It’s all in the Detail: Exploring India’s Textile Traditions

 

 

PhulkariScreenshot

Earlier this month, the Philadelphia Museum of Art launched its exhibition, Phulkari: The Embroidered Textiles of Punjab, drawing attention to one of India’s most vibrant textile traditions. The history of textiles in India is as rich, intricate and varied as the textiles themselves. Some of the most comprehensive textile collections in the country reveal the cross-cultural influences that have impacted the diversity of these traditions. Our upcoming auction of Folk and Tribal art features exquisite kantha from West Bengal and Bangladesh, bagh from Punjab, and chamba from Himachal Pradesh. The weaving and embroidery open windows into the symbolic, cultural and ritual beliefs of the people who created them.

Kantha: Rags to Riches

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kantha gets its name from old or used textiles that were transformed into works of art. The natural world and the cosmos are imagined through the running or quilting stitch seen in kantha. Locally available cotton and tassar silk is traditionally used. British and Portuguese merchants from the 16th century were enthusiastic buyers of kantha textiles, and they often commissioned bed covers and other embroidered fabrics to take on their journeys. In an older blog post, guest contributor and curator Minhazz Majumdar explored Bengal’s kantha tradition in depth.

Bagh: Embroidered Gardens

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The phulkari or bagh tradition was largely practised in Punjab. Bagh, literally meaning ‘garden’, is characterised by intricate and heavily embroidered motifs that cover the surface entirely. The fabric is darned on the reverse and is typically done using gold and silver threads on khaddar, a variety of cotton. A single piece often took years to complete. The technique called for great skill and incredible attention to detail. Bagh cloths are prized family heirlooms in Punjab, where mothers bequeath these exquisite textiles to their daughters. The embroidery was originally begun by the grandmother when a daughter was born. The bagh was to be completed by the time of the daughter’s marriage and would form part of her trousseau.

Chamba: Celebratory Stitches

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Chamba embroidery thrived in parts of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu which were important centres of Pahari painting. This art form draws inspiration from scenes from the Ras Lila as bright and celebratory scenes of Krishna dancing with the gopis, or the Krishna Lila, narrating Krishna’s exploits. The details of the scenes are realised using untwisted silk thread on handspun cloth.

The process of designing and embroidering a chamba rumal is beautifully captured in this film:

Exhibitions showing Indian textiles have been held at the CSMVS MuseumParamparik Karigar, the Crafts Council of India, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum, among others.

Living Traditions: Folk and Tribal Art will take place online on 19 – 20 April 2017.

Posted in Textiles, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Living Between Tradition and Modernity

Saffronart is excited to announce its April auctions dedicated to two important lifestyle defining categories. The Design Sale on 18 – 19 April presents furniture and lighting from important design movements of the 20th century, when craftsmen, designers and artists attempted to define what “modern” India meant. In the 1930s, the streamlined elegance of Art Deco was all the rage in architecture and furniture in Mumbai. Looking into the 1950s, architects such as Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, and George Nakashima, whose furniture features in the sale, created clean, functional designs that reflected the spirit of Modernism as defined in their architectural philosophies.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Living Traditions: Folk and Tribal Art on 19 – 20 April, explores the diverse art traditions that thrived, and continue to thrive, in different parts of India. Gond, Mithila and Warli paintings, kantha and bagh embroidery, and sculptures, masks and armour from the bhuta and theyyam traditions are deeply rooted in the myths and local cultures of “place”. Handed down from generation to generation, folk and tribal art presents an alternate view of modernism –  as one which is an unbroken, continuous, yet constantly evolving tradition.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Select lots from both sales will be displayed at Saffronart Mumbai from 7 – 20 April 2017. Follow our blog for exciting updates.

 

Posted in Antiquities, Architecture, Collectibles, Design, Furniture & Interiors, Sculpture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Motichand Khajanchi’s Legacy of Rajasthani Miniatures

The history of collecting classical Indian art in modern India is full of remarkable personalities. Karl Khandalavala, chairman of the Prince of Wales Museum (now the CSMVS Museum) from 1958-1995, was one of the most influential scholars in the field. He advised several early collectors, including Colonel R K Tandan and Khorshed Kharanjavala. In 2015, Saffronart auctioned a selection of miniatures and sculptures from their collections. The auction’s success, and the record prices it achieved point to a growing interest in acquiring quality works that represent a centuries-old tradition. In its upcoming sale, Saffronart presents yet another exemplary selection of miniature paintings from the collection of Motichand Khajanchi.

Motichand Khajanchi collected some of the finest miniatures in Rajasthan.

Motichand Khajanchi collected some of the finest miniatures in Rajasthan.

Motichand Khajanchi was born into a family of jewellers, whose patrons included the royal family of Bikaner. Following his father into the family business, Khajanchi travelled across the country and encountered diverse artistic traditions. He began collecting his first miniature paintings aged 15. The paintings he sought out, often buying them at locally held auctions, were also among the finest he collected. He spent heavily on them, often landing in trouble with his father in his early years, but also earned the friendship of artists and scholars who influenced him.

As Khajanchi’s collection grew, he was recognised as an authority on Rajasthani miniatures. He pored over old handwritten manuscripts that deepened his understanding of the literary and religious references in the paintings. When Rai Krishnadasa, a renowned art historian and the founder of Bharat Kala Bhawan in Varanasi visited Khajanchi, he was impressed with the quality of his collection. Krishnadasa suggested that Khajanchi lend some of his works to be displayed in a museum to benefit and educate the public. A selection of important works from Khajanchi’s collection, curated by Krishnadasa and Karl Khandalavala, was exhibited at the Lalit Kala Akademi in New Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta in 1960, and published in the accompanying catalogue. Some remain in the collection of the National Museum, New Delhi.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Saffronart’s upcoming Classical Indian Art Auction features some of the most exquisite Rajasthani miniatures from Khajanchi’s collection. They include paintings from Bikaner, Mewar, Jaipur, Bundi, Kishangarh and Jodhpur.

Some of the paintings carry artist signatures on the reverse, and a few are from the personal collection of the Royal Family of Bikaner, making them all the more covetable.

Saffronart’s live auction of Classical Indian Art is on 9 March 2017 at the Saffronart gallery in Mumbai. It is preceded by viewings from 3 – 9 March 2017.

Posted in Antiquities, Art, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965

Guest contributor Ananya Mukhopadhyay reviews the exhibition, on view at Haus der Kunst, Munich, until 26 March 2017

2016-10-14-photo-00000052

Image courtesy Grosvenor Gallery

Haus der Kunst’s ongoing exhibition Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945 – 1965 takes as its premise the ruptured discourses of nationalism and humanism which were sharply brought to light during and following the Second World War. The exhibition traces the global artistic response to the cataclysmic events of the Holocaust, the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the enduring political schisms of the Cold War. In addition to rehabilitating waning and Nazified ‘degenerate’ European modernisms, Postwar surveys the contributions of artists from pan-Asian, African and American backgrounds. In doing so, curators Katy Siegel, Okwui Enwezor and Ulrich Wilmes follow in the footsteps of Rasheed Araeen, whose seminal exhibition The Other Story: Afro-Asian Artists in Post-War Britain was held at the Hayward Gallery in 1989. In another sense however, Haus Der Kunst goes further than to simply subvert the hegemony of Western Modernism. ‘Postwar’ becomes a condition that is not topographically constrained: it is a global consciousness of a violent modernity which counts partition conflicts, decolonisation and the rise of new technologies among its various geopolitical faces. Indian and Pakistani artists are featured prominently in this recent survey of alternative voices.

2016-10-14-photo-00000038

Image courtesy Grosvenor Gallery

Baroda artist Jeram Patel is on view alongside Araeen, Anwar Jalal Shemza and Mohan Samant in a section of the exhibition dealing with materialism, entitled ‘Form Matters’. Patel is perhaps most well-known for his experimental brutalisations of the picture surface with a blowtorch, and also for his black abstractions on paper which are seen as in-betweeneries, or illustrations for the interstitial spaces of experience. Postwar, however, exhibits a dark, highly textured oil-on-board composition. A luminous window floats atop the murky abstraction which dominates the picture plane. The curious referentiality of this window element suggests a beyond, a concealed au-delà which emphasises the very instrument of its obscurity: the material blackness of the foreground. The physically ruined postwar landscape had prompted a concern with this kind of material manipulation, with the surface transformed from mediating membrane into the primary site of expression. Highly prized by Alfred Barr, Mohan Samant’s tactile Green Square (1963) is also presented as an embodiment of this trope.

Another area of the exhibition focuses on ‘New Images of Man’, highlighting the major crisis of humanism which characterised the postwar period. Existential questions are combined with a concern for nation building in the works on view here, including Man (1951) by M.F. Husain and Head of a Man Thinking (1965) by F.N. Souza. Husain’s monumental canvas is largely articulated in the colours of the Indian flag, featuring folk dancers, nude female bodies and the sacred cow. The central character of Man is a pensive black figure, drawing the eye by virtue of its chromatic negativity, and raising the question of identity in a newly independent India. Souza’s Head is a similarly charged work of dappled blackness, a stigmatised colour in the context of ubiquitous racial conflicts and migratory movements across not only Indian but global borders.

2016-10-14-photo-00000034

Image courtesy Grosvenor Gallery

In the context of modernity as cosmopolitanism, Postwar posits the work of Krishen Khanna, Avinash Chandra and Pakistani artist Sadequain. Chandra’s typical blurring of the line between abstraction and figuration permits the entwinement of various different figures, distinguished by their varied colours and rotund, interlocking forms. While Chandra’s Early figures (1961) is decidedly erotic in its staging of heterogeneous characters, Krishen Khanna’s News of Gandhiji’s Death (1948) uses depicted newspapers to divide up and isolate the various figures on the canvas, thematising separateness within a community, despite their unifying interest in a tragic event.

Krishen Khanna, News of Gandhiji's Death (1948) Image courtesy Grosvenor Gallery

Krishen Khanna, News of Gandhiji’s Death (1948). Image courtesy Grosvenor Gallery

Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965 is on view at Haus der Kunst, Munich, until 26 March 2017.

Posted in Art, Museum Exhibtions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Retracing Ribeiro

Guest contributor Ananya Mukhopadhyay reviews Indian modernist Lancelot Ribeiro’s London exhibition

An exhibition at the Burgh House & Hampstead Museum in London marks the beginning of a year-long programme of events to explore and celebrate the work of the late Indian painter Lancelot Ribeiro. As part of the 2017 UK-India Year of Culture, Retracing Ribeiro is a Heritage Lottery-funded project which will examine the artist’s vibrant and often understudied oeuvre through a series of exhibitions and talks.

Having first travelled to the UK in 1950 to study accounting, Ribeiro quickly became disenchanted with both the London weather and his chosen vocation. While living in London Ribeiro acted as studio assistant to his half-brother, Francis Newton Souza, and also started to create his own works. He eventually abandoned his accountancy course and enrolled in St. Martin’s School of Art. Shortly after his graduation however, the artist was required to leave London for his National Service in the Royal Air Force, somewhat interrupting his artistic development. Following his discharge, Ribeiro returned to India and held several successful solo exhibitions before returning to England in mid-1962.

untitled-blue-and-green-landscape-1961Untitled (Blue and Green Landscape), 1961
Image courtesy Grosvenor Gallery

Renowned gallerist Nicholas Treadwell was to be a great champion of the Indian artists who had settled in post-war London, selling their work door-to-door from his furniture van-cum-gallery space. As part of Asian Art in London 2016, Treadwell gave a talk at the British Museum recalling his dealings with Ribeiro and contemporaries Bakre and Souza as he trundled up and down the country in his mobile gallery. All three artists featured in Grosvenor Gallery’s show Indian Modernist Landscapes 1950-1970: Bakre, Ribeiro, Souza, on view 3 – 12 November at 32 St. James’s Street, London.

rib-untitled-white-landscape-1964Untitled (Red Landscape with Dome), 1966
Image courtesy Grosvenor Gallery

Retracing Ribeiro is a chance to experience the extraordinary range of painterly styles practiced by the late modernist, from rare, naturalistic watercolours of Hampstead Heath, to expressionistic Goan landscapes punctuated with the spires and domes of his childhood. The artist’s pioneering use of PVA mixed with fabric dyes in the early 1960s presaged the widespread uptake of acrylic paints in the years that followed, a feat with which Ribeiro is rarely credited. His careful oil compositions have equally received little attention, in spite of their enduring vibrancy and strength of expression.

The Retracing Ribeiro exhibition will be on view at Burgh House & Hampstead Museum until 19 March 2017, while a heritage display from the Ribeiro archive will be on show at the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre from 6 February 2017 – 31 March 2017. Forthcoming events include talks by David Buckman, author of Lancelot Ribeiro: An Artist in India and Europe, and an evening of lectures and music at the Victoria & Albert Museum early next year. For more information and a full calendar of events, visit www.lanceribeiro.co.uk/news.htm.

Posted in Art, Museum Exhibtions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Memoriam: S H Raza

raza

S H Raza (1922 – 2016)

“My attempt is to create an art which goes beyond time and place.”
—Syed Haider Raza (22 February 1922 – 23 July 2016)

S H Raza, one of India’s leading Modernists, passed away on 23 July 2016 at the age of 94.

Raza was, like his beloved Bindu, a vibrant and essential part of modern art in India. A founding member of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, he redefined the notion of Modernism with his deeply spiritual and intellectual quest for artistic expression.

Haut de Cagnes 1951

S H Raza, Haut De Cagnes, 1951

Le Village 1956

S H Raza, Le Village, 1956

In his formative years, Raza painted landscapes and cityscapes, influenced by his time in France. Frequent visits to India drew him to the vibrant colours of Rajasthan and the forests of his childhood in Madhya Pradesh, both of which he transformed onto his canvases in the form of gestural abstraction.

Untitled 1971

S H Raza, Untitled, 1971

Oasis 1975

S H Raza, Oasis, 1975

In the 1970s, Raza changed direction to focus on purely geometric forms, symbolizing myriad aspects of Hindu philosophy. Crucial to these metaphysical paintings was the recurring Bindu – the seed from which all life forms emerge. For Raza, the act of painting itself was a meditative experience, and spirituality was always the core of his art.

Encountre 1985

S H Raza, Encountre, 1985

Surya Namaskar 1993

S H Raza, Surya-Namaskar, 1993

Saffronart joins the extended art community in mourning the loss of the master. For more tributes, please see:

Bose Krishnamachari, Times of India: “He understood colour, darkness, light, line, thinness and thickness of layers. He was friends with poets, writers and youngsters and admired by everyone. He led a life of precision.”

Krishen Khanna, Hindustan Times: “One cannot pedal on one pedal for your entire life… Raza always kept reinventing. Every painting he created was a breath of fresh air.”

Ashok Vajpeyi, ET Panache: “Along with his contemporaries, Raza created an alternative spiritual modernism, not built of dissonance or tension but consonance and harmony… In the end, for Raza, the distance between life and work had disappeared. He lived to paint and he painted so he could live on.”

Horizon 1979

S H Raza, Horizon, 1979

Posted in Art | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

K G Subramanyan (1924 – 2016): A Tribute to the Master Artist

Meera Godbole-Krishnamurthy, our Editor-in-Chief, collates some tributes to the artist.

K G Subramanyan

Artist K G Subramanyan in front of a painting commissioned for Saffronart’s exhibition, Ode to the Monumental, in 2014. Photo courtesy of Krishen Khanna

The Saffronart Team mourns the demise of K G Subramanyan, who passed away on 29 June 2016 in Vadodara, at the age of 92. In tribute, we quote from his poem The Circle:

 “To stoop down and kiss the earth.

Between the skyward sprouts

And the leaves that fall to earth

Revolves the endless tale

Of birth and life and death.”

Tributes to the master artist have been extensive, as friends, fellow-artists and students remember him and his contributions to the art world.

In Daily O, Mumbai-based writer Gayatri Jayaraman writes, “Drawing from nature, he yet rarely drew nature, focusing on the deconstructed gesture of the human form. This philosophy of coexistence of separate intellectual strands was to be an influence that would forever etch murals into his oeuvre.”

In an article for the Indian Express, fellow-artist Gulammohammed Sheikh from Vadodara, speaks of Subramanyan’s approach to his art: “In this prolific output, there is an ambitious endeavour to grasp and encompass the entire gamut of lived life… We all dearly hold on to the hand-drawings he sent to friends as greetings. They are part of our memories.”

Scroll presents an excerpt from an interview of  Subramanyan with R Siva Kumar, who has authored monographs on the artist, with the sub-heading : “Startlingly modern and intrinsically Indian, his work was both deeply engaging and vastly influential. More than an era passes with his death.”

Spirits, gouache on board, was exhibited in Subramanyan’s most recent show in 2015 – 16. From Saffronart’s Summer Online Auction, 10 – 12 June 2015

Spirits, gouache on board, was exhibited in Subramanyan’s most recent show in 2015 – 16. From Saffronart’s Summer Online Auction, 10 – 12 June 2015

Born in Kerala on 15 February 1924, Subramanyan was one of the leading artists who was part of India’s post-Independence search for identity through art. He completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the Presidency College in Chennai. In 1948, he graduated from Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan, where he studied under the tutelage of Benode Behari Mukherjee, Nandalal Bose and Ramkinkar Baij. In 1955, he received a British Council Research Fellowship to the Slade School of Art at the University of London.

A writer, scholar, teacher and art historian, Subramanyan was prolific in his art, spanning the spectrum of mediums from painting to pottery, weaving, and glass painting. He believed in the value of Indian traditions and incorporated folklore, myth and local techniques and stories into his work. He was an inspiration to generations of students as a member of the Baroda M S Fine Arts Faculty. His focus there in later years was on terracotta and pottery.

In a career spanning nearly seven decades, Subramanyan’s work has been exhibited in over fifty solo shows, including an extensive 2015-2016 exhibition by the Seagull Foundation for the Arts in collaboration with the Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, and the Harrington Street Arts Centre, Kolkata.

A set of two works on paper From Saffronart’s Works on Paper Online Auction, 19 – 20 March 2015

A set of two works on paper. From Saffronart’s Works on Paper Online Auction, 19 – 20 March 2015

K G Subramanyan leaves behind a rich legacy of art and writing which will be cherished by generations of artists, critics and art connoisseurs.

Posted in Art, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Art and Activism at Broad Art Museum

Amit Kumar Jain reflects on The Artist as Activist, a joint exhibition by Bangladeshi artists Tayeba Begum Lipi and Mahbubur Rahman

The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum opened a landmark exhibition on two leading Bangladeshi artists, Mahbubur Rahman and Tayeba Begum Lipi, earlier this month. Considered as the forerunners of contemporary art practice in Bangladesh, Rahman and Lipi are also well-known for having co-founded, and currently running, the Britto Arts Trust, a non-profit organisation supporting young artists, since 2002. Their first major museum exhibition, The Artist as Activist brings together an extensive body of the duo’s collective work under one roof, which has “emerged from their shared journey as a husband and wife, and reflect their continual interchange of ideas and pursuit of like-minded themes,” according to curator Caitlin Doherty.

IMG_7728[1]

The Eli and Edythe Broad Museum, Michigan, USA. Image courtesy: Amit Kumar Jain

Doherty transforms the museum space effectively, by dedicating a gallery to each artist and showcasing works from various periods of their career. Lipi’s section is designed as a quiet, intimate and personal space, making the viewer look inwards to the role of the women in the Bangladeshi society. Her works look at the domestic, and how the woman negotiates the constant tussle of her personal ambitions and societal demands. As one moves through the gallery, one moves through her body, culminating in a womb-like, protective environment, where she secludes her innermost desires and emotions from the taxing outer world. This is the space where My Daughter’s Cot, an empty cradle made of stainless steel razors, signifies the vast contradiction between the personal and the societal, and gives a sense of longing in what is supposed to be a beautiful, but threatening symbol of motherhood.

IMG_7719[1]

My Daughter’s Cot, Tayeba Begum Lipi, 2012. Image courtesy: Amit Kumar Jain

Contrary to Lipi’s gallery, Rahman’s artworks speak for the abject, dissatisfied man, beginning with a self-portrait series of charcoal drawings that depict the artist screaming in frustration, in response to his own helplessness and inability to fight the political and social failure of his country. He approaches activism through social commentary, highlighting the plight of the indigo farmer through an ongoing performance piece titled Transformations. In Sounds from Nowhere-8, Rahman symbolically captures the pain and the loss that followed the collapse of the eight-storied Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, which caused death and injury to thousands of garment factory workers. He navigates his own identity in the contemporary political history of Bangladesh, a nation still recovering from two wars. Rahman’s gallery becomes more vocal and versatile as he adapts to multiple mediums in highlighting the struggles he shares with his fellow citizens in a postcolonial, developing country.

IMG_7759[1]

Charcoal drawings by Mahbubur Rahman. Image courtesy: Amit Kumar Jain

The last gallery brings together the works of Lipi and Mahbub under a common endeavour. Through their non-profit organisation, they initiated a project to work with the transgender community in Dhaka. Reversal Reality, a solo project by Lipi, compares the living realities of the artist and co-collaborator Anonnya, a transgender woman, while focussing on the struggles of the latter. While Lipi’s project takes on the individual, Rahman’s video project Time in a Limbo looks at the transgender community through their rituals, dialogues and practices. The museum has proposed to use this gallery with the LGBT community of East Lansing, and hopes to bring Anonnya to the United States to share her experience.

The Artist as Activist is the first major exhibition from South Asia at the Broad Art Museum, and will continue till 7 August 2016. Previously, the museum had showcased a project by Mithu Sen and an exhibition of works by Imran Qureshi and Naiza Khan.

—Amit Kumar Jain, Curatorial Consultant for The Artist as Activist

 

Exhibition details:
The Artist as Activist
Featuring: Tayeba Begum Lipi and Mahbubur Rahman

Dates:
5 March – 7 August 2016

Venue:
Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum
Michigan State University
547 East Circle Drive
East Lansing, MI 48824
USA

 

 

 

 

Posted in Art, Installations, Museum Exhibtions, Sculpture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Brick by brick: Noor Ali Chagani (and more)

Hussain Khanbhai reviews recent works by Noor Ali Chagani and Aditi Singh

If you haven’t had your fill of South Asian art at the India Art Week and the Dhaka Art Summit last month, then New York has some in store for you. For those in the Big Apple, this is the last week to check out works by Pakistani artist Noor Ali Chagani and Indian artist Aditi Singh.

House of Bricks is Chagani’s first solo exhibition, on view at Leila Heller Gallery from 14 January – 13 February 2016, displaying fifteen new works that include sculpture, paintings and installations. The core of Chagani’s exhibition centres on the quintessential South Asian politics of identity, home and belonging.

In true postcolonial fashion, Chagani reappropriates an ancient art practice—Miniature painting—to create modern-day works of art that thematically explore his vision. The artist’s early training in Miniature art from the National College of Arts, Lahore, takes a three-dimensional, physical form in this exhibition, actualised through the unusual medium of bricks. Chagani builds small-scale structures that include floors, walls, stairs, pillars and even a roof—the basic foundations of a house, constructed out of tiny clay bricks.

Noor Ali Chagani 2

NOOR ALI CHAGANI, Home, 2015, Terracotta. Image courtesy of Leila Heller Gallery, New York.

“The brick is a unit that is used repetitively; it is a unit of strength, power and support. It talks about land ownership and possession. It shows a constant struggle between retaining one’s identity and yet blending with the masses. It also communicates the need to be a part of a strong organization,” he says.

Chagani’s inspiration comes from his homeland, Pakistan, where bricks were the basic component with which houses were built. Through his brick-laden artworks, each furnished with painstaking brush strokes, Chagani refers to his own longing for a stable home, the pinnacle of an individual’s struggles and aspirations: “We spend our lives developing our own house. It’s partly the greatest dream of one’s life. All the struggles, efforts, and savings are to accomplish this wish of building one’s own house.”

In New Infinity Wall, 2015, the exhibition’s largest work, Chagani has constructed a free-standing wall that blends in seamlessly with the gallery’s, save for its two brick-lined ends. Within each terracotta surface is a peep hole, turning the viewer into voyeur. The wall’s inner structure is revealed to be a corridor of many smaller dilapidated brick walls, a ravaged but mesmerizing back alleyway. The decay of the wall’s innards despite its unobtrusive white-washed exterior, remains a potent metaphor—one one that resonates in all the works on view.

Noor Ali Chagani

NOOR ALI CHAGANI, New Infinity Wall, 2016 (detail), Terracotta. Image courtesy of Leila Heller Gallery.

In contrast to Chagani’s structural composition are Aditi Singh’s abstract works at Thomas Erben Gallery. Visually amorphous, they strike one as cathartic, the result of process driven creation. On sensitively plotted surfaces of paper, Singh utilises a mixed medium of ink, charcoal and graphite. Densely rendered, the works result from the rhythmical application of materials that settle in forms both abstract and corporeal. The artist’s leitmotif, the poppy flower, a recurring symbol in many of her previous works, has the appearance of a vivid stain here, while still retaining its essence and piercing red hue.

Aditi Singh 1

ADITI SINGH, All that is left behind, 2016 (installation view). Image courtesy of Thomas Erben Gallery, New York.

Flowers form an allegory for life and death in the artist’s work. Similar experiments are evident in this series, in shades of icy blue and deep indigo. These settle like residue on the paper’s puckered surface, an allusion perhaps to the transient state of all living things.

Aditi Singh 2

ADITI SINGH, Untitled, 2015, Ink on washi paper. Image courtesy of Thomas Erben Gallery, New York.

 

Singh cites the “transcendental quality of Yoga and art” as her impetus, drawing parallels between the cathartic function that both practices stand to serve, lending the exhibition its title, All that is left behind.

 

Viewings:

Noor Ali Chagani, House of Bricks, 14 January – 13 February 2016
Leila Heller Gallery, 568 West 25th Street, New York, NY 10001
Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm

Aditi Singh, All that is left behind, 7 January – 13 February 2016
Thomas Erben Gallery, 526 West 26th Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10001
Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Work in Progress: St+art India’s Street Art Festival

Rashmi Rajgopal on the ongoing St+art Festival in New Delhi, sponsored by The Saffronart Foundation

St+art India’s “Work in Progress” is the fourth edition of the St+art Festival in India, organised by the St+art India Foundation. The two-month long street festival opened on 31 January with live music performances and curated shows at Okhla, where crowds were dwarfed by massive shipping containers displaying the works of 25 artists from India and around the world.

WIP_opening_Photo by Hanif Kureshi

The opening of “Work in Progress”. Photograph by Hanif Kureshi

A spokesperson for St+art India said, “The festival aims to change the city’s landscape with art in public spaces through mediums such as murals, installations, performances, workshops, talks, screenings. It provides a collaborative platform for street artists from India and around the world and focuses on the idea of ‘art for everyone’ with the prime objective of having a positive impact on the society and also reaching out to wider audiences.”

Nevercrew from Switzerland at work. Photo by Shijo George

Nevercrew from Switzerland at work. Photo by Shijo George

The festival’s focus this year is Lodhi Colony, New Delhi, where invited artists continue to work on the containers. The St+art India Foundation has partnered with The Ministry of Urban Development in supporting its Swachh Bharat Mission, to transform Lodhi Colony into the country’s first public art district. “Through the creation of India’s first public art district we hope to work with the government on more projects to create an alternate and sustainable approach towards the Swachh Bharat Mission,” said Arjun Bahl, Co-Founder and Director of the St+Art India Festival.

Gond artist Rakesh Memrot working on his mural at Lodhi Colony. Photo by Akshat Nauriyal

Gond artist Rakesh Memrot’s mural at Lodhi Colony. Photo by Akshat Nauriyal

Rakesh Memrot's mural at Lodhi Colony.

Gond artist Rakesh Memrot’s mural at Lodhi Colony

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Displaying their creations at the venue are artists from India, Iran, Japan, Spain, Italy, France, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Uruguay, Mexico, and the United States. Through the course of the show, group tours can be pre-booked for Thursdays on the St+art India website. The containers will remain painted after the exhibition closes, and will travel across India as transportation.

The exhibition closes on Sunday, 28 February. For the schedule and more details, visit the St+Art India website.

All images provided by St+Art India Foundation

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment