Art review

Puneet Kaushik, detail from the exhibition Patterns of growth

The second exhibition at Apparao Galleries (October 3 to 30) brings another absorbing collection of work from young Puneet Kaushik of Delhi. His “Germination” conjures evocations of simple structures of things and phenomena about to come into being, shaping, evolving and transforming that remain as intangible and ambiguous as they generate essential intuitions.

To suggest this fluid, both static and stirring, condition together with its bearing on a broad array of contexts and associations, the form which is an intrinsic part and embodiment of the content oscillates on the verge of diverse aspects of the image and material. Its underlying element belongs to the blurring of distinctions between line and volume, the physicality of the material and the invisible ways of its effect.

Although three-dimensional objects made of slender, line-like substances have many precedents in contemporary art, internationally and in the country, Kaushik contributes to it a fine and sensitive, individual language. The shapes he has created can be comfortably recognised only to instantly display themselves under an obfuscating screen and deny equivocal character to their identities. In fact, the works appear to be in a state of perpetual metamorphosis and link with everything else and in a clouded in-between-ness, while their arrangement in a kind of environment adds to the same.
Thus, spreading under the ceiling is an extraordinary set of spider webs, whereas the walls hold drapes, veils and cascades of enmeshed cocoons.

These sculptural apparitions are at their best when emphasising simultaneity and fluidity, as networks of organic and fabric structures exude a premonition of human bodies. The somewhat more direct male figure, despite being shrouded in ephemeral, root-resembling meshes, proves slightly too literal. Otherwise the feel of suspension between diverse substances and immateriality, between stages of growth and transposition is wonderfully suggested by building almost plastic and almost drawing grid-like shapes that are enchanting yet raw, metallic shiny yet potent with warm textures, solid yet diffusing, tense yet relaxed, cool yet sensuous.

They are threaded of stainless steel wires that function like drawing strokes to be undermined as well as complemented by their own shadows that are brought to life, animated and nuanced in their tonalities by illumination, the latter however simultaneously depriving the objects of their concreteness and plasticity. The lightness of it all and the carefully structured, repeated but indefinable, motion rely on the pulses of see-through nets whose knotting, rolling and weaving paths seem to participate in the behaviour of nature, insects and animals as much as in the tradition of human handicraft and needlework.

The permeable dualities that merge the external with the inner, the design and its space, indeed, allow for an insight into the connectedness of life’s developing, growing and changing phenomena at their origin.

In search of the Mahatma

Against today’s unabashed, accepted corruption and the tokenism afforded to his icon, Gandhigiri not having really taken ground, it can be cathartic to, at least through the honesty and idealism, of art, reconnect with the Mahatma’s practical philosophy of ethics, respect and dignity.

The large exhibition “Who has seen Gandhi?”, curated by Rahul Bhattacharya for Tangerine Art Space (Raj Bhavan, October, Kynkyny, 3 to 15), had a chance of fleshing out because it included mostly young, often uninhibited artists and mid-generation ones well-known for their social conscience. It brought mixed results, however, because alongside serious, quality works many, although contemporary in form and of valid content, either lacked a strong concept or relied on over-familiar aesthetic paradigms, while the display at the second venue left much to be desired.

The spectator could merely guess that the video and installation pieces by Navjot Altaf, Gigi Scaria and Vibha Galhtora must have been significant; however, those were not on view.

Maybe unnecessary appeared to be the sketchy-direct but surface-bound portraits of Gandhi by the seniors M F Husain and K. M. Adimoolam, a more involved one belonging to Rajan Krishnan. The most valuable contributions came from the relatively junior artists who dared to both criticise, sometimes with fury, satire and disillusioned revulsion, and to affirm their admiration for Gandhi’s spirit, sporadically locating its echoes in ordinary life.
One appreciated here in particular the efforts of Debanjan Roy, Arun Kumar H G Gireesh G V and Deepak Tandon, also to an extent those of Sachin Karne, Josh P S, Phaneendra Nath Chaturvedi, Prasad Raghavan, Riyaz Samadhan, Sudhanshu Sutar, Murali Chheroth, Gururaj Hadadi and Tushar Waghela. The additional, if unintended, irony arose in the context of the materialistic urban elite culture to be sensed while watching the works through designer furniture.

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