Art Talk

Art Talk

Stimulating the City

Pradip Rakshit, ink on paper

One should welcome the entry of Protospace, an experimental gallery-studio which in tune with the latest tendencies in the art world desires to bring about interaction between the arts and normal life inclusive of its public areas.

The inaugural exhibition (6, MR Garden, 2nd Cross, KEB Layout, Sanjay Nagar, July 12 to 20) called “spirited caravans” was curated by Prayas Abhinav from the projects by artists and architects of different countries for portable spaces that could move through the city and that could accommodate diverse activities. The selected proposals conjured quite a wonderful assembly of imaginative as well as possibly functional vehicles capable of becoming flexible spaces, of being folded up and transported. Both playfully and seriously, each project oscillated between attractive fantasy and a base in familiar utilitarian objects, between aesthetic appeal and practicality rooted in the behaviour of universal or indigenous urban dynamism. Open-ended mutability underscored all the projects, some relying on bicycles or carts, some creating lose structures of ordinary materials, like pillows, bamboos or crates, some focussing on people wearing kind of suits that could transform them into modules of temporary architecture or cyber birds and some drawing inspiration from toys – kites or balloons. The projects often approximated art works as such, but it remains to be seen which will be successfully materialised, as planned. In the meantime, their mounting on hand-crafted, turning panels of wood designed by Protospace’s owner Meeta Jain, indeed, enhanced the spirit of the venture.

Maturing youth

The H K Kejriwal Foundation’s young artist award 2008 exhibition (Mahua, July 18 to 31) proves to be a rather sensible choice. With a dose of expected and natural rawness, perhaps even naivety, but some easy formal short-cuts too, the works on view suggest both engagement, sincerity and in most cases a visible maturing. This can be noticed especially in the painter Shivanand Basavanthappa. Even though his humanity friezes commenting on socio-political and economic realities echo somewhat of N S Harsha’s idiom, there is more solidity and depth in them and more rhythmic animation. A general look at humanity acquires an eerily passionate, idiosyncratic tone in Ratheesh’s canvases, although his compositions are not yet tight enough. The sculptor Pradip Kumar Patra oscillates between fantasy and the actual, between toys and vehicles of transport. He seems genuine if too simply tempted by attractive design and brightness of colour. Interesting and technically consummate are Bhaskar Vadla’s etchings with strangely animated construction machines whose linearity is embedded in the granular texture of earth and concrete.

Classics and contemporaries

The exhibition “Is it all Bengal after all?” at Gallery Blue Spade (The Chancery, July 18 to 31) questions perhaps whether the work of the Bengali artists collected in it are typical to the region or not entirely so. Adequately then, the viewer can find there a fairly large number of older artists whose styles and themes have been long associated with it and a smaller representation among the younger ones of what is not identifiably Bengali and aligns itself with contemporary practices. The former category includes some modern classics, like Paritosh Sen with his merger of realism, expressionistic stress and stylisation, Jogen Chowdhury with female heads profiled in a plaint, sensuous contour and Dharmanarayan Dasgupta poetically alluding to Kalighat painting.

These images are very skilled but slightly predictable, similarly to their more decoratively pleasant equivalents in Lalu Prasad Shaw or Shuvaprasanna Bhattacharya. In the latter part, the bolder, more innovative, complex and involved works generate excitement, reflection, even grave revulsion. Here one responds to the erotic hybrid human beastliness of Mithu Sen and Pradip Rakshit, to Jaya Ganguly’s dense organic mood, to Chittrovanu Mazumdar’s layered sight of domesticity, Partha Pratim Deb’s mosaic of the money-obsessed world and to Samit Das’s sensation around angular planes, contours and spaces of the city.

Hesitantly contemporary

The seven local artists who started their education at the CKP and displayed their “Prelude” show there (July 21 to 24), appear to want to be contemporary in their address and form but not always have sufficient courage to depart from the comfortably conventional. Whereas Tejaswini L and Nagendra G R remain within a patterned pleasantness and literalism, Chethan Kumar B, Shubha A.Hebbar and Shaik Fakruddin use a fairly current aesthetic language to speak about issues. If the photographs of rustic people by Harish V are perceptive but classic and direct, Kiran Kumar M with some success ventures into a translucent layering of camera images and shooting of scenes prearranged to convey meaning.

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