City and words

Art Talk

City and words


The latest Bar1 residency, indeed, interacted with the city and with one another, as their exhibition at Samuha (September to ) suggested, underscored by the unconventional media, multiple readings, connections with life and incorporation of actual or implied stories.

Arthi Parthasarathy’s video film “Flicker” offered a nocturnal mood around a confusing, dysfunctional street lamp which triggered attempts to explain it rationally and through fanciful probabilities. The quite admirable camera work captured the poetry of the view and the conversations in a blend of immediacy rawness, observed through its own layers and angles, with the atmosphere elusiveness.

Except for a slightly too explanatory part, the actor-friends and the auto-rickshaw driver were merely stimulated to create a genuine hesitancy around the bafflements behind the urban development and the still archaic ways of thinking that influenced personal relationships.

Mithila Bandur’s installation was a huge pile of tightly stacked but almost falling apart and worn out household objects. Obviously discarded and replaced by new ones, they seemed to compel their owners to be retained for their intimate, emotional value. The sharp tilt of the wardrobe set the tone strongly – its rejection overwhelmed by the tender wish to preserve the old. From the physical tactility of spilling things, the artist brought out an intuition of accumulated memories and sensations, warm yet unmanageable, thus implying the larger predicament of the place that is changing but clinging to the past, becoming metropolitan but anchored in domesticity.

The work of Himanshu S in a most radical, though intended and materialised in a natural, apparently inconspicuous way, involved him with the city. His idea of performance is to engage as a normal person with daily life, its realities, with other people and artists in order to understand, question and probe through the same the nature and processes of the world and art.

With naughty but cordial humour and through a bold, unusual perspective grounded in the actual and the ordinary he registered-evoked his experiences and presence in the city adding to a quasi-documentation display with photographs, written down musing and a mischievous challenge for the viewer to become a participant. The residency experiment extended onto the inspirational potential of a poet among artists to be also motivated by interacting with them.

Biswamit Dwibedy’s contemporised reconstruction Sri Ramakrishna’s gospels turned the original text into an open-ended, hardly indicated field of searching for a spiritual focus for the reader to adopt and use individually.

The accompanying long flight of drawings and hand imprints, if somewhat too design-like, visually echoed the graphic text progression with its looseness and undefined qualities lending themselves to different ways with the imagination.

The rustic in the urban

From the concept note for the “Virtual versus Real” exhibition at Blue Spade (September 24 to October 5) one does not understand whether it was a curated event or the text only interpreted the current works of the participants.

Whichever the case, the theme of the fake and the actual, of rural experiences, realities and sensitivities of migrants to the city mingling with metropolitan ones that are shaped by digital imagery, crowded architectural spaces and noise did come through in some works, whereas some seemed to fitted in accidentally.

The most authentic and formally confident, at times conjuring a reality grounded lyricism, were V G Venugopal’s canvases. Although somewhat dependent on the familiar aesthetics of a realistically rendered collage with proximity and scale shifts, they did present as well as evoke the disturbing allure, the pressure and the hybrid metropolis.

Mallikarjun Katke’s images with sketchy, essentialist figures of lost rustics amid high-rises absorbed a TV screen blur without achieving sufficient power. Santosh Andani’s scenes of conflicts and uncertainties around urbanisation diluted perhaps under the designing and stylising elements. Girish Kulkarni wishes to express ordinary people’s faith together with confusion, but he got trapped in the mannerism or graphic, squiggle-textured silhouettes.

Gallery profile

The annual show at Galerie Sara Arakkal (September 19 to October 10) brought several artists associated with the institution. It included again decorative, modernism-based styles with much abstraction (consummate being Achuthan Kudallur and Akhileshwar), some conventionally or vaguely-sweetly realistic idioms and some using the option perceptively (Mohamed Rizwan, Satish Sholapur), somewhat surface-bound (Aziz T M, Murali Cheeroth) or fantasy-venturing (Asma Menon) contemporariness coexisting with authentically contemporary images.
If paintings dominated, interesting accents were added by photography (Mallikarjun Katakol, Pallon Daruwalla) and sculpture (Gopinath S). While the seniors Yusuf Arakkal and SG Vasudev were duly acknowledged along with fresher established names (Rm Palaniappan, Rathin Kanji), one responded best to the works of Ravi Kumar Kashi, C F John and Shanthamani M.

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