Art reviews

Art reviews

Art reviews

Between naivety and complexity

The “Green Grey” exhibition presented the results of this year’s Khoj-supported Karn­ataka-Karnataka project at the Bengaluru Artist Residency One (July 20 to 25). 

Its title alluded to the interaction between rural-based, conventionally educated artists and urban ones along with the local, also more contemporary artistic environment during their one and a half months stay at the Bar1 studios. 

Coming as another way to stimulate and open up young imaginations, the show, quite naturally, suggested the raw beginnings of possible future developments rather than having already achieved a new maturity.

For the two participants from the interior, this indeed, brought changes both in the subject-matter following their response to the city and to a lesser or greater degree, accordingly in the aesthetic language. 

Their forte was unpretentious sincerity and frankness, even if sometimes naïve obviousness limited their effectiveness. Roopa D.G. of Chickmangalur seemed hesitant to break away from the modest traditionalism of easel painting, nevertheless, basing on it she ventured into a personal response to the new experience. 

Still mixing stylisation with timid distortion, descriptive outlining with textured colour filling, frontal flatness with planar inserts, she somewhat literally told, on the one hand, about flowering plants as personalities and, on the other, about the invasive city traffic and its cacophony. 

An equally humble gesture came from her carving pleasant images on wedding ceremony gift-coconuts. 

Whereas a majority repeated facile models, even when displayed in an interesting manner, like sculptures, a few denser, more amorphous ones showed real promise. With much enthusiastic freedom, Radhika Ullur of Kundapura stopped after one painting on canvas which denoted rather than evoked a dizzy discomfort of a café, and gave in to her horror of Bangalore’s trash. 

Although a little messy and too simple in their directness, the sculptural installations and framed collages tried an adequate trajectory by starting at the source and assembling globes and human figures stuffed by and overflowing with plastic refuse. 

The onlooker may not have instantly identified the Superhero-Varaha as the saviour of the planet from the demonic humanity of nature’s murderers, but could, indeed, empathise with the message.

Varsha Deshikar educated and living in Bangalore became a finely complementary co-exhibitor and, one may assume, an interactive co-resident, her contemporary works being concept-oriented and  complex yet anchored in rudimentary, immediate experiences from normal reality as they probe multiple layers that add to the singular meaning of words and ideas while testing how we arrive at them, how we perceive them and ourselves through the same. 

The wonderful thing is that, forcing one to face the apparent clarity of ‘now’ as a gradually blinking sign and a signboard-like encyclopaedic definition of ‘individual’, she goads one to viscerally recognise and then become aware of the not quite conscious contradictions behind the surface which reveal the complexity that has shaped such notions.

Consummate pleasantness

City audiences may recall periodically watching exhibitions of Samir Mondal, a Bengali painter who already long ago moved from Bangalore to Bombay.  Although always revolving around a broadly new theme, while often the human figure occupies the central place, and on the face of it slightly different than before, his style and interests nonetheless, have hardly changed. 

This is emphasised by his current show at Sumukha (July 14 to August 4) which, titled “Wishes” in connection with the artist’s sixtieth birthday, sets out to simultaneously celebrate his personal occasion, the people whom he addresses and his art besides suggesting a joyous affirmation of life’s simple pleasures.

The choice of flowers suits all the references here assuring that the images executed with much skill, facility and culture but without falling into the trap of sentimentality play in the middle ground of comfortable nicety. And so, Mondal fully indulges in the relish of making water colours spread on and into the textured paper interacting with it, goading the pigments to oscillate between opacity, even shadow and delicate, luminous translucency, between saturation and mistiness or elusive bleeding, between the clearly described detail and its progressing abstraction, between the even surface and pronounced plasticity, between pure paint and brushed lettering. 

While he strives to hint at intense, gentle or complex situations and emotions together with their dynamism in the images of diverse bright blossoms among colours, spaces and planes, there arises some feel of a borderline of subtlety and sensuality.  The spectator has to respect the artist for not pretending to be reaching out for more than he is capable of or even aiming at.  The same approach, yet, cannot prevent its inherent self-constraint, and eventually it may be difficult to brush away the persistent association with birthday card pictures that accompanies the viewing impression.

Marta Jakimowicz 

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