Art reviews

Art reviews

Art reviews

Nandesh Shanthi Prakash, Crown, high tempered steel and nylon fabricViolence and beauty

It is quite wonderful to watch the maturing of an artist deeply concerned about things vital to our world and capable of grasping its spirit within the physicality of its substances.

Nandesh Shanthi Prakash’s previous show suggested this but in a somewhat loose and literal gamut of means, references and motifs. By contrast, the current body of works at Sumukha (November 7 to 30) has a fine and powerful compactness of ideas, intuitions and evocations embodied in the images, the material and the way of its handling, especially that the artist successfully brings out a rudimentary, inherent connectedness and a fluid as well as harsh, open-ended state of metamorphosis between present-day reality and residues of a more natural and peaceful heritage.

The sculptures in the “Sun was a Myth” exhibition draw it from the sheer simplicity of the actual objects, the artist’s gesture imprinted in their treatment and the images, the simplicity being pregnant with meaning and poetry. Central throughout remains the awareness of the ecological condition against the impact of the spectacular technological progress accompanied by destruction wrought on living organisms and the human ethos.

While the tools of development possess their own splendour and an intrinsic feel of immense strength, they simultaneously contain violence. In a symbiosis with plant-life and lesser creatures, they both enhance the natural charm of the latter and render it fragile. The two large, teethed saws whose glimmering steel surfaces are engraved with delicate, vivacious flowers and innocently dangerous scorpions let one experience disappearing nature through remembering moods of the ancient fable which, like the sculptor, has the wisdom of love and morality.

The understated seriousness of the lyricism here relies on the manner in which Nandesh makes the hard glimmering metal planes, which build their volumes and dynamism, engage with the gentle-rough incised lines that are graphic, monochrome and flat yet hint at a restless plasticity and latent hues.

Without losing its tenderness, gravity turns monumental under socio-political judgement and sad irony, as the artist offers the rapidly developing country five huge medals, their discs consisting of hard granite cutters that transpose the ancient association with solar generative forces onto sights of confusion, official glory and cruelty at the humble human level, urban road grids absorbing tree roots and a dead infant being given back to earth.

 Mythic symbols - galloping horses, floral scrolls or sun rays – are still radiant but doomed to pass to mere memory. Clarity and passion underscoring these suffused images, the nearly minimalist blackness in the vast geometry of the work puzzle-like playing on the exchangeable contradictoriness of the words Rama and Mara is equally critical of politicians’ hypocrisy. The image of their ruthless greed in the shape of a car and gigantic hands immersed in and grabbing a field of wheat may be slightly obvious. Excellently linked in form and concept, the pared down boy faces emerging as tentative volumes from tiny symbolic shapes, precisely machine-burned and vanishing into the empty paper, take time to be read as alluding to the vulnerable Tibetan lama incarnate.

Interactive abundance

As another outcome of Samuha’s super-activity, “interactions installation interference interactions” at the Government Science College (October 31, November 1) brought together a host of artists motivating some who have neglected art making, also theatre people and science students.

The event triggering mutual inspirations, involving viewers and outside spaces produced several works and was accompanied by senior artists’ presentations, Ninasam clowns of a vivaciously rustic charm and a derivative performance of C Vasudev.

The projects by students and ex-students of art from Bangalore and Mysore revolved around installation, performance and earth work asking the audience to respond in ways growing from normal life behaviour, enabled further by the sprawling campus.
The aim being here to stimulate the doing of things and connecting, one should not have maybe expected very accomplished or even finished pieces. This was, indeed, achieved, although most of the contributions looked somewhat tentative, excessively resorting to complicated but unclear or literal verbal symbolism.

Better were the simpler expressive one, like Animesh Naganur’s pond with artificial lotuses and empty plastic bottles as water, Subramani’s wooden shovel with huge, hammered in nails, Tonni’s comments on the cosmetics industry or Deepak’s fluttering banners that invited spectators to write on them their definition of art life and trust. The topics ranged from environmental and social ones to considering values and confronting them with the ideas of the visitors and to musing about the nature of art.