Art review

Art review

Anupam Sud’s pen n ink drawingGraphic gamut

"The power of line", the current exhibition at Galerie Sara Arakkal (July 10 to 31), was curated by Yusuf Arakkal with the intention to focus on the fundamental role that drawing plays in all kinds of art-making as a means to clarify the artist's experience and sensations as well as the structure and essential expressiveness of form. As much as one agrees with this premise, the actual presentation seemed to aim for a possibly extensive variety of names and styles. That indeed comes with the participation of 74 individualities, however, creating a somewhat loose impression because of the excessive inclusiveness which has resulted in an uneven quality level and because of the insufficient attention having been paid to cutting-edge contemporary idioms.

 Since no other more probing consideration guided the choices, and the display mixes generations and aesthetic languages, the overall impact is of a crowded gamut of diversity where strong images are interspersed with mediocre ones. Of course, the sheer numbers allow for an insight into the richness of the graphic medium ranging from basic linearity in the black and white monochrome to what veritably becomes painting in colour. On the other hand though, one would have welcomed some instances of less traditional manifestations of line. The most interesting part of the show offers often excellent examples from modern classics.

Among the earliest is Gopal Ghosh's contoured leaf blending an almost ornate stylisation with an organic throb and one of the finest inks by K K Hebbar which captures similar properties in a dual portrait of female heads. Apart from the minor sketch of F N Souza, one can admire the tender harshness of Akbar Padamsee, Krishen Khanna's gravity and sensuous energy of K G. Subramanyan along with Shyamal Dutta Ray, Laxma Goud and Jogen Chowdhury. Much space is devoted to mostly southern senior modernists who from a realistic basis develop highly stylised idioms with reference to indigenous aesthetics including artists such as R M Adomoolam, S Nandagopal and S G Vasudev. The realistic orientation, besides the curator, includes a powerful head by Anupam Sud and many weak works.

Of the contemporary sensibilities strong contributions come from N S Harsha, Baiju Parthan, Douglas C., Karl Antao and G R Iranna, also from K Chanrdanath Acharya, S Gopinath, Ravikumar Kashi, Babu Eshwar Prasad, R M Palaniappan, Avijit Mukherjee and M Shanthamani.

While some artists lean towards folkloristic design (Madhvi Parekh) or towards an abstract one (Harshavardhana S), quite a few fall into formalism or vagueness in half-hearted contemporary and decorative ways.

Conjuring up childhood

In her "Progress Report", an installation-based show (Samuha, July 1 to 4), A Navya wished to conjure the atmosphere of the artist's not so remote childhood. It had a profusion of kindergarten and school documents and shiny stars hanging on walls or from the ceiling and a phantasmagorical ground of synthetic sheets with bright animal cut-outs and an assembly of dolls and teddy bears in hammocks.

The visitor could guess the desire to generate tension in the contrast between the indifferent, official side of the Anglo-Indian academic institution and the withdrawal into a personal fairytale. For that to truly come through, however, the exhibition was somewhat too literal, the many objects not becoming evocative as a whole.

The opening day had another progress report, as G Suresh Kumar, the moving spirit behind the year-long Samuha events, gave a presentation on the same.

In simultaneous mockery and seriousness, he metamorphosed from the familiar handyman in a labourer's overalls to a dignified and bearded corporate type in a dark suit.

Responding to Suresh Kumar's efforts to extend art activities to other areas of life was the subsequent "Teeth, Exhibition and sale" of "T-shirts with a bite" by K N Balraj (July 8 to 11).

Drawing on his experience in cartooning and advertising, he offered an indeed whacky array of clothes with smooth caricatures and one-liners. Claiming be a copywriter who 'copies and writes it as his own', Balraj made an irreverent gesture towards the reality of internalised commerce. Clever, sleek and compact with an interactive stimulus, it was not more than that.

Animated design

Malay Saha's paintings at Right Lines create a colourful and vibrant mood of quietly joyous immersion on domestic surroundings.

Human figures enter these sporadically and as dynamic, abbreviated shapes that have more to do with the intimacy and pleasure of being among familiar, comfortable interiors, objects and surfaces than individual presence.

Although decorative, the works are cultured in the manner they build a dense togetherness of architectural structures and spaces, furniture and other paraphernalia, all the elements participating in a common but nuanced pulse over ample, parallel lines that fill and enclose them.

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