Medha Kapur of Saffronart on a film that explores the life and career of contemporary Indian artist, Baiju Parthan
Mumbai: Being Peripheral is a part of a series of films conceptualized by Anupa Mehta, that explores the life and career of thirteen Indian artists. The first in the series is a film on Baiju Parthan, a contemporary Indian artist who was born in 1956 in Kerala. It is directed and produced by Nrupen Madhvani. The film is being screened on September 15, 2012, at the Little Theatre, NCPA, Mumbai.
Baiju Parthan is an artist with a ‘mythopoeic imagination’. He is one of the early exponents of new media art, working simultaneously with paintings, digital images, installations as well as backlit displays. A botanist by training, Parthan scrutinizes images from the surrounding media dissecting them and then reassembling into a complete painting with a scientific accuracy.
His participation in the countercultural scene, his encounters with spiritual teachings and shamanic lore, his experiments with form, and his engagement with media flows and alternative reality environments have had a great influence on his paintings. He creates compelling mythic imagery. His art explores how information streams alter our perception of reality and how new categories of experience clubbed under the generic term ‘virtual’ reshape our cherished ideas about the world. Technology in his work is primarily used as an ‘interactive space’, where each node is a choice that branches out into an exploration of fluid boundaries of meaning, that suggests the ever present local within the global, and the human cogency.
Kanika Pruthi delves into the world of paper works in anticipation of Saffronart’s upcoming auction of Works on Paper
New York: March is a bustling time for us at Saffronart as we gear towards two auctions this month. Our upcoming Works on Paper sale will feature a collection of artworks on paper by modern and contemporary Indian artists. The focus on paper works enables connoisseurs and collectors to view a group of works in multiple contexts, which may otherwise elude their attention or take a back seat given the simplicity of the medium.
The use of paper in the arts of India has a long documented history. Paper came to India from China via the famed Silk Route. Indian miniature tradition is the only available surviving evidence of the widespread use of this material in the arts from the sub-continent. The humble medium went on to become an integral part of the genesis and development of the modern and contemporary Indian art movement. Raja Ravi Varma, considered by many as the first Indian modern painter, developed an artistic style which has come to be associated with beginning of the modernist art movement. His grand canvases adorned with mythological themes and royal portraits played a vital role in shaping early modern Indian visuality. The assimilation of his iconic images in the popular culture of India was possible through the dissemination of his works to a wider audience. This was made possible through the intervention of printing press which reproduced his works as oleographs for mass circulation. The medium of paper made it possible for ordinary people to partake in the modern art movement in an unprecedented manner.
The early 20th century gave rise to the Bengal School of Art, the first revivalist nationalist art movement of India. The artistic enquiry and fervor at the turn of the century gave momentum to other art movements and independent artist initiatives over the proceeding decades, which have come to form the canon of modern Indian art. Art works on paper from different movements and artists abound and provide rich documentation of the trajectory of Indian art. Works in this sale cover the oeuvre of some of the seminal artists and artistic movement of the 20th century in India.
Gaganendranath Tagore, Untitled, 1907, Watercolor on paper
The continued use of paper as a medium of choice can be attributed to its ready availability, ease of usage and adaptability to different techniques and other mediums. As the group of paper works in the upcoming auction demonstrates, paper has lent its surface to ink, tempera, gouache, watercolor, pencil, acrylic, oil, pastel etc. In many cases it is indispensible to the technique employed by the artist, like in the case of lithographs, photography and select mixed media works.
M.F. Husain, Untitled, Pen and pencil on paper
Other than their usage, paper works have often time lent themselves to narrate untold stories and unknown episodes. From the 1950s onwards, many modernist painters travelled to Europe to enhance and expand their practice. Paper works produced during their travels give us a glimpse of their experiences and its impact on their art practice. At other times paper works inform us about the development of certain iconography and themes associated with artists- for example the many erotic drawings, nudes and portraits of F.N. Souza or the fissured bodies of Jogen Chowdhury- both of which are featured in the sale. In many cases the image on paper presents a fragment of a bigger work or a series undertaken by the artist- giving the viewer a chance to closely look at the elements of a work at closer proximity and in isolation from the larger narrative. Lot 85, a work by M.F. Husain brings together a collection of small jottings which bring to mind many of the iconic images that have graced his canvases.
Baiju Parthan, Caput Motum-7, 2008, Acrylic and transfers on arches paper
Contemporary artists in recent years have used paper to produce large scale works as well. It is worth noting how the medium is adapted to their particular technique and artistic discourse.One of the larger works in the upcoming auction is Baiju Parthan’s Caput Motum -7, a work teeming with visual tropes, drawing the viewer deeper, eyes wandering in an attempt to decipher the artist’s intention.
Our recent evening sale saw S.H. Raza’s “Haut De Cagnes” setting a record price for a work on paper by an Indian artist. Traditionally seen as a lesser form in the hierarchy of artworks, paper as a genre is claiming its rightful place. Our upcoming sale of Works on Paper further reinforces the significance of this medium and its marked position as an independent collecting category.
Aaina Bhargava of Saffronart on Citizen – Artist 2013, the second exhibition in a series of five in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Chemould Prescott Gallery.
K. Madhusudhanan, History is a Silent Film, 2007, Sinle projection with sound, Variable dimension. Image Credit: http://www.gallerychemould.com/uploads/exhibitions/k_madhusudan_copy1.jpg
London: September 2013 – April 2014 has and will be an exciting time at Chemould Prescott Gallery, Mumbai. Curating five exhibitions during this time frame, Geeta Kapur depicts an extremely evolved contemporary Indian art scene with Citizen – Artist (Oct.14th – Nov. 15th 2013), mirroring the growth and expansion of Chemould Prescott as a gallery. The first exhibition in the series, Subject of Death, was in remembrance of Bhuppen Kakkar, the groundbreaking painter supported by Chemould at the beginning of his career, with this particular exhibition opening on his 10th death anniversary, as well as an ode to the late Kekoo Gandhy, founder of Chemould Prescott in 1963. The second – Citizen Artist deals with notions and definitions of citizenship, nations and borders, the exhibition features works by Inder Salim, K. Madhusudhanan, Tushar Joag, CAMP, Gigi Scaria, Ram Rahman, Shilpa Gupta, Rashid Rana, Atul Dodiya, Jitish Kallat, Raqs Media Collective, Gauri Gill and Arunkumar HG.
Each work is deeply engaged with the implications of citizenship in a contemporary globalised world. For instance, in Shilpa Gupta’s 1278 unmarked, 28 hours by foot via National Highway No1, East of the Line of Control 2013, she places a graveyard in the middle of the gallery, and creates an index of people who are considered martyrs by their families, but are buried namelessly, questioning the ethics (or lack thereof) of citizenship in Kashmir.
Shilpa Gupta 2013 1278 unmarked, 28 hours by foot via National Highway No1, East of the Line of Control. Image Credit: http://www.gallerychemould.com/uploads/exhibitions/shilpa_gupta_5_copy3.jpg
Circadian Rhyme, 2 & 3 (2012-2013), by Jitish Kallat involves miniature crafted-figures staged in a line on a ledge, to depict scenes from everyday travels such as airport security checks, immigration queues etc. In detail, one figure is performing a security ‘pat down’ on another, seemingly commenting on the increase in accessibility of global travel, but the costs and troubles of crossing borders that go with it. The greater accessibility is increasing the crowds, risks, and precautionary measures.
Jitish Kallat Circadian Rhyme, 2 & 3, 2012-2013 24 figures (resin, paint, aluminium and steel) 50 x 180 x 15 in. Image Credit: http://www.gallerychemould.com/uploads/exhibitions/jitish_kallat_2_copy1.jpg
Jitish Kallat Circadian Rhyme, 2 & 3, 2012-2013 24 figures (resin, paint, aluminium and steel) 50 x 180 x 15 in. Image Credit: http://www.gallerychemould.com/uploads/exhibitions/jitish_kallat_3_copy1.jpg
Rashid Rana’s Crowd is thematically similar, and is composed of three photo prints on wallpaper involving digitally spliced and manipulated images. An intense reproduction a mixed population people is projected onto the wallpaper focusing on the loss of identity and individuality in very populous.
Installation of Rashid Rana’s Crowd (2013) in Chemould Prescott Gallery, Offset print on wallpaper. Image Credit: http://www.gallerychemould.com/exhibitions-works/citizen-artist-2013/rashid-rana-50-years-chemould.html
Raqs Media Collective’s animated video projection loop, The Untold Intimacy of Digits (UID) (2011), is an image of the handprint of a 19th century Bengali peasant, Raj Konai, which was taken by British colonial officials in 1858, and then sent to Britain. Fingerprinting technologies were developed from experiments based on this image. The Unique Identification Database (UID – same as the title) is a new project initiated by the Indian government in attempts to properly account for, and index its’ population. This work poses an interesting juxtaposition of India’s colonial past and current day attempts to account for citizens.
Raqs Media Collective, UID Installation View. Image Credit: http://www.gallerychemould.com/uploads/exhibitions/raqs_1_copy1.jpg
Raqs Media Collective, The Untold Intimacy of Digits (UID). Projection, video loop (1”), 2011. Image Credit: http://www.gallerychemould.com/uploads/exhibitions/raqs_2_copy1.jpg
These are a few amongst many other multi medium and media works that dwell on various aspects of citizenship and certainly don’t seem to be in an aesthetic bind. The third and next installment in the Aesthetic Bind series to look out for is Phantomata (Nov. 29, 2013 – Jan 03, 2014) participating artists include: Tallur L N, Susanta Mandal Sonia Khurana, Nikhil Chopra, Tushar Joag, Pushpamala N, Baiju Parthan, and Pratul Dash. For more information visit about the exhibitions visit Chemould Prescott Gallery website.
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. Image Credit: http://www.latitude28.com/index.php/works/newarrival/794
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.
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. Image Credit: http://www.latitude28.com/index.php/works/newarrival/803
For more information on the exhibition click here.