Art Talk

Anindita Chakraborty,  oil on canvasAssertive irony

Alex Mathew as an artist concerned about social issues and teacher who observes and engages with his students was well prepared to curate their exhibition around a theme he can sympathise with.

 “Unfaithfully yours” at Galleryske (October 24 to November 21) has works by four young painters from Hyderabad who address diverse aspects of being female in the art world and in reality.

Without perhaps yet having reached earth-shattering heights, they prove much genuineness, honesty, sensitivity and courage in contributions that touch on different sides of the topic area and its aesthetic handling as well as link tightly and complement each other. One can appreciate that, characteristically to their generation, the artists, instead of focussing on the woman’s victim-hood or asserting themselves through identification with icons of the great goddess in the manner of some of their seniors, like Rekha Rodwittiya, they pick on clues from the more independent and complex, like Pushpamala N.

This may be seen in the recourse to openly assuming other personalities, in referencing art history and, more importantly, in the mischievously confident, bold use of humour challenging accepted male superiority on the social, domestic and artistic scenes. Accompanied by solid technical abilities and a sporadic departure from painting, it makes for interesting viewing.

Anindita Chakraborty’s self-portraits probe the diversity of her identity searching directly within as well as bonding with others through dressing up. Here she successfully employs the multi-layered tactics of posed performance image in masquerade, photography, mirror reflection and ethnicity, all being viewed through cultural history.
Her loaded brushing conjures a dated ethnographic, exotic atmosphere only to base on a photographically derived contemporary clarity of realism when she as a woman appropriates a Leonardo drawing.

Whilst Frida Kahlo can be sensed in Chakraborty’s work, Varunika Saraf makes her a personal heroine. Inspired by Kahlo’s cutting off her plaits, the two small but highly charged panels contrast and equate embroidery, drawing and painting, feminine craft and long hair as a physical attribute of conventional beauty only to reject it and transform it into an embodiment of eerie strength.

Siji Krishnan grabs the famous gesture of Dali, this macho superman of art, to in a subversive act paint a thin, flowery moustache on the husbands in an ancestral and a current photograph of newly wedded couples. Her daring takes the battle of the genders to the intimate family plane with cockiness via a blend of the caricature-resembling crude and lofty, the naïve and sensitive.

Rather than to art history, referring to the playful language of the Internet, Sharmishta Kar’s elegantly precise realism quietly conjures menacing shadows that intimate married spaces and utilitarian objects, toys and contraceptive devices cast on the woman. With a sad wit she also brings out the childishness in the young male expecting wedded bliss to be a light game.

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