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Posts Tagged ‘Raqs Media Collective’

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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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

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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 »

Excitement at Asian Contemporary Art Week despite recession – interview Leez Ahmady director ACAW

Posted by artradar on May 12, 2009


ASIAN CONTEMPORARY ART WEEK NEW YORK 2009

Director Leeza Ahmady talks to Art Radar about some of the highlights of the Asian Contemporary Art Week in New York 2009 and tells us how excited she is that it has come together so well despite the recession.

This is the third part of a 3 part interview:

 

Back Seung Woo, Utopia #007, C print, 2008

Back Seung Woo, Utopia #007, C print, 2008

 

AR: Tell us a little about the specifics of the event.

LA: It is scheduled May 10 to May 18th for 8 days.

AR: Why did you choose 8 days in May? Any reasons?

LA: Usually we try to skip a year because we need that time to produce it but 2008 was such a big success in every way. We surpassed expectations. I was prepared to have about 30 institutions but we ended up with 47 and immediately after there was such a high and so many inquiries about whether we would do it again in 2009.

Because of the huge amount of work the team and participants had put into the event, we felt that we should continue the momentum even though the economic situation was just beginning to change. Some were beginning to be scared but everyone signed up. But since October things of course have changed dramatically and some venues did pull out.

But incredibly enough we have over 30 organisations  this year with many new and emerging participants. They are excited because of the history of the event and they want to be a part of it.

For example this year Tyler Rollins, which specialises in art from Southeast Asia, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia is presenting an exhibition and Tyler is also organising a panel discussion to give some perspective on what is going on in Southeast Asia.

AR: Do you work with artists who are not represented by galleries?

LA: Yes we do. In 2006 we did a video programme in which 85 artists were nominated by experts from all around Asia and after a jury selection 30 were chosen and screened in different participating venues.

 In 2008 we created a programme called Artists in Conversation and artists went through the same process but this time they had the opportunity to pair up with a curator or critic. It was called ”up close and personal with the best of the best in Asian art”. That was our slogan.

This year we have a programme called Open Portfolios. About 20 artists or more are part of it, two are from Central Asia. Kyrgryz artists Muratbek Djumaliev and Gulnara Kasmalieva will have a screening and discussion of their video work at MOMA on May 18th.

We have an event in which Qiu Zhijie, one of China’s leading artists, talks with Alexandra Munroe, senior curator of Asian Art at the Guggenheim Museum, at the China Institute May 12.

I am very excited about the Payal Choudhri event as she and her husband have one of the best modern art collections. They have agreed to hold a VIP event hosting one of our artists  Huma Bhabha from Pakistan in their home on May 12th.

We have all these exciting new venues and the question is how are they doing this? I am in disbelief about how this is coming together. I do end up talking a lot more about money than programming of course. Consortium members that participate and support the ACAW initiative include: Japan Society, China Institute, the Guggenheim Museum, Ethan Cohen Gallery, Bose Pacia, Art Projects International, and Sepia International. Other participants with wonderful programs this year are the Marlborough Gallery and MOMA. The Rubin Museum is hosting a special installation of art from Thailand.

AR: How are the events allocated over the days?

Usually the week is divided into locations. On Monday night we hold our signature event at the Asia Society. Melissa Chiu will be talking about the future of Asian art with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Documenta 13 Artistic Director.

Tuesday is dedicated to uptown galleries and museum, Wednesday midtown  and Thursday is Hot Chelsea Night… I sayhot because there are so many participants that day. Friday will be downtown and Tribeca and on Saturday and Sunday we go to different boroughs.

The idea is to create a circle of people who hop from one place to another. It is a powerful way to share audiences as normally venues are naturally very protective. In this way everyone’s programme is broadcast through the website and printed pamphlets and we ask everyone to promote this to their own audiences and it ends up being a wonderful way to connect.

AR: So what do you have to say to people in these gloomy economic times?

LA: Well I love what has been coming out of the Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong….these incredible public programming events like the performance of Raqs Media Collective. It is so incredible. Instead of stopping and staying quiet at this time they are forging on. And that is a message I would love to get out. We can curl up and say times are so bad and what are we going to do and it is going to get worse. Many people are doing that and  it is one option and the other option is to do even better with what you have.

AR: Do you find that you can reach out in another way in a recession because art has so many facets? It is different things to different people. Therapy, entertainment, education, sensory stimulation, distraction, spirtual connection, activism…all of these things come to the fore when you take out the investment and speculation buzz.

LA: Absolutely Absolutely. I feel the recession is going to change things dramatically. I don’t think that the recession will be the worst thing that can happen. I think it will help us all reflect on our relationship with art and its practice, and that is a really good thing.

This is the third part of a 3 part interview:

  • Part 1: How art from half of Asia has been missed
  • Part 2: Pockets of change in Asian art infrastructure
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    Posted in Interviews, Leeza Ahmady, Nonprofit | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Middle Eastern, Indian, Pakistani artists show seminal works in 3-city exhibition: Lines of Control

    Posted by artradar on February 23, 2009


    Anita Dube, River Disease, 1999

    Anita Dube, River Disease, 1999

    MIDDLE EAST SOUTH ASIA ART

    Two influential art enterprises, Green Cardamom and Middle Eastern gallery The Third Line co-present Lines of Control, a fascinating series of exhibitions in Dubai, Karachi and London comprising both seminal and new works by 18 artists. Arguably this is a show of some of the most respected artists from the Middle East and South Asia working in contemporary art today.

    The series which was initiated by the  Green Cardamom in 2007, the 60th anniversary of the partition of the subcontinent, explores both the chaos and the productive capacity of partitions through the practice of visual art.

    The Third Line, Dubai: 15th January – 8th February 2009
    VM Gallery, Karachi: 28th January – 28th February 2009
    Green Cardamom, London: 18th February – 27th March 2009

    Theme of the show: Partition

    These last two years – 2007 and 2008 – mark the 60th anniversaries of two groups of nations that were ‘made’ through partitions: firstly, the independence of India and the creation of Pakistan (itself partitioned 24 years later to form another new nation – Bangladesh), and secondly, the creation of Israel from British-controlled Palestine. Both partitions have cast long shadows in world history and had an unprecedented impact. The 1947 fracture of India led to over 15 million people being displaced, and an estimated one million deaths over a few brutal weeks. The aftermath of Israel’s creation remains arguably the leading cause for global geo-political instability.

    Art can be a means to explore areas of life where words fail us, and partitions and their aftermath are ripe for such exploration. Lines of Control is not only about commemorating the past, but about current lives in partitioned times: South Ossetia, Baghdad’s Green Zone/Red Zone, Israel’s ‘security barrier’, Kosovo, the Kurdish population in Iraq and Turkey, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Pakistan’s tribal areas, India’s minority provinces – are all testimony to the seductive simplicity of drawing lines as a substitute for learning how to live with each other. Living these lines is a messy, bloody business but also offers a productive space where new nations, identities, languages and relationships are forged.

    Interview with curator Hammad Nasser

    Art Radar: How have the artists differed in the way they approached the subject?

    Identity, nation, memory, history, borders


    HN: The subject is vast – covering notions of identity and nation, as well as memory, history and borders.

    In researching the topic and the works of artists that have addressed it, we were keen to include works that have become seminal, as well as encourage the production of new works.

    Rashid Rana, All Eyes Skyward at the Annual Parade, 2004

    Rashid Rana, All Eyes Skyward at the Annual Parade, 2004

    Seminal works: Pakistani artist Rashid Rana

    So among the 18 artists who participated in Lines of Control, nearly half showed existing works, in many cases borrowed from private collections. Rashid Rana’s large scale composite image, All Eyes Skywards at the Annual Parade, of a crowd waving Pakistani flags as it admires a fly-past is composed of thousands of stills from Bollywood films. A poignant commentary on Pakistani identity, despite best efforts, being defined by the other.

    New works: Naeem Mohaiemen


    Among the new works created I will pick out a wonderful set of digital prints and an accompanying stack of stamps bearing the portrait of Kazi Nazrul Islam, the Bengali poet who resisted Partition before losing his ability to speak.

    In these companion works, the Dhaka and New York based-artist Naeem Mohaiemen excavates history to show how the governments of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan all tried to project their own political fantasies on the mute figure of the revered poet. By isolating Kazi’s eyes in public photographs, Mohaiemen argues that his eyes register their silent protest at these political machinations.

    Nalini Malani, Iftikhar Dadi, Bloodlines 2008

    Nalini Malani, Iftikhar Dadi, Bloodlines 2008

    Collaborative work, embroidery: Indian artist Nalini Malani and Pakistani Iftikhar Dadi

    Bloodlines, a collaboration between the Indian artist Nalini Malani and the Pakistani Iftikhar Dadi, is both old and new. The work was conceived by the artists, and made by embroiderers in Karachi initially in 1997. It is perhaps the first collaborative work between artists from both countries. For Lines of Control it has been realized again by Mr. Abdul Khaliq and his team in Karachi.

    The individual panels, with their flat panels of coloured sequins, mimic the mapping process that defines borders, supposedly with detached objectivity. However, the red border lines, drawn by the Radcliffe commission as part of the de-colonization process, run across this field of gold as arbitrary lines of blood. The artists describe the dense golden sequins as “enacting an allegory of the individual, affirming its uniqueness and their diversity, yet also suggesting that their coming together illuminates and enriches the entire region without limit”.
    AR: Have there been any unusual, unexpected or interesting responses from viewers, critics?

    The exhibitions have been very well received in Dubai and Karachi, by audiences who have lived through the Partition, by students who know of it only through history books and by critics.

    Perhaps the most touching reaction was by an audience member with tears in her eyes as she listened to and observed the Home project by Sophie Ernst: video clips of artists talking to their parents and grandparents about the homes they left behind at the time of Partition, projected on to small scale architectural models of the places described.

    AR: Why were these 3 cities chosen? Are different responses expected in the different cities?

    HN: Lines of Control is an ongoing project, and after the initial focus on India’s partition, we start looking at Palestine and other partitions in the Middle East. Thus it was important that we involve multiple geographies and engage people around histories that are not their own but have many similarities. With South Ossettia, Kosovo, Baghdad, Cyprus — even Belgium for goodness sake — all in the news in recent months; we have to learn how to live in peace with our partitioned selves.

    AR: Do you think travelling art shows can play a part in healing partitions, rifts?

    HN: I am not sure I believe that art can change the world. But I do believe that art has a role to play in helping us understand phenomenon where words fail us. Artists, by reaching us outside language, allow us to find new avenues of enquiry and reflection. Healing comes with understanding, and art can certainly help us understand in a way that is not didactic.

    AR: What is different about a travelling art show compared with a static one confined to one country?


    HN: Its a hell of a lot harder work! But less flippantly, putting together exhibitions is also a learning process. And by working in this way where we have worked with three locations, three very different spaces and three different contexts, it gives us a chance to develop a much more nuanced understanding of what we are dealing with. Speaking personally, I am learning more about each work and some of the notions they explore through every interaction I have with them. Hopefully we will be able to use this in taking the project forward.

    Artists

    The exhibitions include works by Bani Abidi, Roohi Ahmed, Farida Batool, Rana Begum, Iftikhar Dadi and Nalini Malini, Anita Dube, Sophie Ernst, Ahsan Jamal, Amar Kanwar, Tariq Khalil, Ahmed Ali Manganhar, Naeem Mohaiemen, Raqs Media Collective, Rashid Rana, Seher Shah, Abdullah Syed, Hajra Waheed and Muhammad Zeeshan.

    Reviews and writing

    Chinar Tree Jan 2009 – Strong informative review of the Dubai show, well worth reading. Concludes that this edition of the on-going show ‘lacks coherence to some extent’. However commends and discusses in detail artwork from the following artists : Anita Dube, Naeem Mohaiemen, Rashid Rana. Interesting quotes:

    On comparison of Indian partition with the Holocaust: “Hammad feels that despite this being the case, little thought or attention is paid to the scars or after-effects left by the division of a country and its people. “If you compare the Holocaust in Europe to the partition of India, one has almost spawned a commemorative industry whereas there’s almost no trace of India’s partition. Why are there no memorials or museums commemorating this?” “

    On future plans for the exhibition: “Next year we’ll look at partitions in the Middle-East, Palestine, Lebanon and possibly the Kurdish question in Iraq and Turkey, if we find the art. The longer-term plan is to look at this as a global issue, to include international artists and take this to museums around the world.” Hammad Nasser, curator

    Anita Dube, River Disease 1999, detail

    Anita Dube, River Disease 1999, detail

    Art Asia Pacific: A useful background article by Hammad Nasser curator. Discusses the meaning of the exhibition title Lines of Control: a reference to ‘the messy legacy of colonisation’ and to the lenticular print of Farida Batool entitled Line of Control (see article for image).

    On partition art’s growth in last decade: “In Partition’s immediate aftermath, most Indian artists were unable, or more probably unwilling, to address its smouldering embers. And in Pakistan, the idea of critically examining Partition opened up the uncomfortable prospect of national existential crisis. Since Partition’s 50th anniversary a decade ago, however, a rich seam of artistic production engaging the topic has emerged.”

    Artists’ works discussed in depth: Shilpa Gupta’s Aar Baar, Farida Batool’s Line of Control, Anita Dube’s River/Disease

    Farida Batool Line of Control 2004 lenticular print

    Farida Batool Line of Control 2004 lenticular print

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    Related categories: Political art, Identity art, Handicraft art, Middle Eastern art,  Indian art, Israeli art, Pakistani art

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    Posted in Activist, Anita Dube, Collaborative, Collage, Curators, Gallery shows, Handicraft art, Identity art, Indian, Interviews, Middle Eastern, Migration, Nationalism, New Media, Overviews, Pakistani, Photography, Political, Professionals, Rashid Rana, Religious art, Shilpa Gupta, Social, Thread, War | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Indian contemporary art reaches a new stage of development

    Posted by artradar on December 30, 2008


    TV Santosh

    TV Santosh

    INDIAN ART SHOW

    Signs Taken For Wonders: Recent Art from India and Pakistan to January 31 2009

    Indian contemporary art is reaching a new audience with large-scale museum surveys such as ‘Indian Highway’ at London’s Serpentine Gallery and ‘Chalo! India: A New Era of Indian Art’ at Japan’s Mori Art Museum. As the Aicon Gallery Signs Taken For Wonders show press release points out, this is a ‘pivotal moment’  when international curators, writers and galleries articulate how, which and whether Indian artists will become part of international art history.

    Compared with art scenes in other locations, this new exposure to rigorous and objective criticism is all the more significant for contemporary Indian art which lacks its own museum and curatorial infrastructure. And unlike other emerging Asian markets such as China, there is a limited history of patronage, collecting and connoisseurship. This fascinating cusp for Indian art marks an unusual opportunity for collectors, critics and connoisseurs around the world to assess and shape a response.

    Justin Ponmany Salt Friends
    Justin Ponmany Salt Friends

     

    The Financial Times says that the two London exhibitions, the Serpentine Gallery’s Indian Highway and Aicon’s Signs Taken for Wonders, are the UK’s most ambitious attempts yet to distil coherence into the chaotic rush of art emerging from the Indian subcontinent.

    While some of the artists are in both this show and at the Serpentine (MF Husain, Raqs Media Collective) it is worth visiting both shows which together cover many of the emerging names. At Aicon you will see some of the auction favourites  (TV Santosh and Justin Ponmany) as well as up and coming Pakistani art which is absent at the Serpentine . (Aicon Gallery for more images). Visit the Serpentine to see female artists  and video work. These were both given a smidge of approval in a generally bleak review by The Independent.

    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 – The Independent) and  Kiran Subbaiah’s brief video, Flight Rehearsals, about an introverted young man climbing the walls of his bedroom, was tight and funny.

    More positive reviews are linked below.

    Artists included in the Aicon show include MF Husain, Adeela Suleman, Amjad Ali Talpur, Atul Bhalla, Bose Krishnamachari, Chintan Upadyay, GR Iranna, Justin Ponmany, Muhammed Zeeshan, Raqs Media Collective, Riyas Komu, Sajal Sarkar, Shibu Natesan, Talha Rathore, TV Santosh and Vivek Vilasini.

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    What do you think about Indian contemporary art? Take part in the discourse, leave your comments below.

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    Posted in Bose Krishnamachari, Gallery shows, Indian, London, Museum shows, Pakistani, UK | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 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 »

    Indian, Chinese, Japanese galleries and talks at Frieze fair London October 2008

    Posted by artradar on October 14, 2008


    ART FAIR LONDON

    Frieze Art Fair 16-19 October 2008 Regent’s Park, London

    Frieze Art Fair is one of the premier global art fairs and competition among galleries around the world for one of the 150 stands is fierce. This year galleries from Asia include

    The following Asian art events will take place:

    The China Experience
    12pm, Thursday 16 October 2008
    Yinghua Lu (Writer, Curator and Contributing Editor, frieze) will bring together three key players in Chinese contemporary art to discuss the impact of the country’s political, financial and creative conditions on its artists, critics, curators and gallerists. With so much attention focused on China, the panel examines the structures of its art scene and looks at how it compares to Western models.
    Chair: Carol Yinghua Lu (Writer, Curator and Contributing Editor, frieze), Weng Ling (curator and founder of the Beijing Center for the Arts), Zheng Shengtian (Yishu, Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art), Karen Smith (Writer, Curator and Chinese Contemporary Art Specialist).

     

    Raqs Media Collective

    Raqs Media Collective

    Transhumance

    3pm, Saturday 18 October 2008
    Raqs Media Collective will perform a selection of reports and conversations gathered from their nomadic practices as artists, curators and theorists.

    Raqs Media Collective is a group of three media practitioners – Jeebesh Bagchi (New Delhi, 1965), Monica Narula (New Delhi, 1969) and Shuddhabrata Sengupta (New Delhi, 1968) – based in New Delhi. Raqs is best known for its contribution to contemporary art, and has presented work at most of the major international shows, from Documenta to the Venice Biennale; but the collective is active in an unusually wide range of domains, and it is perhaps this breadth of inspiration that gives their work its originality.

     See

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    Posted in Chinese, Critic, Fairs, Indian, Japanese, London | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    India Art Summit August 2008 is India’s first contemporary art fair

    Posted by artradar on August 13, 2008


    Sohan Qadri

    Sohan Qadri

     

     

    INDIA ART FAIR India is hosting its first art fair of modern and contemporary art called “India Art Summit”. It will be held from the 22nd to the 24th of August 2008, at Pragati Maidan (ITPO) New Delhi.

    More than 30 galleries from India and abroad will show works in an area of 1400 square metres. The three day event is expected to attract thousands of people.

    Anjolie Ela Menon, one of India’s most outstanding contemporary artists and one of the patrons of the India Art Summit along with artists SH Raza and Krishen Khanna and art critic Keshav Malik, sees this fair as a gateway to the future of modern and contemporary art reports the magazine Asian Art News.

    “It’s high time that India offered and art fair to the world” says Renu Modi of Gallery Espace.

    Established artists on show will include MF Husain, Vaikuntham, Sohan Qadri, FN Souza, Atul Dodiya and Riyas Komu.

    Younger artists such as Babu Xavier, Thukral and Tagra, Birendra Pani, Mekhala Bahl, Rooshika Patel, Sara, Tanmoy Samanta, Apurva Desai, CF John, Debraj Goswami, Pratul Dash, Murali Cheeroth, TM Azis, Raqs Media Collective will attract younger collectors.

    Murali Cheeroth

    Murali Cheeroth

    Sculptors include Nagji Patel, Saroj Kumar Singh and Arzan Khambatta.

    The timing is right says Asian Art News: Indian art’s bouyant annual growth rate is estimated to be 30 to 35%.

    There will be networking opportunities at the concurrent Art Forum with speakers such as Rajeev Lochan, director National Gallery of Modern Art, art critics Geeta Kapur and Gayatri Sinha, Robert Storr dean Yale School of Art and Hugo Weihe Christie’s head of Asian Art.

    See (in new window)

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    Posted in Fairs, Indian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »