London: Nature Morte is currently hosting at the Famous Studio in Mumbai “Q”, the second solo exhibition in Mumbai of artist duo Thukral & Tagra.
The exhibition revolves around a dear theme to T & T: the Indian diaspora and the feelings of anxiety, insecurity and hope which are connected to that. In the specific “Q is the story of one of the many abandoned brides that haunt the state of Punjab, almost a contemporary fairytale fraught with loneliness, desperation and confusion, yet infused with hopeful dreams that are difficult to let go of.”
T & T’s art is colourful and provocative, which discusses harsh realities through bright colours and cartoon-like imageries.
“Most of our works address the issues, cultural shifts, problems and beliefs of people living in India today. We grew up with the general acknowledgement that most Indians dream of leaving India and moving abroad,” Thukral says, adding that the dream is “laced with anxiety and insecurity.”
The exhibition features paintings of different sizes as well as videos and installations. T & T recently also expanded their creativity with a collaboration with the Italian fashion brand Etro for which they designed a bag collection.
London: Art Plural Gallery in Singapore is currently hosting “Windows of Opportunity”, a solo exhibition of works by the artist duo Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra, featuring their most recent paintings and installations. The show, which is on until May 25th, mainly explores the socio-political issues that animate the global Punjabi diaspora.
To learn more about Thukral & Tagra’s art and this exhibition watch this interview with the artists:
London: Artists and Vodka? Certainly not a surprising association, but one that has constantly been given new meaning for the past 27 years by Sweedish vodka company Absolut. In 1986 Andy Warhol started a long association between Absolut and the arts community by painting their vodka bottle, more recently, this year they have announced Anish Kapoor as the artist who will continue this tradition by creating a unique installation, his interpretation of the absolut bottle. The work is to be made using Kapoor’s trademark engagement of the viewer with space. The creation of the bottle will be made with ‘negative’ space employing a sculpting technique that has commonly been featured in many of Kapoor’s previous works, as well as his use of metals and the colour red. The artist elaborates on this opportunity by stating,
“Absolut has a long history with artists, from Warhol to many of my great colleagues. The idea of somehow encapsulating whatever it is that one does in a single moment….and kind of making it an Absolut Kapoor. It is a strange notion, but one that I felt I could at least go in pursuit of” –Anish Kapoor.”
Kapoor’s bottle will be one of the latest in the collection including the work of countless established contemporary artists such as Rosemarie Trockel and Louise Bourgeiouse who have contrinbuted through their interpretations of the bottle and it’s meaning [See images below].
Closer to home, Indian designer Manish Arora designed a bottle in 2009, and soon after Subodh Gupta (in 2011), Bharti Kher (in 2012), and most recently early this year, author Vikram Seth have all participated in this artistic alliance [see images below].
Collaboration between brands and the arts community is a common enough occurrence. For istance you have internationally renowned artists such as Takashi Murakami and Yayoi Kusama who have both worked with large brands like Louis Vuitton, and more recently you have up coming artists like Thukral and Tagra who designed handbags for the Italian brand Etro. With Absolut you can physically trace this history, starting with Warhol in 1986. Warhol’s legacy is characterized by the genre of Pop Art, through deconstructing this term, it is evident that he essentially fused the worlds of popular culture and art together, making it more accessible or appealing to a wider audience. Often these partnerships are accussed of having commercial overtones, or being marketing gimmicks for both the brands and the arists involved, but ultimately what they achieve is greater recognition for the artist and their works, thus providing audiences with an opportunity to discover what contemporary art is, therefore reaching a wider audience. This focus on the audience and their experience with the work is what makes Anish Kapoor so apt and simultaneously unique as a choice to interpret the Absolut bottle. His works are conceived on the premise of viewers engagement with the space and the artwork – which is this case is the bottle – an object they have probably come across at least a couple of times. The experience of viewing the installation encapsulates not only a very academic notion the engagement of audiences and space, but the mesh of popular culture and art as well which is extremely reflective of and imperative to the contemporary art scene. Anish Kapoor himself reflects on this aspect of how an artwork functions (in relation to the audience) and what it can accomplish,
“Art is really all about transformation; it’s about taking a piece of metal, a lump of clay, a bit of cement, or whatever else and turning it into something that it isn’t. That fundamental transformation is truly mysterious; it is something that is in a way is wondrous. That moment of wonder is something that is deeply attractive and we are instinctively drawn to it, it is as if the work is saying come here, come and be part of this wonder, this thing that is happening. And I feel that intimacy with the viewer is something special, something we have to hold on to.” – Anish Kapoor.
The transformation of the bottle is what we are looking forward to, and have great expectations for.
Emily Jane Cushing suggests the ‘Move on Asia’ exhibition of Asian video art from 2002 to 2012.
London: The ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Germany opened on February 9th their exhibition which shows the development of the video art genre and the increasing importance of Asia in contemporary art; the exhibition runs until August 4th 2013.
The increased interest in Asian arts resulted in the 2007 exhibition at the ZKM | Karlsruhe curated by Wonil Rhee entitled “Thermocline of Art. New Asian Waves”. This exhibition was hugely successful in attracting world-wide attention to the Asiatic ‘moving image’; despite being only six years prior and fifty years since the emergence of video art, the need for a follow on exhibition showing the huge development in this genre is needed.
It is noted that as an art genre video art has continually been associated with the West despite much of the technology originating in Asia. This exhibition proves that over the last couple of decades the culture of video art has gained greater independence from Western models by showing at biennale’s and art exhibitions across the world.
The vast exhibition, containing over 140 works, is made up of works from video artists originating from thirteen Asiatic countries including China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. In addition to the showing of established artists, recent works by new artists are also shown.
An interactive installation entitled “Global Fire” by the Paris-based artist Du Zhenjun may also be viewed in connection with the exhibition. “Global Fire” is a large inflatable dome in which the visitors may ignite the flags of 200 countries with lighters on heat censors. Also on show in the ZKM_PanoramaLab is the interactive video installation “40+4. Art is Not Enough! Not Enough” in which forty Shanghai based artists are interviewed about their works and asked to question their art in relation to the environment and the social impact of their artistic production. This installation resulting from the collaboration between the curator Davide Quadrio, the filmmaker Lothar Spree as well as the video artist Xiaowen Zhu is truly insightful and fascinating.
This exhibition runs until 4th August 2013; view the website for more details on this exciting exhibition.
Also, for those wishing to read more about Indian video art, I have found a really interesting article from Tehelka Magazine with Pakistani artist Bani Abidi discussing Indian Video art and it’s increased popularity here; it’s a great read!
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 Nowis 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.
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