Novel way to turn the page

When paintings and sculptures are finding their way in the art galleries and museums, ‘Book Art’ is yet to be discovered as a medium of expression and a form of art. 

Therefore, a group of artists from Sri Lanka, USA, China and India have come together to present book as a medium of art in the exhibition ‘The Reading Room’. 

The exhibition will showcase how artists have used books -- by drawing in them, carving them and tearing them, to give an insight into the contemporary issues of displacement, war, fantasy, nostalgia and history. 

The artists have enhanced the visual quality of the book through fold-outs, fold-ins, scrolls etc. Be it historical or contemporary, these books have also become the medium by which artists interrogate its form and structure, its content and reinterpret it in their own practice.

Reinterpretation of books takes the forms of abstracting the content through folds and turns that are seen in Banoo Batliboi's books, or through destruction and reconstruction, which can be seen in Samit Das's assemblages. 

Sri Lankan Kingsley Gunatillake and Deng Yifu have used historical and political books from Sri Lanka and China respectively to reflect upon the effects of war in contemporary times. 

Hand-painted books by Smriti Choudhary and Jagath Weerasinghe and the digitally reproduced book by Liz Fernando are self reflective and talk about fantasy, identity and nostalgia. 

“For the past two years I have been working in the field of ‘altered book art’. I work with old, abandoned books which have served for many years in their conventional form as a vehicle for narrative ideas," says Banoo Batliboi. 

“Through a precise series of folds the books are reconfigured into an intriguing sculpture where the original text becomes a texture. I have used old volumes of the Franklin Library Series.

These books were a serendipitous find. They had been lying forgotten, in a dark corner for 30 years. 

These handsome books are bound in real leather and have a distinctive cover design embossed in 22k gold. 

The pages are gold gilded to protect against dust and moisture and the paper used is acid neutral to last generations without discolouring. 

These books are highly collectible and truly exemplify the best of the bookbinder’s craft,” he says. 

Artist Anne Covell says, “As an artist, I am drawn to the structure of the book as a mechanism for exploring sensory experience. Indeed, my work often utilises natural and historic production methods, such as natural dyeing and hand paper-making, as a means to produce cohesive work that is sensitive to the preservation of material resources and processes.”

The exhibition is on view till April 26 at Alliance Francaise, Lodhi Estate from 11 am till 7 pm. The show will stay on at Nitanjali Art Gallery, Anand Niketan from April 27 till May 11.

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