A Buyer’s Guide to Emeralds

Are you ready to invest in emeralds, but still have apprehensions regarding this big decision? Pooja Savansukha of Saffronart has put together an informative guide with everything you’d like to know about emeralds.

Undeniably, you have been captivated by the mystical charm of emeralds. You can’t be blamed; it is impossible to resist the deep green radiance that an emerald exudes. In fact, these stones have often been considered to be the most precious stones, greatly revered historically by the Inca’s, the Aztec’s and most notably the Egyptian pharaohs. Today, adorning an emerald instantly places you in the legacy of Cleopatra, Shah Jahan, and many other royal or historic figures. While this may already incentivize you, we have decided to provide you with everything else you should know to help you make your choice to invest in emeralds.

Emeralds and Emerald Formation:

Fine emeralds form naturally when a rare blend of pressure, heat and chemical solutions in the earth causes an emerald to form. Emeralds belong to the beryl family that also consists of aquamarine, heliodor and beryls in other colours. A green beryl is only classified as an emerald when its colour is darker and deeper than an ordinary beryl.  While there are other green gems such as peridot and tourmaline, an emerald is associated with the richest and most extraordinary shade of green.

Considering the origin of emeralds immediately brings to mind ‘Cleopatra’s Mines’ near the red sea in Egypt that are known to be the earliest account of the extraction of these stones, dating back to 3500 BC. Most emeralds embedded in ancient Egyptian jewellery were from these mines. Emeralds have also been procured from Colombian mines since 500 AD.

Currently, emeralds are mined from several countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Zambia, Afghanistan, India, Zimbabwe, Russia and Pakistan. Colombian mines are known to contain some of the highest quality emeralds in the world. Zambian mines are also gaining prominence for not only producing high quality emeralds but for also adopting the most ethical standards socially, environmentally and in terms of safety while mining.

An Emerald Crystal from a Columbian Mine www.gia.edu/emerald

An Emerald Crystal from a Columbian Mine
http://www.gia.edu/emerald

Mining emeralds is an extremely delicate process. It is however not the only delicate process that an emerald goes through. Before an emerald is ready for sale, natural emerald crystals extracted from mines must go through several procedures before they attain the shapes, cut and polish that we appreciate so much. Often certain stones may go through numerous additional treatments too, and these affect their value. The easiest way to evaluate an emerald is through the 4 C’s: Colour, Clarity, Cut, and Carats.

Colour:

The colour of an emerald is indicated by the amount of trace elements such as chromium, vanadium and iron that it contains. The best emeralds have colours that range from a bluish-green to a pure green. Usually, the darker the emerald, the higher its value, but a tone that is too dark is also undesirable. An emerald will be translucent, and the most precious emeralds will be highly transparent, with an even distribution of colour. Remember that if an emerald appears to be too yellowish or bluish in colour, it may not be an emerald, but just another kind of beryl.

Colombian emeralds are generally known to have a pure green colour while Zambian emeralds are said to have a bluish-green colour.

Clarity

During the formation of an emerald, small amounts of minerals, liquids or other fluid may get trapped into the emerald. These are called inclusions. Too many inclusions can reduce the transparency of an emerald, but a few inclusions are essential to differentiate natural emeralds from synthetics. An emerald may also contain fissures or fractures that affect the clarity of a stone. The most prized emeralds have few inclusions and very minor fractures, if any.

Most emeralds undergo clarity enhancing treatments. Historically, oils have been used to fill fissures and fractures. Resins might also be used as fillers. While both oils and resins have similar effects and are temporary procedures, a resin may last longer as filler. Generally, fillers cause no harm to an emerald and can easily be removed or altered. Emeralds that require the least enhancing treatment are usually the most valuable. You can easily enquire what types of treatment an emerald has been through before buying it.

Cut

Emeralds are fragile compared to most precious stones and are easily susceptible to being damaged. Furthermore, most emeralds contain fractures, making them even more vulnerable. But rest assured, for cuts can be used to protect the stone from damage. Usually, the corners of an emerald are cut to create facets that protect them from chipping. The octagonal shape obtained by this kind of cut is known as an emerald cut. While cuts are supposed to be protective do verify that your emerald has been cut well, as an error in the cut can drop the value of your stone. Cuts are also used to create other shapes for emeralds.

An unmounted emerald-cut emerald, the most common cut although emeralds are available in other cuts too http://www.saffronart.com/fixedjewelry/PieceDetails.aspx?iid=41314&a=

An unmounted emerald-cut emerald, the most common cut although emeralds are available in other cuts too
http://www.saffronart.com/fixedjewelry/PieceDetails.aspx?iid=41314&a=

Carat Weight

Emeralds are available in a multitude of sizes. While you might easily assume that a higher carat weight must account for a high value, this is not true. An emeralds value is judged primarily upon its colour and clarity. It is thus completely possible for an emerald with a lighter weight to be a better investment than one with a higher carat weight.

 

How to Look After your Emeralds?

Emeralds are very delicate and may require more care than other precious stones, but they are beautiful and maintaining them well will ensure that they remain in good condition for a long time. You just need to ensure that you don’t expose your emerald to too much heat or steam, or very strong rays of light from a close proximity. The most ideal way to clean an emerald is gently scrubbing it with slightly warm, mild soapy water.

On an ending note, remember that a good quality emerald is considered to be even more valuable than diamonds.

Check out our Columbian and Zambian Emerald Exhibition catalogue by clicking here

Source: www.gia.edu

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THE LEGACY OF EMERALDS- AN INDIAN STORY

Kanika Pruthi of Saffronart reminiscences about some of the iconic emerald jewelry with an Indian connection

New York: The allure of the emerald is undeniable given its famed reputation and esteem that has persisted since antiquity. Our current exhibition of emerald  jewelry featuring  stones of Colombian and Zambian origin, presents an eclectic collection of beautiful ornaments to appeal to varied tastes and aesthetics.

Image 1a

Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/fixedjewelry/PieceDetails.aspx?iid=41327&pt=2&eid=3692

Emeralds have enjoyed a privileged status since centuries. A coveted precious stone, there are umpteen historic tales and folklore associated with it, perpetuating its grand aura in our psyche. Ancient texts from Egyptian and the Greco-Roman civilizations profess the wider beliefs of those times, which granted emeralds healing properties and astrological associations. King Nero is said to have viewed gladiator fights through a large, transparent emerald while Egyptian queen Cleopatra was one of the greatest admirer of her stone during her times. Stories abound and legacies persist.

Emerald 1
Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/fixedjewelry/PieceDetails.aspx?iid=41319&a=

Closer to home, the Mughals commissioned many objets d’art fashioned from emeralds. Shah Jahan is known to have had a special affinity for this stone and had many of the pieces in his collection inscribed with sacred verses. These were then worn as talismans- bringing prosperity to the wearer and keeping them from harm’s way. One of the most famous examples of a talismanic emerald from the Mughal period is ‘The Mogul Mughal’. Dated to 1695 and weighing 217.80 carats, the obverse is engraved with Shi’a invocations in elegant naskh script and the reverse carved all over with foliate decoration. The dense color and the delicate carving are truly magnificent.

Emerald 2
Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/fixedjewelry/PieceDetails.aspx?iid=41331&a=

The British rulers were also admirers of precious stones and were gifted many jewels during their presence in India as gifts and offerings. The eminent Delhi Durbar of 1911 was one such occasion. It commemorated the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary and proclaimed them as the Emperor and Empress of India. A significant event, it was attended by Indian royals from all over the subcontinent. On this occasion the Queen was presented with the Delhi Durbar Tiara, a beautiful emerald necklace, given to her by the Maharani of Patiala on behalf of the Ladies of India. In 1912 the necklace was slightly altered, making the existing emerald pendant detachable and adding a second detachable diamond pendant.  The necklace was inherited by the present Queen who has worn it many occasions in the recent years.

Emerald 3
Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/fixedjewelry/PieceDetails.aspx?iid=41312&pt=2&eid=3692

Cartier undertook many commissions for Indian royals during the early decades of the 20th century. Many iconic pieces of jewelry were produced by him on the behest of sovereigns from the subcontinent.  Amongst these was a magnificent turban ornament of emerald, diamond and pearl for the Maharaja of Kapurthala, made with 15 large emeralds from the Maharajah’s own collection. During this period, Indian royals also commissioned many pieces inspired by then popular Art Deco aesthetics all the rage in Europe.  Emerald was a popular choice and was featured in many pieces created by western designers for Indian clientele.   

Emeralds have enjoyed a lasting patronage from its Indian admirers. This magnificent stone has seamlessly adapted to the varied styles and aesthetics over the years. Our current collection is an opportunity for you to partake in that experience.

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How to ( … ) things that Don’t Exist

FIFA’s over but there’s more to Brazil than football! Sneha Shah explores the development of the 31st São Paolo Biennial.

Panning a little to the west of Rio de Janeiro, where Germany championed triumphantly at the FIFA 2014 World Cup Finals, the 31st São Paulo Biennale is shaping up for its early September vernissage. Whilst the home team had a terrible defeat, all my fellow Brazilian supporters will be happy to know that Brazil is appearing pretty strong on the art and culture front. For those new to it, the São Paulo Biennale is South America’s largest contemporary art survey, and the second oldest biennial in the world (1951) after Venice’s (1851). Promoting international involvement right from its initiation the Biennale has been instrumental in making Brazil an international centre for contemporary art and establishing a market for Brazilian art globally.

Image of the pavilion taken at the 30th Edition of the São Paulo Biennale (2012) Credit: Artinfo

Image of the pavilion taken at the 30th Edition of the São Paulo Biennale (2012)
Source: Artinfo

Like its Venetian counterpart, the São Paulo Biennale Foundation invites a team of curators to conceptualize the event. Charles Esche, Galit Eilat, Nuria Enguita Mayo, Pablo Lafuente and Oren Sagiv, along with associate curators Benjamin Seroussi and Luiza Proença, will be developing this year’s edition. Focusing on educative collaboration, questioning the definition of ‘art’ today, and eliminating formal hierarchies between artist, participant, viewer and user, the curators have decided to replace  genre-specific ‘artworks’ with the more generic term ‘projects’.

Inviting educators, sociologists, architects along with artists and performers to participate, the projects will be unresolved and exploratory; their unscrambling will sustain from the experiences and active involvement of individuals within the event. The curators urge “This is not a Bienal built on art and objects, but on people working with people on projects; on collaborations between individuals and groups; on relationships that should continue and develop throughout and, perhaps, even after the 31st Bienal is over,” on the official biennial website.

Official poster design by  participating artist Prabhakar Pachpute Credits: The Biennial

Official poster design by participating artist Prabhakar Pachpute
Source: The Biennial

Themed “How to (…) things that don’t exist”, with the ellipses interchangeable with verbs “feel”, “talk about”, “struggle with”, “use”, “read”, etc. the projects will reflect on subjects that seem to fall out of commonly accepted beliefs, frames of thinking and doing. Influenced or censored by expectations of immediate society, country, or world at large, human concerns, acts and understanding often materialize as emotions, injustices and struggles we feel we can’t surpass. The participating artists began their journey by ‘talking about’ these distresses, later moving onto ‘living with’ them as part of a 2-8 week residency within São Paolo and Brazil at large. ‘Using’, ‘struggling against’ and ‘learning from’ their experiences, the 75 collaborators will echo the optimism and possibilities of art today, challenging the capacity of the arts in its ability to reflect and act upon these ideals, beliefs, and societal concerns at the 31st São Paulo Biennial.

The biennial will open its doors on September 6th in the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion. This year the pavilion has been divided in three architectural zones: the Park, Ramp and Columns, providing three distinctly different environments for viewers to encounter this artistic development and discourse.

The Park Credits: 31ABienal

The Park
Source: 31ABienal

The Ramp Credits: 31ABienal

The Ramp
Source: 31ABienal

The Columns Credits: 31ABienal

The Columns
Source: 31ABienal

That said, the participants have their work cut out for them and I for one cannot wait to see their creations! So don’t stray away from Brazil just yet, and stay tuned for more updates on the 31st São Paulo Biennial

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Sadequain at AICON, New York

Josheen Oberoi visits AICON Gallery’s expansive Sadequain exhibition

New York: It’s been a quiet month in the New York art world. With half the community decamping to Art Basel and the rest distracted by the blessed warm weather (we had a tough winter here!); interesting shows have been relatively thin on the ground. Not for South Asian art, thankfully. AICON Gallery is showing a mini retrospective of the Pakistani artist Syed Sadequain (1930-1987) and I was excited to see it not only for the quality of art but also the rarity of having access to such a body of work.

Occupying the entire expansive space of AICON’s Lower East Side gallery, this exhibit shows the gamut of Sadequain’s oeuvre. One of Pakistan’s most celebrated modernist artists, Sadequain was born in 1930 in Amroha, east of Delhi, in a family of calligraphers. He subsequently moved to Pakistan after his graduation from Agra University in 1948. He shot to fame at the young age of 31, when his work won recognition at the 1961 Paris Biennale.

A self-taught artist, he is most commonly identified with the development of a uniquely idiomatic calligraphic aesthetic. However, his visual language is in fact one of the most variegated and complex of the South Asian modernists working post 1947. He simultaneously worked through a variety of calligraphic, narrative, abstract registers, with artistic influences that ranged from multiple mediums; poetry, Western and South Asian historical artistic traditions. His compatriot, collaborator and famed poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz stated about his work, “In spite of his considerable pre-occupation with the solution of technical formal problems, Sadequain has never been purely a formal painter. Recordist, abstractionist, social critic, emotional visionary, within a few short years, Sadequain has sped from one role or compulsion to another with equal impetuosity.”

Three standing figures

Three Standing Figures, 1966, Oil on canvas, 72 x 48 inches Image courtesy: AICON Gallery, New York

Sadequain’s engagement with language was seminal to his work and this is visible in this exhibition. Comprising twenty seven paintings and three drawings, the show is dominated by a collection of paintings from the 1960s, when Sadequain lived and worked in Paris. Titled The Lost Exhibition, this set of eight paintings are dancing figures of calligraphy; lyrical despite their scale. These works are considered examples of what the artist called “Calligraphic Cubism”. Employing the scratched surface technique on the background, the texture produces volume and three- dimensionality. Seemingly caught in action, the elongated movement of the script along the vertical axis make these works appear monumental in viewing. Sadequain described himself as a figurative painter and the dramatic execution of the Arabic Kufic script in these works, the ensuing conversations that are taking place on the canvas, did bring home that idea to me. These are the strongest works in the exhibit and definitely worth a dekko.

Man with Dagger, Oil on canvas, 54 x 30 inches Image courtesy: AICON Gallery

Man with Dagger, Oil on canvas, 54 x 30 inches
Image courtesy: AICON Gallery

Some of Sadequain’s formally figurative works are also part of this exhibition and these underline the remarkable range of his visual vernacular. Line, form, perspective – I was hard won to find a singly unifying element among these paintings. One of the more striking of these was Man With Dagger, showing a man holding a dagger in one hand and a head that resembles his own in the other, accompanied by a smaller figure of a woman holding a leaf. These muscular renderings, so different from The Lost Exhibition, are echoed in another set of calligraphic paintings in the exhibition, Untitled (Abstract Formation I and II). Interestingly, the image of a severed head is repeated in one of the works on paper, Untitled, Headless Self-Portrait. It clearly shows the headless artist in a studio, with a work of calligraphy in the background.

Untitled, Abstract Formation 1, c. 1960, Oil on canvas, 25.5 x 16 inches Image courtesy: AICON Gallery, New York

Untitled, Abstract Formation 1, c. 1960, Oil on canvas, 25.5 x 16 inches
Image courtesy: AICON Gallery, New York

Untitled, Headless Self Portrait, 1967, Ink on Paper, 28 x 20 inches Image courtesy: AICON Gallery, New York

Untitled, Headless Self Portrait, 1967, Ink on Paper, 28 x 20 inches
Image courtesy: AICON Gallery, New York

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1962, an edition of the Parisian newspaper Le Figaro rightly noted, “Sadequain adds up the impression of space, density, volume and the reality of matter, which transforms an abstract thought into a material fact in plastic.” He shifted the paradigms of calligraphy, especially in his realization of its abstracted and stylized forms. This post cannot effectively capture the entire spectrum of his languages and so I would strongly recommend a trip down to the gallery to see them yourself if you’re in New York.

You can learn more about Sadequain at the Sadequain Foundation website (co sponsor of this exhibition) and from this article by art historian Iftikhar Dadi.

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Beirut Art Fair 2014 Showcases the Tiny and Beautiful of Contemporary Indian Art

Elizabeth Prendiville of Saffronart discusses the Indian Pavilion in the upcoming Beirut Art Fair

Beirut Art Fair 2014 Photo courtesy of Beirut Art Fair.

Beirut Art Fair 2014
Photo courtesy of Beirut Art Fair.

 This September Lebanon will once again thrive as a major cultural hotspot in the global art community with the 5th edition of the Beirut Art Fair. Held at the Beirut International Exhibition Leisure Center, the fair will represent the most contemporary and innovative work from the local and international art markets. As it grows in popularity the Beirut Art Fair is proving more and more to be a vessel of booming international art sales, meshing together buyers and artists from both the Western and Eastern art markets. Last year, the 4th edition of the fair, displayed galleries from 14 countries and welcomed over 18,000 guests. Leading collectors throughout the Middle East and beyond flock to this event, because it assembles a global showcase of work in a creatively liberated environment.

Beirut Art Fair 2014 Photo courtesy of Beirut Art Fair.

Beirut Art Fair 2014
Photo courtesy of Beirut Art Fair.

In past years, the fair has focused primarily on a wealth of offerings from local galleries. However, there is a growing trend for outside influences. Last year the fair featured a South East Asia pavilion curated by Richard Koh. This year the focus will be the Indian Pavilion curated by Fabrice Bousteau. Bousteau’s previous credits include co-curating “Paris-Delhi-Bombay:India Through The Eyes of Indian and French Artists” at Paris’ Centre Pompidou focusing on the Indian subcontinent. The curator’s approach to the Indian Pavilion will break away from the now-typical rhythm and layout of traditional art fairs. He plans to channel a cabinet of curiosities, displaying a wide range of sizes and mediums. Bousteau’s vision of small and ornate rather than large and dramatic purposefully goes against what he believes is a trend in contemporary Indian art. “It will represent the Indian art scene from Subodh Gupta, the star, to the youngest Indian artists…the concept of the exhibition is to create a cabinet of curiosities. Indian artists love to make enormous sculptures…The idea was to [exhibit] some very small things, for a number of reasons, one of which is a question of budget…The idea is that small art is beautiful” Bousteau told The Daily Star. This shift away from large pieces should present an opportunity for less represented artists or artists with a different artistic process to be shown. The curator utilizes themes in traditional Hinduism as well as drawing comparisons between the Middle East and Indian societal makeup to select the works that will be presented. This nuanced curatorial approach may make the Indian Pavilion the creative focal point of Beirut.

By going against the grain in terms of classic fair curating, the Indian Pavilion may be tapping into a new buyer experience. How will art sales change if the offerings of a fair are depicted as a museum or private collection rather than a commerce-driven gallery? This is surely a more thoughtful and engaging methodology. The Beirut Art Fair 2014, and the Indian Pavilion specifically, will clearly be a pivotal event in the international art world this year. The Beirut Art Fair will run September 18th-21st, for more information about the fair please click here.

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Remembering One of India’s Finest: Keshav Malik

Sneha Shah and Carina Kohli reflect on the works and achievements of the late Keshav Malik— a prolific poet, art critic, curator and arts scholar

Keshav Malik Source: Indian Express

Keshav Malik
Source: Indian Express

Sitting on the banks of the serene Yamuna in the 1960s-1970s, Keshav Malik began his journey as a poet and art critic. A verse from The Singular, a poem from his collection Rippled Shadow, holds a mirror to the man unlike any biography or obituary does:

“He will not talk as plural; he, a bare mouth-piece

To the singing of seas, shall indeed singular be.

He cannot claim more, his comments his own, are not

The general lie or moan.”

In Malik’s context, the term “art critic” shouldn’t be taken in its conventional implication. He would interpret the world around him—including art—with a rare sensitivity and poetic lyricism. An art critic for the Hindustan Times (1960-1972) and The Times of India (1975-2000); editor of Thought, Indian Literature; co-editor of Art and Poetry, and the author of several publications, his contributions earned him immense recognition and respect. For his achievements, he was awarded the Padma Shri in 1991 by the government of India for his contribution to literature.

It would be unfair to remember Malik for his achievements alone; his words were laden with meaning and a deep reflection on the world around him. It is evident that his poetic inclinations impacted his art writing. “Poetry is the foremost sense-maker of experience”, he once said. He saw poetry as a filter to cleanse one’s being and recover one’s lost self-continuity. “Art, and the purer of the sciences, invest the world of every day with new meanings, fresh symbols, whereby to express the refreshed vision or a timeless quest,” the critic wrote, quite lyrically, exploring the significance of art in society in his book Dus Mahavidyas: Ten Creative Forces.

Artists adored Keshav Malik, kind with his words, and humane and sensitive in his approach to criticism. He wouldn’t pass judgment on any work of art, writing based purely on his aesthetic sensibility, and would sometimes respond through poetry.

“His art criticism did not come from art history; it came from his deep understanding of aesthetics as a poet. He responded to the works of art according to this aesthetical understanding. He never hurt anybody by making a harsh judgment. In fact there was no need for him to be harsh on any artist. He belonged to a world of dreamers; beauty, harmony and poetry were the rules of that world,” artist K.S. Radhakrishnan reminisced in a conversation with a blogger.

This legendary icon of the Indian art world passed away on June 11, 2014 in New Delhi, India. A revolutionary to the core, he will be remembered for his sensitivity and wisdom through his passionate dexterity for words.

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Your E-pocket Guide to Exhibitions this July

The Saffronart team has been scuttling around to put together a handy list of exhibitions to check out this month. Some end soon, and with some others you can take your time, though we wouldn’t really recommend waiting too long. So if you’re in Mumbai, Delhi, England or the U.S. of A. this month, you know where to go.

Mumbai

Ghiberti, Lorenzo (1378-1455). Gates of Paradise. 1425-52, lost wax bronze replica from original mould with gilded patina. Guild of the Dome Association/ Museum of the Opera del Duomo, Florence, 2014. Credits: Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum website

From the Exhibition The Florentine Renaissance: “The City as a Crucible of Culture”
Ghiberti, Lorenzo (1378-1455). Gates of Paradise. 
Credits: Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum website

The Florentine Renaissance: “The City as a Crucible of Culture”
Where: Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum City Museum, Byculla
On View Till: July 8, 2014

You don’t need to travel all the way to Florence to get a glimpse of Italian Renaissance…not this week anyway. The Bhau Daji Lad Museum has extended this exhibition which features prolific early renaissance artist Lorenzo Ghiberti’s masterpiece, ‘The Gates of Paradise’: a work also revered by other artists such as Michaelangelo himself. The interior and permanent collection at the museum will be an added bonus to your visit.

Mansoor Ali: “Anatomy of an Unknown Chair”
Where: Gallery Maskara, Colaba
On View Till: July 31, 2014

Ever thought about chairs beyond their functional and aesthetic qualities?  Mansoor Ali’s ongoing show at the Gallery Maskara is sure to provoke you to think about much more through his installations that employ chairs as a primary medium. His five installations address several issues pertaining to politics and power play, reminding us of the effectiveness of found objects in art.

If the idea of visiting this exhibition hasn’t incentivized you enough already to make your way to Colaba, you should know that the nearby Mumbai Art Room, Sakshi Gallery and Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke have ongoing exhibitions too. You could combine visiting the three galleries to make for an enjoyable, art-filled afternoon.

Amshu Chukki, Kaushik Saha, Anil Thambai, Pradeep P.P., Yasmin Jahan Nupur and Sangita Maity: “Art for Young Collectors”
Where: Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Colaba  
On View Till:
July 31, 2014

As per tradition, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke is currently hosting its ongoing exhibition, ‘Art for Young Collectors’. While each artist has a unique approach and style, all the works are connected by a similar theme: “the common trail of seepage–the flowing of one system, one suite of meanings, one realm of belief into another, creating an uneasy ecology and forever changing both in the process.”

Anirban Mitra, Arunkumar H.G., Jagannath Panda, Jitish Kallat, Manjunath Kamat, Ravinder Reddy, Shilpa Gupta, Surendran Nair, Vivek Vilasini: Group Show
Where: 
Sakshi Art Gallery, Colaba
On View Till: July 31, 2014

Don’t miss Sakshi while on your mini art excursion. This exhibition features a mix of paintings, photographs and sculptures by important contemporary artists whose works you should be acquainted with.

Anna Ostoya, Agnieszka Polska, Karol Radziszewski, Janek Simon, Rafał Wilk: “We Rather Look Back to Futures Past”
Where:
Mumbai Art Room, Colaba
On View Till: August 7, 2014

This is a unique exhibition that is presented in collaboration with the Polish Institute. The exhibits include photomontages, films and sculptures by five contemporary artists who share a common Polish background. While the artists explore the common theme of looking back and questioning the past, they each employ a unique individualistic approach. Not only does this exhibition give you the chance to learn more about Polish contemporary art, but it should also compel you to think about your own associations with the past.


Delhi

Gauri Gill, “Hall of Technology - Diptych 1”, Archival Pigment Print, 9" X 12", 2010 Credits: Vadehra Art Gallery

From the Exhibition “Invisible Cities”
Gauri Gill, “Hall of Technology – Diptych 1”, Archival Pigment Print, 9″ X 12″, 2010
Credits: Vadehra Art Gallery


Group Show: “Invisible Cities”
Where: Vadehra Gallery, D-53 Defense Colony
On View Till:  July 12, 2014

If Italo Calvino popped into your mind on reading this, you’re quite close to guessing the theme of this exhibit. “They are stories of spaces that are invisible or underground, mute spaces hidden under the bustling cover of the city. They are stories of people and their relationships, of which the artist is part of”, reads the Vadehra Art Gallery press release. Featuring well-known artists and photographers such as Atul Bhalla, Gauri Gill, Sunil Gupta, Malini Kochupillai and Asim Waqif, this group show highlights aspects of cities that may otherwise remain unnoticed. Perhaps your otherwise hectic urban life doesn’t give you the opportunity to actively observe the little details that are easily missed. Don’t miss this chance to see the work of these acclaimed artists, under a single roof.

Pradeep Puthoor: “New Paintings”
Where:
Nature Morte, Central South Delhi                                                                         When:  July 5 – August 2, 2014

Pradeep Puthoor, an artist from Kerala who has shown his works in a number of galleries across India and abroad, is featuring his new mural-size paintings in this exhibition. These paintings depict the meeting point between computer science and biological engineering, and create a space for viewers to “swim in and get lost, to drown in their luscious complexities.” The unique theme and large paintings are sure to entice a wide audience, making Nature Morte an ideal gallery to visit this July.

Raj Rewal: “Memory, Metaphor and Meaning in his Constructed Landscape”
Where: National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi
On View Till: July 20, 2014

Did you think you missed this show? You’d be happy to know that the NGMA has extended this exhibition, giving you the opportunity to visit it this July. This retrospective features five decades of work by renowned architect Raj Rewal. The works on display will make you see architecture as a field of visual art, as structures may otherwise be judged mostly on their functionality. Of course, Rewal’s own achievements, such as his work being featured at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, make visiting this exhibition even more compelling.

“Smart Art Cart”
Where: Gallery Espace, Delhi
On View Till: July 31, 2014

On view and on sale at Gallery Espace are a collection of works by Amit Ambalal, Rajendar Tiku, M.F. Husain, Manjunath Kamath, Owais Husain, Suddhosattwa Basu, Mala Marwah, Mekhala Bahl, Chintan Upadhyay, S.H. Raza, and Jai Zharotia, among others.

England

From the Grosvenor Gallery Exhibition of Senaka Senanayake’s works Butterflies, 2014, Oil on canvas, 122 x 182.9cm. (48 x 72in.) Source: Grosvenor Gallery Website

From the Grosvenor Gallery Exhibition of Senaka Senanayake’s works
Butterflies, 2014, Oil on canvas, 122 x 182.9cm. (48 x 72in.)
Source: Grosvenor Gallery Website

Senaka Senanayake
Where: Grosvenor Gallery
On View Till: July 11, 2014

If you’re ever at Green Park this week or the next, pop by Grosvenor Gallery to take in a tropical medley of colours, all harmoniously arranged by one of Sri Lanka’s most important artists, Senaka Senanayake. The prodigal artist has been exhibiting internationally since his teenage years. His recent work is inspired by the plight of the Sri Lankan rainforests, many of which have been subject to intense deforestation to make way for tea plantations.

Nasreen Mohamedi
Where: Tate Liverpool
On View Till: October 5, 2014

Nasreen Mohamedi is one of the most significant women artists of Modern Indian art, and a critically acclaimed one at that. Tate Liverpool is hosting Mohamedi’s largest solo exhibition in the UK. The show includes more than 50 of her works spanning paintings, drawings and photographs, especially highlighting the most significant artistic phases in her career, and runs in parallel with “Mondrian and his Studios”, exploring how she moved from the figurative to the abstract like Mondrian. Tickets for the latter include admission into the Nasreen Mohamedi exhibition.

Empire, Faith and War: The Sikhs and World War One
Where: The Brunei Gallery, SOAS
On View Till: September 28, 2014

The UK Punjab Heritage Association has organised an exhibition to remember the invaluable contribution and experiences of Sikh soldiers during the Great War. The exhibition features rare and unique finds such as unpublished photographs and drawings, newspapers and comics, postcards, works of art, uniforms, gallantry medals, and folk songs sung by wives left at home, as well as a unique album of X-Rays of wounded Indian soldiers’ injuries lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection.

London Indian Film Festival
Where: BFI Southbank, ICA, BAFTA and Cineworld cinemas across London
On View From: July 10-17, 2014

The London Indian Film Festival is back in town for its 5th edition. Following last year’s success, some of the best Indian independent films will be showing in several venues across London accompanied by talks with cinema personalities such as Santosh Sivan and Farhan Akhtar and a Q&A with film directors.  For the full programme, check the London Indian Film Festival website.

U.S.A 

From the Exhibition Gateway to Himalayan Art & The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room Photo by David De Armas Source: Rubin Museum Website

From the Exhibition Gateway to Himalayan Art & The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room
Photo by David De Armas
Source: Rubin Museum Website

The Rubin Museum of Art has its eyes on the Indian subcontinent. Head there this month and combine your visits into one eventful day.

From India East: Sculpture of Devotion from the Brooklyn Museum
Where:  Rubin Museum of Art, New York
On View Till: July 28, 2014

Given the temporary closure of the Asian art galleries at the Brooklyn Museum, this exhibition allows visitor to partake from this significant museum collection. Curated by the Rubin Museum, the objects trace the development of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures to its root in ancient Indic art. On view are selections of works from various regions including Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, and Japan, which together map the wide-spread evolution of Asian art in the regions.

Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine
Where:  Rubin Museum of Art, New York
On View Till: September 8, 2014

This is one of the first major exhibitions which chronicle the origin, history and practice of the Tibetan science of healing. It brings to the viewers a visual narrative on the subject by presenting 140 objects dating from the 9th century to the present which includes manuscripts and paintings on medical practices and medical instruments. The exhibition highlights the relationship shared between Tibetan medicine and Buddhism and how it has shaped the visual arts in the Himalayan region. In addition to the historic objects is a multi-media installation which explains how Tibetan medicine is used today and allows visitor to find out personalized health information through questionnaires, making the visit informative and interactive.  There’s also a quiz online.

Gateway to Himalayan Art & The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room
Where:
  Rubin Museum of Art, New York
On View Till: January 6, 2016
NOTE: Exhibit Reopening July 2, 2014

Curated by Karl Debreczeny and Elena Pakhoutova, this exhibition gives its audience an introduction to the principal concepts of Himalayan art and its cultural contexts. Visitors are welcomed by a large multimedia map of the Himalayan region which highlights the diversity in the region. This exhibition is divided into four sections: Figures and Symbols, Materials and Techniques, Purpose and Function, and Tibetan Art in Context. The centerpiece of this exhibit is the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room- a recreated model for everyone to experience. This well-documented exhibition has many learning tools making it an interesting visit for a diverse audience.

Mithu Sen: Border Unseen
Where: Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University,
On View Till: August 31, 2014

Mithu Sen’s first solo museum exhibition in the US is a massive installation in dental polymer, tracing a pink toothy line across a long prism-shaped room. This is the first of Mithu’s teeth works installed on suspended armature. The 80 feet long hanging sculpture inhabits the gallery space, its sheer scale and texture eliciting strong reactions from viewers. This monumental yet minimalist work reaffirms the artist’s exploration of the connotations of bodily materials like hair, teeth and bone in her works.

Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation
Where: National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Washington D.C.
On View Till: August 16, 2015

This iconic exhibition chronicles more than 200 years of Indian American contributions to the U.S. The 5,000-square-foot exhibition features Indian Americans’ migration experiences, working lives, political struggles and cultural and religious contributions. Highlighted artifacts include a dress worn by First Lady Michelle Obama designed by Indian American Naeem Khan; the 1985 National Spelling Bee trophy awarded to the first Indian American winner, Balu Natarajan; and Mohini Bhardwaj’s 2004 Olympic Silver Medal for gymnastics. Public programs include performances featuring Indian American art, comedy, cuisine, dance, film, television, literature and music. The exhibition will be travelling around the US for four years beginning May 2015.

There’s plenty more out there, so don’t forget to drop by our events listing page, updated each month.

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5 Art Happenings to Keep You in the Know

Alekha Engineer of Saffronart keeps you up to date on recent happenings in the art world
If you’re all caught up in FIFA fever and haven’t kept abreast of art, here are five events that would be great conversation starters:

1. A Claude Monet painting, Nympheas, sold for £32 million at an auction in London on Monday, 23rd June. The sale marks the second highest price ever paid for a work by the renowned impressionist painter.

Monet’s Nympheas  Image Credit: BBC News Online , http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-27991977

Monet’s Nympheas
Image Credit: BBC News Online. http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-27991977

2. An original drawing of Tintin, made in 1937 by Herge, the creator of the series, sold for a record 2.65 million euros at an auction in Paris. The 2-page spread intended for the inside covers of Tintin books set a new record price for a comic book strip.

Herge’s original drawing showing some of the easily recognisable panels from the comics Image Credit: Artcurial.com

Herge’s original drawing showing some of the easily recognisable panels from the comics
Image Credit: Artcurial.com

3. Art Basel 2014 closed on Sunday, June 22nd to resoundingly positive reviews. The fair once again proved to be a leader in the industry, with large volumes of sales taking place both during the preview and continuing through the week. This years edition featured two leading Indian contemporary galleries, Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai and Gallery SKE, Bengaluru.

Art Basel 2014 Image Credit: Niels Ackermann for The New York Times

At the opening of Art Basel 2014
Image Credit: Niels Ackermann for The New York Times

4. The Whitney Museum of American Art opened its largest exhibition dedicated to a single artist on Friday, June 27th. ‘Jeff Koons: A Retrospective’ features close to 150 pieces created between 1978 to the present. The show has opened to mix reviews, not surprising as the artist himself is widely lauded but often criticised.

Jeff Koons' Sculpture, "Play-Dough", which took 20 years to complete Image Credit: Fred R.Conrad for The New York Times

Jeff Koons’ sculpture, “Play-Dough”, which took 20 years to complete
Image Credit: Fred R.Conrad for The New York Times

5. The Arts Council England and the BBC re-launched a web platform, The Space. It was initially launched in 2012 as a six-month pilot programme with  live broadcasts and archive footage functioning as an on-demand digital arts service. It is back as a free website for users to explore new art commissioned by the organization. The Space commissions works across genres through open calls and partnerships with new works launched every Friday. Ai Weiwei has lent his support to the initiative, donating his personal data for use at the sites inaugural event, ‘Hack the Space’, held on June 13 and 14 at the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern. The world-renowned artist gave the names of over 5000 children and young people who died in 2008’s Sichuan earthquake in China, after the government refused to release the names.

“Hack the Space” at the Tate Modern Image Credit: David Parry/PA, theguardian.com

“Hack the Space” at the Tate Modern
Image Credit: David Parry/PA, theguardian.com

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Can Site-Specific Artists Really Claim Space? The Georges Rousse Apnalaya Benefit Collection

Elizabeth Prendiville of Saffronart discusses appropriation in the site-specific work of artist Georges Rousse.

“Mumbai 2014/Shivaji Nagar IV” by Georges Rousse Photo Courtesy of StoryLTD

“Mumbai 2014/Shivaji Nagar IV” by Georges Rousse
Photo Courtesy of StoryLTD

Paris-based artist Georges Rousse is a master of layering perceptions for his viewers. Locations, shapes, and spaces that were once familiar are reformed and combined in unexpected ways forming a multi-dimensional work that presents itself as both familiar and foreign. This summer StoryLTD presents Rousse’s Apnalaya Benefit Collection. This location is an interesting choice for the artist who often works in ruins or forgotten architectural spaces. In contrast, the Apnalaya center’s mission focuses on rebuilding the lives and communities of individuals in the poorest slum neighborhoods of Mumbai. I see a noteworthy correlation between the artist’s dedication to revitalizing and repositioning locations through his work and the center’s goals for supporting and improving nearby communities. Both the artist and the center create change in seemingly bleak circumstances. But how does the artist’s process bring new life into a location while still honoring the true history of the space? Unlike deteriorating ruins or forgotten spaces, the Apnalaya center is alive and active, making it harder to find this appropriative balance. Can Rousse truly claim a space as his own when the singular purpose of the location is fostering greater communities? This brings forward an intriguing discussion in regards to site-specific work in general.

Georges Rousse and his team from the Apnalaya center Photo courtesy of Apnalaya

Georges Rousse and his team from the Apnalaya center
Photo courtesy of Apnalaya

 

Rousse’s work has been acclaimed internationally for his unique utilization of multiple mediums simultaneously molded together to create a single dynamic piece. His practice typically consists of creating a site-specific installation using paints and other traditional mediums to bring a new aesthetic to the space. In the case of the Apnalaya collection, large stars were painted in the space to create a playful effect of physical depth and perspective. After completing the space Rousse photographs it, creating a permanent and tangible testimony of the artistic occurrence. The photograph is intended to last, while the installation is temporary. Throughout his work we see the fleeting and liminal quality of public art installations in juxtaposition with the documented finality of photography.

 

Installation with the Apnalaya Team Photo courtesy of Apnalaya

Installation with the Apnalaya Team
Photo courtesy of Apnalaya

Although the pieces in this collection appear simple in composition and color scheme initially, they have an entrancing quality that invites you into a unique space that is only truly represented in the artist’s photographs. He achieves the perfect balance of removing viewers from the familiar and paying visual homage to an everyday location.  The familiarity and safety of a school works in dialogue with the slightly dizzying change of perspective. Rousse’s “Nagar” series (I, II, III, IV) allow viewer’s perspective to dictate how they take in the work. The iconography in these pieces is nothing new. However, the placement and technical choices both in the original installation and the photography create an open-ended product that gives viewers freedom to determine their own viewpoint. Simply viewing the work I found it difficult to determine what is a manipulated through photography and what is in the actual space. Rousse is successful in creating an engaging mysterious quality for his viewers; familiar landscapes are tweaked to transport you elsewhere. However, with this visceral appropriation in mind, is the original space truly honored or is it simply a stepping-stone to the artist’s final product?

The Apnalya Benefit Collection will be shown on StoryLTD through July 15th. However, limited edition prints are selling fast. Find out what pieces are still available for sale here. You can also learn more about Rousse’s process by watching a video by the artist here.

 

 

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“There has been no conscious effort to preserve Indian film collectibles”

Film critic, screenwriter and editor Khalid Mohamed speaks candidly with Rashmi Rajgopal about the sorry state of Indian film memorabilia.

Khalid Mohamed.  Credits: oneshotoneplace.com/

Khalid Mohamed
Credit: oneshotoneplace.com

Unlike paintings, film memorabilia seldom receive their due. Everyone knows this, and everyone wants to do something about it, but it’s always the authorities who get pointed at for not doing enough. Three weeks ago, I’d written to two collectors who’d very generously agreed to share their story on sourcing Indian film collectibles with me. When asked why they’d decided to auction their collection, their reply left me unconvinced: “…film memorabilia have immense potential…we would like to create an appreciation for this art form which is one of its kind.” I was hoping to know how they felt about auctioning their collection, and whether they were hopeful it would be received well. They’d clearly spent a lot of time and energy sourcing items from cities across India. There had to be more to this explanation.

So I ruminated on what they’d said. It sounded obvious, yes, but what kinds of stories lurked beneath the surface of the potential of Indian film memorabilia? I called Khalid Mohamed with a few hastily compiled questions on abandoned originals: posters and other publicity material brought out by the production companies at the time the film was first released. Many producers still retained these, but others were indeed left lying around, decaying with time. “The Grant Road and Chor Bazaar markets used to have a good collection of film posters”—whether originals or copies wasn’t clear—“but those are now gone.”

When it comes to government efforts to preserve something significant, we know how it turns out. Any indifference on their part is no news. “Originals by far are very few, and very badly archived,” Khalid explained, quite matter-of-factly. “Obviously at the time not many knew they would mean so much, so there was no conscious effort to preserve them.” Exceptions would be the National Film Archive of India and the Films Division. The latter’s website features an appeal from the government to donate films, manuscripts, equipment and artefacts to the National Museum for Indian Cinema, which opened in Mumbai this February.

Set of 8 lobby cards from Mughal-e-Azam.  Available till 26 June on StoryLTD.

Set of 8 lobby cards from the Mughal-e-Azam collection
Available till 26 June on StoryLTD

“What about the artists who worked on posters and lobby cards? Didn’t they do anything to retrieve their artwork?”

“Why would they? It’s a question of earning a living,” he replied.

Though Khalid tackled my questions convincingly, I sensed a cynicism in his voice as he spoke—the kind that comes through dealing with and resisting an indifference to conserving these originals, and knowing that any efforts would have been the bare minimal, and finally resigning to it. “There just hasn’t been a consciousness in preserving film posters,” he said with a tinge of bitterness. A market demand would surely compel a more conscientious approach to preserving what’s remaining of these originals—the thought came easily to me, but he countered it. “How would you define the market?”

The market, he argues, is unstructured and vague. People want film posters, but it cannot be pinned to any specific demographic. “After Hollywood started selling film memorabilia, we followed in their tracks.” While acknowledging a base of collectors, he believes it’s still a highly niche demand. Certain collectibles hold more allure than others. “Posters of Guide and Mughal-e-Azam are still extremely popular.” The interest is mainly driven by fondness and nostalgia. Khalid is right to an extent; fondness and nostalgia do lie at the base, but perhaps it’s also fuelled by a serious interest in film memorabilia as an art form. Of course, from a sales perspective, this kind of cultural validation holds more appeal over a primal human desire to possess something that evokes a bygone age. It’s almost impossible to uncover true motives, but it is a possibility.

So the best bet to find well-preserved originals would be with directors, film producers, actors, and others in the business who’ve sought out these posters. One would even get lucky at certain theatres. “If you go to Liberty Cinema, you would find a beautiful hand-painted poster of Awara,” he said, while adding other names. “Rishi Kapoor, Raj Kapoor…they had conserved many posters.”

 

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