Art review

The seat of emotions

The new exhibition at The Apparao Galleries is an interesting, if slightly random, one. “The Chair” (December 11 to 30), although it is not stated, was conceived by the gallery owner Sharan Apparao. Somewhat contrarily to its popular association with the embodiment and symbolism of status-based on socio-political and economical power, which the introduction to the show stresses too, the participating artists probe mostly less tangible but rich and complex areas between freely, often irreverently and wittily handled personal feelings and distanced reflection.

While not all the announced names can be found among the exhibits, the collection includes a good number of accomplished, exciting works which evoke a whole connected by mutual responsiveness or complementariness as well as contrast, whereas a few seem comply with the theme only on the surface.

A befitting preface to the display is provided by Madhvi Subrahmanian who, in a conceptual manner but one embodied in the visual physicality of the image, stimulates the viewer to consider anew the potential of significance immersed in the idea of the chair, as she spells it out in separate three-dimensional letters that allude both to the structure of furniture and broader architecture, the ritual threads wrapped around each appearing to simultaneously impart then scared values and restriction. The painterly way of Alison Byrnes, also, hides a very conscious approach.

Naive style

Her interiors with armchairs and sofas from different but not too remote periods are rendered in a deliberately somewhat naïve style with certain perspective incongruities. This lets them absorb, even represent the human presence on its own negotiating the passage of time.

The most exciting part of the show belongs to the interactive sculptural pieces whose subversive or just playful humour evinces an immediate reaction from the spectator.

Mithu Sen’s pink chair is feminine, graceful and sensual but soon discloses an eerie, aggressively ominous incrustation studded with an array of false teeth.

Quite its counterpart, maybe influenced to a degree by Mithu’s Sen’s other oeuvre, become Kumar Kanti Sen’s stools of delicately weird eroticism, their soft fabric evocative of voluptuous female skin, their legs equipped with elegant nails.

Whereas these sculptures rely on and undermine the notion of domestic comfort and intimacy, Malavika Prakash with lightness and energy affirms mischievous, youthful exuberance and freedom, as she conjures a bright hybrid from an upturned cane seat and a pair of nearly jumping legs clad in an abundance of shimmering decorations.
More as a statement than suggestion, Kumar Ranjan’s limping chair with a telescope that becomes part of its occupant’s digestive system is a seat of internalised observation hinting at the unresolved imitative link between the individual and society.

Genuine sensitivity

Intense atmosphere, though conjures with a blend of aware strategies and genuine sensitivity, re-enters the photography-based images by Ramya Reddy.

The old-fashioned monochrome of her twilight sceneries of water and vegetation create a suffused poetry of childhood remembered by an adult, the wooden bench among them as witness.

As much as one appreciates the impact, the fraying of the edges could be excessive, hence formalist.

Formalism, despite all their intricate finesse, dominates the colourful collages of Farhan Mujib.

There is much elegance and joy in his dense, ornate images that oscillate between the memory of old, mainly Islamic miniatures and the mysteries of Hindu and other temple architecture, statuary and decorative motifs.

It does not, however, go beyond just that and the introduction of the chair into the design looks rather chance.

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