Iran Modern at Asia Society Museum

Ambika Rajgopal of Saffronart shares a note on the exhibition of Iranian modern art at the Asia Society Museum, New York.

Untitled, 1973, Abolghassem Saidi. Image Credit: http://asiasociety.org/new-york/exhibitions/iran-modern#!artworks

Untitled, 1973, Abolghassem Saidi. Image Credit: http://asiasociety.org/new-york/exhibitions/iran-modern#!artworks

London: Don’t forget to catch the first major international exhibition of Iranian modern art, from the 1950s to the 1970s at the Asia Society Museum in New York. The Asia Society Museum has been committed to closing the cultural chasm that exists between Asia and America. By promoting and showcasing a wide range of traditional and contemporary exhibitions of Asian and Asian American art, the museum has given Asian art a wider platform for exposition.

The focus of the exhibition is to highlight the thriving glory of Iran’s flourishing art scene before the Islamic Revolution of the 1979s. The exhibition features 100 works by 26 artists that encapsulate the international presence that these Iranian artists had with the rest of the art world. The collection of this exhibition have been loaned from leading artistic institutions like JPMorgan Chase Art Collection, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Tate, London.

Crossroads (Earthwork), 1975, Marcos Grigorian. Image Credit: http://asiasociety.org/new-york/exhibitions/iran-modern#!artworks

Crossroads (Earthwork), 1975, Marcos Grigorian. Image Credit: http://asiasociety.org/new-york/exhibitions/iran-modern#!artworks

Curated by scholars Fereshteh Daftari and Layla S. Diba, the thematic exposition of the paintings, sculptures and photographs, unravels the provenance and subsequent evolution of Iranian modernism. Embedded within Iran’s political and cultural climate, the exhibition highlights the global interaction that Iranian art from this period enjoyed.

Untitled, 1977, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Image Credit: http://asiasociety.org/new-york/exhibitions/iran-modern#!artworks

Untitled, 1977, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Image Credit: http://asiasociety.org/new-york/exhibitions/iran-modern#!artworks

 A threefold division explores the artistic genres of Saqqakhaneh, abstraction and calligraphy. Saqqakhaneh was the name of the artistic movement coined by the art critic Karim Emami in 1963. The movement amalgamated popular symbols of Shi’a Muslim culture within modern art. Each of the three sections features a monographic highlight of selected seminal artists, who played an influential role in defining Iranian Modernism.

Ledge (1), 1970, Siah Armajani. Image Credit: http://asiasociety.org/new-york/exhibitions/iran-modern#!artworks

Ledge (1), 1970, Siah Armajani. Image Credit: http://asiasociety.org/new-york/exhibitions/iran-modern#!artworks

The Saqqakhaneh movement, with its direct roots in the heart and soul of Iranian lineage, arose as a retaliation of the mimicry of Western values. Instead the movement assimilated Iranian traditions with Western modernity to form a unique pastiche, which was both distinctive and relevant on a global scale, a ‘spiritual Pop Art’ of sorts. In addition to the artworks, the exhibition features plenty of archival material to substantiate the history, politics and cultural environment of the pre- Iranian revolution.

One of the proponents of the Saqqakhaneh movement whose works can be seen in the exhibition is Parviz Tanavoli. Tanavoli created a new language for sculpture in Iran, by combining pre Islamic art motifs and modern day objects. A recurrent feature in his work is the word heech, meaning ‘nothing’. The letterform of the word- nasta’liq makes an appearance in a few of his works. The word stands as a metaphor for his fluctuating feelings towards the past and the sense of discontentment with the inadequacy of the present.

Heech (Nothing), 1972, Parviz Tanavoli. Image Credit: http://asiasociety.org/new-york/exhibitions/iran-modern#!artworks

Heech (Nothing), 1972, Parviz Tanavoli. Image Credit: http://asiasociety.org/new-york/exhibitions/iran-modern#!artworks

Some of the many other artists in this exhibition include: Siah Armajani, Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, Nicky Nodjoumi, Faramarz Pilaram and Behjat Sadr.

The exhibition will be on view from September 6th 2013 to January 5th 2014.

For more information, please click here.

Subjects & Spaces, Women in Indian Photography

Ambika Rajgopal of Saffronart announces Tasveer Gallery’s exhibition ‘Subjects & Spaces, Women in Indian Photography’.

London: Tasveer Gallery in collaboration with Saffronart presents a photographic homage to the depiction of Indian women from the 1850s to the 1970s. Tasveer Gallery, since it’s opening in 2006, has been committed to promoting and exhibiting contemporary photography.

Portrait of the Actress Saira Banu, 1965. Image Credit: http://www.tasveerarts.com/group-shows/subjects-spaces/view-individual-images/?p=49

Portrait of the Actress Saira Banu, 1965. Image Credit: http://www.tasveerarts.com/group-shows/subjects-spaces/view-individual-images/?p=49

Carefully selected from the archives of the Tasveer Foundation, the exhibition features 65 photographs including studio portraits, film stills, post cards, cabinet cards and lobby cards. The anonymity of some women juxtaposed with the fame of some, forms a realistic depiction of womanhood in India. There are stills of dancing ‘nautch’ girls from the 19th century, private studio portraits of women with their families and splendid portraits of yesteryear 40s and 50s stars like Saira Banu and Nargis.

Thus begins a visual journey that transports us back to the evocative black and white era. Ted Grant once famously quoted: ‘when you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls.’ This dictum couldn’t hold more weight in relation to the photographs exhibited. The women sometimes boldly meet the gaze of the camera, and sometimes avert their look into one of wistful contemplation. In doing so, they offer a slice of social and cultural context of their own personal history.

With the advent of the film and photographic medium, the representation of Indian femininity underwent a radical transformation in the public sphere. The female representation, previously kept within the confines of homes and behind veils, now took a step forward and embraced colonial modernity. The female image fashioned itself within elaborate studio setups as well as within the print medium.

The curatorial strategy of the exhibition abandons chronology in favour of spatial placement of these women. Nathaniel Gaskell, curator of the exhibition notes: ‘Often such spaces — domestic, outdoor, shared or even abstract spaces — are very telling of how women were perceived.’ The exhibition also features an ethnographic account of the lives of women from different parts of India in different periods in time. From a visual depiction of women from the pre-colonial and colonial era, a diverse and vivid ethnographic map of society can be derived.

Member of the Moamuria or Muttuck Hill tribe from Assam, 1860. Image Credit: http://www.tasveerarts.com/group-shows/subjects-spaces/view-individual-images/?p=23

Member of the Moamuria or Muttuck Hill tribe from Assam, 1860. Image Credit: http://www.tasveerarts.com/group-shows/subjects-spaces/view-individual-images/?p=23

From the dichotomy of the domestic or performative spaces they were photographed in, to the diversity of their individual stances, each photograph was an exercise in feminine self-representation and told its own story. The exhibition manages to create a dialogic interaction between the viewer and the photographed subject.

This exhibition is also in partnership with Vacheron Constantin and Cinnamon.

The exhibition commences at the Saffronart Gallery in Prabhadevi, Mumbai on the 27th of September and goes on till the 5th of October 2013.

A limited edition boxed folio of prints from this exhibition is available online at StoryLTD.

For more information on the exhibition, visit the website.

A Snapshot of “India Song”

Shradha Ramesh follows  Karen Knorr ‘s recent exhibit presented by Tasveerart.

New York: German born Karen Knorr, entices the viewer with an inimitable photographic panorama. Among her variegate digital photographic series ‘India Song’ is a kariotic moment in her visual venture. The series exudes a conjoint interaction of subjects -a rich, intricate architecture interacts with wildlife in an idyllic stage. She started working on the series in 2008, focusing on the theme of upper caste culture of the Rajput in India. The series imbibe cultural heritage of Rajasthan and Mughal architecture interspersed with animal protagnist. But the painting has underlying messaging she questions the base of the culture, colonialism, exoticism, gender, religion, and politics of India. The enigmatic composition blurs the distinction between reality and illusion, in an attempt to question the cultural heritage and rigidity in hierarchy.

A Place Like Amravati, Udaipur City Palace (Nilgai), Udaipur

A Place Like Amravati, Udaipur City Palace (Nilgai), Udaipur

Driven by satirical implication of societal demarcation and representation, her repertoires are aesthetic amalgamation of her quest on privileges of the aristocratic. The first of her series were a photographic compilation on social mockery of the upper class in London. Having lived and grown in a lavish neighbourhood in Belgravia, her works are a sardonic response to this lifestyle. She elaborates on The Belgravia series, she says “…At that time in photography, a lot of artists were showing people who were dispossessed. I felt it was time to turn the tables and look at the people who were in charge. It’s not exploiting them; they are strong enough to take the irony. It’s playing the game on their own terms. I also wanted to implicate myself, look at issues of privilege.”

The Lifting of Purdah, Moti Mahal, Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur

The Lifting of Purdah, Moti Mahal, Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur

An internationally acclaimed photographer, she has lectured, taught and exhibited at various universities both in US and Europe. Her techniques are wide spread and diverse, she has incorporated these in her photographic exploration. Each of these techniques expresses a sense of emotion, she said “One thing I noticed in conceptual art, it could be so serious. I don’t want to be that serious, I want to make a picture that’s ambiguous.” She establishes this through hybrid juxtaposition of two entirely different visual components- architecture (rigid) and nature (biomorphic).

A Soul Reborn, Ajanta Caves, Ajanta

A Soul Reborn, Ajanta Caves, Ajanta

 To really experience and interpret, one must see the works in person. India Song is on display from 27 September – 05 October 2013, Tasveerart, Delhi.

The photographs are available for purchase on StoryLtd.

To Read More Click Here

Delhi Photo Festival 2013

Ipshita Sen of Saffronart shares a note about the upcoming Delhi Photo Festival 2013.

New York: Delhi-ites, save the dates in your calendars! The Delhi Photo Festival is right around the corner, enticing photographers, collectors and enthusiasts alike. With a week full of learning, showcasing new work, voicing young collectives as well as instigating interactions between artists and shutterbugs.

Delhi Photo Festival 2013 Poster. Image Credit: http://www.torgovnik.com/pages/getWorkshops

Delhi Photo Festival 2013 Poster. Image Credit: http://www.torgovnik.com/pages/getWorkshops

India Habitat Centre and Nazar Foundation initiated the biennale photography festival for the first time in 2011. It is curated by a creative team of photographers, namely, Prashant Panjiar, Dinesh Khanna and Dr. Alka Pande, the curator of Visual Art Gallery at the IHC. Acting as a catalyst, the festival popularizes the emergence of photography as the real democratic art form in a public space, thus making it a revolutionary step for photography in India.

‘The importance of gallerists, critics, curators, collectors, photo festivals & museums coming together to create a new and separate platform for photography’ states Dr. Alka Pande, on the festival.

Super Mamika, Sacha Goldberger. Image Credit: http://www.delhiphotofestival.com/delhi_photo_festival_2013/home.html

Super Mamika, Sacha Goldberger. Image Credit: http://www.delhiphotofestival.com/delhi_photo_festival_2013/home.html

As a tribute to the late Prabuddha Dasgupta, a noted fashion and fine art photographer, the 2013 festival will be centered on the theme of Grace. ‘I want to have a long string of images, held together by grace, because grace is that undefinable, non rational, non linear word that I am looking for’ said Prabuddha Dasgupta, speaking at the Delhi Photo Festival 2011.

Early Work, Prabuddha Das Gupta. Image Credit: http://www.delhiphotofestival.com/delhi_photo_festival_2013/home.html

Early Work, Prabuddha Das Gupta. Image Credit: http://www.delhiphotofestival.com/delhi_photo_festival_2013/home.html

The festival is not only confined to India Habitat Centre grounds, but several participating galleries across the capital. It thrives on a wealth of workshops, portfolio reviews, artists’ talks, and exhibition tours.

The festival is on from 27th September to the 11th October 2013.

For more information, click here.

Forerunner: An Ephemeral Transition

Shradha Ramesh reports on the show FORERUNNER at Chatterjee & Lal

Tandav III, 2012, Sahej Rajal

Tandav III, 2012, Sahej Rajal. Image credit: http://www.chatterjeeandlal.com/show-images-videos.php?LinkID=130

New York:  Sahej Rahal’s is prepped up for his second innings at Chatterjee & Lal gallery, Mumbai. We caught up with the artist last year, at the gallery, during his exhibit Bhramana II – a live performance art. It was a characterial confluence of art, history and mythical performance, to Rahal the elements of Bhramana II came together from varied sources. He said “The characters that inhabit these performances bare indices to different cultures, mythologies and pop culture.” While Bhramana I a sequel of Bhramana II, was a momentary performance act, his Tandav III is a photographic representation in a surreal setting.

Bhramana III, 2013, Sahej Rahal

Bhramana III, 2013, Sahej Rahal. Image Credit: http://www.chatterjeeandlal.com/show-images-videos.php?LinkID=130

A versatile artist Sahej Rahal converts everything around him into a creative exploration. He is known to intersperse reality with illusion. Having trained under Tejal Shah, Nikhil Chopra, Shumona Goel and Sophie Ernst his works are an amalgamation, of their teachings and techniques ranging from sculpture, video art and performing art. He has collaborated and worked at International forums, both in India and abroad. A short stint at Zurich residential program he created sculptures and installation with reference to war.

The Groom, 2011, Sahej Rahal

The Groom, 2011, Sahej Rahal. Image Credit: http://www.chatterjeeandlal.com/show-images-videos.php?LinkID=130

A visual milieu, Sahej Rahal’s artworks are cryptic evolution of various fictional and real time heroes. Being a hard-core Star Wars fan, one is lost in his monastic ‘Jedi’ like forms taking the center stage in his pictorial representation. He was influenced by Joseph Beuys a German, a Happening and performance artist, during his creation of Bhramana series, he said “I was going back to look at the things Beuys was looking at, the idea of the shaman as the storyteller, and looking at the art making process as a kind of alchemy.”

Threading the path of creating a surreal character in a real life urban ambience, Sahej Rahal has a child like euphoric reaction to every object he comes across. To Rahal found objects play a critical role in his creations, a bath tub was an integral part of his video creation as was the didgeridoo instrument in his Bhramana II performance art.  In the two minute film a monk like character has a bath in a mundane bath tub in a surreal ritual. He fascinated by war, rituals, ceremonial processes and myths. He is an artist with full of zeal and gives it all to his art he says “I just pick the coolest things I come across… it’s a lot of fun.”

Sahej Rahal’s current exhibit, Forerunner transpires from these diverse experience and explorations. A series of photography, video documentary and sculptures the show is a visual maze. One gets enamoured by the other worldly creatures and the dynamism.

Forerunner is on display at Chatterjee & Lal gallery, Mumbai until 28 September 2013.

To Read More Click Here.

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