Art Talk

Art Talk

T-TRANSFORMATION: An installation by Girijesh Kumar. Sculpted trees

“T-Transformation”, Girijesh Kumar Singh’s show culminating his residency at 1 Shanthi Road Studio/Gallery (May 8 to 11), has works done in a number of media, that together bring out different but complementary aspects of the subject and the young artist’s response.

What one gets on one’s own is the inherent and persistent interdependence between the natural material of wood from trees and the art made of it, while the sculptor admits his memory of, and his respect for the organic source. Between a photographic composition forming a loose grid of branch fragments amid flowers with foliage and a large wall drawing silhouetting an old tree whose twigs gradually filter and thin out, there stands a dense row of taller and shorter pillars - some blackish of their bark and some light-coloured without it - that retain the residual shape of the tree crown branching out.

The video as if documents the process of transposing the natural into the artful to be placed in the gallery.

It should be appreciated that Singh is able to evoke the dynamism of the act and the meaning it imparts on the changed substance and shape, as well as the continuance of the former in the finished work, which he does with a pregnant simplicity and a rawness that suits the wood material.

It is only after knowing that the show was triggered by the sight of Lal Bagh trees being cut down for a metro station, that the spectator comes to associate the truncated bifurcations of the wooden pillars in the gallery, with the structure of immense concrete supports for urban flyovers or railways.

Even though, or perhaps precisely because, such recognition takes time and the artist’s words to happen, it stays with the viewer with its understated seriousness.

It lets one also return to the first impression about the link between the live, organic tree and the artwork as such, reminding us through sensation, rather than intellectual definition, that we always exist somewhere around things primeval or basic and constructed both into art and into civilised technology. If the inevitability of destruction is necessary for art and for development, one can intuit there a kind of rebirth in the latter, although a tone of nostalgia or regret threads through.

Charms of frontal repetition

Mallikarjun B Katakol’s exhibition, ‘The Aesthetics of Display’ (Max Mueller Bhavan, April 17 to 25), was devoted to the often overlooked, yet as often interesting and charming ways, in which ordinary marketplaces arrange their fare.

With evident familiarity and empathy, the photographer went about shooting various daily goods as displayed by shopkeepers, focusing only on that, and avoiding any anecdotal or documentary extensions into the surroundings or people in those.

Since such goods are as a rule shown frontally, with an accent on repetition of similar shapes, regularity and symmetry, the artist retains and emphasises the same qualities in his frames.

Whether he is looking at a shop window or at bangles, dressed mannequins, knives, bright ritual powders and buckets, he strives to capture the enchanting naivety and the tangible, tender delight that belong to the ethos of the space along with the characteristic hues, shapes and textures.  The best pieces, like one with two rows of glass cases  full of diverse namkeens, he is able to bring out a simple, live exuberance through the regularity of the arrangement.  Many other of these technically excellent and certainly perceptive prints, however, stop at maybe the literally attractive surface, so having retained too much of the nature of commercial presentation.

Young camp works

Galerie Sara Arakkal is showing works done during ‘The Art Camp’ organised by it in March (May 1 to 15). The 15 participants were deliberately chosen from among the younger local artists who are not so well known yet. The profile itself having imposed its own limitations, the outcome appears to be a fairly random combination of some sincere, absorbing pieces and a dominant assortment of formalist, hesitant and not very original ones.

The most interesting in terms of their suggestiveness, and aesthetically as well as technically, consummate contributions belong to the two exceptions from painters – the sculptors.

One likes the contrast and connection of rough furniture wood and its bodily sensuous organic transposition in Venugopal E K, as well as the smooth, fluid tightness of blended animal volumes and its embodiment in stone and brass in the work of Udaya Vir Singh.
A seriousness of social involvement fleshed out in able skills with pigments and lines can be observed in the canvases of Shivanand Basavanthappa and Venugopal V G.

The remaining styles oscillate from somewhat design-like abstracted urban views, prettified or patterned and stylised realism to half-hearted contemporary qualities.

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