Art reviews

Art reviews

Defiance and reflection

“Monkey Gate” at Bar1 (August 18 to 20) offered another peek into the ongoing effort of this informal artists’ initiative to stimulate and sustain a creative community environment among young artists interacting between themselves and with normal life inclusive of its own experiences, issues and materials where contemporary methods and out-of-the-box thinking can contribute to free expression and questioning.

Actually, the exhibition which focussed precisely on that condition of unruly insightfulness that underlies serious art-making was triggered accidentally by reality – the presence of monkeys at the Chitra Kala Parishat and the later death of one impaled on the gate that separates the college there.

Suresh Kumar G. who calls himself a ‘performing facilitator,’  a role perhaps between a curator and a participant by motivating others, very ably gathered together and extended the results of his last year’s workshop with CKP students which related to the animals and of their recent Bar1 residency which happened after the monkey’s fatality.

Although the show had some interesting and surprisingly mature works, besides many partly good but partly chaotic, obvious or naïve ones, while its display too oscillated from visually fleshed out thematic links to chance encounters and crowded messiness, it should not be judged for quality like a regular gallery event.

Its value lies in the sincerity with which the young people could respond to the actual as revealing both their own predicament with its societal restrictions as well as aspirations and some of the nature of the world around, on the one hand.

On the other, its value comes with the somewhat guided but simultaneously spontaneous opening up of sensitivity, new insight and probing as well as ways of communicating it all.

Occasionally in fact, the onlooker, allowed to compare the latest to the earlier pieces, could locate quite amazing formal improvements enabled, maybe without even the artists’ noticing them, by that sheer opening up.

A series of installations at the entrance by Pooja H G and Vibha Kulkarni compared the merry, inquisitive restlessness of the artist’s mind and the limitations imposed by others to that of the monkey’s, simple inventiveness, as in the mirror inclusive of the monkey and the viewer, coinciding with literalness and nicely appropriated current ruses, as in the stirring coloured water sound. Their playfully affirmative questioning turned into the mock gravity of a criminal investigation document by Joshua Howard Rosario whose apparently indifferent, objective character set off both absurd humour and sad reflections to culminate in an ingenious use of the terrace window for an evocation of imprisoned creativity.

The contributions by Akshaya Krishna and Samir Paul on the edge of two and three dimensions together formed an almost monument-like whole about monkeys and bananas. While video recordings of Rashmi Muniappa and Suresh Kumar brought back traces of the earlier and new performances by Aamier Tian that tested the monkey connection and visualised human entrapment, Pooja Sharma mischievously confronted the artificial elegance of her eating an apple with cutlery and messily enjoying it the natural way.

A broader kind of musing was awakened also in the remaining two participants. Vineesh Amin conjured a sun-drenched but gated environment with a video about the futility of patience plus a sharp-witted and critical still humorously warm-hearted wall piece with wall drawings, written story and free-hanging tiny toy animals dealing with our predatory instincts. One appreciated too the effectiveness of the direct simplicity in Aruna Manjunath’s washing-line cum darkroom collection of photographs with all sorts of insignificant creatures in death, their closeness generating responses tender enough to accept dying as part of living.

Merry rusticity

The recent painting exhibition of K V Shankar at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath was titled “Contemporary Contemplation of Moving Images,” whereas one’s impression went to the contrary.

As much as one empathises with the artist’s desire to celebrate the vitality of the simple joys of the traditional village, one wishes that he found a better manner to doing the same.

Although Shankar has avoided now pretentious stylisations, he employs realism not for its potential to grasp at the genuine but infuses it with a facile multi-hued brightness and excessive cheerfulness while composing his canvases according to very conventional paradigms.

Thus, there is nothing contemporary in these scenes with happy mothers, turbaned youths and music making, surface directness coming through instead of contemplation while the representations range from normal activities to such static ones.

The good outcome of the limitation to realistic depiction is the frequent truth of the imagery in comparison with the actual, when it is not prettified, even if sometimes awkward areas become evident.

 

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