Art review

Art review

Madhu D, Animals and us - vaguely

"A Twist in the Tail", an exhibition at Crimson (The Hatworks Boulevard, April 8 to 30) curated by Giridhar Khasnis, revolves around our relationship with animals, the title suggesting its complexity. An important, although already curatorially explored, theme, it offers in art a vastness of phenomena ranging from intimate or poetic intuitions to a number of metaphorical strategies and more or less direct commentaries on socio-political realities.

What one actually views at Crimson does touch on such straight, linguistic and verge regions between human and beastly life without, however, bringing up a significant whole.

Although some of the participants handle the subject in a genuine manner, most of the contributions seem to be a bit strained, otherwise vague, exercises on the given requirement. If one expects a curated show to throw up significant, perhaps original, angles and visualise connections as well as contrasts among their diverse manifestations, this does not happen.

The constraints of the space only added to the indifferent, random display and the chance proximities of the works. It is certainly admirable that Khasnis chose to interact with young local talents, but he should have been more focussed on maintaining quality, since the collection includes several fairly absorbing pieces next to middling and plainly inferior ones.

Of the simpler depictions and comparisons, one likes the gracefully painted, if slightly obvious or a little design-like, images by Shivanand B, especially the lyrical scene with a dog. His drawing of similarities between natural movements of wild creatures and gymnasts becomes still more literal in the canvases of Varnasindhu who likens the congestion of indifferently elegant facades to that of bird nests locating their new place in cities. Hybrid imagery in the eerily gentle, precise paintings of Madhu D serves effectively to critique the character of power, while Anand Kumar N in his ceramic-sleek fibre-glass sculptures engages it to denounce and empathise with different kinds of the human condition.

Combining atmosphere, realistic rendering and symbolic layering of disturbed or truncated entities, Venugopal V G can be convincing in his probing of animalistic emblems that underlie our fantasy but also cruelty.

Faily innovative and authentic are Pravin Kumar's acrylics which in an understatedly passionate, yet aware way delve into the exciting and perilous, sometimes weird, attraction men feel towards animal might, as he ably links old-fashioned Indian matchbox labels and motifs from Modern masters of Europe. The simplicity of the painted carvings and gift wraps with toy animals by Urmila V G may be aimed at the charming innocence of childhood but stays on the surface.

Rani Rekha's reincarnations of mythological hybrids in contemporary cities target a grand metaphor diluting it and crowding nonetheless. The remaining four artists: Ganapati Hegde, Sayam Bharath Yadav, Sunil Lohar and Vjay Kumar disappoint, whether they try to evoke the bright exuberance of the organic world or its aggressive strangeness, question the identities of the hunter and the hunted, our unity with natural beings and our consuming them.

Be those paintings or sculptures, the works remain as literal and mannered in execution, uneasily layering pretty and the ugly.

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