The Chronicles of Pearls

Shradha Ramesh shares a note on “Pearls” an exhibition jointly organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum and Qatar Museums Authority

New York: From time immemorial the smooth, luminous and iridescent gem – the pearl, has been one of the most sought after the world over. Its significance can be gauged by the multiple historical accounts that celebrate its aura, which captivated different personalities spanning time periods and cultures. It is believed that Cleopatra dissolved a single pearl in a glass of wine and drank it, simply to win a wager with Mark Antony that she could consume the wealth of an entire nation in just one meal – such was its lure.

Pearls are likened to the cornucopia of beauty, wealth and social status. Men and Women across history have been enchanted by this gem of the sea.  A natural pearl is created, as a protective biological reflex to foreign particles that irritates the oyster. Nowadays oysters are cultivated in different corners of the world to produce pearls of different colors and shapes.

The Victoria and Albert Museum and Qatar Museums Authority will jointly showcase “Pearls”, an exhibit which narrates the timeline of pearls as jewelry through history, starting from Ancient Rome in the 1st century AD, up until Elizabeth Taylor’s pearl-drop pendant earrings, which were crafted by Bulgari in 1972. The exhibition throws light on the use of pearls in the art of jewelry making over the centuries, while highlighting their social, cultural and economic symbolism across cultures, both Western and Eastern. It enumerates the journey and evolution of designs of pearls and the invention of cultured pearls and industrial production of the gem.

Pearls in Oyster Shell Image Credit:

Pearls in an oyster shell
Image Credit:

The exhibition includes pieces from the collections of Bulgari, Cartier, Tiffany, Chaumet, Lalique and Mikimoto among other illustrious jewelry houses and designers.

Qatar and London have collaborated to establish 2013 as the Qatar UK Year of Culture, and the present exhibition is a result of this continued partnership. The organizations share a two-pronged relationship of promoting cultural exchange through education. ‘Pearls’ will be exhibited at the V&A galleries as part of the Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture, from 21 September 2013 – 19 January 2014.

Saffronart’s recent “Treasures from the Past” exhibition featured a number of jewelry pieces highlighting the use of pearls in Indian Classical art and jewelry. To learn more about pearls, refer to Saffronart’s jewelry guide.

To read more about the exhibition, click here

Nalani Malini: In Search of Vanished Blood @ Galerie Lelong

Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart invites you to the preview of Nalini Malani: “In Search of Vanished Blood” @ Galerie Lelong in New York

London: Following the great success at dOCUMENTA (13) and the publications of “The Shadow Play as Medium of Memory”, Galerie Lelong in New York is displaying “In Search of Vanished Blood” from September 6 until October 26.

In Search of Vanished Blood, Nalini Malani

In Search of Vanished Blood, Nalini Malani. Image Credit:

Nalini Malani will be present at the preview on September 6 and she will be signing copies of the book on September, 7.

Being a refugee of the India partition, Nalini’s work explores the boundaries of gender, displacement, violence and religious fundamentalism  comprising of cultural imagery through mixed media installations.

“Video projections filter across five suspended, rotating Mylar cylinders featuring reverse painted imagery of both Hindu and Western icons to create a shadow play in In Search of Vanished Blood. As the cylinders revolve on motorized mounts, images move at different speeds on the walls, like a frieze of moving images, crossing one another in shifting scale and fleeting clarity. Like fast paced theater in the round, gaining a visual grasp on the whole eludes the viewer. Amplified sound furthers a fully immersive experience. This aesthetic choice to use overlap and simultaneity supports Malani’s intention to offer different perspectives from which to examine the complexities and challenges of cultures meeting.”

For more information about the exhibition click here.

Charmi Gada Shah and Sujith SN at Vadehra Art Gallery

Ipshita Sen of Saffronart shares a note on the current exhibitions at Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

New York: After a long hot summer, Vadehra Art gallery in New Delhi, welcomed the new art season with cutting edge solo exhibitions by artists Charmi Gada Shah & Sujith SN. The exhibitions are presented as part of the Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art’s (FICA) Emerging Artist Award 2011, shared by the two artists.

Charmi Gada Shah, A House on Joshi Lane, 2013

Charmi Gada Shah, A House on Joshi Lane, 2013. Image Credit:

Charmi Gada Shah, a Mumbai based artist shows the underlying beauty in the undervalued and the forgotten to the audience through her aesthetic lens . Her solo show, titled “Neighbourhood Souvenirs”, includes work that can be defined as ‘architectural sculptures’, painstakingly created with construction debris around her Mumbai neighbourhood; salvaged wood, concrete blocks and plaster.

Charmi Gada Shah, Interior of an Abandoned Room, 2013

Charmi Gada Shah, Interior of an Abandoned Room, 2013. Image Credit:

“It is a slow process that captures the degradation and loss of a particular time, architecture and lifestyle,” said Shah.

Her innovative re-constructs of broken interiors and once standing architecture, in exquisitely detailed and three dimensional miniature models, reveal untold stories and resonate stories of a forgotten past. Her work powerful in character, emanates the emotion of loss, instigating one to remember and celebrate the rich elements of a lost past.

Charmi Gada Shah, Still Life of a Landscape, 2010

Charmi Gada Shah, Still Life of a Landscape, 2010. Image Credit:

“A city has its own character and globalization tends to remove these differences and introduce a similitude in the city. My work speaks of this loss of cultural moorings.”

 Sujith SN’s exhibition of watercolors titled “Psalms of an Invisible River” speaks in a dialect of Holbeinesque metaphors and meanings. His large-scale paper works, radiate a poetic and apocalyptic oeuvre. The undercurrent of his work communicates with an audience through the metaphor of an invisible river, as the title suggests. His work is narrative and conveys the underlying message of humanity’s relationship with the world and it’s other inhabitants. The invisible river that the artist illustrates could be any of the hundreds of forgotten and misused rivers that fertilize the Indian soil. His work thus portrays a double-edged metaphor, wherein one can relate it to the people and lives that go unseen and forgotten under the unappealing humdrum of urbanization.

Sujith SN, Psalms of an (In)visible River, 2013

Sujith SN, Psalms of an (In)visible River, 2013. Image Credit:

“For the last two years I have been working on a body of watercolors that examine the concept of ‘what makes a city?’ from a different lens. The river is an important motif because civilizations and urbanization often takes place on the banks of a river. Very often the river changes its color and direction as a result of this so-called civilization,” says Sujith.

Sujith SN, Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom III, 2013

Sujith SN, Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom III, 2013. Image Credit:

Both the artists bring forth the notion of reviving a forgotten grey past and provide the audience with a lens to see perspective and beauty in the hidden and undervalued.

Sujith SN, Testimony, 2012

Sujith SN, Testimony, 2012. Image Credit:

Charmi Gada Shah has acquired her Bachelors in Fine Art from the Raheja School of Art in Mumbai, and further pursued her masters in Fine Arts at The Chelsea School of Art in London. She is the recipient of the ‘Promising Artist Award from Art India and India Habitat Centre in 2009. She currently lives and works in Mumbai.

Sujith SN has acquired his Bachelors in Fine Art from the College of Fine Art, Trissur and Masters in Fine Arts at the Sarojini Naidu School of Fine Art, Performing Arts and Communication, University of Hyderabad. He currently lives and works in Mumbai and Kerala.

The exhibitions are on until September 12. For more information click here.

Station to Station: A Nomadic Happening

Kanika Pruthi of Saffronart talks about the upcoming Station to Station project that will transport an array of cultural experiences across the United States – on a moving train!

Station to Station- Main Banner

New York: Station to Station is an upcoming experience organized by artist Doug Aitken presenting an amalgam of shows, cultural interventions and site-specific events.  Slated to begin on September 6 2013, a train will travel across the United States of America, from New York City to San Francisco, making nine stops across the country over a period of three weeks. The train is uniquely designed as a moving installation/sculpture and will broadcast an exclusive experience to its audience. For a few days, the train will host a ‘moving’ experience, literally!

Doug Aitken, widely known for his innovative fine art installations, utilizes a wide array of media and artistic approaches, leading the viewers into a world where time, space, and memory are malleable concepts.

At each stop, Station to Station will curate leading figures from the art, music, culinary, literary, and film worlds for a series of events.  The train designed by Aitkin himself will act like a cultural studio- hosting experiences not only at the scheduled stops but also on the moving train.

The project aims at developing an endowment model for the arts given the recent cuts in funding for cultural programs in the United States. A part of the ticket sales will be utilized to support partner institutions and their programs for the year 2014. Station to Station is being made possible by the support and collaboration of the Levi’s® brand.

Artists scheduled to collaborate to bring Station to Station to life include Kenneth Anger, Olaf Breuning,  Peter Coffin,  Urs Fischer, Meschac Gaba, Liz Glynn, Carsten Holler, Christian Jankowski, Aaron Koblin, Ernesto Neto, Jack Pierson, Stephen Shore, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Lawrence Weiner; musicians Ariel Pink, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Connan Mockasin, Dan Deacon, David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors, Eleanor Friedberger, Nite Jewel, No Age, Savages and Twin Shadow; writers Dave Hickey, Barney Hoskyns and Rick Moody; and chefs Alice Waters and Leif Hedendal, and the Edible Schoolyard Project.

According to Molly Logan, the project’s Executive Producer, “Station to Station hopes that this liquid platform will empower the artists to make work that could not be realized elsewhere; the public to discover new artists and cultural expressions; and the museums to reach a global audience and continue to produce pioneering cultural programming.”

Following the cross-country experience, the project will continue to evolve through the museum program, the release of a documentary and a published book. To read more click here.

Diver-Cities II

Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart shares a note on the forthcoming exhibition at Latitude 28 in New Delhi

Arun Kumar HG, Untitled, 2012

Arun Kumar HG, Untitled, 2012. Image Credit:

London: Starting from August 27, Latitude 28 presents Diver-Cities II. This exhibition is a celebration of cultural and urban diversities within India.

Baiju Parthan, End of Season, 2012

Baiju Parthan, End of Season, 2012. Image Credit:

Eleven contemporary artists from different parts of India have been tasked to reflect on the idea of ‘city’ and its related concepts such as identity and globalization. Their works have then been brought together in one single exhibition to present their different interpretations and contemporary art practices.

Sarnath Banerjee, Lalbazaar Detective Department: Lower Pile

Sarnath Banerjee, Lalbazaar Detective Department: Lower Pile. Image Credit:

Among the artists feature Baiju Parthan, Sarnath Banerjee, Gigi Scaria, Arun Kumar HG, Praneet Soi and Sudipta Das.

Gigi Scaria, Icarus, Yet Another Attempt, 2013

Gigi Scaria, Icarus, Yet Another Attempt, 2013. Image Credit:

Sunil Khilnani in The Idea of India noted: ‘India’s cities are hinges between its vast population spread across the countryside and the hectic tides of global economy, with its ruthlessly shifting tastes and its ceaseless murmur of the pleasures and hazards of modernity. This three-cornered relationship decisively moulds India’s future economic, cultural and political possibilities. The demographic drift across the world is unstoppably towards the urban.’ ‘Modern India’s political and economic experiences have coincided most dramatically in its cities – symbols of the uneven, hectic and contradictory character of the nation’s modem life. From the ancient sacred space of Benares to the decaying colonial pomp of Calcutta, from the high rationalism of Chandigarh to the software utopia of Bangalore, from Bombay’s uneasy blend of parochial politics and cosmopolitan to the thrusting new cities of the north. The evident urban disjuncture’s have enlivened distinct political sentiments. The real and imagined experience of the city has individually and together reconstituted both the nature and the range of the selves, the ‘identities’ that Indians can call their own.’

Praneet Soi, The Dream, 2008

Praneet Soi, The Dream, 2008. Image Credit:

For more information on the exhibition click here.

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