Art reviews

Art reviews

Attuned within and without

V-3 are a group of friends who having shared their educational beginnings at Bangalore’s Ken School of Art some two decades ago still like to exhibit together. 

‘In Course of Time’, the title of their venture at the CKP (July 10 to 16), is explained simply as a display of concerns explored over the years, while the different foci and aesthetics connect at the level of unpretentious sincerity and a modest but cultured exploration sensitive to the inner and the external world. 

The title becomes more specific with regard to the most accomplished here work of Viswanath B R who aims at grasping the layers of the past in the present. Perhaps naturally for a cinematographer and filmmaker, he bases on photography. 

The cycle of regular, large prints with old-fashioned city buildings and iron grills or winding stairways appears to simultaneously analyse and subtly merge interior and exterior structures and dark illumination, solidity and atmosphere, stability and motion, vulnerability and strength, fragmentation and wholeness, decay and persistence. 

In the two other series, he lets the choice of a 19th century photographic technique which involves partial painting effects turn into a personal gesture of respect and affection towards the Baiga tribal people, as the very faint sepia hues on modern-day shots from Adivasi environs endow those with a feel of an archaic life continuing today with its roughness and deprivation as well as its inner beauty and innocence. 

If one admires the self-expressive simplicity of the single images, the mounted panel with a repeated-varied shot may be somewhat overdone, although one can agree with the artist perceiving Baiga homes as the true temples of modern India rather than Nehruvian power plants. Veera Raghavan’s delving into an ambiguous intersection of the unbounded imagination and a restrictive practical reality is a little artificially linked by him with the titular time factor since their acting impacts time and space. 

The spectator can appreciate his smallish drawings where a dry, utterly sparing brush just touches highly abstracted residues of human presence, behaviour and movement amid air and things possibly organic. 

There is a balanced permeability of a sensitively intimate and a cool-distanced approach in these. Such qualities being nicely sustained in the surface-depth penetration of the vaster acrylic on canvas, the more literal tree depictions in drawing and the primarily formalistic linear play of light on photographs tend to disappoint. 

The statement of Vijay I Guledagudd, too, connects a bit by force the contradictions between the limitlessness of the mind and the never sure conditions of the actual world to the passage of time. 

His water colours on paper strive towards a tactile approximation of the state of uncertainty among recurring and changing contradictions and life cycles that relay on them. 

Palms, feet and shadows reaching out, coming close to yet remaining remote recur in his paintings that oscillate from the fairly descriptive to the loosened or the schematic. These unassuming images can be quietly suggestive if the artist refrains from the design temptation. 

Another danger comes with the excessive memory of the dated Baroda expressionist strain that emerges in the larger, multi-figural compositions. The translation of the water colour theme onto a three-dimensional, translucent cylinder with painted shapes may also be merely formalist.

Mysterious precision

At first glance, the works of Kevin Todd at 1Shanthiroad Studio/Gallery (June 29 to July 13) surprised the visitor, maybe a little uncomfortably, by their alluding design character.

The varied arrangements of circular shapes, background rectangles and precise lines cutting across along with their attractive, often luminous colours made one associate the compositions with a popular kind of computer graphics ready for amateur indulgency. 

Only after a while, one noticed that the very similar but ever differing images always paired a work painted on wood with another of the same size being a digital print on aluminium. The virtually perfect precision of both let the viewer wonder about the interdependence between the hand-brushed and drawn version and the technological one. 

Left to one’s own guesses, the spectator may not have ventured to the kind of questioning that Todd explained in his note. The Irish artist, designer, scholar and academic teacher living in Australia, he examines ‘The Nature of (In) Perfection’ locating ancient mystery and metaphysics in the supposedly scientific digital medium, recognising older, ideas and substances in the new ones, aesthetic beauty undermining rationality. 

Although the viewer can read this content eventually, the works still remain more illustrative of Todd’s explanation than self-evocatory. 

Marta Jakimowicz

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