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Posts Tagged ‘Kiran Subbaiah’

Bani Abidi on Indian video art, a medium on the rise – interview Tehelka Magazine

Posted by artradar on August 18, 2009


CONTEMPORARY INDIAN VIDEO ART

Who are the emerging Indian video artists and the collectors of this up-and-coming genre? How can collectors display the work and should they be concerned with authenticity? Where can video art be seen and bought? Read on to find out more:

Video art: it is new

Video has the capacity to move a viewer, express emotion, and provoke thought. It is no surprise, then, that contemporary artists who have grown up exposed to moving images and storytelling films are utilizing video to express their artworks, and the medium has been elevated to a fine art that is being embraced by museums and collectors alike.

However, video art has only existed for about the past 50 years, or since the equipment became easily available to creatives for use. It surprisingly took awhile to gain momentum in India, a country with a rich film-making history, and has only gained popularity in the past few years.

But it is here to stay

Now, however, video is a mainstay in the contemporary Indian art scene with galleries exclusively devoted to the medium such as the Apeejay Gallery which has solely shown video and film art for the past 5 years. Video art is a necessary part of the best well-rounded contemporary art collections too and can be found in important collections such as the Lekha and Anupam Poddar Collection with the Devi Art Foundation.

But, the question remains, what exactly is video art, and how is it different from ordinary film?

So what is it exactly?

Bani Abidi, an active Pakistani video artist with pieces on display at museums including the MoMA in New York and the Devi Art Foundation Delhi, sheds some light on the distinction of video art in an interview with Tehelka Magazine.

Mangoes, 1999, by Bani Abidi. Video, Single Channel, 3:24 sec. Two expatriate Pakistani and Indian women sit and eat mangoes together and reminisce about their childhood. An otherwise touching encounter turns sour when they start comparing the range of mangoes grown in either country, a comment on the heightened sense of nostalgia and nationalism that exists in the Indian and Pakistani Diaspora. Both the women are played by the artist, stressing the idea of a shared history.

Mangoes, 1999, by Bani Abidi. Video, Single Channel, 3:24 sec. "Two expatriate Pakistani and Indian women sit and eat mangoes together and reminisce about their childhood. An otherwise touching encounter turns sour when they start comparing the range of mangoes grown in either country, a comment on the heightened sense of nostalgia and nationalism that exists in the Indian and Pakistani Diaspora. Both the women are played by the artist, stressing the idea of a shared history."

“…A lot of artists work with abstract images. But then many don’t. The conventional idea of a plot, with a beginning, middle and end is only one way of storytelling. So if one wants to engage fully with the history and potential of the moving image, whether it is a feature film, a documentary, experimental cinema or an art work, the attachment to plot needs to loosen.

Defining video art is as difficult as trying to define painting as this or that type of image. Video art as a term makes more sense in historic terms. In the late 1960s, artists in Europe, Japan and North America had a grand time with the arrival of the first camcorder, the Sony Portapak…

Over the years, video art’s practitioners, influences and mediums have changed. The video medium is no longer of essence. Some artists use 16mm film and elaborate production methods to make short films, others fix their cameras on tripods and shoot performances in their studio. Some use broadcast quality video equipment to shoot an experimental documentary on the streets and yet another lot might just use archival television footage as material”

Shan Pipe Band Learns the Star Spangled Banner, 2004, by Bani Adibi. Video, Double Channel, 7:30 sec. " Video, Double Channel, 7:30 sec  Shan Pipe Band Learns the Star Spangled Banner, 2004  In November of 2003, the artist commissioned a brass pipe band in Lahore to learn how to play the American National Anthem, a piece that was not a part of their existing repertoire. Over an afternoon's sitting of listening to a recording of the music that had been provided them, and after much fumbling and practicing they were able to perform a version of it. The video is a recording of this process as well as a glimpse of their interaction and physical surroundings.  This piece is a metaphor for all forms of clumsy and forced cultural and political acquiescence that various individuals and governments have had to display towards the US in the past 3 years."

Shan Pipe Band Learns the Star Spangled Banner, 2004, by Bani Adibi. Video, Double Channel, 7:30 sec. "In November of 2003, the artist commissioned a brass pipe band in Lahore to learn how to play the American National Anthem, a piece that was not a part of their existing repertoire. Over an afternoon's sitting of listening to a recording of the music that had been provided them, and after much fumbling and practicing they were able to perform a version of it. The video is a recording of this process as well as a glimpse of their interaction and physical surroundings. This piece is a metaphor for all forms of clumsy and forced cultural and political acquiescence that various individuals and governments have had to display towards the US in the past 3 years."

When asked where to go to experience video art in India, Abidi replied:

Big galleries in Indian metros frequently feature video art. Gallery Espace in New Delhi hosted a year-long program called Video Wednesdays, where guest curators were invited to present their selection of videos once a week. It culminated in a discussion and a final show which took place last week. At the India Art Summit in Delhi (August 19 to 21 2009) you can watch over 90 videos.

Regarding notable Indian video artists, Abidi commented:

Nalini Malini and Ranbir Kaleka are two of the most senior practitioners of this medium and both incorporate their experience of painting and art history in their projects. A filmmaker like Amar Kanwar comes from a documentary film tradition. Younger artists like Shilpa Gupta, Sonia Khurana and Kiran Subbaiah move between the roles of activist, performer and cinematographer.

'Bird', by Sonia Khurana. Performance video, 1999. Duration, 2 minutes. Videotape, black and white, silent. Performed, shot, edited and conceptualized by Sonia Khurana.

'Bird', by Sonia Khurana. Performance video, 1999. Duration, 2 minutes. Videotape, black and white, silent. Performed, shot, edited and conceptualized by Sonia Khurana.

DISPLAY

An important distinction of video art lies within its display, which is a deliberate and important element of the artwork, and distinguishes it as more of an installation art piece than a conventional film.  Some artists provide buyers with highly specific drawn instruction of their display design, while others only require works to be played in a loop on a wall-mounted flat screen. Custom plans for the display of video art in a buyer’s home can get extremely creative, and include projection on suspended screens or other unexpected surfaces.

BUYERS

The all important question among the commercially minded arts scene: Does it sell?!? Like all commercially available art, contemporary video artists are keen to find collectors. Bhavna Kakar is a curatur-turned-gallerist who is embarking on a project promoting Indian video artists, and during an interview with the Times of India he remarks, “Five years ago, there were no takers but now works are selling.”

Auction houses are also promoting Indian video art, with Sotheby’s selling Sonia Khurana’s video work Bird: Retake in the 2007 Southeast Asian art auction. Indian video artists have found support in both private collectors and museums, and an emerging group of contemporary art collectors, including the notable private collectors Anurag Khanna and Swapan Seth,  have collections that are mostly comprised of video artworks.

AUTHENTICITY

Video art may have a viable base of enthusiastic collectors, but a common problem now with the buying and selling of video is the issue of unauthorized replication that devalues the legitimate limited edition works produced by an artist. This problem has been addressed with authenticity certificates, which are official documents required for the buying and reselling of pieces. Artists are also including watermarks in their videos, which can indicate authenticity to curators.

Curators and gallerists believe that video art is a natural progression for the generation that grew up in front of the TV and surfing the internet [Times of India.] In addition, convenient platforms like Youtube  are making the display of video artworks to vast audiences very easy and cheap. The nature of video is also very tactile, as it can be easily edited and changed to create something new. Considering all these traits, more talented, tech-savvy youthful artists are sure to emerge. Arts-watchers should know, video art is officially a trend.

Read full interview with Tehelka Magazine here.

-contributed by Erin Wooters

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Posted in Anupam Poddar, Collectors, India, Indian, Interviews, Museum collectors, Nalini Malini, New Delhi, Shilpa Gupta, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Mixed reviews for Serpentine’s Indian Highway show in London – Evening Standard, Independent

Posted by artradar on December 18, 2008


N S Harsha Melting

N S Harsha Melting

 

INDIAN ART OVERVIEW SHOW

Indian Highway to 22 February 2009 Serpentine Gallery London

Indian Highway, a show of 25 contrasting artists from India, is billed by the Serpentine as a “snapshot of a vibrant generation of artists” and “a timely presentation of their pioneering work following the remarkable and rapid economic social and cultural developments in India in recent years”. 

The show which  incorporates architecture, art, literature and performance, will continually grow as it tours internationally to different institutions for the next four years. After London, it will be presented at Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo, from 4 April to 21 June 2009, where it will expand with the addition of new works as well as a section curated by Bose Krishnamachari.

M F Husain Naad Swaram Ganeshayem

M F Husain Naad Swaram Ganeshayem

The show features the following artists some of whom have already made an impact on the international art world:

Ayisha Abraham
Ravi Agarwal
Nikhil Chopra
Raqs Media Collective
Sheela Gowda
Sakshi Gupta
Shilpa Gupta
Subodh Gupta
N. S. Harsha
M. F. Husain
Jitish Kallat
Amar Kanwar
Bharti Kher
Bose Krishnamachari
Nalini Malani
Tejal Shah
Dayanita Singh
Kiran Subbaiah
Ashok Sukumaran & Shaina Anand

In an inevitable comparison with Saatchi’s show of Chinese art, Indian Highway comes out on top in the Evening Standard.

Everything that Saatchi gets wrong with his Chinese show the Serpentine gets right in its Indian one. While the Duke of York’s Baracks show is a chart of the cheesiest Chinese auction house hits, the Serpentine is a treasure trove of subtlety and surprise.

There are new history paintings from India’s 93-year-old Modernist master, a multi-screen documentary of cinematic quality about terrible violence against women, sculptures made from whistles and rotating microphones about sectarian division, and a wall drawing of super-sized technicolor bhindis.

Typical of the shrewd tack taken is the way the exhibition handles the two shooting stars of the Indian contemporary art boom, Jitish Kallat and Subodh Gupta. Kallat’s large portraits of impoverished Indians, painted in a colourful screen-printed style, with their turbans transformed into intricate urban scenes, have become must-haves for aspiring billionaire collectors. Nothing that predictable here, though. Instead we have a series of photographs of dilapidated urban India, often decorated with stencils of Hindu gods.

But Kallat’s photographs are lenticular – that kind of 3-D photo with a fuzzy surface which takes on depth and reveals hidden details as one stands at an angle to it – a kind of photography you will know from souvenir postcards of tourist attractions, cartoon characters and Princess Diana. Kallat’s process turns a photojournalistic essay into not only an alluringly colourful spectacle but also a conceptual work which plays on where tourists find beauty in India and ennobles a popular visual idiom.

ravi_agarwal___kite_102525a

Ravi Agarwal Kite

Subodh Gupta is India’s best-known contemporary artist, whose trademark works are made out of Indian cooking utensils. He won early fame with a set of shelves with neat piles of stainless steel pots and pans, organised according to minimalism’s simple geometries.

At the Serpentine, however, there is not a trace of his kitchenware. Instead, he presents an evocative installation based on the interior of an Indian county court. There are worn wooden tables, half-broken chairs, ageing electronic typewriters and bundles of creased files. I had become rather disillusioned by all the repetitive pots-and-pans pieces I’d seen by Gupta over the past few years, and I loathe the terrible spin-off photorealist paintings of the same kitchenware which have been on show in every auction preview. The new work shows what resources this artist can tap as long as he doesn’t pander to the tastes of his dimwitted market of millionaire collectors.

Alongside these shooting stars, there is also India’s most famour post-war artist MF Husain, born in 1915. He is represented here in depth by a large number of canvases including several which have been exhibited – in another imaginative act of curating – on the outside of the building.

Husain is a sure-footed master of colour and texture and his compositions are boldly drawn – a mass of charging horses, elephants, mountain ranges and dynamic figures. He has only just begun to receive the recognition he deserves, but a demanding viewer may feel his old-fashioned mythological modernism owes too much to Chagall and Kandinsky for comfort.

The show makes plain some of the shortcomings of younger contemporary artists in fast-developing economies that will have flashed through the mind of anyone familiar with contemporary Chinese art. There is a sense of these artists having quickly learned to speak the foreign language of conceptual art-ese. They get the basic grammar – take a material of symbolic significance in your home country and make a big sculpture of something else with it

Overall, the work is of sufficient interest to push these criticisms to the back of the mind. The Indians don’t make the worst mistakes of their Chinese counterparts – there is no subcontinental equivalent of Wang Guanyi’s gimmicky Maoist propaganda posters peppered with Coca-Cola logos, or Zhang Xaiogang’s cutesy soft-focus paintings of bug-eyed Cultural Revolution families. The Indian artists engage with the politics of the present, not nostalgia. The work has an impressive discipline and severity, from which flashes of fairytales suddenly burst forth.

Evening Standard review

While the Evening Standard gives legendary MF Husain and the show overall a wavering thumbs up,  the Independent has nothing much good to say starting with the show’s guiding theme. “There must be some agenda, some network of contacts, guiding the selection. A more knowing person than me could tell you what. ” And the presence of ‘Picasso of India’ s MF Husain’s work confuses matters further:

The difficulty with Husain’s art is a matter of reputation. Why should he be rated as an even remotely interesting or important artist? His crudely cartoony pictures seem to belong, not at this gallery, but across the park, on the railings of Bayswater Road. Yet in an Indian context he has been a major figure. And so a baffling cultural gap opens up, about which the show leaves us none the wiser.

There’s no such gap with the work of the younger artists. On the contrary: it looks exactly like the kind of thing you’d find at the Serpentine. Its content is often Indian, but its forms are the established idioms of international contemporary art. You’ll find all the familiar fixtures: the room-filling installation, the multi-screen video projection, the enormous colour photograph, the found-object assemblage.

If you have any doubts about the embrace of artistic globalisation, Indian Highway will settle them. You could give the show a brisk walk-through, and almost not notice where things came from.

Where Indian culture is referenced, the Independent finds the motifs and usage too obvious.

Bharti Kher makes everything – or covers everything – in bindis (adhesive forehead dot decorations). Bose Krishnamachari makes much use of tiffins (the much-used metal cylindrical lunch box). Slightly obvious ideas, true, the sort of idea you can imagine an Indian artist having rather easily – and it turns out they’re used in rather an obvious way, too.

Subodh Gupta

Subodh Gupta

I found myself feeling that too often. The work is plausible enough, but nothing special. Shilpa Gupta’s In Our Times puts two old-fashioned microphones see-sawing on a stand, broadcasting the Independence speeches of Nehru (India) and Jinnah (Pakistan), delivered by a woman’s voice. Well, if I was pretending to be an Indian artist, that’s the kind of thing I’d do!

Or there’s Subodh Gupta, who’s been dubbed – well, it had to happen – “the Damien Hirst of India”, but here he appears more in the character of “the Mike Nelson of India”, with a room filled with a run-down and packed-up office. But then, same problem again: compared with Nelson’s dense and atmospheric environments, this is a very thin and under-imagined space.

I thought Nalini Malani had something, painting flights of female figures on clear acrylic panes, where swirling smears of pigment get transformed into snaking bodies. And Kiran Subbaiah’s brief video, Flight Rehearsals, about an introverted young man climbing the walls of his bedroom, was tight and funny. And Amar Kanwar’s The Lightning Testimonies used that unpromising form – the eight-screen all-around projection – and nearly made it work. But there’s nothing to bring you running.

An India-focused show looks like a good idea. But if it turns out to be a dud, then it’s a very bad idea. Anything disparaging you say about it is likely to become a disparaging generalisation about India itself. And if none of the art seems much good, you’re tempted to think that there’s a general cultural problem. The artists may seem fluent in contemporary art, but this language is clearly a Western invention. They have adopted it in an efficient but derivative way, as a badge of contemporaneity. They lack the confidence to take it over and reshape it.

Maybe. But an alternative explanation is available. It is simply that the artists in this show are stymied by the almost universal problem of not being very good artists. It can happen to artists anywhere. And then the question is, why the Serpentine didn’t find better ones?

Independent

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Posted in Gallery shows, Indian, London, Museum shows, Overviews, Surveys, UK, Uncategorised | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Indian contemporary art survey Chalo at Mori in Japan to March 2009

Posted by artradar on November 24, 2008


Bharti Kher The Skin Speaks a Language not its Own

Bharti Kher The Skin Speaks a Language not its Own

 

 

INDIAN CONTEMPORARY ART SURVEY

Chalo! India: A New Era of Indian Art 22 November to 15 March 2009

From the press release:
“Chalo” is Hindi for “Let’s go.” With the words “Chalo! India” (Let’s go! India), we invite you to discover an explosion of creativity and vitality in Indian contemporary art. “Chalo! India” will take you on a journey through more than 100 works by 27 artists and artist groups from all over India. Encompassing a broad range of media, including painting, sculpture, photography and installation, this exhibition examines the latest movements in Indian contemporary art.

Movements and themes: modernisn, political criticism, urbanisation and globalisaton

Following independence from Britain in 1947, Indian artists began exploring new forms of artistic expressions-drawing inspiration and ideas from Western modernism, and India’s own distinctive culture. Over the next 60 years, new types of work that powerfully embodied political and social critiques emerged. More recently, Indian artists have been making works that respond to urbanization and changing contemporary lifestyles-art that reflects the rapid economic development, and globalization that has taken hold since the 1990s. Today the lively Indian art scene is spreading its wings both at home and abroad, and has been attracting a great deal of international attention.

“Chalo! India” is a significant survey of new Indian art, including a sociological research project involving architects and intellectuals, and state of the art interactive media work-as befits an IT giant such as India. Most people see India in terms of its rich and influential history, its Gods and devotion, Bollywood movies, or its awakening as an economic giant. However, there is so much more to the complex and dynamic India of today. “Chalo! India” explores and celebrates the depth of this country; the contradictions of its society, the dreams and hopes of its people, and its energy and passion toward the future.

See tags for participating artists, click here for Exhibition website, more on Indian art, surveys of Asian art

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Posted in Indian, Japan, Jitish Kallat, Justin Ponmany, Museum shows, New Media, Political, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Urban | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

New nonprofit museum of Indian art groundbreaking first for India – Christies, New York Times

Posted by artradar on September 20, 2008


Anupam Poddar and his mother Lekha

Anupam Poddar and his mother Lekha

MUSEUM INDIAN ART NEW MEDIA EXHIBITION to 30 September 2008

Spread over two floors and 7,500 square feet in an office tower in the Gurgaon suburb of New Delhi , the Devi Art Foundation, as it is called opened in August 2008 with an inaugural show of photography and video called “Still Moving Image.” It features the work of 25 artists, a fraction of the roughly 2,000 contemporary pieces that make up the collection of 34 year old hotel magnate and leading art collector Anupam Poddar, along with an estimated 5,000 folk and tribal pieces, which are his mother’s passion.Devi is India’s first noncommercial, nonprofit exhibition space for contemporary art from India and the subcontinent. Yamini Mehta, director of modern and contemporary Indian art at Christie’s auction house in London, described it as “a truly groundbreaking first for India.”

The New York Times says “the birth of the Devi Art Foundation signals a sort of turning point in the Indian art scene, in that it opens up a private family trove to the public and is devoted entirely to contemporary art.””The Poddars are known in the art world here for their daring eye, for seeking out artists before they start fetching high prices or become recognizable names at fashionable Delhi dinner parties. Mr. Poddar scouts art college graduations for new talent, though it must be said that many of the artists he sought out years ago, like Subodh Gupta and Sudarshan Shetty, are now among the most recognizable names at those fashionable parties.”

The post-Indian-independence generation of artists known as the Progressives collected by his mother did not resonate with the son. He gravitated toward artists of his own generation. “Their vision of India was similar to mine,” he said. “It was being part of this – I hate this word – global world. It wasn’t just India. It wasn’t so isolated. They were working with sculpture, installation, with new media.”His first acquisition, in 1999, was a life-size pink fiberglass cow by Mr. Gupta. “It was quintessentially Indian but modern in its essence,” he said. “That’s what spoke to me.”

The inaugural exhibition of contemporary photography and video brings together the works of Aastha Chauhan, Baptist Coelho, Atul Bhalla, Avinash Veeraghavan, Bharti Kher, Kiran Subbaiah, Mithu Sen, Nalini Malani, Navin Thomas, Pushpamala N., Ram Rahman, Rameshwar Broota, Ranbir Kaleka, Ravi Agarwal, Sheba Chhachhi, Shilpa Gupta, Sonia Khurana, Sudarshan Shetty, Surekha, Susanta Mandal, Tejal Shah, Tushar Joag, Valay Shende, Varsha Nair and Vivan Sundaram.

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Posted in Anupam Poddar, Art spaces, Collectors, India, Indian, New Media, Nonprofit, Photography, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »