Archive for October, 2010



   Posted by: admin    in Art News Updates

The current exhibition at CIMA gallery, Yeh Image Mahaan: India Meets Bharat (until November 20), celebrates emerging trends in contemporary Indian art. While this may be the overarching theme of the show, the attempt, really, is to understand the trajectory of modernism in Indian art — whether India had, or is still having, its own ‘modernisms’ outside, or overlapping with, the practices of Western modernism. The context is set by the reproductions of certain acknowledged masterpieces by some of the pioneers of modernist Indian art — Abanindranath Tagore, Bhupen Khakhar, Jamini Roy, M.F. Husain — which line the walls as one enters the gallery. These images become vital reference points for comparing the rest of the work on display in order to understand the parallels and paradoxes, arrivals and departures.

Although the scope of the show is pan-Indian, some of the most distinguished names featuring in it are from Bengal. This is one of those rare instances in which veterans like Ganesh Pyne and Jogen Chowdhury share wall space with their younger colleagues like Sumitro Basak and Kingshuk Sarkar. So, in a sense, the experience of this show is like a walking tour of the history of the art of Bengal. One can see the collision and collusion of styles, how tradition and individual talent tease and transform each other. The presence of Mayank Kumar Shyam and Shakila, academically untrained but highly gifted artists, complicates the templates of comparison — not just because Shyam happens to be a Gond from Madhya Pradesh.

The affinities are readily discernable. To Meera Devidayal’s mixed-media of a dingy shack, Rashmi Bagchi Sarkar provides a counterpoint with her sequinned doll’s house. The oversized carnivores by Basak and Ashish Ghosh exude a severe energy, but are also challenged by the mysterious elegance of the wooden lion made by an anonymous artist from Karnataka. The curator has included artefacts, such as this antique lion, to shake up accepted standards of what constitutes works of art. The inclusion of TV commercials, affording a telling comment on popular taste, comes as a pleasant surprise. These diversions open up the viewer’s imagination without taking away his attention from the art around.

Rediffusion’s campaign for Airtel, featuring Sharman Joshi, preys upon Middle India’s weakness for, and approval of, the actor’s boy-next-door charm. The feel-good factor associated with young love, which Joshi brings out effortlessly in these advertisements, is countered by the cluster of nine paintings by Basak that comes together in a sinister wholeness. The drama around Rizwanur Rahman’s suspicious death comes alive in this assemblage on which the word, Fux, is ubiquitous. It is as if the puerile edge of the episode, together with its tragic absurdity, are conjured up in that monosyllable, spat out like a disgusted sigh. There is also, of course, the more obvious allusion to Lux, the company run by the prime accused in the case.

The other arresting video is of a media campaign that depicts the carnivalesque spirit of South Indian politics. It shimmers with an infectious energy as men cavorting on the streets go gaga over their favourite leaders, many of whom happen to be larger-than-life filmstars. The orgiastic pulse of Incredible India recedes as one takes in Shreyasi Chatterjee’s sublime meditation on plantains and coconuts, in which she casts a panoramic look on a landscape of unearthly beauty absorbed in its own rituals of stillness. Arguably one of the finest pieces in this exhibition, Chatterjee’s work is matched by Basak’s serpentine book of life. Trailed by alpona, as it lies askew on the floor, this snaking array of images, bound in gamchha, embodies art at its most elemental — transcending imagined borders of difference, mixing memory with desire, and gripping the viewer with a force that is at once visceral and cerebral.


This exhibition brings together the work of artists Robert Natkin (American, 1930-2010) and Natvar Bhavsar (Indian, b. 1934), both known for their use of color and texture, and active in the Lyrical Abstraction movement. The exhibition  features work from the Hebrew Home’s permanent collection, including vibrant, textured paintings using dry pigment by Bhavsar, and lithographs that exemplify Natkin’s utilization of lively color and pattern.

Lyrical Abstraction in America was a period in the late 1960s-1970s that was characterized by a focus on color, texture and other painterly modes of working. It was closely linked with Color Field painting and Abstract Expressionism; a dramatic departure from the styles of minimalism and geometric lines and shapes that dominated the art world in the 1950s. Artists working in the Lyrical Abstraction movement, such as Bhavsar and Natkin, typically painted in an expressionistic, fluid style, drawing more from intuition than abstract aesthetic theory. Bhavsar’s heavily textured works on paper using dry pigment, a technique derived from an ancient form of Indian sand painting, appear as though they may be photographs taken from a telescope, exuding an otherworldly quality. Natkin used textured surfaces, such as cloth, as stencils in his work to create nebulous patterns that appear as faint shapes and cross-hatches underneath layers of lively, undulating color.

The exhibition will be on view through Jan. 9, 2011 in the Elma and Milton A. Gilbert Pavilion Gallery at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale. The Gilbert Pavilion Gallery is open to the public free of charge every day from 10:30 am – 4:30 pm.