Art review

Art review

The poster is by Clyde D'melloIdeas about China

“The Myth of China” was an interesting and topical exhibition curated by R Dhanya who invited eight young artists in examining and commenting on a diversity of images and issues related to that country which are being presently assimilated and transformed here. The participants worked with notions and interpretations using objects from and references to phenomena of everyday reality to offer their takes on socio-cultural, economic and political aspects of the subject.

Although genuine with regard to the gestures and cogent in its variety as well as contemporary in the authors’ aesthetic methods, the whole had a tendency towards excessive intellectuality amassing of motifs or clever but almost verbal presentation which in some cases resulted in literalness. This, together with the frequent over-complications and short-cuts in execution, suggested that they sometimes forgot that art, even at its most conceptual, needs to visually generate more or less palpable sensations and then lead to reflection.

A simple and evocative piece directly and with warm humour involving the viewer came from Mithila Baindur who put up a bazaar stall selling sugar candy laughing Buddhas of sweet prosperity. Clyde D’mello’s posters alluding to Chinese wall communication, propaganda and advertising imagery, with more irony, provided a probe of the baffling marriage of communism and globalised consumerism engaged in unison to de-individualise and rule the masses.

Shailaja Padindala’s brush drawing on a wall epitomised the ethnic Chinese as remembered in a general way. Her video about Raj Kumar metamorphosing into Bruce Lee as a martial arts hero was threaded of old film scraps and cartoon-like figures. Done in the manner of a quickened stop-motion animation and realised by Namrata Nadkarni, it had a similar, rough-graceful fun story qualities as Namrata’s own tale about the rival Indian common man and the Chinese dragon turning information technology friends.

The installations of Rekha P, Navya A and Sayujya Anand dealt with local indigenisation of Chinese food, female infanticide in that country and homage to Tibet’s aspiration to independence and spirituality. Although sincerely relating to important problems, the works, even when interactive, were somewhat obvious and over-crowded. A conceptual but stimulating frame to the show was provided by Venkatesh KN’s ‘official’ manual displayed in the lift instructing how to make the exhibited art works and referring to the Chinese propensity for instant imitation. Probably limited by funds, the exhibition was held in the Bar1 furnished living space (March 13 to 15), that theoretically connecting the works with domestic reality but in actuality diluting their effectiveness.

Sensitive trio

The “Theen Tamasha: Theen Taal” (the curious theen standing for the Hindi teen) exhibition at Time & Space (February 26 to March 10) had three women, painters who as an informally interactive group were invited by Lina Vincent. Indeed, fairly feminine in their sensitivity, if without over-doing it, the artists share a cultured, although not yet powerful enough, workmanship and a focus on inner moods. Irrespective of their individual idioms, they also have a common tendency to designing their compositions.

The latter property was evident in the highly abstracted canvases of Kim Kyoungae whose vast expanses of dark atmosphere with accents of illumination and traces of human and animal figures mediate a geometric architectural presence while suggesting a pervasive edge of domestic solitude and external spaces. Her intimate, intuitive evocativeness translates onto an intense spiritual luminosity in Sonatina Mendes’ scenes of Buddhist temples and monks in saffron robes, the colour imposing its radiant diffusion over the images and equally hazy shadows and abstracting those.

Sporadically indulging in dense patterning, in other paintings Malavika Rajnarayan shows a fine attuning to the subtle sensations within that probe as well as absorb recognitions of the moods of others and of contrary sides of her own personality. Even though tempted to stylise, the artist successfully evokes the superimposition and permeability of things.

Random sincerity

It would be difficult to locate a deeper link behind the quite random group of young artists from Santiniketan and Baroda exhibiting at Blue Spade (March 17 to April 7).
The curator Mansa Gawda’s title - “Mindscape” could be applied almost to anything, considering that the show contains among others a decorative-expressive figuration (Dilip Mitra), stylised ones dealing with the surface of things interlocking (Subrata Mete), with reference to commercialism being internalised (Koushik Roy) or to organic immersion, surreal imageries ((Subrata De), abstracted structures and forces (Deepak Rajbhar) and a minimalist play with paper and painted or burnt shapes (Riya Chatterjee).

The participants must possesses considerable technical skills, but they have a long way to maturity.

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