1 Minute with a Devi

WATCH NOW: Senior Vice President Punya Nagpal discusses the striking effect of contemporary Indian artist Ravinder Reddy’s monumental sculpture, Devi.

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Your E-pocket Guide to Exhibitions this July

The Saffronart team has been scuttling around to put together a handy list of exhibitions to check out this month. Some end soon, and with some others you can take your time, though we wouldn’t really recommend waiting too long. So if you’re in Mumbai, Delhi, England or the U.S. of A. this month, you know where to go.

Mumbai

Ghiberti, Lorenzo (1378-1455). Gates of Paradise. 1425-52, lost wax bronze replica from original mould with gilded patina. Guild of the Dome Association/ Museum of the Opera del Duomo, Florence, 2014. Credits: Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum website

From the Exhibition The Florentine Renaissance: “The City as a Crucible of Culture”
Ghiberti, Lorenzo (1378-1455). Gates of Paradise. 
Credits: Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum website

The Florentine Renaissance: “The City as a Crucible of Culture”
Where: Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum City Museum, Byculla
On View Till: July 8, 2014

You don’t need to travel all the way to Florence to get a glimpse of Italian Renaissance…not this week anyway. The Bhau Daji Lad Museum has extended this exhibition which features prolific early renaissance artist Lorenzo Ghiberti’s masterpiece, ‘The Gates of Paradise’: a work also revered by other artists such as Michaelangelo himself. The interior and permanent collection at the museum will be an added bonus to your visit.

Mansoor Ali: “Anatomy of an Unknown Chair”
Where: Gallery Maskara, Colaba
On View Till: July 31, 2014

Ever thought about chairs beyond their functional and aesthetic qualities?  Mansoor Ali’s ongoing show at the Gallery Maskara is sure to provoke you to think about much more through his installations that employ chairs as a primary medium. His five installations address several issues pertaining to politics and power play, reminding us of the effectiveness of found objects in art.

If the idea of visiting this exhibition hasn’t incentivized you enough already to make your way to Colaba, you should know that the nearby Mumbai Art Room, Sakshi Gallery and Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke have ongoing exhibitions too. You could combine visiting the three galleries to make for an enjoyable, art-filled afternoon.

Amshu Chukki, Kaushik Saha, Anil Thambai, Pradeep P.P., Yasmin Jahan Nupur and Sangita Maity: “Art for Young Collectors”
Where: Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Colaba  
On View Till:
July 31, 2014

As per tradition, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke is currently hosting its ongoing exhibition, ‘Art for Young Collectors’. While each artist has a unique approach and style, all the works are connected by a similar theme: “the common trail of seepage–the flowing of one system, one suite of meanings, one realm of belief into another, creating an uneasy ecology and forever changing both in the process.”

Anirban Mitra, Arunkumar H.G., Jagannath Panda, Jitish Kallat, Manjunath Kamat, Ravinder Reddy, Shilpa Gupta, Surendran Nair, Vivek Vilasini: Group Show
Where: 
Sakshi Art Gallery, Colaba
On View Till: July 31, 2014

Don’t miss Sakshi while on your mini art excursion. This exhibition features a mix of paintings, photographs and sculptures by important contemporary artists whose works you should be acquainted with.

Anna Ostoya, Agnieszka Polska, Karol Radziszewski, Janek Simon, Rafał Wilk: “We Rather Look Back to Futures Past”
Where:
Mumbai Art Room, Colaba
On View Till: August 7, 2014

This is a unique exhibition that is presented in collaboration with the Polish Institute. The exhibits include photomontages, films and sculptures by five contemporary artists who share a common Polish background. While the artists explore the common theme of looking back and questioning the past, they each employ a unique individualistic approach. Not only does this exhibition give you the chance to learn more about Polish contemporary art, but it should also compel you to think about your own associations with the past.


Delhi

Gauri Gill, “Hall of Technology - Diptych 1”, Archival Pigment Print, 9" X 12", 2010 Credits: Vadehra Art Gallery

From the Exhibition “Invisible Cities”
Gauri Gill, “Hall of Technology – Diptych 1”, Archival Pigment Print, 9″ X 12″, 2010
Credits: Vadehra Art Gallery


Group Show: “Invisible Cities”
Where: Vadehra Gallery, D-53 Defense Colony
On View Till:  July 12, 2014

If Italo Calvino popped into your mind on reading this, you’re quite close to guessing the theme of this exhibit. “They are stories of spaces that are invisible or underground, mute spaces hidden under the bustling cover of the city. They are stories of people and their relationships, of which the artist is part of”, reads the Vadehra Art Gallery press release. Featuring well-known artists and photographers such as Atul Bhalla, Gauri Gill, Sunil Gupta, Malini Kochupillai and Asim Waqif, this group show highlights aspects of cities that may otherwise remain unnoticed. Perhaps your otherwise hectic urban life doesn’t give you the opportunity to actively observe the little details that are easily missed. Don’t miss this chance to see the work of these acclaimed artists, under a single roof.

Pradeep Puthoor: “New Paintings”
Where:
Nature Morte, Central South Delhi                                                                         When:  July 5 – August 2, 2014

Pradeep Puthoor, an artist from Kerala who has shown his works in a number of galleries across India and abroad, is featuring his new mural-size paintings in this exhibition. These paintings depict the meeting point between computer science and biological engineering, and create a space for viewers to “swim in and get lost, to drown in their luscious complexities.” The unique theme and large paintings are sure to entice a wide audience, making Nature Morte an ideal gallery to visit this July.

Raj Rewal: “Memory, Metaphor and Meaning in his Constructed Landscape”
Where: National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi
On View Till: July 20, 2014

Did you think you missed this show? You’d be happy to know that the NGMA has extended this exhibition, giving you the opportunity to visit it this July. This retrospective features five decades of work by renowned architect Raj Rewal. The works on display will make you see architecture as a field of visual art, as structures may otherwise be judged mostly on their functionality. Of course, Rewal’s own achievements, such as his work being featured at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, make visiting this exhibition even more compelling.

“Smart Art Cart”
Where: Gallery Espace, Delhi
On View Till: July 31, 2014

On view and on sale at Gallery Espace are a collection of works by Amit Ambalal, Rajendar Tiku, M.F. Husain, Manjunath Kamath, Owais Husain, Suddhosattwa Basu, Mala Marwah, Mekhala Bahl, Chintan Upadhyay, S.H. Raza, and Jai Zharotia, among others.

England

From the Grosvenor Gallery Exhibition of Senaka Senanayake’s works Butterflies, 2014, Oil on canvas, 122 x 182.9cm. (48 x 72in.) Source: Grosvenor Gallery Website

From the Grosvenor Gallery Exhibition of Senaka Senanayake’s works
Butterflies, 2014, Oil on canvas, 122 x 182.9cm. (48 x 72in.)
Source: Grosvenor Gallery Website

Senaka Senanayake
Where: Grosvenor Gallery
On View Till: July 11, 2014

If you’re ever at Green Park this week or the next, pop by Grosvenor Gallery to take in a tropical medley of colours, all harmoniously arranged by one of Sri Lanka’s most important artists, Senaka Senanayake. The prodigal artist has been exhibiting internationally since his teenage years. His recent work is inspired by the plight of the Sri Lankan rainforests, many of which have been subject to intense deforestation to make way for tea plantations.

Nasreen Mohamedi
Where: Tate Liverpool
On View Till: October 5, 2014

Nasreen Mohamedi is one of the most significant women artists of Modern Indian art, and a critically acclaimed one at that. Tate Liverpool is hosting Mohamedi’s largest solo exhibition in the UK. The show includes more than 50 of her works spanning paintings, drawings and photographs, especially highlighting the most significant artistic phases in her career, and runs in parallel with “Mondrian and his Studios”, exploring how she moved from the figurative to the abstract like Mondrian. Tickets for the latter include admission into the Nasreen Mohamedi exhibition.

Empire, Faith and War: The Sikhs and World War One
Where: The Brunei Gallery, SOAS
On View Till: September 28, 2014

The UK Punjab Heritage Association has organised an exhibition to remember the invaluable contribution and experiences of Sikh soldiers during the Great War. The exhibition features rare and unique finds such as unpublished photographs and drawings, newspapers and comics, postcards, works of art, uniforms, gallantry medals, and folk songs sung by wives left at home, as well as a unique album of X-Rays of wounded Indian soldiers’ injuries lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection.

London Indian Film Festival
Where: BFI Southbank, ICA, BAFTA and Cineworld cinemas across London
On View From: July 10-17, 2014

The London Indian Film Festival is back in town for its 5th edition. Following last year’s success, some of the best Indian independent films will be showing in several venues across London accompanied by talks with cinema personalities such as Santosh Sivan and Farhan Akhtar and a Q&A with film directors.  For the full programme, check the London Indian Film Festival website.

U.S.A 

From the Exhibition Gateway to Himalayan Art & The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room Photo by David De Armas Source: Rubin Museum Website

From the Exhibition Gateway to Himalayan Art & The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room
Photo by David De Armas
Source: Rubin Museum Website

The Rubin Museum of Art has its eyes on the Indian subcontinent. Head there this month and combine your visits into one eventful day.

From India East: Sculpture of Devotion from the Brooklyn Museum
Where:  Rubin Museum of Art, New York
On View Till: July 28, 2014

Given the temporary closure of the Asian art galleries at the Brooklyn Museum, this exhibition allows visitor to partake from this significant museum collection. Curated by the Rubin Museum, the objects trace the development of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures to its root in ancient Indic art. On view are selections of works from various regions including Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, and Japan, which together map the wide-spread evolution of Asian art in the regions.

Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine
Where:  Rubin Museum of Art, New York
On View Till: September 8, 2014

This is one of the first major exhibitions which chronicle the origin, history and practice of the Tibetan science of healing. It brings to the viewers a visual narrative on the subject by presenting 140 objects dating from the 9th century to the present which includes manuscripts and paintings on medical practices and medical instruments. The exhibition highlights the relationship shared between Tibetan medicine and Buddhism and how it has shaped the visual arts in the Himalayan region. In addition to the historic objects is a multi-media installation which explains how Tibetan medicine is used today and allows visitor to find out personalized health information through questionnaires, making the visit informative and interactive.  There’s also a quiz online.

Gateway to Himalayan Art & The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room
Where:
  Rubin Museum of Art, New York
On View Till: January 6, 2016
NOTE: Exhibit Reopening July 2, 2014

Curated by Karl Debreczeny and Elena Pakhoutova, this exhibition gives its audience an introduction to the principal concepts of Himalayan art and its cultural contexts. Visitors are welcomed by a large multimedia map of the Himalayan region which highlights the diversity in the region. This exhibition is divided into four sections: Figures and Symbols, Materials and Techniques, Purpose and Function, and Tibetan Art in Context. The centerpiece of this exhibit is the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room- a recreated model for everyone to experience. This well-documented exhibition has many learning tools making it an interesting visit for a diverse audience.

Mithu Sen: Border Unseen
Where: Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University,
On View Till: August 31, 2014

Mithu Sen’s first solo museum exhibition in the US is a massive installation in dental polymer, tracing a pink toothy line across a long prism-shaped room. This is the first of Mithu’s teeth works installed on suspended armature. The 80 feet long hanging sculpture inhabits the gallery space, its sheer scale and texture eliciting strong reactions from viewers. This monumental yet minimalist work reaffirms the artist’s exploration of the connotations of bodily materials like hair, teeth and bone in her works.

Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation
Where: National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Washington D.C.
On View Till: August 16, 2015

This iconic exhibition chronicles more than 200 years of Indian American contributions to the U.S. The 5,000-square-foot exhibition features Indian Americans’ migration experiences, working lives, political struggles and cultural and religious contributions. Highlighted artifacts include a dress worn by First Lady Michelle Obama designed by Indian American Naeem Khan; the 1985 National Spelling Bee trophy awarded to the first Indian American winner, Balu Natarajan; and Mohini Bhardwaj’s 2004 Olympic Silver Medal for gymnastics. Public programs include performances featuring Indian American art, comedy, cuisine, dance, film, television, literature and music. The exhibition will be travelling around the US for four years beginning May 2015.

There’s plenty more out there, so don’t forget to drop by our events listing page, updated each month.

Speaking to a 132-year old Artist

If you had something to say to Picasso, what would it be? While you ponder over this, Pooja Savansukha shares Husain and Dodiya’s reactions to Picasso’s works

Over Spring break this April, I travelled to Barcelona with my family to visit the ongoing exhibition at the Museu Picasso, Post-Picasso: Contemporary Reactions. I was enthusiastic to see the show as I had taken a college course about it last year with Professor Michael FitzGerald, a Picasso scholar and the curator of this exhibition, and I must admit that my high expectations from the visit were definitely surpassed. Although the exhibition does not feature a single piece by Picasso himself, one can gain a unique insight into his career through the collection of works by renowned contemporary artists from around the world who have engaged with his art. In my visit, my own Indian background drew me towards works by M.F. Husain and Atul Dodiya that I had the opportunity to see from the context of South Asian art, and with specific regard to Picasso.

Post-Picasso: Contemporary Reactions, curated by Michael FitzGerald at the Museu Picasso Source: http://www.bcn.cat/museupicasso/en/exhibitions/current.html

Post-Picasso: Contemporary Reactions, curated by Michael FitzGerald at the Museu Picasso
Source: http://www.bcn.cat/museupicasso/en/exhibitions/current.html

You don’t need an introduction to Picasso- but if you do, he is arguably one of the most influential figures in 20th century art. His works were pivotal in the initial development of Cubism and modern art. His artistic explorations were not only reflective of his personal and political life in Spain and France, but also set the ground for future art movements. A striking feature of his career is the number of artistic phases that he has been through. These phases also guide the structure of the exhibition. Each work in the exhibition respondsto either a particular work such as the “Guernica” and “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” or a phase in Picasso’s life such as his Blue and Rose periods, Cubist period, and Surrealist period. Viewers get a sense of how every artist in their own style has engaged with a similar type of work by Picasso, reiterating his transnational influence.

A humourous piece by Banksy displayed at the entrance of the exhibition  Source: www.artnews.net

A humourous piece by Banksy displayed at the entrance of the exhibition
Source: www.artnews.net

Professor FitzGerald often suggested to us in class that while Picasso greatly influenced art during his own time, contemporary artists tend to engage with him as an equal. Witnessing this trend in the exhibition was definitely one of the highlights of my visit. Husain and Dodiya both addressed issues particular to India and their immediate context, while simultaneously engaging with Picasso.

The first work I encountered was Maqbool Fida Husain’s 1971 painting, ‘Ganga Jamuna’ that was a part of his Mahabharata series. It was one of the art works starting a dialogue with Picasso’s famous ‘Guernica.’ ‘Guernica’ depicts the explosion in the city of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War and is noted for its portrayal of the destruction of innocent people and animals such as horses and bulls. Picasso’s monochromatic palette allows viewers to focus on the forms and figures painted in his synthetic Cubist style.

Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ (1937)   Source: http://http://en.wikipedia.org/

Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ (1937)
Source: en.wikipedia.org

Husain’s ‘Ganga-Jamuna’ that also featured at his debut on the global platform at the Sao Paolo Biennial in 1971, depicts the Indian war epic, the Mahabharata, as a Hindu mythological parallel to Guernica, portraying a scene as Picasso would have. Interestingly as Picasso was also invited to present his work at the Sao Paolo Biennial, Husain consciously undertook the challenge of emulating his style in this painting. In an interview at the time of the Biennial, he claimed, “only Picasso could do it [the Mahabharata] justice; he’d not done it. Let me try.” While retaining his own palette and theme, Husain presents a visual that in focusing on the forms of its subjects, particularly the horse, engages with Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ by attempting to assume the position of its Hindu counterpart. A painting that I may have otherwise appreciated just for its typically Husain-like fascination with Hindu mythology and depiction of horses, now also reveals another unique facet of his style, an engagement with Picasso.

MF Husain’s ‘Ganga Jamuna’ (1971)  Source: Peabody Essex Museum Website

MF Husain’s ‘Ganga Jamuna’ (1971)
Source: Peabody Essex Museum Website

Atul Dodiya’s ‘Land’s End’ and ‘Lamentation’ are also exhibited amongst other paintings engaging with Guernica. In ‘Land’s End,’ which is a part of Dodiya’s shutter series, he appropriates a portion of Picasso’s ‘Dora Meyer’ as well as Guernica onto the shutter, and paints a sculpture by Ravinder Reddy that is seen behind the shutter. The combination of the Indian and Western references confused viewers who were unable to link the two. Though this is typical of Dodiya, it makes his works more interactive. This is what he achieves by engaging with Picasso.

Atul Dodiya’s ‘Lands End’ Source: http://www.vadehraart.com/exhibition/viewDetails/8/24

Atul Dodiya’s ‘Lands End’
Source: http://www.vadehraart.com/exhibition/viewDetails/8/24

‘Lamentation’ responds to the growing violence in India (particularly Mumbai), that goes against Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful philosophies that the post-colonial nation was founded upon. His painting references Gandhi with his back to the viewer on one side, and juxtaposes a Cubist Picasso-styled painting with a little girl on the other. Around these elements, Dodiya also portrays lamenting angels in the style that Giotto used in his 1305-1306 fresco ‘Mourning the Death of Christ’. The painting references Hindu mythology, Christian mythology, Indian history (reference to Gandhi), contemporary India (in light of wars, crimes and Mumbai riots), artists Picasso and Giotto, as well as his own personal life (the girl depicted represents his daughter). By responding to violence, this painting is already engaging with ‘Guernica,’ and additionally, the rendering of the girl in Picasso’s style goes a step further to place Dodiya into his lineage. While one could otherwise simply accept Dodiya’s appropriations of Picasso’s as just another one of his Western references, looking specifically from the standpoint of Guernica, as the show points out, one can sense a greater dialogue between Dodiya and Picasso.

Atul Dodiya’s ‘Lamentation’ Source: http://www.gallerychemould.com/artists-works/atul-dodiya-home/atul-dodiya-aw1835.html

Atul Dodiya’s ‘Lamentation’
Source: http://www.gallerychemould.com/artists-works/atul-dodiya-home/atul-dodiya-aw1835.html

While Guernica played a significant role in Dodiya’s correspondence with Picasso’s work, he has also responded to Picasso’s Surrealist phase. Atul Dodiya’s ‘Sour Grapes’ also featured in the exhibition depicts an image of Hindu Lord Vishnu, in a typically illustrative calendar style, along with other deities worshipping in the background. Dodiya appropriates Picasso’s Portrait of Jaume Sabartés (1939) – to represent himself as Lord Brahma, the Hindu creator of the universe. While Dodiya’s appropriation of Picasso’s Surrealist portrait makes the work converse with Picasso’s Surrealist works, the humour invoked also adds to his dialogue with Picasso.

Atul Dodiya’s ‘Sour Grapes’ Source: http://www.bcn.cat/museupicasso/en/exhibitions/current.html

Atul Dodiya’s ‘Sour Grapes’
Source: http://www.bcn.cat/museupicasso/en/exhibitions/current.html

Something distinctly common to both Husain and Dodiya in their works at the exhibition is their reference to Hindu mythology or Indian motifs. Despite a similarity in their content based on the Indian background of the two artists, they have extremely unique approaches to engaging with Picasso. I was able to see them as being entirely unique to one another even if they were the two Indian artists represented at an exhibition featuring International artists.

In addition, I enjoyed all the different parallels that I was able to draw between contemporary artists from around the world, and Picasso, himself. Given Picasso’s influence on modern art, many might make the convenient assumption that this exhibition depicts his unsurprising influence on contemporary art. It is the representation of artists who bring themselves to the level of Picasso, engaging with him, making fun of him, or assuming his position that makes this exhibition so much more interesting.  It is safe to say that although Picasso’s career ended in the late 20th century, his legacy still lives on, in a unique and fascinating manner. In addition to Dodiya and Husain, the exhibition also features works by Ibrahim el-Salahi from Sudan, Bedri Baykam from Turkey, Rineke Djikstra from the Netherlands, Chéri Samba from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Vik Muniz from Brazil, George Condo and Jean-Michel Basquiat from the USA.

If you find yourself in Barcelona, or are looking for a reason to travel to this wonderful city, I would strongly urge you to consider visiting this exhibition for a fresh perspective on Picasso’s contemporary influence. The exhibit will run until 29th June.

 

India: Art Now at the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen

ARKEN Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Lars Skaaning

Manjari Sihare in conversation with the Director of the ARKEN Museum, Christian Gether

Copenhagen: On August 18, 2012, a large conglomeration of visual and performing artists, filmmakers, fashion designers, authors, business professionals and scientists from India descended upon the city of Copenhagen for a much awaited project hosted by a mix of premier Danish institutions including the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, the CPH Pix Festival, the Royal Danish Theatre, the University of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen Business School. Titled India Today-Copenhagen Tomorrow, this massive Indian-Danish culture project is aimed to acquaint Danes with modern India and its vibrant culture and dynamic economy. The project was inaugurated with a large exhibition of contemporary Indian art and fashion at the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art. Located 15 minutes south of Copenhagen, the museum is known for its modern and contemporary art exhibitions, one of the most important public collections of iconic British artist, Damien Hirst, and its building structure in the shape of a ship in marine surroundings. The art exhibition titled India: Art Now is the museum’s biggest exhibition ever. Participating artists include Rina Banerjee, Hemali Bhuta, Atul Dodiya, Sheela Gowda, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Jitish Kallat, Reena Saini Kallat, Rashmi Kaleka, Bharti Kher, Ravinder Reddy, Vivan Sundaram and the artist duo Thukral & Tagra. I am delighted to have had the opportunity to speak with Christian Gether, the Director of the ARKEN Museum, about this exhibition and the museum’s programming and collection.

Vivan Sundaram, Aztec Deity, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

Q. Could you please tell us a little about the project India Today-Copenhagen Tomorrow? Please also throw some light on the choice of title?

A: We are deeply fascinated by India. It is a nation with a tremendous tradition and a very dynamic relation to the rest of the world. From this a very energetic and interesting art scene has arisen. We are convinced that the Indian way of thinking today will play an important role in the way that Copenhagen will develop tomorrow. Hence the title.

Q. How did the idea for this project come about? Why India?

A: For a long time we have been interested in showing contemporary art from India, as India is the next focus point for international art collectors. We were then approached by The Holck Larsen Foundation which is established by one of the founders of the construction company L&T (Larsen and Toubro India) which said: If you will produce an exhibition on contemporary art from India, then we will pay the costs. So our wish of showing contemporary art from India suddenly came true.

Rina Banerjee, Preternatural passage came from wet whiteness and mercantile madness, paid for circular migrations, she went thirty six directions that is all the more different, where empire threw her new born and heritage claimed as well, this lady bug was not scarlet her wound was rather shaped like garlic seemed colored, a bit more sulfuric, could eat what was fungus her cloth punctuated by tender greenness she seemed to be again pregnant, 2011. Courtesy of Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris-Bruxelles

Q. I understand that the selection of the 13 artists in the show is made with the intention of revealing dimensions that extend beyond ideas of an ‘exotic’ India. For decades Indian art has been plagued with the term ‘exotic’.  How did this conceptual framework come about?

A: In the art circles of today, a hot topic is ‘migratory aesthetics’. That is the new visual expression that arises from the dialogue between a local culture and the global impact. What we have tried to do is to show the art that is a synthesis of the Indian and the global culture. Indians are very open-minded and they travel and settle all over the world – and they have English as their common language so there is no barrier between the Indians and the rest of the world. Therefore they take in the best of the global culture and combine it with their experience of existence in India. A new visual language is established which fascinates the rest of the world. That is what we found unfolded in the 13 selected artists in the show.

Q. Some of the works are especially commissioned for the show? Could you elaborate on these works? 

Rashmi Kaleka, Chhota Paisa (Small Change), 2012
Surround sound installation with video component
Courtesy of the artist and the Swiss Arts Counsil Pro Helvetica in 2011-12

Jitish Kallat, The Cry of the Gland, 2009. Courtesy of Haunch of Venison, London

A: One of them is an audio installation by Rashmi Kaleka titled Chotta Paisa.When we saw Rashmi Kaleka’s work at her house in Delhi we were immediately deeply fascinated. With a modern recording device, the video camera, she had registered the early morning on the roofs of Delhi and combined it with the sounds of the street vendors and other sounds from a metropolis that is wakening. It is an intense revelation of a common daily ritual that we can all relate to.

The other is Jitish Kallat’s work where he has produced at series of photos of shirt pockets filled with notebooks pencils and rulers, which signalizes identity and importance of the owner. It is a very accurate observation on symbols of power structures in a society.

Q. What are some of the highlights of the exhibition?

A: I am very keen on Subodh Gupta’s installation with the brass pinnacles, which are bound together with thin, but strong strings. It shows the dialogue and interdependence of different religions. Ravinder Reddy’s women heads are also fascinating because they refer to a classical Indian tradition and to modern pop art simultaneously.  It is Indian in the modern world.

Subodh Gupta, Terminal, 2010. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Anders Sune Berg

Ravinder Reddy, Untitled, 2007-08, Courtesy: Private Collection, India

Q. The project has an important online and social media component to facilitate exchange in the form of Co-Create Now an online platform facilitating conversations, inspiration and exchange of experiences between Indians and Danes. Please elaborate.

A: Here at ARKEN we are extremely focused on the dialogue with our visitors. We reach out to everybody on different media platforms and like to involve the visitor as much as possible. We would like to have the visitor to employ his or her own experience of existence in a mental dialogue with the experience of existence which you find in the art work. Thereby the visitor becomes wiser on himself and on life as such.

Q. How has the response to the exhibition been?

A: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. The critics love the exhibition and so do the visitors.

Q. The Arken Museum has an active acquisition policy for international contemporary art mostly from the 1990 onwards. Are there any works of Indian artists in the collection? Could you tell us about the museum’s future acquisition plans for Indian art, if any?

A: We do not have any works of Indian origin in the permanent collection, but hopefully we soon will. I cannot reveal any names, but of course we are very fascinated by the artists that we have selected for the exhibition. We hope to find a private benefactor who will help us to buy art from India.

Q. What are some of the highlights in the museum’s collection?

A: We have one of the world’s biggest public collections of works by Damien Hirst. It was established with the help of a private donor and the great support by Damien Hirst himself and the owner of White Cube in London, Jay Joplin.

We have a fantastic video by Bill Viola called ‘Silence , Gold and Silver’ which we bought many years ago when we could still afford it. The same applies to our big installation by Mona Hatoum which we also bought more than 10 years ago.

Recently we acquired nine huge works by Anselm Reyle, also with the help of a private donor. Otherwise it would be completely impossible as most art museums have very tight budgets nowadays. To make these big and important purchases we need private donors who will help us get the best art pieces. That also applies to our wish for including art from India.

Damien Hirst, Love’s Paradox (Surrender or Autonomy, Separateness as a Pre-condition for Connection), 2007. Photographed by Prudence Cumming Associates © Damien Hirst & Science Ltd. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2011.

Mona Hatoum, Misbah, Photo Anders Sune Berg

Anselm Reyle, Wagon Wheel, 2009
Photo: Per Morten Abrahamsen

Q. Which exhibitions over the past few years has been a particular source of pleasure for you?

A: I think that INDIA TODAY for a very long time will have a special place in my heart. It has been a fantastic experience to get to know a little corner of the contemporary art scene in India – and it has been a great experience to meet the dynamic culture in India and also the kindness and generosity of the Indian people.  Earlier on we have made big exhibitions on artists such as Edvard Munch, Chagall, Dali, German Expressionism and contemporary art from Berlin etc. Recently we had a colossal exhibition by the Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. All good art is fascinating and unforgettable.

Q. Which exhibitions in the next few years would you recommend? Is there anything else related to Indian art on the cards?

A: If we have the possibility i.e. money, we would like to expand our relation to art from India by including Indian art works. In the coming years I can mention a show by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera. We will also show Picasso, and in 2015 we will show Monet. In addition to that we will show a series of contemporary artists from all over the world. In that series it is very likely that we include artists from India.

India: Art Now is on view until January 13, 2013. Read more. 

Thukral & Tagra, THE ESCAPE! Resume/Reset, 2012. Courtesy Thukral & Tagra Studio and Gallery Nature Morte

ARKEN Museum of Modern Art presents INDIA: ART NOW

Medha Kapur of Saffronart shares a short note on India: Art Now, an exhibition at the Arken Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.

India: Art Now Copenhagen: INDIA: ART NOW, on view from 18 August 2012 to 13 January 2013, is part of the project India Today/Copenhagen Tomorrow. It is the biggest exhibition in the Danish art museum ARKEN’s history. The purpose behind this exhibit is to promote cultural and commercial exchanges between the two countries. The work of 13 of the most well known Indian artists and artist groups will be showcased at the museum. Included are works by Rina Banerjee, Hemali Bhuta, Atul Dodiya, Sheela Gowda, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Jitish Kallat, Reena Kallat, Rashmi Kaleka, Bharti Kher, G. Ravinder Reddy, Vivan Sundaram and Thukral & Tagra, among others – artists who have found ways to express the aspirations and conflicts of a new generation, through media varying from painting, sculpture and photography to installation and interactive art.

Subodh Gupta, Terminal, 2010 at ARKEN Brass and thread Dimensions variable.

Subodh Gupta, Terminal, 2010, Brass and thread, dimensions variable

Several works have been created specifically for this exhibition, and they both encourage and defy all our preconceived notions of Indian art. For the subjects, materials and narratives the artists often take their point of departure in local Indian phenomena, but their works extend far beyond the idea of exotic India into global culture. Thukral & Tagra present a new installation called ‘The Escape’, about the migration from India. It is a passenger terminal built like a pinball machine.

Thukral & Tagra: THE ESCAPE

Thukral & Tagra, THE ESCAPE!, 2012

‘INDIA : ART NOW’ is an impressive exhibition, and promises to offer visitors a rarely seen manifestation of modern India.

Click here for more information on the exhibition

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