The fabric of possibilities

The fabric of possibilities

Art Talk

The fabric of possibilities

Sachin Jaltare’s painting
The latest event there (May 28), Michelle Cherian’s and Yashas Shetty’s performance with sound, was as ambitious as its title suggested – “Cartography of Dreams Transformation 2” - and thematically relevant proving, however, to oscillate between a spectacular visual impact, excellent music and a rather confusing content. Michelle Cherian stood there in a corner of the hall wrapped up in a red, sequinned fabric that ran in a soft, sensuous verticality to a somewhat theatrical canopy at the ceiling and extended on the floor in a number of diverging stripes. The immobile artist looked steadily straight and periodically sideways, upwards and lowered her head to raise it again. The viewer could sense that the textile, as such associated with feminine identity and the conscious forming of it, contained some kind of fluid possibilities regarding her life. Without the written explanation that the work has to do with a story of a girl and an old woman who makes different dresses for her to let her realise her diverse potential, one would not have guessed the meaning. Even with the knowledge of it, the intentions did not come through as sensation.

The problem lied with the dominance of the design and unclear expressions which prevented sufficient evocativeness. Since the stress was on design, one could have as well read the piece in terms of a relationship between the private person and the public glamour of the catwalk which the arrangement resembled. One wondered also about the role of the flaming candles that fist framed the artist on the sides and then were moved to surround her as though in sacred adoration.

The connection arose despite the viewer doubting that it was deliberate. While the recurring head motions of the artist turned tiresome, the sound kept one fascinated. The present writer is not entitled to analyse music, hence it should suffice to say that Yashas Shetty’s effort contributed to a sustained atmosphere where nearly same yet ably nuanced as if waves of sound conjured a feel of something raw and simultaneously tender, indeed responding to the static behaviour of the live figure and its occasional stirring.

Convention variants

The “Metal & Canvas” exhibition by artists from different parts of the country (CKP, May 23 to 31) embraced a diversity of idioms that, even though often handled with technical soundness, turned out to be mere variants within rather old-fashioned conventions.

The paintings ranged from atmospheric links with the Bengal Revival (Rajendraprasad) to more or less modernist stylisations of rusticity (Pushpa Singh, Neetha Kumar), to design-like abstracted landscapes (V N Bharathan, Ratika Sinha), to Adimoolam-like full abstraction (Nelson Kennedy) and a hesitant, decoratively handled contemporary aesthetic (Alok Kumar).

The sculptors (Asurvedh, Shiva Balak, Dharmendra Kumar) followed a fairly mannered view of graceful ordinariness with accents on modernist compact forms or on an ornate cuteness. Only the more subdued, reductive of Srinivasan’s heads invited a better response.

On the surface

The “Relativity” exhibition by four Karnataka painters (CKP, May 25 to 29) claimed to reveal hidden profundities and complexities under the images of simple reality.

To the spectator’s eye it, nevertheless, displayed only the latter. M C Badal and Prashanth B Devadiga are very proficient but equally stereotypical water colourists who continue old-time academic takes on the aesthetic attractiveness of humble village surroundings and the lyrical charms of fishermen’s boats on twilight water. Omkara Murthy G B is a young sculptor surprisingly for his age also adhering to dated, but Modernist paradigms of the human figure reduced to gently geometrised shapes under a smooth finish.

Manjunath H may be a little more interesting as he tries to touch on the uncertainties of the human predicament using a comparatively contemporary language. He too, yet, does it too much on the stylised and not quite original composition level.


The recent show at Kynkyny (May 11 to 250, somewhat arbitrarily called “Vivid”, presented three painters who are dedicated to images of easy pleasantness. H R Das has very stylised figures of dynamic bulls under whose decorative grace he indicates a light sort of sacredness. They are duly playful but quite ingratiating. The canvases of Sujata Achrekar and Sachin Jaltare can hardly be differentiated, so similar is their way of depicting muted moods of ethnic beauty in muted tones of greys and browns enlivened by an occasional red or yellow. Focussing respectively on female charms and on pensive priests, they share a dose of sentimental sensuality and a well brushed blend of sketchy figures with abstraction.

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