An Interview with V. Ramesh

Indrapramit Roy of Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, in a candid interview with the artist

An exhibition titled “Remembrances of Voices Past” opened at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru, on 5th Feb 2014. This one and a half month-long exhibition showcases a decade-long journey of Vedantabatla Ramesh, better known as V. Ramesh. It is a journey covering a period from 2003 to 2013 that is significant in its depth and ambition. It was not a common occurrence till a few years ago to have a show of an artist in his mid-fifties at the National Gallery, especially one as media-shy and self-effacing as Ramesh. Thankfully, things are changing for the better, and that calls for celebration.

I have not known many people who can so readily laugh at themselves and yet produce works of infinite intricacy that are breathtaking in their, if I may say so, spiritual depth. These are very deeply felt works of a person unconcerned with the ways of the art world digging a lonely furrow with a rare conviction.

Born in 1958, V. Ramesh had studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University (M.S.U.) of Baroda, and spent most of his working life away from major art centres at Vishakhapatnam, where he has been teaching painting for nearly three decades at the Fine Arts Faculty of Andhra University. He works mostly in large format canvas and some small-scale watercolours. Ramesh’s oeuvre has through the years consistently revealed a preoccupation with a meditative terrain. His most recent works deal with women saint-poets from the Bhakti and Sufi traditions, conflating text and image in a mélange of layered narratives mixing painterly delight with contemplative depth. His intricate textures and transparent layering lends the imagery already replete with cultural memory a power that is at once recognizable and yet mysteriously majestic.

This interview was conducted over telephone and e-mail and Ramesh’s responses are precise and short in an almost Zen-like manner, so much so that sometime framing a question takes more space than the answers. Nevertheless, hopefully they will cast some light on the works and ideas of a major artist working in India today.

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Indrapramit: The earliest examples that I have seen in your oeuvre from the late ’80s and early ’90s revolved around the fishing folk from the coastline of your native Vishakhapatnam. The subaltern bodies strained with work had what one noted writer referred to as a ‘matter-of-fact-heroism’. Then, there was a noticeable shift occurring around the late ’90s when your figures started getting more evanescent, and paintings more layered. You experimented with found imagery, text, transparency and generally seemed more interested about the process of painting. How did this change come about?

V.Ramesh: During the mid-nineties, I faced what seemed then to be an existential dilemma. There was a sense of having reached the end of one’s tether. The earlier images of subaltern bodies and the mode of actually using paint no longer excited me, and I could feel perhaps a sense of lassitude and fatigue setting in my work. There was no way out – except perhaps to stop working. I did not stop but started working on small papers with dry pastel. These were very different almost abstract kind of works roughly relating to landscapes. I had a show of these in Baroda and I remember Surendran (Nair) wondering what had happened to my works! But that break was needed.

Indrapramit: You have mentioned elsewhere that for the past so many years your work deals with the idea of transience or impermanence. This is of particular interest to me…

V.Ramesh:As I am never tired of proclaiming, it was a serendipitous visit to Ramanashramam in1998 that acted as a catalyst in changing the direction and nature of my work. I saw a different facet of life and that made me introspect. After that I came back to oils and started working on large scale again. This eventually grew into the show called “A Thousand and One Desires”. I tackled the idea of desire, of greed, of avarice… sentiments that were totally absent in the ashram. You might say I started at the wrong end of the scale but that’s how it was. The nineties and the beginning of the new millennium were very fraught times in this country.

Indrapramit: Every time I encounter your painting I get the feeling that here is an artist contemplating what has almost become an anathema in our brazen times, that you are actually touching upon some very fundamental questions about the nature of life, love, body, lust, spirituality, death and some such profound issues.

V.Ramesh: I look at it as a contemporary human being’s search for the unity underlying the disparate elements of the world. You might call it the reality beyond the surface; a search for truth that lies beneath the ever-accelerating flux of today’s world that became my own quest.

Indrapramit:  Do you feel that the increasing marginalization of painting in the discourse of contemporary art has something to do with your subtle, nuanced and painstaking manner of painting, or do you feel the whole question regarding the role of painting, admittedly the old media, is superfluous?

V.Ramesh: The ability to draw the viewer within, through this state of flux, through its layers of paint and images, to be able to transcend these outwardly seen and perceived phenomena, one has to adopt strategies and improvise modes of expressions. I still believe in the validity of painting – it is a sacrosanct space. The day it does not feel that way I would be the first one to abandon painting.

Indrapramit: How did you get interested in Bhakti poetry and the poets?

V.Ramesh: For quite some time Bhakti or Devotion was singled out as the leitmotif in my work – not merely as an underlying unseen presence, but something that could be felt as an emotional exaltation. In the beginning when I was attempting to find an appropriate language and devising strategies to find an equivalency to this emotional exaltation, I found there were really no immediate precedents. In a way it was convenient to appropriate the voices of these poets and use them in my work.

Indrapramit: You have been teaching since 1985 nearly for 29 nine years. How do you feel it has impacted your work over the decades?

V.Ramesh: Teaching has taught me to be patient, as well as to have a sense of humility and effacement of one’s ego, especially when it comes to presuming that one knows almost everything as a teacher. You realize that is not the case and that is a humbling experience. You are not really filling an empty vessel but mentoring people to find their own voices. So, all these qualities I think have stood me in good stead when it came to my own work.

(Indrapramit Roy is an artist who teaches painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, MSU of Baroda and knows V.Ramesh since 1989)

Sanctum Sanctorum by V. Ramesh – A Corner For Four Sisters

Nishad Avari shares an essay by Georgina Maddox on artist V. Ramesh’s new gallery-size installation

Mumbai: V. Ramesh’s latest installation, ‘Sanctum Sanctorum: A Corner For Four Sisters’, takes up an entire gallery. The multi-canvas piece debuted at the India Art Fair in February this year in a single-artist booth, and was later shown at Gallery Threshold in New Delhi. Georgina Maddox, journalist and independent curator, writes about this epic installation, illuminating the influences that shaped the creation of Ramesh’s magnum opus.

Artist V. Ramesh

Artist V. Ramesh photographed in front of one of the Sanctum Sanctorum canvases

Paintings in prose

Artist V Ramesh’s fascination for the poetry of four women Bhakti poets has led him on a visual journey that captures their spirit. Georgina Maddox examines his musings over divinity, mortality and corporality.

Sanctum Sanctorum:  A Corner For Four Sisters, is a visual journey executed through the prism of devotional passion, fervour and intimacy. In his recent body of work artist V Ramesh appropriates the voices of four mystic women poets: Lal Ded from Kashmir, Karaikkal Ammiyar from Tamil Nadu, Akka Mahadevi from Karnataka and Andal who also hails from Tamil Nadu.

These famed Bhakti poets could not be more varied in their approach to verse. However they have been untied by their act of oral or spoken word poetry that is read as passionate dialogues with the supreme one. Scholars have categorised this kind of writing as Bridal Mysticism: a style that engages with God lovingly, teasingly, plaintively and sometimes with an air of severity.

The Vishakapatnam-based Ramesh has been fascinated and enraptured by the poetry of these women poets because of the transgressive nature of their acts—they all left home to wander as poet-saints, spreading their poetry and musings on divinity.

They eschewed earthly ties like marriage in the face of great opposition often at the cost of their lives, and they challenged notions of modesty and surrendered their conventional place in society as ‘respectable women’ since three of them even revoked wearing garments.

In assuming their tone and voice, Ramesh breaks gender binaries and embraces a genderless position from which to enunciate his devotion. In many ways one could say that each painting that Ramesh creates has so much of himself in it, that it could well be seen as a self portrait—especially in this body of work, and though he uses the voices of others it is really about the self that he is speaking. Extending that logic further, one could view the entire exhibition as a self portrait, though the artist’s actual reference to the self portrait is a single canvas.

“For the last ten years I have been interested in impermanence, not just of life itself but also of people. I’m fascinated by that moment of crossover when a personality goes from being ephemeral and human to becoming eternal and mythological,” says Ramesh.

The exhibition was first mounted at the India Art Fair in February 2013, where the suites of seventeen larger-than-life canvases were arranged in an L-shaped room, changing the viewing of the works to an intimate tête-à-tête with the canvases.

Now the exhibition continues at the Threshold Art Gallery, where the works have been mounted over its two floors. The central image as one walks into the gallery is of a large Banyan tree. The gigantic diptych of the tree spreads its roots and branches onto the ground creating a fortress. “I see the banyan tree as a kind of an anchor that will draw all the various canvases together,” muses the artist. The Banyan tree, inspired by a cherry blossom tree captured by an Israeli photographer Ori Gersht is central to the exhibition because it is the holding image that knits together these various strands of the narrative. The image also leads up to the canvases that feature the women poets.

V. Ramesh, Untitled

V. Ramesh, Untitled (diptych), oil on canvas, 84″ x 120″

Flanking the central canvas on either side of the Banyan tree is a canvas with four blooming lotuses afloat on a dark pond of brown, while another emerald green canvas catches crows taking flight. Both these images are indirect tributes to the poets but they’re also a celebration. In most cultures ravens or crows are seen as good omens, godly and even the creator of man. However in the Mahabharata they are considered messengers of death. In Greek mythology the crow is condemned to eternal thirst; Ramesh brings these multiple interpretations to the table in this elegiac work. Further on a sunset yellow canvas captures an emaciated mendicant on a skeletal horse; it may be read a comment on our spiritual bankruptcy as a people.

The women poets engaged with range from the Ash-covered terrifying ‘Rudra Avatar’ of Lord Shiva to the puckish playfulness of Lord Krishna. The women poets have been rendered on the canvas in both figurative and symbolic manners. For the poet Lal Ded he has chosen the motif of a delicate shawl inlayed with the map of Kashmir and laced with red—a symbolic bleeding that straddles time.

Next we are presented with the terrifying image of Karaikkal Ammaiyar over-laid by a supplicating skeleton, a flaming tree and lines from a poem that extols Lord Shiva as the supreme creator. Those familiar with the myth will know that Karaikkal Ammaiyar was known as Lord Shiva’s daemon devotee. She begged for the boon of being seen as emaciated pey (daemon) rather than a conventionally beautiful woman and was freed from the restrictive gaze of men that often imprison its women as beautiful objects guarded like chattel or property.

If the canvas of Ammaiyar glorifies how terrifying devotion can be the canvas dedicated to Akka Mahadevi celebrates the calm and beauty that this poet was known for. Akka appears to float in a sea of blue her face covered in a diaphanous web of tresses, which covered her entire body. A shower of white jasmine flowers stand out in heightened three-dimension in this canvas dedicated to the poet from Karnataka.

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The fourth poet in the narrative is Andal, a 9th century Tamil poetess and saint who is considered to be an incarnation of Bhu Devi. Ramesh embeds an entire narrative into a single icon when he paints a large, luscious garland of jasmine and rose flowers, rendered in a photorealist style, with a strand of black hair stuck to it. This personalised garland is meant for the Lord Vishnu / Krishna and was worn by his devotee Andal.

Ramesh’s interest and knowledge of the hagiographies of the women poets and mythologies associated with them is something he does not serve up to his audience simplistically. Instead he nudges one toward examining and pondering the possible narrative behind the images presented.

Ramesh’s celebration of the women poets also exposes the fact that our knowledge of them, as opposed to popular male Bhakti poets like Kabir and Faiz, is very limited. This is because even within the paradigm of a poetry form as subversive as Bhakti, the lens of gender is selective in highlighting the works of male poets. It is not surprising that they occupy the domain of the popular and that it has taken considerable scholarship and research to revive the forgotten histories of women poets. The exhibition at Threshold empowers those who have been silenced over time and through erasure.

V. Ramesh, Karaikalamma

V. Ramesh, Karaikalamma, oil on canvas, 96″ x 66″

Georgina Maddox is an independent critic curator interested in art practices that examine issues of gender, sexuality and marginalization. Her writings have appeared in several magazines like Take on Art, Art India, Biblio, Open Magazine, India Today, Harper’s Bazaar, Man’s World and newspapers like Indian Express and the Times of India. Her essays are published in Articulating Resistance edited by Shivaji Panikkar and Deeptha Achar and published by Tulika Books and the Phobic and Erotic edited by Brinda Bose and published by Seagull Books.

Your E-Pocket Guide to Exhibitions This June

The folks at Saffronart have put together a compact list of art events in Mumbai, Delhi, London and New York. All you need is a fully-charged phone to guide you and enough money if you’ve got travel plans.

There’s a lot happening in the South Asian art world that shouldn’t be missed. We’ve got it mapped for you, so head out and start taking it all in, beginning with…


Meera Devidayal: A Terrible Beauty, at Gallery Chemould Source:

From the exhibition Meera Devidayal: A Terrible Beauty, at Gallery Chemould
Source: Gallery Chemould Website

Waswo X. Waswo: Sleeping Through the Museum
Where:  Sakshi Art Gallery, Colaba
On View Till: June 21, 2014

Has the title of the show piqued your interest yet? Udaipur based American artist Waswo X. Waswo simulates a museum in this solo show through numerous “artifacts” and photographs arranged to replicate the look and feel of one. On a deeper level, it questions the act of preserving and displaying such pieces as perpetuators of culture and heritage. For folks hanging out at SoBo and looking to do more than just kill time, head to Sakshi Art Gallery between 11am and 6pm, except on Sundays when they’re closed.

Amrita Sher-Gil: The Passionate Quest
National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai
On View Till:
June 30, 2014

Commemorating the birthday of the well-renowned late artist Amrita Sher-gil, this exhibition curated by art historian Yashodhara Dalmia presents a range of her oeuvre including works depicting her life in Paris, nude studies, still-life studies and portraits of her friends and her fellow students. Sher-gil, who is also recognized as India’s own Frida Kahlo, has been the youngest and only Indian artist to be elected as an Associate of the Grand Salon in Paris. The exhibition also includes her photographs, and original letters. A must-visit show for art enthusiasts in the city.

A Terrible Beauty
Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
On View Till:
July 9, 2014

This exhibition includes works by Delhi-based artist Meera Devidayal who has adopted the theme of the dilapidated mills of Mumbai and their future as the subject for her works. Her unique style and extremely sight-specific theme make this a show that is bound to make viewers not just appreciate the aesthetics of the works but also ponder about the future of the mills.

Figures of Speech: Using the Written Word in Contemporary Art
Where: Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai
On View Till: July 15, 2014

Exploring the relationship between words and images, this exhibition features the works of contemporary artists such as N. Ramachandran, Bhavna Sonawane, Brinda Miller and Rajesh Patil among others. Of course, you can combine a visit to this exhibition with a meal or a coffee at the Four Seasons Hotel to make for a lovely afternoon or evening.

Walk the Line with Sudhir Patwardhan
Jehangir Nicholson Gallery, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai
Wednesday 11th June, 5 – 6:30 pm
On View Till: August 30, 2014

If the ongoing exhibition, “Taking the Line for a Walk” at the Jehangir Nicholson Gallery already doesn’t sound exciting enough to visit, the idea of being walked through it with contemporary artist Sudhir Patwardhan himself certainly makes it hard to miss. The exhibition showcases 45 drawings by well-acclaimed artists such as Tyeb Mehta, Akbar Padamsee, F.N. Souza, S.H. Raza, Laxman Shreshtha, Manjit Bawa and Sudhir Patwardhan. A message especially for the drawing enthusiasts out there: don’t miss this event!



Raj Rewal:  “Memory, Metaphor and Meaning in his Constructed Landscape”  at NGMA, Delhi Source:

From the exhibition Raj Rewal: “Memory, Metaphor and Meaning in his Constructed Landscape”, at NGMA, Delhi

Kaleidoscope: Group Art Show
Where: Chawla Art Gallery, Delhi
On View Till: June 14, 2014 

This group exhibition shows some of the finest works of contemporary artists such Asit Kumar Patnaik, Bharat Bhushan Singh, Farhad Hussain, Jayasri Burman, K.S. Radhakrishnan, Ramesh Gorjala, Satish Gujral, Shipra Bhattacharya, Surya Prakash, Thota Vaikuntam, Tapas Sarkar and Manu Parekh. Having works by so many artists under one roof makes for an interesting variety of styles and themes. There is bound to be something that catches the eye of every individual view!

Raj Rewal: “Memory, Metaphor and Meaning in his Constructed Landscape”
Where: National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi
On View Till:
June 15, 2014

This is a retrospective show of the works of Raj Rewal, one of India’s finest architects. Known for several iconic buildings in India and abroad, his works have also been showcased at famous museums abroad such as the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Looking at architecture as a visual art allows for a unique experience for many viewers who may otherwise overlook the artistic element in buildings, which are typically judged by their functionality.

Identity Control
Where: Vadehra Art Gallery, Delhi
On View Till:
June 17, 2014

This exhibition features works that deal with “notions of policing, tracking, security, immigration, loss of individuality and rebellion, all of which are issues that affect us in more than one level.” Considering the different perspectives and approaches of leading contemporary artists such as Shilpa Gupta, Jitish Kallat, Karthik KG, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Natalia Ludmila, Armando Miguelez, should allow you to gain an extensive view of the complexities surrounding one’s identity.

Where: VadehraArt Gallery, Delhi
On View Till:
June 17, 2014

Featuring the works of contemporary artists such as Atul Bhalla, Ruby Chishti, Minal Damani, Jagannath Panda, Ashim Purkayastha and B. Ajay Sharma, this exhibition focuses on the different facets of Indian urban life in contemporary times. Combine a visit to this show with the ‘Identity Control’ exhibition, taking place in the same gallery!


M.F. Husain, Ganesha, 2008 from the exhibition M.F. Husain: Master of Modern Indian Painting at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London Source:

From the exhibition M.F. Husain: Master of Modern Indian Painting, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

S.H. Raza: Pyaas
Grosvenor Gallery
On View Till:
June 14, 2014

What would you say to being in London in summer for an exhibition of paintings by one of India’s most revered Modern artists? If it isn’t a whoop and a jump (or an acknowledging smile for the more poised amongst you), we can only surmise you don’t have a visa to make the trip. The exhibition ‘S.H. Raza: Pyaas’ is just the thing for art enthusiasts—it intends to display the development and range of styles in which Raza has depicted his characteristic subject matter in recent times. The paintings contain a great deal of vigour, vibrancy and a strong connection to India and its religious heritage.

Art Antiques London
Kensington Gardens opposite the Royal Albert Hall
On View: June 12 – 18, 2014, 11am onwards

‘The most important Asian sales of the year will be held in London during this annual event.’ —BBC Homes & Antiques Magazine

‘Asian Art in London is a brilliantly conceived celebration of Asian Art and has made London the undisputed Asian Art capital of the world.’ — Essential London Magazine

Accolades alone won’t do it, so hear it from us. Asian Art London has grown to become a highly prestigious art fair dealing in antiques and art, bringing together renowned dealers, collectors and enthusiasts. It is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to procure beautiful and rare items in antique and contemporary Asian art. Among participating galleries from London and Paris, Galerie Christophe Hioco is one to look out for. Crowning this is its convenient location opposite the Royal Albert Hall, against the backdrop of the verdant Kensington Gardens—you certainly can’t say no to that!

Olivia Fraser: Subtle Bodies Exhibition
Where: Grosvenor Gallery
On View Till: June 21, 2014

India’s art traditions draw the internationally-acclaimed artist Olivia Fraser to reference it in her works, and her latest paintings attest to this. Having lived in India for the last ten years, Fraser’s work reflects a grasp of Indian traditional iconography, but used to express sensations of a meditative process. ‘Subtle Bodies’ displays a mix of paintings on hand-made paper and limited-edition prints prepared during the last few years and the work announces Fraser’s emergence. The incredible blend of east and west, traditional, and contemporary for the new exhibition is a direct reflection of Fraser’s ideology.

M.F. Husain: Master of Modern Indian Painting
Where: Victoria & Albert Museum, South Kensington
On View Till: July 27, 2014

Seems like there’s no end to exhibitions featuring South Asian art in Central London. Head to the V&A for a sumptuous collection of paintings by Maqbool Fida Husain (1915-2011). A member of the Bombay Progressives, he was famed for his freehand drawing and vibrant colours and was among India’s pioneering Modern artists. The eight painted triptychs on display illustrate Indian civilization and were commissioned in 2008 by Mrs Usha Mittal as a tribute to the richness of India’s history. The artist was still working on the project at the time of his death and originally envisaged a series of 96 panels. History and religion feature in a feisty splurge of colours and expression—be sure to not miss out on this one!

New York

Sadequain  UNTITLED, RED BRACELET, 1980s from the exhibition Sadequain: A Retrospective at Aicon Gallery, New York Source:

From the exhibition Sadequain: A Retrospective at Aicon Gallery, New York

Sadequain: A Retrospective
Aicon Gallery, New York
On View: June 12 – July 12, 2014

When the Moderns were earning a name in India, Sadequain Naqqash carved his path to fame and later came to be known as a pioneering Pakistani artist in his country and the world. He came from a family of scribes and the background served him well: Sadequain came to be recognised as Pakistan’s foremost calligrapher and painter and is credited with the renaissance of Islamic calligraphy in Pakistan. His vocabulary developed through a mingling of Eastern and Western artistic traditions, as well as Hindu and Muslim ideology. Aicon Gallery hosts a collection of 24 works from the 1960s to the ’80s that trace the trajectory of his artistic development.

Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, 5th to 8th Century
Metropolitan Museum of Art
On View Till: July 27, 2014

This monumental exhibit is the first of its kind and scale to bring together works on loan from South East Asia’s distinguished national collections, showcasing sculptural art produced in the earliest kingdoms of the Southeast Asian region. The Lost Kingdom features some 160 sculptures representing distinct Hindu and Buddhist cultural groups that flourished in the Southeast Asian region, that has been out of view owing to the shadow of time. Epigraphic efforts of the 20th century brought to the fore the cultural practices and remains of the Pyu, Funan, Zhenla, Champa, Dvāravatī, Kedah, and Śrīvijaya groups, which date back to many centuries. The art works highlight the influence and local amalgamation of Indic culture in regional belief systems and practices. It is interesting to see popular deities from India being depicted in a different avatar by these regional patrons. Many of the works have never travelled outside their source countries before providing visitors an opportunity to view works they may not have access to easily.

SxSE: Selections from the Asia Society Museum Collection
The Asia Society Museum
On View: June 17 – August 3, 2014

Don’t miss out on this selection of video artworks which will be on display at the Asia Society Museum, starting June 17. It features works since 2000 by South and Southeast Asian artists that highlight current artistic trends in the region, with a special focus on disparities between globalisation, modernisation, urbanisation and tradition.

For the insatiable among you, we have an events listing page that is updated each month. Be sure to drop by regularly for updates.

Convergence: Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora

Shradha Ramesh summates a curatorial note by Professor Kathryn Myers

New York : “Convergence: Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora” an exhibition held at the William Benton Museum, University of Connecticut (14 October to 15 December 2013) is visual entourage of Indian Modern and Contemporary art.This exhibit encapsulated a different perspective on Indian art, with artworks dating from 1940’s to the present.

Aptly titled, the oeuvres of fifteen artists with different stylistic rendition converge under one roof. Each one of these artists set out on their own creative expedition to explore a common issue of identity and the continued power of place in the current global scenario. While inquiring the conundrums of identity and place the exhibition walked through a vast expanse of repertoire ranging from photographs to new media.


Image courtesy Benton Museum. Convergence: Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora”, 2013, installation view.  William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut.

Image courtesy Benton Museum.
Convergence: Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora”, 2013, installation view.
William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut.

A combination of emerging and internationally recognized artists adds a new visual narration.The list of artists has stalwarts like Madhvi Parekh, Waswo X. Waswo , Ravi Agarwal, Anupam Sud ,Sanarth Banerjee, Siona Benjamin, Neil Chowdhury, Sunil Gupta, Hanuman R. Kambli, Bari Kumar, Vijay Kumar, Sachin Naik, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, along with  young emerging artists such as Sujith SN, and Avinash Veeraraghavan, are ensemble of contemporary Indian art. These artists are of Indian origin, of which nine artists are from India and the rest six live and work from United States and London.



Image Courtesy: Connecticut Suresh Playing Hanuman, from the series  A Studio in Rajasthan (2007–present). Black-and-white digital  Print

Image Courtesy: Connecticut
Suresh Playing Hanuman, from the series
A Studio in Rajasthan (2007–present). Black-and-white digital

Professor Kathryn Myers’s  passion and love for Indian art and culture that started in 1999, has transpired into a fine curatorial collection at the museum.According to Professor Myers, the concept “ “Convergence” emphasizes  how works of art continue to act as key avenues through which we increase our knowledge of and more fully invest in the world we inhabit.” One can experience this each of their works. Creating a strong link between Indian Art and education Professor Myer’s has played a pivotal role in compiling this collection.  Her collaboration with the William Benton Museum sowed the seeds for the first Indian Modern Art exhibit in 2004 called Masala: Diversity and Democracy in South Asian Art. The exhibit had 250 works of traditional, folk, popular, and contemporary art that filled three gallery spaces of the museum.  While “Convergence” is a contemporary sequel to “Masala” that revisits select work of the collection and also introduces audience to artists.

To Read more Click here

Bedazzled by JAR

Shradha Ramesh reports on ‘Jewels by JAR’ exhibited at Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York:  In 1978, New York born Joel Arthur Rosenthal well known as JAR opened Place Vendôme in Paris. Since then the stalwart continues to rein the contemporary artists of gems. Dedicated to creating the finest of finest dazzling jewels in the world, Place Vendôme is the epicenter of his creation. It is one of his seminal endeavors and key entry point into the jewelry industry. Known for his detail oriented eccentric craftsmanship Rosenthal follows a labor intensive, intricate design process called the pavé technique – a process of placing small stones besides each other on a metal alloy. His creation is lauded not just for its craftsmanship and quality but also his selection of themes and colors. With an overarching theme of ephemeral changes in flowers – buds, bloom or falling petals and butterflies his brooches and rings are a unique sculptural rendition. During the press preview, curator Jane Adlin describes his work “I think Joel is best known for his technique of pavé. He’s discriminating but indiscriminate in his use of gemstones,” Adlin said. “So he’ll mix very, very fine perfectly cut, perfectly flawless gemstones with some that are not. He will use lesser quality stones. He will use lesser-known stones. But the outcome is this extraordinary piece of jewelry, which if you just put it on your dresser or your coffee table it would in fact be a piece of sculpture.”

Photograph by Jozsef Tari. Courtesy of JAR, Paris Raspberry Brooch, 2011, Rubies, diamonds, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Collection of Sien M. Chew

Photograph by Jozsef Tari. Courtesy of JAR, Paris
Raspberry Brooch, 2011,
Rubies, diamonds, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.
Collection of Sien M. Chew. Image Credit:

In 35 years of making jewelry Rosenthal’s works rarely did he display his work in public. Being opinioned and structured he tends to focus more on quality and the aesthetic value. With particular buyer in mind his craftsmen from Switzerland and France create 70 to 80 pieces a year, Rosenthal feels “Getting the right things on the right people is part of making those things.” He is specific about who wears his jewels, he chooses his seller and sometimes refuses to sell his jewel if the design doesn’t suit the wearer. Rosenthal’s clientele are selective group of ardent connoisseurs and his collection cater to them to name few – Elizabeth Taylor, Elle Macpherson, Barbara Walter, Ann Getty, Mary Pinault and Jo Carole. Having said that, in recent years his auction results have been sky rocketing, his jewels sell for twice the price at auction resale than when they are bought first hand.

Photograph by Jozsef Tari. Courtesy of JAR, Paris Lilac Brooches, 2001 Diamonds, lilac sapphires, garnets, aluminum, silver, and gold. Private collection

Photograph by Jozsef Tari. Courtesy of JAR, Paris
Lilac Brooches, 2001
Diamonds, lilac sapphires, garnets, aluminum, silver, and gold.
Private collection. Image Credit:

And for the first time Rosenthal will be represented in United States at the Meteropolitan Museum of Art. A retrospective exhibit the collections are some of his finest creation ranging from earring, brooches and watches lent by private collectors. “JAR has been creating masterworks for over 35 years and hasn’t had a major solo exhibition in the U.S.,” associate curator Jane Adlin says.

A repertoire of 400 jewels designed by Joel Arthur Rosenthal will be on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, starting November 20, 2013 the exhibit Jewels of JAR will be on display until 9th March 2013.

To learn more about the exhibition Click Here.

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