Art reviews

Art reviews

Mutants in wasteland

Heeral Trivedi, 'Of graphs and points of reference', mixed media on paper.

Crimson has inaugurated its newly extended space at Hatworks Boulevard with a quite numerous exhibition “Irreverent Gene” (April 14 to May 15) curated by Nalini S Malaviya.
The show centres around the imperative now issues of environmental degradation and the ominous or bewildering changes it brings to the identity of species, to values and socio-political or economic balances.

The concept being very topical, the actual display may not be entirely doing justice to it in terms of its immediate and significant recognition and impact. Since most of ambitious current art reflects the mutability of our world in some way, almost anything would fit in such a category.

Hence the crucial factor should be selection, but this precisely remains problematic because the monotonously and randomly displayed works are of a fairly similar quality and general approach to themes, their construction and idiom, especially that all are two-dimensional, painting prevailing.

This must have been caused by the nine young and relatively young artists, some quite well-known, coming from akin background – mainly Orissa, Bengal and Gujarat with a connection to Baroda.

Their cultured styles are contemporary yet not too bold, the same artist not always equally good, and mediate often disturbing ideas through perhaps an excessively attractive aesthetic language, while their metaphors tend to be somewhat literal. Thus, strong expressiveness suffers.

Had the collection included a few powerful, large-size contributions, in particular installations or sculptures, it would have provided a formal and thematic focus. Otherwise the show looks like a slightly chance array from the generation.

The vast triptych by Alok Bal draws attention with its sinister black in the image of urban construction as a desolate desert, the smaller acrylics however disappointing.

A fulfilling surprise is Heeral Trivedi with her precise draughtsmanship that oscillates between indifferent objectivity and tenderness, as she probes the relationships of creatures, limb and machinery fragments over quasi-scientific graphs.

Amid the eerie hybrids of organic and industrial cohabitation one can appreciate Debraj Goswami’s wish-granting tree with branches metamorphosed into human fingers and tools as well as the hatching of un-really beautiful bird on elongated legs by Pratul Dash.
The photographic collages of Birendra Pani deal with the fatal addiction to medical drugs made commercially alluring by pharmaceutical companies, being more convincing than his earlier paintings thanks to a greater anchoring in the inherent expressivity of the camera-captured objects. The other contributors – Rajiba Lochan Pani, Apurba Nandi, Ashutosh Bhradwaj and Prasanta Sahu – leave the viewer somewhat blank on account of either their pleasant vagueness or design-oriented and obvious presentation of thought.

Of rural childhood

“Plough-Home” was an environment rather than an installation by Naganagouda B Patil (Samuha, April 7 to 12) which revolved around the artist’s recollection of and reflections on his childhood spent in the village which was seen presently from the aware, if warm, perspective of a grown who is up familiar but not completely comfortable with the city.
The show centred on actual objects taken from the ancestral house, worked on to become art-pieces, many agricultural and play motifs shaped into toys, installations using similar material and photographs arranged so. Although not immediately apparent without a comment, the prevalence of toys there meant to, and indeed did, evoke the memory of Patil’s early days when children, unlike urban ones, used to play only imitating the normal occupations of adults.

Although very sincere, the exhibition, throughout, offered gracefully rough, evocative works as well as somewhat raw but obvious ones. The regular rows of small photographic images had shifting angles and fragmentary sights often seen as if through the blurring bubble of nostalgic yet real reminiscence. They successfully conjured a tight sense of a dynamically chaotic but tight and warm togetherness of people’s actions, their surroundings, interiors, animals and things. The dainty miniature implements of steel and wood displayed on a horizontal flight of white shelves were quite a delight too. One could appreciate the musical instruments hanging on a wall and made of broken earthen pots wrapped in pages from a school notebook.

The old, wooden, carved pillar stuck with nails and portraits of the country’s historical personalities conveyed its meaning as the centre of home and identity without yet turning truly expressive, since it was handled too basically. The same can be said about the soil installation with rustic balls and a stack of coconut shells. Disappointing in its literal and rather simplistic character was the most ambitious, at least size-wise, installation with a whole toy-village, bullocks, houses, ploughs and carts included, which touched a field where real crops were germinating.

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