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Archive for the ‘Indian’ Category

New media art showcased in first Indian festival of its kind

Posted by artradar on October 19, 2010


INDIA FESTIVALS NEW MEDIA ART

Artists, critics, historians and art lovers gathered at the First National Art Week of New Media in late September this year at the Government Museum and Art Gallery in Chandigarh, India, through the collaboration between the National Lalit Kala Akademi and Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi. The six-day panorama is a showcase of contemporary artists exploring new mediums and possibilities when it comes to visual art. According to the Akademi’s chairperson Diwan Manna, “Art lovers will be amazed at the myriad possibilities in art.”

The first four days featured lectures and slide shows by some of India’s best known contemporary artists. For the first day Bharti Kher whose work encompasses sculpture, paintings and installations, delivered her talk. Her featured works tackled the topic of “traditional vis-à-vis modern” while at the same time explored the issues of feminism, class, identity and race.

Bharti Kher, 'Solarium Series I', 2007-2010, fiber glass and metal. Image taken from artnet.com.

Day two presented Sudarshan Shetty and his innovative and uncanny installations that re-establish his reputation as an acclaimed conceptual artist.

Sudarshan Shetty, 'Untitled' (from the Stab-Series), 2009, wood and scissors.

Sudarshan Shetty, 'Untitled' (from the Stab-series), 2009, wood and scissors. Image taken from artnet.com.

The third day was for Raqs Media Collective, a group of three media practitioners – Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta. In addition to their degrees in Mass Communication, the trio has extensive experience when it comes to curating exhibitions and planning events, as well as working with various writers, architects and directors that have greatly contributed to the contemporary art of India.

Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra’s collaborative work in several diverse media such as painting, sculpture, video and fashion have also been well-received.

On the fifth day, Dr. Alka Pande, curator, professor and author on Indology and art history delivered her lecture. The sixth and final day featured a panel discussion with professors Dr. Alka Pande and Dr. Awadhesh Misra, journalist Rahul Bhattacharya, writer and art critic Dr. Rajesh Kumar Vyas, and artists Sheba Chhachhi and Vibha Galhotra.

 Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra, Now in Your Neighbourhood, 2008, plastic bottles

Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra, 'Now in Your Neighbourhood', 2008, plastic bottles. Image taken from artinfo.com.

The event was an interactive and absorbing series inviting guests, students, critics and art lovers to explore more than the usual two or three-dimensional way of experiencing art. Talks from the artists themselves provided an insight into artistic creation and people from different areas of the industry provided another kind of perspective in viewing the works and Indian art in general.

The National Lalit Kala Akademi and its Chandigarh chapter, the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi are institutions established for the promotion and preservation of the fine arts of India.

CMMS/EN/KN/HH

Related Topics: Indian artists, new media, Indian venues, festivals

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Jitish Kallat talks about Saatchi exhibition of Indian works to Economist – video

Posted by artradar on October 13, 2010


INDIAN CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITIONS LONDON VIDEO

Between January and May this year, Indian contemporary artist Jitish Kallat displayed seven pieces, paintings, sculptures and installations, at Saatchi Gallery, London with 23 other contemporary Indian artists in an exhibition called “The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today. In a video produced by The Economist titled “Jitish Kallat: perspectives on modern Indian art”, Kallat discusses his and the other artists’ work from this exhibition.

In the video, Jitish Kallat reveals what it is about contemporary Indian art that makes it so interesting for him; Indian art today is influenced by almost every aspect of Indian culture and the repositioning of the country on the global map is aiding the development of the art scene.

 

Indian contemporary artist Jitish Kallat. Sourced from www.iaac.us.

Indian contemporary artist Jitish Kallat. Sourced from http://www.iaac.us.

 

“The Empire Strikes Back” shows different contemporary Indian artists expressing political statements through their work. The pieces “actually travel and gather art miles…and as they gather art miles in different locations they share and gain meaning.” For Jitish, this repetition of artists’ intentions through different cultural stimulants in different parts of the world remains a great area of interest.

As people around the world are able to access different cultures more easily they feel more empowered to deconstruct the culture code from different places around the world. However, as he states in the video, Jitish Kallat feels that “the world has this peculiar ghostly sense of sameness within which these objects travel with baggage of tales and stories and meanings and metaphors and I think I find this process exciting, challenging and also instructive.”

The first piece discussed by Kallat in the video is Eruda (2006, black lead on fibreglass, 419 x 169 x 122 cm). Eruda is a massive black lead sculpture, the development of which stemmed from a series of photographs of boys selling popular books at the traffic lights. As Kallat relays in the video, this boy represents the spirit of the city, most particularly the quintessential Indian city of Mumbai.

 

Jitish Kallat, Eruda, 2006, black lead on fibreglass, 419 x 169 x 122 cm.

Jitish Kallat, Eruda, 2006, black lead on fibreglass, 419 x 169 x 122 cm.

 

Related to Eruda, Kallat’s “Eclipse” series of paintings also capture these boys smiling back. The paintings represent someone who not only lives in Mumbai but is themselves a portrait of the city. One of the images in the video reveals that the hair of each boy almost merges together and is actually made up of interconnecting images of people and streets. As Kallat states on the video, this is meant to show that “everyone who lives in the city of Mumbai is somehow tied into one conjoint reality.”

Public Notice 2 (2007, 4,479 fibreglass sculptures, dimensions variable) is an installation using words from Mahatma Ghandi’s historic 1930’s speech. For Kallat, given the everyday rhetoric that has created some sort of terror-affected world, voices such as Ghandi’s become carriers of a message that can help overcome the foolishness of the contemporary world. The piece is large in size which, for Kallat, is central to the creation of the meaning of the piece. However, once the video moves in to focus on the letters it becomes clear that each alphabet is a sculpture of a letter morphed out of bones.

The final piece in the video, Death of Distance (2007, black lead on fibreglass, a rupee coin and five lenticular prints, sculpture 161 cm diameter, prints 46 x 60 cm), refers to two texts that entered the public domain around the same time. The first is the story of a girl who committed suicide because her mother could not give her one rupee for a meal in school due to extreme poverty. The second article is a press release by a telecommunications company which claimed the “arrival of new India.” The press release famously called this event “the death of distance in India” and stated that it would now cost only one rupee to call from any part of India to another.

The installation includes five frames carrying both texts on each frame. They flip according to where you stand. It also includes a coin of one rupee enlarged to a size of an average person from India. Kallat states in the video that the flipping texts “become like reality in India itself: [the] India you see on that day depends on where you stand at that particular moment.”

 

 

Jitish Kallat, Untitled (Eclipse) 3, 2007, acrylic on canvas, triptych, 274 x 518 cm.

Jitish Kallat, Untitled (Eclipse) 3, 2007, acrylic on canvas, triptych, 274 x 518 cm.

 

Jitish Kallat was born in Mumbai in 1974. He received his BFA in painting from Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art and his work has been exhibited worldwide, appearing in New York, London, Tokyo, Sydney, Madrid, Zurich, Amsterdam, Mumbai, and New Delhi.

To see video, click here.

EN/KN/KCE

Related Topics: Indian artists, videos, gallery shows

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India’s Experimenter focusses on the “now” with RAQS and Kolkata location – an interview with Prateek Raja

Posted by artradar on September 16, 2010


KOLKATA CONTEMPORARY ART PRACTICE ART GALLERIES INTERVIEWS

For a gallery that is just over a year old, Experimenter, co-owned, run and mostly curated by husband-and-wife duo Prateek Raja and Priyanka Raja, is quickly becoming a critical current in the very new trend of gallery spaces interested strictly in the contemporary. It is a welcome break from the traditional gallery system that regularly falls back on the moderns of Indian art.

A month before the duo heads off to the Frieze Art Fair in London this October, the gallery is wrapping up a show called “This is Unreal“. Featuring artists Susanta Mandal, Yamini Nayar and RAQS Media Collective, the show was conceived by the Rajas as an idea to cohere the multiple realities of modern life.  At the crux of the show is the idea of the manipulation of what is real – artists consistently create and break realities leaving the viewer in a constant state of doubt and speculation. This event marks the eighth show in the gallery’s young but accomplished life.

Art Radar Asia spoke with Prateek Raja from Experimenter about the gallery, the show, the art scene in India generally and in Kolkata; Kolkata is a city that has produced a number of great artists, but lags behind Delhi and Mumbai in the art market scene.

Raja on the Gallery, artists RAQS, Susanta Mandal and Yamini Nayar

The title is provoking. Why “This is Unreal”? Tell us how this project came about.

“This project came about from an initial idea of confronting modern day conspiracies and then filtered down to how everything today is projected as something and is in reality something else. The topic was left open for the artists to interpret in a way they saw fit. However, at this point I would like to say that we work with a different kind of approach. Our shows originate in conceptual ideas first and then we invite artists whose work has been in the kind of direction we are thinking to respond to that idea [or] concept. So all these artists within the realm of their practice have the ability to project multiple realities from the same experience.”

Tell us about yourselves. You are a husband-wife duo – both educated in Asian art at Sotheby’s. How did Experimenter happen for you and how does this partnership work?

“We both had this common urge to work together in the contemporary scene while Priyanka was at Proctor & Gamble and I was consulting on contemporary Indian art. Then she decided to take the plunge in mid 2008 and we opened the gallery in April 2009. In between, we did a short course on contemporary Asian art at Sotheby’s. Priyanka is the planner. She works out all the details. She is the arms and legs of the gallery. I do some of the thinking, but we both do the curatorial thinking together. We do only six shows a year, but believe me, its not easy to plan, ideate and keep a natural flow to the exhibitions for the six that we do. In fact, we balance each other out very well. That’s how this partnership works really.”

Experimenter is invested in capturing the “plurality of expression.” It is also deeply interested in the “now.” Tell us a little about this. How does this show fit into this paradigm?

“‘The plurality of expression’ comes from the inclination to introduce multiple mediums of expression and at the same time challenge the viewers to question established aspects of viewing contemporary art and break pre-conceived notions. It is also very linked into “now” because whatever we show or plan to show is about our generation, is about what is happening now and is reflective of what our society, our values, our systems project “now.” And if you look at people, organisations, governments, and the society around us, you will slowly peel off layer after layer to eventually derive your own understanding of the world, which might be completely unlike what you had originally perceived it to be. So the title does provoke in that sense by calling things unreal. Sometimes, one does not even have to go deep, just viewing an idea from a different point of view gives a completely new meaning to it. That’s the essence of this show.”

Tell us about the works in this show.

“RAQS has contributed three pieces, Skirmish, The Librarian’s Lucid Dream and I Did Not Hear.

Installation view detail of RAQS Media Collective's 'Skirmish', as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition from the show "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

Installation view detail of RAQS Media Collective's 'Skirmish', as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition from the show "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

Skirmish is a narrative about an estranged couple continuing their ‘skirmish’ on the walls of an unsuspecting city. The woman paints keys that are similar to the keys to her apartment that she had given to her partner, whom she has since distanced herself from, and the man cannot go anywhere without seeing the keys and recognises what a mockery she is making of his yearning for her. Yet in response he paints padlocks on the walls to continue that skirmish (and in a sense continue the only way of communicating with her) while the city assumes it’s just locksmiths and key-makers that have stepped up their business.

Installation view of RAQS Media Collective's 'Librarians Lucid Dream', as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

Installation view of RAQS Media Collective's 'The Librarian's Lucid Dream', as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

The second work is a wallpaper called The Librarian’s Lucid Dream that forms the backdrop against which Skirmish is installed. It’s an interpretation of a librarian’s dream through just assemblages of texts. These are titles of books but all the titles are mixed up to created new meanings and realities.

The video I Did Not Hear is of a shooter at a shooting range. While the headphones on the viewer lead him or her through an abstract narrative, a rather sinister scaffolding of events is generated by the voice which in turn leads to multiple possible identities and roles for the shooter.

Installation view of RAQS Media Collective's 'I did not hear', as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

Installation view of RAQS Media Collective's 'I did not hear', as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

Mandal creates a kinetic sculptural installation which has a screen and a light source behind that projects an image of a boiling bowl of liquid on an open flame. Using a common scene of ‘cooking something,’ Mandal makes a pun of the phrase ‘cook up’ to express how most things today are indeed cooked up to project a reality quite different from the factual truth.

An untitled installation by Susanta Mandal, as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

An untitled installation by Susanta Mandal, as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

Nayar’s process is essential to the show. She creates sculptural assemblages from found objects, creates them for the camera, and after photographing them destroys the objects, thereby destroying the physical existence of the source of the photograph. The works form a point of entry into the object but do not quite reveal their actual meaning.”

Pursuit_Archival C Print on Paper. Yamini Nayar. Image courtesy Gallery Experimenter from the show "This is Unreal"

Yamini Nayar, 'Pursuit', archival C print on paper. Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

RAQS Media Collective has come a long way since 1992 when they started out as a group of three media practitioners in the art world. What do you make of RAQS’ growing popularity in the international arts scene?

“They are a super super important artist collective. Any international curator or museum with any interest in contemporary Indian art will know the importance RAQS has on the Indian scene. And how the international market sees India is also defined by the shows that get seen at important venues like the ones that RAQS show in. Their practice is very critical to the Indian scene internally as well. They have some very interesting things lined up this year in Europe. We will also show them solo in February 2011 … and at the India Art Summit in January 2011 in New Delhi within a group show.”

This is your first time working with RAQS, Mandal and Nayar. How was the experience?

“Absolutely fantastic. They are very professional artists. Works and concepts were discussed (that were true to Experimenter’s way of working) over a year ago and we fleshed out ideas to finally put this show on. The most interesting bit is that their work really fits well together.”

Trends in Indian art

Do you think gallery spaces in India are generally not very encouraging for installation art?

“No. I don’t think so. It’s just that this is a growing population and, like all things new and different, installations have some amount of resistance to viewing and experiencing them, even now. From a point of view of being open to exhibiting installation art, there are a bunch of new galleries like us who are doing interesting things.”

Installation art and conceptual art are increasingly popular with Indian artists today. Do you see this as a trend?

“It’s a natural progression of what the Indian art scene is. The newer, younger galleries are looking to show this form of work. You have to know at the same time that the Western art viewing audience also saw this development in other countries several years ago and that’s possibly the trajectory we might see here in India too, but over the medium term.”

Kolkata on the Indian art map

Describe for us the arts scene in Kolkata? Why not set up Experimenter in Delhi or Mumbai?

“Because its the only city in the country where one can have viewers coming back three times over, spending two hours at the gallery. This is a city where art, literature, philosophy and politics all feature in regular conversations with regular people. It’s also a city which is extremely responsive to new forms of cultural influences and it’s fun to stir things up in a somewhat sidelined city!

Opening an Experimenter in Mumbai and/or Delhi would be easy and just another … contemporary space would have been added to the growing number we see today. In Kolkata, you are really making an impact on the visual arts scene with a program like ours.”

What has your experience been working in the Kolkata arts scene? How do you compare it with Delhi and Mumbai?

“Fantastic. For Experimenter at least, we have some very exciting collections in Kolkata that we are adding work to and we are evolving a new generation of collectors. Of course, we make sure that everything is available online – one can show works, do short videos of installations, gallery walk-through videos and share the program with the world. To give a small example, we will be the only Indian gallery at Frieze Art Fair, London this year. We did not apply; they hunted us down and asked for us to apply and we got through in the curated section where there will be only about twenty young galleries from all over the world. We are probably the youngest, too. Experimenter turned a year old in April this year.”

Do you feel it’s difficult to straddle the roles of gallery owner and curator?

“For us, a gallery is an extension of who the owners are. It’s our program. It’s not like a large faceless organisation, so curating shows for the gallery comes with what we want to show and how we respond to things in today’s world as people. So it’s not tough. It’s critical that we put our minds to developing the program in such a way that there is reflection of the ‘now’ in whatever we do. Also, most of our shows are quite political in nature and we like that. We like to make people a little uncomfortable.”

AM/KN/HH

Related Topics: Indian contemporary art, interviews, trends: fact and fiction blur

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Posted in Business of art, Conceptual, Curators, Fact and fiction blur, Found object, From Art Radar, Galleries work the web, Gallerists/dealers, Gallery shows, India, Indian, Installation, Interviews, Kinetic, New Media, Photography, Prateek Raja, Priyanka Raja, Professionals, Promoting art, Sculpture, Trends, Venues, Video, Words | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Indian art market hits peak 2008 figures – modern art favoured

Posted by artradar on July 27, 2010


ART MARKET INDIAN ART MODERN ART AUCTIONS

For some time now, the Indian art market has been reviving after the post-2008 buying slump. New Delhi-based journalist John Elliott, who runs the current affairs blog Riding the Elephant, reports in a recent post that now it may well be on the first step towards similar pre-2008 peak figures. However, the artists raking in money this time around are not contemporary but modern Indian artists.

In June this year, Sotheby’s raised USD7.9m in a mostly Indian art sales. In the same month, Saffronart sold art worth USD6.7m, and together with a Christie’s two day sale of USD18.1m, Indian art sales for the month of June totaled a substantial USD32.7m.

Rabindranath Tagore. Portrait of a woman.

Rabindranath Tagore's 'Portrait of a Woman' sold for over USD461,000 at Sotheby's.

Elliott reports that ArtTactic, a London based art market analysis firm believes that average auction prices and volumes for modern Indian art are now back to levels seen at the market’s peak in June 2008. Anders Peterson, who runs the firm, adds that,

The return in the confidence for the Indian art market is at the high end of the market.

A significant change from the trends of 2008 is the consistent sales of established veteran artists of Indian modern art rather than contemporary artists. However, given the overall push in the performance of the market, contemporary sales have also picked up. ArtTactic reports that previously popular contemporary artists such as Subodh Gupta and Jitish Kallat are still lagging far below 2007-2008 prices.

Saffronart founder and owner Dinesh Vazirani agrees with ArtTactic’s line on modern art. He says,

Auction prices are reasonably close to their 2008 peak. Serious collectors are there and this is backed with confidence in the Indian economy and with people investing as a hedge against inflation.

But how much do these results tell us about trends in buying Indian art? Anders Peterson from ArtTactic believes that,

Auctions are now a filtered version of the reality in the art market. Lots that are likely to sell are works of high quality, rarity and outstanding provenance. Works that do not demonstrate these qualities are still selling at lower prices or not at all. Therefore the return in confidence is at the high end of the market.

SH Raza. Rajasthan.

SH Raza's 'Rajasthan'.

The highlight of the Sotheby‘s sale were the works of Indian modernist painter, poet, philosopher and Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore, while Saffronart relied on modern art veterans like S.H. Raza, who was part of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group and now lives in Paris. His wife, Janine Mongillat, died in April 2002.

AM/KN/KCE

Related Topics: Indian art, Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, market watch- auctions

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Posted in Auctions, Business of art, Classic/Contemporary, Collectors, Indian, London, Market watch, Painting, Progressive Artists' Group | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Saffronart once again pioneers new technology within art industry

Posted by artradar on July 22, 2010


ART AUCTIONS NEW TECHNOLOGY MOBILE PHONES

Art Radar Asia has found a new tool available to collectors when bidding for artworks at auction – lots can now be won via mobile phone bids.

M. F. Husain, 'Kerala - V', serigraphy on paper. Taken from the Saffronart website.

M. F. Husain's 'Kerala - V'.

As reported on the Saffronart website, the online auctioneer concluded its most recent sale on 17 June, with ten lots won by the company’s new mobile application.

Ten lots were won via Saffronart’s new mobile application, which allows bidders to bid from Blackberrys and iPhones. Those lots totaled $934,272. M.F. Husain’s Untitled was the highest lot sold via mobile, making $235,750.

Saffronart, a specialist in Indian art, was founded in 2000 by art collectors Dinesh and Minal Vazirani. It is renowned for its innovative use of new technologies within the art industry; their online auction model was recently the subject of a case study at Harvard Business School. The company has galleries and offices in Mumbai, New York and London. This most recent online auction grossed $6.7 million.

KN

Related Topics: business of art, market watch – auctions, Indian artists

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India artist Raghava KK’s “magic carpet ride” at TED2010 – video

Posted by artradar on June 16, 2010


INDIAN ART ARTIST TALK TED CONFERENCE VIDEO PUBLIC SPEAKING

Raghava KK: Five lives of an artist (length of video, 17:56 mins) was recorded when Indian artist Raghava KK spoke at ideas conference TED2010 earlier this year. In the video, the artist tells an inspiring story of how art took him to new places, and talks about the different stages of experience which led him to become the artist he is today. He gives the viewer an insight into the concerns of today’s young artists and into the processes of contemporary art making. Raghava is a self-taught artist and who began his career as a newspaper cartoonist. At the age of 27, he is already one of India’s most celebrated emerging artists.

Raghava KK, Colossal Sleeper, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Raghava KK, Colossal Sleeper, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Raghava starts the talk by speaking of his childhood. He started his artistic journey during his second grade, but it was abruptly stopped when he was caught drawing a bust of a Michelangelo nude by a school nun. In the ninth grade, he started drawing again. Although afraid of getting caught, Raghava drew a flattering portrait of his school principal, which he gave to him as a gift. Following this, Raghava’s caricatures shot him to popularity within his school.

I think it was in my second grade that I was caught drawing the bust of a nude by Michelangelo. I was sent straight away to my school principal, and my school principal, a sweet nun, looked at my book with disgust, flipped through the pages, saw all the nudes. You know, I’d been seeing my mother draw nudes and I’d copy her, and the nun slapped me on my face and said, ‘Sweet Jesus, this kid has already begun.’

I had no clue what she was talking about, but it was convincing enough for me never to draw again until the ninth grade. Thanks to a really boring lecture, I started caricaturing my teachers in school. And, you know, I got a lot of popularity. I don’t play sports. I’m really bad at sports. I don’t have the fanciest gadgets at home. I’m not top of the class. So for me, cartooning gave me a sense of identity.

As Raghava continues with his story he mentions his family. He talks fondly of how much of an inspiration his mother was, how she taught him how to draw and how to love. Raghava also talks about his father’s holistic approach to living.

Raghava KK, Lady after bath, 2001, watercolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Raghava KK, Lady after bath, 2001, watercolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

The artist eventually quit school to pursue a career as a cartoonist, which he felt gave him a sense of purpose. His popularity rose, he soon became a media star in India, and he caricatured hundreds of celebrities. For him cartooning was addictive; he was in love with the rush.

Of course, Raghava has known success and failures and he cherishes his failures the most. After drawing a cartoon about 9/11, he was banished from a cartoonists’ organisation in America, and it was with this that he realized there is a responsibility that comes with art.

The next slide I’m about to show you is a little more serious. I was hesitant to include this in my presentation because this cartoon was published soon after 9/11. What was, for me, a very naive observation, turned out to be a disaster. That evening, I came home to hundreds of [pieces of] hate mail, hundreds of people telling me how they could have lived another day without seeing this. I was also asked to leave the organisation, a cartoonists’ organisation in America, that for me was my lifeline. That’s when I realized, you know, cartoons are really powerful. Art comes with responsibility.

Following this “failure”, Raghava became concerned about his financial circumstances. He decided to quit his job and travel. Along the path he met an artist who inspired him to stop being a cartoonist and become a full time artist himself.

“He invited me to his studio. He said, ‘Come and visit.’ When I went, I saw the ghastliest thing ever. I saw this dead, naked effigy of himself hanging from the ceiling. I said, ‘Oh, my God. What is that?’ And I asked him, and he said, ‘Oh, that thing? In the night, I die. In the morning, I am born again.’ I thought he was cuckoo, but something about that really stuck. I loved it. I thought there was something really beautiful about that. So I said, ‘I am dead, so I need to be born again.'”

Raghava KK, Many sides of the mask, 2006, Venice-Suite, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 54 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Raghava KK, Many sides of the mask, 2006, Venice-Suite, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 54 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

His early painted works demonstrate a complete break with his cartoon career. He painted watercolors on canvas using both his hands and feet and during his talk he shows footage of the making of several artworks. Later he moved into performance art and, wanting to make his pictures come alive, he asked his friends to paint their bodies and dance in front of the paintings.

“I had this crazy epiphany at two in the morning. I called my friends, painted on their bodies, and had them dance in front of a painting. And, all of a sudden, my paintings came alive. And then I was fortunate enough to actually perform this in California with Velocity Circus. I sat like you guys there in the audience and I saw my work come alive. You know, normally you work in isolation, and you show at a gallery, but here, the work was coming alive, and I had some other artists working with me.”

Raghava’s later artworks were darker than his previous paintings, due to his mother’s illness. In his own words, his art work “turned ugly” and he lost his audiences. Some of his works became autobiographical. When a friend’s sexuality was criticized in India he began to create violent and political artwork.

“So, after this, my works turned a little violent. I talked about this masculinity that one need not perform. And I talked about the weakness of male sexuality.”

After witnessing what a huge impact art can have on society, Raghava made the decision to stop painting and performing. He had lost collectors and was constantly being threatened by political activists. He decided to move back to New York where his artwork changed, even hinting at street art influences.

“Everything about my work has become more whimsical. This one is called What the Fuck Was I Thinking? and it talks about mental incest. You know, I may appear to be a very nice, clean, sweet boy. But I’m not. I’m capable of thinking anything. But I’m very civil in my action, I assure you. These are just different cartoons.”

Raghava KK, Blow me kisses, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Raghava KK, Blow me kisses, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Over the years, Raghava has reinvented himself using several different mediums. He professes to having a greater sense of responsibility and a knowledge of arts’ ability to affect peoples’ lives. For him, his art is a magic carpet ride and he wants everyone to ride with him.

Watch the video, “Raghava KK: Five lives of an artist” (length of video, 17:56 mins).

JAS/KN

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Raghava KK: Five lives of an artist
In this video “Five lives of an artist”, Raghava KK tells
the story of being an artist, how art took him to new
places and the different stages of experiences, which
led him to what he is now. Raghava is a self-taught
artist and who started his career originally as a
newspaper cartoonist. At the age of 27, he is already
one of India’s most celebrated, emerging artist.
With endearing honesty and vulnerability Raghava captured the TED audience’s attention. He did
nothing more than tell his story, a tale of several lives wrapped into one. Raghava starts his
journey by telling a little bit of his childhood. Everyone’s life starts with school seasons and with
inspiring teachers. Raghava started his artistic journey during his second grade, but it abruptly
stopped when he was caught drawing a bust of a nude by Michelangelo by a school nun. In the
ninth grade, he started drawing again. Drawing a flattering portrait of the school principal that he
gave to him as a gift, Raghava soon became popular with his caricatures.
“I think it was in my second grade that I was caught drawing the bust of a nude by
Michelangelo. I was sent straight away to my school principal, and my school principal, a sweet
nun, looked at my book with disgust, flipped through the pages, saw all the nudes — you know,
I’d been seeing my mother draw nudes and I’d copy her — and the nun slapped me on my face
and said, “Sweet Jesus, this kid has already begun.”
I had no clue what she was talking about, but it was convincing enough for me never to draw
again until the ninth grade. Thanks to a really boring lecture, I started caricaturing my teachers
in school. And, you know, I got a lot of popularity. I don’t play sports. I’m really bad at sports. I
don’t have the fanciest gadgets at home. I’m not on top of the class. So for me, cartooning gave
me a sense of identity. I got popular, but I was scared I’d get caught again. So what I did was I
quickly put together a collage of all the teachers I had drawn, glorified my school principal, put
him right on top, and gifted it to him. He had a good laugh at the other teachers and put it up on
the notice board. (Laughter) This is a part of that. And I became a school hero. All my seniors
knew me. I felt really special.”
As Raghava continues with his story he mentions his family. He tells fondly of his mother and
how she taught him how to draw, but also how to love. About his father’s holistic approach of
living and moreover about how he quit school to pursue a career as a cartoonist. Cartooning gave
him a sense of purpose. His popularity rose and surely caricatured over hundreds of celebrities. It
was addictive and being in love with the rush, he soon became a media star in India.
Raghava has known success and failures, but he cherishes his failures the most. After drawing a
cartoon about the 9/11, he was banished from the cartoonists’ organization in America. It was
from that moment that he realizes the responsibility that comes with art.
“The next slide I’m about to show you, is a little more serious. I was hesitant to include this in
my presentation because this cartoon was published soon after 9/11. What was, for me, a very
naive observation, turned out to be a disaster. That evening, I came home to hundreds of hate
mails, Hundreds of people telling me how they could have lived another day without seeing
this. I was also asked to leave the organization, a cartoonists’ organization in America, that for
me was my lifeline. That’s when I realized, you know, cartoons are really powerful, art comes
with responsibility.”
Giving us an insight into the concerns of today’s young artists and processes of contemporary artmaking,
Raghava was concerned of his financial lifeline. Not only has that, but also of the works
that exposes a range of issues relating to the society and the world. The next step he takes is
quitting his job and decides to travel. Along the path he meets an artist who inspires him to
become an artist.
“He invited me to his studio. He said, “Come and visit.” When I went, I saw the ghastliest thing
ever. I saw this dead, naked effigy of himself hanging from the ceiling. I said, “Oh, my God.
What is that?” And I asked him, and he said, “Oh, that thing? In the night, I die. In the morning,
I am born again.” I thought he was koo koo, but something about that really stuck. I loved it. I
thought there was something really beautiful about that. So I said, “I am dead, so I need to be
born again.”
His early work as a painter made a complete break with his cartoon career. He painted
watercolors on canvas using only his hands and feet. Showing videos of making several art
works, the scene later changes to how he suddenly works with performing arts. Wanting the
pictures to come alive and dance, he asks his friends to paint their bodies and dance in front of
the paintings.
“So I decided — I had this crazy epiphany at two in the morning. I called my friends, painted on
their bodies. and had them dance in front of a painting. And, all of a sudden, my paintings came
alive. And then I was fortunate enough to actually perform this in California with Velocity
Circus. And I sat like you guys there in the audience. And I saw my work come alive. You
know, normally you work in isolation, and you show at a gallery, but here, the work was
coming alive, and it had some other artists working with me.”
Raghava’s later art works were darker than his previous works, due to his mother’s illness. Along
the road, he decided to explore the darker side of the human mind. Because of it, his art work
turned ugly and he lost his audiences. Some of his works became autobiographical. It also
became more violent and political, due to a friend’s sexuality that was criticized in India.
“So, after this, my works turned a little violent. I talked about this masculinity that one need not
perform. And I talked about the weakness of male sexuality.”
Having experiences of how an art can have a huge impact on the society, Raghava had to stop
with his productions. Not only losing his collector, he was also banned and threatened by political
activist. He decides to do something different and thus tells us of his last steps of being reborn.
Just becoming a father, he also got the news of his mother recovering, as well of the election of
India’s new president. Upon the decision of moving back to New York, his art work changes and
becomes whimsical.
I moved back to New York, my work has changed. Everything about my work has become
more whimsical. This one is called “What the Fuck Was I Thinking?” It talks about mental
incest. You know, I may appear to be a very nice, clean, sweet boy. But I’m not. I’m capable of
thinking anything. But I’m very civil in my action, I assure you. (Laughter) These are just
different cartoons.
Over the years, Raghava would reinvent himself to use several different mediums. Coming back
to art, you learn of having a greater sense of responsibility and knowing its ability to affect
peoples’ lives. To that Raghava finishes his speech off with,
“For me, my art is my magic carpet ride. I hope you will join me in this magic carpet ride, and
touch children and be honest. Thank you so much. (Applause)”
Watch the Raghava KK: Five lives of an artist here. (Length of video, 17:56 mins)

Posted in American, Cartoon, Children, Drawing, Emerging artists, Family, Indian, Installation, Painting, Street art, Videos | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rising confidence in Indian art as market recovers

Posted by artradar on June 9, 2010


INDIAN ART MARKET CONFIDENCE

Francis Newton Souza's Imbecile Girl in a Green Blouse (1957) will be on sale in Saffronart's summer auction 2010. Its estimated price is USD275,000-350,000.

A recent article published on livemint.com by the Wall Street Journal reported a rising trend of speculators’ confidence in the Indian art market, possibly as a result of a rebound in valuations of Indian artworks.

The article used the data in the latest report by London-based art market research firm ArtTactic to show that speculators’ confidence in the Indian art market is on the rise, after its significant drop in May last year as a result of the global art market downturn.

“The ArtTactic Speculation Barometer for Modern Indian Art shows a 28% increase since October 2009, and is now at 6.3, up from 4.9. This is the highest reading since ArtTactic started its survey in May 2007,” the article reported.

“In my reading of the Indian context, most collectors who entered the market over the last five-seven years were keen speculators.” Arvind Vijaymohan, Head of Indian arts advisory Japa Arts Pvt. Ltd (as quoted on livemint.com)

“…Vijaymohan says that in the current situation, there exists a section of speculators who consider this the perfect time to enter the market, and acquire works of modern Indian art at low values.” http://www.livemint.com

“For Anders Petterson, managing director of ArtTactic, the most revealing aspect of the report is the speed of the recovery in the modern art market even though it raises the threat of speculative buying.” http://www.livemint.com

The article reported that “the combined auction sales for Indian art in March 2010 raised a total of $15.2 million (Rs69.3 crore)”.

The article also noted the widening gap in confidence between the modern and contemporary Indian art market.

“The Modern Indian Confidence Indicator is 51% higher than the equivalent confidence indicator for contemporary art. The report reasons that the established nature of the modern Indian market has created a sense of “safe haven” for many art buyers, a fact that is leading to its expansion.” http://www.livemint.com

Read the full article here.

CBKM/KN

Related Topics: Indian artists, collectors, business of art, market watch

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Posted in Artist Nationality, Business of art, Classic/Contemporary, Collectors, India, Indian, Market watch, Research, Surveys, Trends, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Peabody Essex Museum loaned 3 giants of contemporary and modern Indian art: Anish Kapoor, Francis Newton Souza, Paritosh Sen

Posted by artradar on June 9, 2010


INDIAN ART AMERICAN ART MUSEUM COLLECTIONS

This year, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has acquired three major works on loan from the Harmony Art Foundation: Anish Kapoor’s Halo (2006), Francis Newton Souza’s Birth (1955)and Paritosh Sen’s Amhedabad scene (1984).

“We are thrilled to have these three key works from the Ambani Collection,” says Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, the James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes Chief Curator at PEM. “Their extended loan is just one of the many ways in which we are bringing global contemporary art to PEM.”

Halo by Anish Kapoor. 2006.

Anish Kapoor, Halo, 2006

Anish Kapoor is one of the most celebrated contemporary Indian artists. Earlier this year, Kapoor received a commission to construct the ArcelorMittal Orbit in London’s Olympic Park, continuing his successes in London following a 2003 Unilever installation in the Tate Modern and a 2009 show at the Royal Academy. In the United States, he is best known for his 110‐ton stainless steel public sculpture Cloud Gate (2004), installed in Millennium Park, in Chicago.

Halo consists of a shallow circular cone of stainless steel, 10 feet in diameter. Its surface is pleated in a radial pattern, a manipulation more commonly associated with pliable fabric than unyielding steel. It will hang in the PEM atrium, on long‐term loan from the Tina and Anil Ambani Collection.

“Anish Kapoor is one of the most important artists working in the world today,” says Trevor Smith, PEM Curator of Contemporary Art. “The extraordinary technical achievement of his sculpture depends on contemporary technology while invoking a sense of wonder that is timeless.”

Souza and Sen are often pronounced fathers of Indian modern art. Breaking away from colonial training institutions in post independent India, they founded the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group and the Calcutta Group respectively. Both groups pioneered the modern art movement in India in the 1950s.

Birth by Francis Newton Souza

Francis Newton Souza, Birth, 1955

The Peabody Essex Museum has had a long history of collecting Indian art. In the year 2000, renowned Indian art collectors Chester and Davida Herwitz donated their collection to the PEM, fortifying its status as one of the best places to go for Indian art in the United States. Today the PEM has three galleries dedicated to Indian art.

“There is a tremendous synergy between the Peabody Essex Museum and Harmony Art Foundation based on our belief in Indian art, and our genuine commitment to bring it to the global stage,” says Tina Ambani, a former Bollywood star and founder of the Harmony Art Foundation, an institution which supports emerging and established Indian artists. “It’s time that the art world looks beyond current fads and market trends to establish an abiding interest in the incredible power and potential of Indian art.”

AM/KN

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Posted in Acquisitions, Collectors, Corporate collectors, Indian, Museum collectors, Museum shows, Museums, Painting, Progressive Artists' Group, Promoting art | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Reji Arackal is new kid on contemporary Indian art block

Posted by artradar on May 19, 2010


INDIAN ART EMERGING ARTISTS

Art Radar Asia is pleased to bring you a review of new kid on the block Reji Arackal’s “Sans Divine Machines” by guest contributor and veteran Indian art writer, Deepanjana Pal.

Reji Arackal is among the promising upcoming artists in the Indian contemporary art arena. Represented by one of Mumbai’s premier galleries, Sakshi, Arackal has shown all over India and Sakshi has previously shown his works at group shows held at Sakshi Gallery Taipei. “Sans Divine Machines” is his first major solo in Mumbai and will be on display till April 30, 2010.

 

Sharing the Concept of Abortion by Reji Arackal

Sharing the Concept of Abortion by Reji Arackal

 

Mumbai-based art critic Deepanjana Pal wrote about the show:

There is little colour in Arackal’s new show “Sans Divine Machines” and, judging from the titles, a generous dose of Roger Penrose was used in the making of these charcoal drawings. Arackal seems to agree with Penrose’s theory that human intelligence doesn’t have rationale. It’s a curious combination of illogic and the absurd. And despite the apparent chaos, it all works, but according to its own curious laws.

The human body is a strange machine in Arackal’s charcoals. His figures are bloated, almost like blimps, and yet there is no slackness to them. These aren’t fleshy bodies, as seen in Lucian Freud’s paintings, but enormous masses of humanity, like in Diego Rivera’s murals. Their immensity has something very solid about them, like the mammoth statues and drawings of peasants from Russia’s Communist years. However, unlike much of Communist art, Arackal also has a sense of humour and it surfaces unexpectedly in many of his works…

Read the complete post at Deepanjana Pal’s blog What They Got Away With.

Deepanjana Pal has been writing about art since 2006 and is the author of “The Painter: A Life of Ravi Varma“. In the past, she has written for Time Out Mumbai, where she edited the art section, and has also  contributed articles for publications like ArtIndia, NuktaArt, Time Out Beijing and Time Out London.

DP/KN

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Posted in Art spaces, Deepanjana Pal, Drawing, Emerging artists, Events, Gallery shows, India, Indian, Medium, Mumbai, Reviews, Shows, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Indian contemporary artist Reena Kallat: Art Radar exclusive interview

Posted by artradar on April 20, 2010


INTERVIEW INDIAN CONTEMPORARY ART

 Reena Kallat (1973) is one of the best-known Indian contemporary artists today. In this Art Radar Asia exclusive interview she discusses her influences, artists she admires, the contemporary art scene and the painstaking techniques used to create her renowned rubber stamp portraits.

Kallat has shown her work in many prestigious institutions including the Saatchi Gallery and Mori Art Museum in Japan.

 

Reena Kallat, Synonym (part of a series), 2007

Reena Kallat, Synonym, 2007

Where were you born, brought up and schooled?

I was born in Delhi, although I was brought up in Mumbai all through my growing years where I went to school, followed by my training at Sir J.J. School of Art.

What have been major influences in your life and art?

If I had to think of one person who influenced my life tremendously, it would have to be my mother who helped inculcate several interests at an early age. Although she died when I was young, her absence continued to influence my life in more ways than one.

There are several artists whose works have impacted my Art and my sensibilities towards art making at different stages that include Frida Kahlo, Rachel Whiteread, Jenny Holzer, Mona Hatoum, Christian Boltanski, while closer home in India the practices of artists such as Nalini Malani, Vivan Sundaram, Arpita Singh, interested me and informed my early years.

Reena Kallat, Walls of the Womb, 2007

Reena Kallat, Walls of the Womb, 2007

How long does it take to produce an artwork? What kind of space do you work in?

I like working on multiple ideas at the same time and these could be at different stages of completion. Sometimes they collectively spark off unexpected adaptations. Most are kept fluid and provisional over a period time to see if they spawn into meaningful works.

My studio is on 2 levels, ground and first floor. I usually make work on the lower level and have my books to read, write or sketch on the upper level which allows me the space and sometimes necessary distance between conceiving an idea and realizing it.

What achievement in your art career are you most proud of?

Although there is a lot to be achieved I’m not someone who’s easily satisfied, given the expectations I have from myself. But to be a catalyst in realizing certain key works that have taken me a period of time to develop, such as the series of “Synonyms” made using rubberstamps, “Walls of the Womb” a series of tie and dye silks or the sculptural installation titled “Saline” made in bonded marble amongst others, has been fulfilling. I am glad to have been part of some interesting shows in venues such as the Helsinki City Art Museum, ZKM museum in Karlsruhe, the Chicago Cultural Centre, Hangar Bicocca in Milan, Zendai Museum of Contemporary Art, MOCA Shanghai, Henie Onstad Kuntsenter in Oslo, The National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai and Saatchi Gallery, London amongst others.

Are there any Indian artists you admire in particular?

Amongst the long list of artists from India whose work I have admired are Nasreen Mohamedi, Nalini Malani, Vivan Sundaram, Arpita Singh, Bhupen Khakkar, Gulam Sheikh, Nilima Sheikh, Atul Dodiya, Sheela Gowda, Surendran Nair besides some of my contemporaries like Anita Dube, Subodh Gupta, Jitish Kallat, Bharti Kher, Shilpa Gupta and N.S. Harsha.

Reena Kallat, Penumbra Passage (Canine Cases), 2006

Reena Kallat, Penumbra Passage (Canine Cases), 2006

We have  been to the Saatchi show in London several times, and noticed that your art displayed there has been deeply influenced by historical events. How does history especially that of India, inspire you?

I think it is almost impossible to not be influenced either consciously or unconsciously by the richness of India’s vast cultural landscape through its architecture, film, crafts, dance, theatre. As we know, India has had long phases in its history of harmonious co-existence among divergent ethnic groups and communities, however in the recent past its political history has been tainted by divisive politics being played out, causing fissures amongst people. At times my work can be a comment or a critique but what interests me is that space in-between the factual and the fictional, of the sometimes harsh realities and the tender aspirations or dreams for a better future.

Could you please tell the story of how your Synonym (2007) came about? Why did you create it? How was it made?

My interest in using rubberstamps as a medium grew out of its use within official purposes and it’s associations with bureaucracy. I first started using them in 2003. I think of each name on the rubberstamp as being representative of an individual amidst hundreds of faceless people in this vast ocean of humanity. The sources of reference for the names often provide meaning or give context to the different bodies of works made.

In case of the Synonyms I chanced upon the list of names, out of official police records of those who’ve gone missing in India, through a friend who was looking for someone missing. The work stands like a screen holding up portraits formed by several hundred names of people rendered in scripts of over 14 Indian languages. From a distance they come together as portraits, but up-close they almost seem like a circuit-board of rubberstamps. These are people who seem to have slipped out of the radar of human communication, thrown off the social safety net.

Making these works is a slow process but one that throws up sometimes unexpected and startling results. I first draw out the silhouette of the portrait on plywood, then arrange the wooden pieces that comprise the rubberstamps. After painting the portrait on the uneven surface of the rubberstamps, the names are pasted and inked. These pieces are then transferred onto the Plexiglas where some additions and omissions lend the portrait its final character.

Reena Kallat, Synonym, 2009

Reena Kallat, Synonym, 2009

What are your future plans? Exhibitions?

I am toying with a bunch of ideas at this point, some of which are slowly taking shape in the studio while there are practical glitches in case of others that make the process equally challenging as it is exciting. Amongst some of the exhibitions I’m now making new work towards are for the Helsinki City Art Museum, Castel Sant Elmo in Naples later this year and the Kennedy Centre in Washington, scheduled early next year.

What are your thoughts on the contemporary Indian art scene in both the Indian and international contexts?

I think post independence it has taken a long time for India to find its place in the larger global context in most fields. Contemporary Indian Art has experienced a steady growth over the last few decades with contributions and efforts from previous generations of artists, writers, critics into developing the scene before its meteoric rise, largely attributed to the commercial success it was gaining. Given the collective vibrancy and sheer robustness of the Art being produced here, I think individual artists from India will increasingly be seen to be significant contributors to the global Art scene.

In the absence of the state’s responsibility in contributing to improve and enhance the infrastructure around Art, whether it is at the university level or at the institutional level, the private sector in India has played an important role. However there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to try and increase the presence of Art in the larger public consciousness.

AL/KCE

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