piece evoked an essentially sacred as well as embodied togetherness of human and organic presence indicating a cosmic wholeness as origin of things, while it exuded a sensation of supple skin, rough and transforming, yet compact soil and the smoothness of an egg.

An equally earthy but gracefully sensuous, feminine experience of hiding in and revealing oneself through the hybrid state of physical-emotive unity with other creatures came from Shanthi Swaroopini’s snail-woman, her both parts interchanging the surface and surge of coarseness and delicacy. The bronze in Thomas Kovoor’s image conjured a man trapped by, nevertheless, approximating coexistence with the denatured world of omnipresent factories with their vast, ominous containers and conduits, acquired a feel of harsh, glistening steel that still echoed on human flesh. The patina-treated busts of a lover couple by Karl Antao were massive enough to contrast and engage with the slender trajectories of the motifs that held his intimate metaphor. Successful were the experiments with the material by B M Kamat in a warmly ironic self-portrait as a grand, winged ancestor and by Arun Kumar H G who by using bronze offered homage to the humble banana leaf on which ordinary people eat. Whilst S Gopinath’s abstracted work was spectacular but somewhat form-oriented, the three-dimensional interpretation of a Goya drawing by Alex Mathew was interesting without providing more substance and Venkat Bothsa’s head covered by a multitude of shallow relief shapes did not quite translate the impact of his sculptures painted over with two-dimensional pictures in colour.

Minimalist and the literal

The eight young artists from Chennai at Blue Spade (December 4 to 24), some with clarity and some hesitantly, strive for contemporariness in their use of materials, form and concepts. Although to see all of them addressing time may be stretched, the best works in “Integrating the Times” do that indeed. Kumaresan painstakingly, but with lightness, piles up or merges volumes from ample, thin layers and spreads them separately on the flat, ably mediating abstraction, repetition of modules and the physicality of his substances. Also with a minimalist sensitivity that holds rawness, Suneel Sree follows the increasing corrosion of an iron plate and maps progression in space on and with series of rail tickets.

Reverberations of those processes can be sensed in Saravanan P and the rhythms of his white tree bark, also in Yuvaraj’s use of coarse wood and rusted metal. The inconsistently obvious and mannered figural sculptures by Kumaresan and Yuvaraj, however, make one wonder how authentic their ambitious pieces are. This oscillation from the abstracted-expressive and the literal is more evident in Aneesh’s drawings with pulsating multitudes of organic shapes and stylised human ones. More convincing, by comparison, prove the abstract, in a compact way painterly evocations of dense, dynamic surroundings by Guru Nathan. Sequential passage and atmospheric rhythms may be found in the abstracts of Suresh Kumar S and Suresh K P, but they excessively rely on Op Art precedents and Adimoolam’s kind of absorption of Abstract Expressionism.

Public address

Considering art’s desire to connect with life, some young artists took it to public. Iranian Mandana Moghaddam installed a dim reflective circle inside a well at Jaaga (December 5) to stimulate people to communicate with others in different countries. Since nothing around suggested it, one needed explanation to the otherwise valid aim. The ‘live art incident’ by Sapna H S at Samuha (December 12, 13) had her, family and friends cook for the visitors traditional dishes using ready made packets against video projections of old-time ways of preparing and eating such dishes. This nice but too literal event was surpassed by the restrained, thus all the more powerful performance video where the artist cried in an interior which both enclosed and exposed her.

A bold and respectfully empathic celebration of ordinary people came from S Manjunath who, on a pedestrian over-bridge in a busy market area, displayed immense portraits of nearby shopkeepers (December 13). Re-directing the regular mode of advertising and political canvassing, the artist did the faces in the style of popular hoardings and in digital transfer but paid homage to the anonymous.


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