Art reviews

Art reviews

Between sincerity and randomness

Even though one has got used by now to the phenomenon of artists’ run initiatives in Bangalore, its sheer and often enthusiastic persistence against all, especially financial, odds is still able to trigger much appreciation, on the one hand, while on the other revealing certain self-inherent limitations.

The mostly young people follow their interests and instincts sincerely engaging with personal experiences as well as socially relevant areas, as they refer to and directly involve images, issues and materials from the immediate, frequently modest-level reality.
However, because in the same situation they hardly face an audience other than of insiders, they do not have a stimulus to test the accessibility of their aesthetic language and tend to rely on fairly arbitrary metaphors.

In different degrees and aspects this condition could be noticed in a number of recent events. The most ambitious among them was the performance with a multimedia installation by Suresh Kumar G, at Bar1 (October 13).

Titled “cobbler, cobbler, mend my feet…”, it aimed at conjuring an immersive environment whose simultaneously everyday and, as Suresh Kumar called it, ritualistic character would enable the spectators to sense and matter-of-fact intimately absorb the meaning
 The smallish space with rows of repaired shoes displayed in pairs on wall racks became a small-time workshop where the artist sat on a floor mat quietly knitting a baby pink sock on his leg, while an angled video projection in a corner with hanging brass pots proudly showed humble sandals on turn tables.  On one’s own, the spectator could intuit the general notion of life as a constant process of at the same time wearing out and being patched up, the soft wool perhaps tenderly soothing the pain and the figure of the cobbler epitomising the process as felt by and inherent in oneself and everyone else.

Nonetheless, to understand the  bearded and bespectacled artist as a Good Shepherd his verbal explanation was needed.

Caution should be expressed maybe also about the kind of visual statement way which prevents enhanced sensation, whereas attention should have been paid to evocatively embodying suggestions of significance in the person of the performer. Insufficient thought was given too to the contradictory nature of the garish hue of the wool that came from the actual on the plane of popular taste but was jarred when employed without adaptation for an art purpose.   

The exhibition “Multi-cubes” by Gururaj H S (Bar1, October 20 to 22) may have appeared more cogent in its visual language but, despite its genuine provenance and intentions, besides offering a rather convincing aesthetic side, it ended up somewhat enigmatic, even confusing, as to its content or message. At first glance, the viewer was attracted to the free, personal graphic qualities of his wall-size transformations from what looked like notebook pages of graph paper.

Over the regularity of the square divisions and the still smaller graph patterns, the entanglements of snakes and ladders, steps and numbers, otherwise of single letters and different images from rural and urban backgrounds let one think of befuddling contrasts, diverse sources and uncertainties in contemporary reality.

The randomness of the metaphors, yet, prevented getting and accepting the specific intentions, even after a verbal clarification, for instance, the elementary textbook-like alphabets and emblems took away the potential of the graph to signify the un-definable behaviour of things seemingly lucid. An absorbing, charmingly, if roughly, exuberant addition was the drawing about the thrilling high of intoxication done together with seven artist friends.

One does not know how the “Curtains” of the Sri Lankan Theertha project were displayed in their first incarnation. The commentary to their presence at 1Shanthiroad Studio/Gallery (October 12 to 18) mentioned the role of curtains in defining and constructing areas, in demarcating inclusion and exclusion, the public and the private, the exterior and interior of an art space.

What one saw did contain a potential towards such suggestiveness, as the many large fabric hangings bore aesthetically simple and appealing floral designs that could be associated with home décor in the middle of which were negative, white-empty silhouettes of utilitarian domestic objects from scissors and forks to soft drink bottles and stilettos.

The vast size as well as the finely sombre black and white let one expect the drapes to connect with architecture in its inside and outside aspects, the permeable negativity of the images triggering that. The expectation, nonetheless, was stopped from materialising by the manner in which the fabrics were just hanging from the walls inside and outside the gallery without being really able to enter into a relationship with the structure and boundaries of the building.

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