Krishnamachari’s Curatorial Callings

Aaina Bhargava of Saffronart on artist – curator Bose Krishnamachari’s selection as the curator for the Indian Pavilion at Art Stage Singapore 2014, and it’s new feature Platform

London: Singapore’s annual art fair – Art Stage Singapore – is introducing a new feature to its latest edition in 2014, regional platforms for seven participating Asian nations/regions including southeast Asia, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Australia, and India.  Each platform essentially functions as an exhibition showcasing works by artists from each particular region.  Curators have also been regionally selected to create these platforms, with India’s, being curated by the Kochi-Muziris Biennial cofounder and co-curator Bose Krishnamachari.   In a brief, recent, interview he explains his initial approach to the project:

“I will be looking at the works of Indian artists and have to pick six to eight of them through their galleries.”

While his previous large-scale exhibition curatorial project was the Kochi Muziris Biennial, a much more academic and locally contextualized endeavor, the Indian Platform for Art Stage is a “curated sales exhibition,” that aims to exhibit works in a contemporary Asian framework.  This provides an intriguing contrast in terms of audiences who he will be curating for and artists that he will select to represent the Indian contemporary art scene and will contribute to defining the contemporary Asian art scene, the premise upon which Art Stage Singapore seeks to operate. Heralding the motto, “We are Asia,” this event brings together 131 galleries, 75% of which are from Asia Pacific.  Through juxtaposing works by known and emerging artists from various different Asian regions, Platform commits to Art Stage’s attempts to make Singapore a solid and driving force in the Asian art market.  Expanding on the importance of representing a diverse Asia, Lorenzo Rudolf (Founder and fair director) states,

“When we speak about Asia, we cannot speak about an undifferentiated, single Asian contemporary art scene as the region is highly segmented. From a western perspective, there is sometimes limited understanding of the market differentiations within Asia and little depth of knowledge about the individual art markets…This new addition [Platform] will give visitors not only a holistic overview of artistic developments, but also a deeper understanding of contemporary art from Asia Pacific.”

To allow viewers the opportunity to witness this comparative juxtaposition of artworks from different regions, Platform will be exhibited in a non-segregated, museum like format over approximately 20% (or 1800 sq. meters) of the fair exhibition space. The Southeast Asia Platform is to be the largest of the Platforms. These works are to include “site-specific works, interactive installations and innovative conceptually driven works, meant to discuss important topics that address the contemporary society.”  This description holds similar to that of works made for or presented at biennials, particularly site specific works and cutting edge, innovative conceptual works.  Presenting these types of works at an art fair and having this particular exhibition curated by renowned curators such as Krishnamachari who are known for their work at biennials and other non commercial exhibitions, reflects a desire to bring a critical credibility to the fair as well an educational component.

The paradigms that both art fairs and biennials (and other art events) follow seem to be coming closer and closer together, although both institutions have fundamentally different goals.  They are increasingly starting to include educational collateral programs that exist not only to stimulate discourse and raise awareness about contemporary art but also to create a more informed market.  Krishnamachari’s role (and that of other curators for different platforms) will become instrumental in determining which Indian artists are representative of an evolving contemporary Indian art scene, and negotiating that with those who are able or who have the potential to succeed commercially.  Whether this negotiation can be successfully achieved in actuality remains to be seen till the opening of Art Stage Singapore on January 15th 2014, we are certainly looking forward to seeing the final exhibition of Platform and how it contributes to the fair.

Mithu Sen at Art Stage Singapore

Mithu Sen at Art Stage Singapore. Image Credit: http://www.galeriesteph.com/pdf/gs_mithu-sen_installation.pdf

For more information visit: Art Stage Singapore.

 

Maximum Bose

Ipshita Sen of Saffronart shares a note on Bose Krishnamachari’s exhibition “Maximum Bose”

New York: The co-founder of India’s first Biennale and the creator of the famous ‘Maximum Nano’- India’s first art car (which was auctioned at Saffronart on 29-30 July for over Rs 13 lakhs), renowned artist Bose Krishnamachari is in the spotlight with a solo show, after a gap of three years. The exhibition titled ‘Maximum Bose’ is on view at Gallery 7, Mumbai, and incorporates a simple output of 12 exemplary paintings by the artist, who explored the parameters of a circular frame for the very first time.

Maximum Nano, Bose Krishnamachari. Image Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/customauctions/PostWork.aspx?l=8603

Maximum Nano, Bose Krishnamachari. Image Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/customauctions/PostWork.aspx?l=8603

“I believe that colors can play a magical role and transform a body. They can sculpt something that is formless or abstract. They share positive vibes and represent maximum freshness, happiness, depth, layers and texture,” says the artist.

Bose Krishnamachari’s oeuvre radiates a kind of abstract dynamism that is electric.  His powerful use of rich opaque color, each shade vying for attention, whilst softly merging into one another, creates a surreal almost mesmerizing poetic language, which keeps one hooked.

He talks about the inspirations behind his bold usage of color “I refine my color to brightness. I have learnt this usage from the alternately subdued and lavish color codes of Indian ceremonies and ritual performances; the costumes, the gestures of enactment…”

After India’s first participation in the prestigious Venice Biennale in 2012, artists Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu, having received support from the Government, initiated India’s first Biennale in the historically rich city of Kochi, Kerala. It kicked off on 12 December, 2012 (12/12/12) and carried on for 2 months. Featuring more than 90 artists, the art works not only adorned the white washed walls of galleries and warehouses, but also transformed public lots into spaces displaying art across different media and genres. In addition to several local Indian artists, the participating artists also came from the UAE, Afghanistan, UK, Australia and South Korea. The Biennale is thus an excellent platform for the contemporary arts in India for artists both locally and internationally, putting India on the map of art Biennales and dubbing it notable for a flourishing art market.

Bose Krishnamachari is an established and internationally acclaimed contemporary Indian artist from Kerala, India. He received his BFA from the Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai, followed by an MFA from Goldsmiths College, University of London. In addition to being an artist, Krishnamachari also curates exhibitions and art and design projects. He is passionate about supporting and promoting emerging contemporary Indian artists. He currently lives and works in Mumbai, India.

For more information about the exhibition visit the Gallery 7 website.

Additionally, three works by the artist are part of the upcoming StoryLTD Absolute Art Auction, powered by Saffronart, to be held on 7-8 August, 2013.

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

Kallat for Kochi

Aaina Bhargava of Saffronart on Jitish Kallat’s appointment as the curator for the second edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennial in 2014.

 

London: Jitish Kallat, by any standard, is one of the internationally most well established Indian contemporary artists.  Which is perhaps why his appointment as the next curator of the Kochi-Muziris Biennial (KMB) comes as no surprise. Declared by Hon. Mayor of Cochin, Mr. Tony Chammany, as the official curator of Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, he was selected by an elite and diverse panel of Indian art professionals put together by the Kochi Biennial Foundation.  Consisting of art historian Geeta Kapur, director of Dr. Bhau Daji Laad Museum, Tasneem Mehta, director of Outset India and the Gujral Foundation, Feroz Gujral, director of Gallery Maskara, Abhay Maskara, artists Sheela Gowda and Balan Nambiar, and the President and General Secretary of the Kochi Biennale Foundation, Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu, they provided the following official statement in support of their choice:

“To continue the unique character of this artist led Biennale we are selecting Jitish Kallat as the new curator for the 2014 edition. Jitish brings immense international experience to the next Biennale. He possesses sound theoretical knowledge about contemporary art along with a diverse yet meticulous approach to his own practice. We are confident that Jitish will curate an innovative and experiential second edition.”

Because the legitimacy of biennials is essentially evaluated based on their constant recurrence,  the successful execution of the second edition biennial becomes imperative to its future continuation and representation of contemporary art in India.  The first edition of the KMB, already having been declared ‘the second largest running biennial in the world after Venice, with almost 400,000 visitors’, has provided the KB Foundation and government of Kerala with motive to not only maintain but progress the standard established in 2012.  Appointing Kallat as curator is clearly an attempt to cement the KMB’s reputation as a legitimate institution.  He has participated in countless biennials, his works have been exhibited at major museums around the world, so given his international exposure, critical acclaim, and commercial success as an artist his representation and endorsement of the biennial certainly adds great value to the entire event.  Even if he does lack curatorial experience, he has extensive experience with biennials, and an understanding of how they function.  Additionally, he also happens have Keralite roots, hailing from Thrissur, although he was born and bought up in Mumbai.

Jitish Kallat for Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014

Jitish Kallat for Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014. Image Credit: http://kochimuzirisbiennale.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/announcing-web-poster-04.jpg

From a political perspective, the commitment to promoting Kerala as a cultural center remains a priority, however, for the coming editions, there is a greater responsibility of establishing India as a destination for contemporary art, outside of a commercial context.  Intentions to push this standard and expand the the impact of the biennial have been voiced by the officials and organizers of the biennial:

“The first edition of the Biennale accentuated the tourism and cultural sectors of Kerala,  the biennale requires a permanent venue as it promises to return every two years, and we are searching for such a place to make this possible.” – Mayor of Cochin, Mr. Tony Chammany

“This return is required for the Biennale to develop its unique grammar and vocabulary. ” He also said that the media played a vital role in initiating a dialogue and bringing biennale to people’s home’s.” – Jitish Kallat.

As the contemporary art scene is constantly growing and evolving, the appointment of Jitish Kallat as curator is highly reflective of it’s current situations.  Kallat’s career is representative of a culmination of the academic acclaim and popular or commercial success, much like Subodh Gupta or Atul Dodiya – and since the biennial is an institution that is essentially non commercial, but is trying to navigate itself in a very commercially driven art society, Kallat could be the negotiating factor between both worlds.  He has also managed to achieve his success at a relatively young age (he is just 39) and since the KMB seeks to affect mainly the youth, perhaps a fresher perspective is the next step to progressing the already impactful biennial.  Furthermore, contemporary art is still relatively an unknown field to the general public and one of the goals of the biennial is to expand the reach of contemporary art, it is perhaps more effective to approach it with a more popular manner, rather than an extremely academic one.  Again, the mesh between the academic and the commercial becomes critical.  The notion of recurrence and repetition is essential to the longevity of biennials, and in order to keep occurring, the nature of the biennial must adapt to its current situations, and by attracting as many visitors as possible.

“That’s what art is all about. Sometimes it’s just a shift of vision…Let us hope it will be different but the genetic link will remain and it will be the continuation of the same language…I want to bring a new set of tools to work with the same set of ideas.”- Jitish Kallat

Preparations are clearly underway to ensure the next KMB as impacting as the inaugral edition, until then we just have to wait and see what Kallat’s unique vision will hold.

 

My Picks from StoryLTD

Rashhi Parekh of Saffronart picks her five favourite pieces being offered for sale in the boutiques and collections on newly launched website, StoryLTD

Mumbai: Launched earlier this week, StoryLTD by Saffronart brings together carefully curated collections of beautiful and significant objects from the past and present. At StoryLTD, you can browse through, learn the nuances of, and acquire some of the most coveted objects – ranging from fine art, antiquities and jewellery, to vintage and designer furniture and unique accessories for the home.

Partnering with some of the most creative artists, designers, collectors, manufacturers and dealers from India and soon, around the globe, StoryLTD offers consumers a unified and convenient shopping experience for objects and collectibles encompassing all styles, designs and budgets.

Here are my five picks from the many beautiful objects available on the website. Not surprisingly, they are all art related!

Maqbool Fida Husain: Eternal Mother

Collection: Serigraphs

M.F. Husain

M.F. Husain, Eternal Mother, Serigraph on paper

The venerated figure of Mother Teresa first appeared in Maqbool Fida Hussain’s art in 1980. Since then he has devoted a number of his works to Mother Teresa, whom he depicts as a faceless entity. This approach underlines his efforts in exploring not just the figure of Mother Teresa, but motherhood in general.

Having had the opportunity to meet Mother Teresa in 1994, he says, “I have tried to capture in my paintings, what her presence meant to the destitute and dying, the light and hope she brought by mere inquiry, by putting her hand over a child abandoned in the street.. That is why I try it again and again, after a gap of time, in a different medium.”

Works like the ‘Eternal Mother’ have been converted into serigraphs by Husain, to make his art more widely accessible. He stated that the idea of creating prints from canvasses was to make his work available to common man and also make his inner psyche available to a larger audience. This painter is distinct and different from most others because he wants to share his paintings. He says that all his life, he has sought just one image – the image of his mother, whom he had never seen. He tried to depict his mother whenever he painted women; that is why he never painted their faces, merely just an outline as shown in this serigraph of the Eternal Mother.

Raja Ravi Varma: Sri Shanmukha Subramaniaswami

Collection: Dressed Oleographs

Raja Ravi Varma, Shri Shanmukha Subramaniaswamy

Raja Ravi Varma, Shri Shanmukha Subramaniaswamy, Dressed oleograph on paper

Considered one of the greatest painters in the history of Indian Art, Raja Ravi Varma was an artist who achieved recognition for his depiction of scenes from the epics of the Mahabharata and Ramayana. This oleograph like many of his other works, is a fusion of Indian traditions with the techniques of European academic art. His representation of mythological characters has become a part of the popular Indian imagination of the epics. Although his works are often showy and sentimental, they are very popular throughout India.

Here, Shanmukha or the six-faced Karthikeya, the elder son of Shiva and Parvati, is pictured on his peacock mount. Also known as Skanda, Subramania and Murugan, he is the God of War and Victory. Ravi Varma has depicted Shanmukha flanked by his two wives, Valli and Devasena, while the snake he is frequently associated with lies at their feet. The group is framed by the magnificent plumage of Shanmukha’s peacock, which symbolizes the deity’s victory over the ego.

Due to his vast contribution to Indian Art, in 1993 art critics curated a large exhibition of Raja Ravi Varma’s works at the National Museum in New Delhi.

Bhuri Bai: Speaking Tree

Collection: Gond Art

Bhuri Bai, Speaking Tree

Bhuri Bai, Speaking Tree, Acrylic on canvas

Bhuri Bai made her first mural painting at the age of ten. She was one of the very first women of her tribe to paint on paper and canvas. The forms depicted in her paintings appear to be in a state of weightlessness. The figures in this painting are made in bright colors, similar to paper cuts.

Many of the subjects in her painting depict the conflict between the woman, as a creator and the man, as a predator. These themes, which are often found in other early painters, may also be seen as metaphors for the theft of land, the relationship between man and animal, the domestic and the wild, the nature and the modern world. Her works share an ancestral view according to which every body is made out of particles.

Lado Bai: Sun and the Deer

Collection: Gond Art

Lado Bai, Sun and the Deer

Lado Bai, Sun and the Deer, Acrylic on canvas

Lado Bai started painting on canvasses at the same time as Bhuri Bai. Her main motifs are taken from the animal kingdom and Bhil rituals and festivals. Lado Bai’s art reflects “the flora and fauna of her environment along with rituals and festivals of her tribe. She draws Bhil Gods and Godesses in the centuries old Bhil style which is steeped in ethnic animism and spirituality.”

Today, this artist works at Adivasi Lok Kala Academy; however she was guided by artist Jagdish Swaminathan, who encouraged her to paint on canvasses instead of painting on mud walls in her village. Lado Bai has been able to make new statements through her art within the ambit of traditions, like other fresco painters of her generation.

Bose Krishnamachari: Stainless Steel Chandelier

Collection: Seven Art

Bose Krishnamachari, Stainless Steel Chandelier

Bose Krishnamachari, Stainless Steel Chandelier

Bose Krishnamachari’s stainless steel chandelier is an extremely unique piece of art. This chandelier can be viewed as an installation piece as well as a piece of furniture, because it has a unique combination of utility and design. The chandelier which appears to be the culmination of a number of individual lights put together haphazardly, is actually an extremely well designed object. It allows the viewer to depart from the perceived notion of a chandelier which is supposed to look elegant and somewhat symmetric. This chandelier is made with an extremely modern and contemporary outlook, almost as if it were the result of an experiment. According to some, it also looks like an asymmetrical space station.

This work by Bose Krishnamachari is abstract and dynamic. In all his works, weather it be paintings, photography or installations, these are dominant forces.

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