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Posts Tagged ‘Shaina Anand’

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 »

Asian Art Triennial Manchester UK 5 April – 1 June 2008

Posted by artradar on April 6, 2008


INDIA SINGAPORE CHINA KOREA TAIWAN The UK’s first Asian Art Triennial opens 5 April -1 June 2008 and is conceived by Shisha, the UK’s premier international agency for contemporary South Asian crafts and visual arts, in partnership with Castlefield Gallery, Chinese Arts Centre, Cornerhouse, The International 3, Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Metropolitan University.  

 

Asia Triennial Manchester 08 shows fresh and innovative work that represents the best of contemporary visual art from Asia: a festival of visual culture that not only celebrates Manchester’s diverse communities but also explores cultural, artistic and political debates of the 21st century. The international programme features stunning venue-based exhibitions, surprising site-specific new commissions, innovative residencies and extraordinary publicly sited work by artists from Mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. None of the work featured has been seen in the UK before and for some of the artists ATM08 will be their UK debut. 

 

The inaugural Asia Triennial Manchester (ATM08) programme echoes Manchester’s radical political and social history, reflects new artistic practice, and seeks resonances between the city and Asia by exploring the notion of ‘protest’ – in its widest sense.  

 

Castlefield Gallery is working with Channel A (Hongjohn Lin and Ella Raidel) from Taiwan and p-10 (Woon Tien Wei, Jennifer Teo working with collaborators Jeremy Chu and Kai Lam) from Singapore who will reside in Manchester in the lead up to ATM08. The gallery space will become a hive of activity with both groups presenting new site-specific work that has been developed through their time in the city. 


Channel A will reinvent the identity of the 18th century bogus Taiwanese, George Psalmanaazaar, as an estate agent, in order to explore the notion of property and fantasy in Manchester and Taiwan. p-10 will create a symposium platform for an accumulative research based investigation into different notions of ‘localness’ within the context of the international Triennial and Biennial. Chinese Arts Centre has initiated both a residency and exhibition programme. 


There will be two artists’ residencies, March – April with Chinese artist Mao Yan Yang, who will continue his interrogation of the media’s depiction of events focusing on the Triennial’s theme of protest and May – June with Hong Kong comic artist Kong Kee


For the exhibition, the Centre is working with two Mainland Chinese artists, Chen Shaoxiong and Qiu Anxiong, who both use Chinese ink painting in an experimental way. Using their daily life story and a modern city portrait, they create new ink paintings and animation, which illustrate a sense of insecurity of the rapid urban development in China.  


Cornerhouse is staging “What do you want?” with artists Tejal Shah, Jasmeen Patheja, Shilpa Gupta, Surekha and Shaina Anand, all living in India and working amongst a new generation of artists with activist concepts. The exhibition and community project challenges traditional cultural opinion, contemporary political issues and controversial social situations, the artists use photography, performance, sculpture, video and new media to analyse problems faced by Indian women and those living within conventional family structures. 

 

The International 3‘s project features Chinese artist Han Bing whose work uses photography, video and performative social interventions to question everyday living and the impact of human progress. Han Bing’s art manifests a kind of amor mundi — love of the world — investing ordinary objects with a subtle sense of the sacred. For ATM08, Bing is planning to involve approximately 100 local people in the European premiere of a surprising outdoor performance in Manchester on Saturday 12 April. 


Manchester Art Gallery presents contemporary work by two Korean artists, Gwon Osang and Choe U- ram. Gwon Osang makes extraordinary life-size sculptures of people. He uses hundreds of photographic images to build up the surface appearance of his models, including the face, their hair and their clothes. The process gives his beautifully crafted figures both photo-realist and surreal qualities.  Following a recent Manchester residency, Gwon is now creating new work including a sculpture of the musician Graham Massey – best known as a member of Manchester’s electronic pioneers 808 State. This will be exhibited from 5 April together with an existing work Control. 


Manchester Art Gallery also presents Gwon’s first major UK solo exhibition from 21 June – 21 September 2008. Choe U-ram uses precision cut and polished metals, machinery and electronics to create stunning kinetic sculptures inspired by sea creatures and plant life. Two of the artist’s enormous robotic works, Urbanus Female and Urbanus Male, will be exhibited for the first time in the UK in the gallery’s atrium 5 April – 21 September 2008.  


Source: press release 

 www.asiatriennialmanchester.com

Posted in Anime, Chinese, Feminist art, Indian, Ink, Korean, New Media, Performance, Photography, Sculpture, Singaporean, Southeast Asian, Taiwanese, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »