Forerunner: An Ephemeral Transition

Shradha Ramesh reports on the show FORERUNNER at Chatterjee & Lal

Tandav III, 2012, Sahej Rajal

Tandav III, 2012, Sahej Rajal. Image credit: http://www.chatterjeeandlal.com/show-images-videos.php?LinkID=130

New York:  Sahej Rahal’s is prepped up for his second innings at Chatterjee & Lal gallery, Mumbai. We caught up with the artist last year, at the gallery, during his exhibit Bhramana II – a live performance art. It was a characterial confluence of art, history and mythical performance, to Rahal the elements of Bhramana II came together from varied sources. He said “The characters that inhabit these performances bare indices to different cultures, mythologies and pop culture.” While Bhramana I a sequel of Bhramana II, was a momentary performance act, his Tandav III is a photographic representation in a surreal setting.

Bhramana III, 2013, Sahej Rahal

Bhramana III, 2013, Sahej Rahal. Image Credit: http://www.chatterjeeandlal.com/show-images-videos.php?LinkID=130

A versatile artist Sahej Rahal converts everything around him into a creative exploration. He is known to intersperse reality with illusion. Having trained under Tejal Shah, Nikhil Chopra, Shumona Goel and Sophie Ernst his works are an amalgamation, of their teachings and techniques ranging from sculpture, video art and performing art. He has collaborated and worked at International forums, both in India and abroad. A short stint at Zurich residential program he created sculptures and installation with reference to war.

The Groom, 2011, Sahej Rahal

The Groom, 2011, Sahej Rahal. Image Credit: http://www.chatterjeeandlal.com/show-images-videos.php?LinkID=130

A visual milieu, Sahej Rahal’s artworks are cryptic evolution of various fictional and real time heroes. Being a hard-core Star Wars fan, one is lost in his monastic ‘Jedi’ like forms taking the center stage in his pictorial representation. He was influenced by Joseph Beuys a German, a Happening and performance artist, during his creation of Bhramana series, he said “I was going back to look at the things Beuys was looking at, the idea of the shaman as the storyteller, and looking at the art making process as a kind of alchemy.”

Walker I, 2013, Sahej Rahal

Walker I, 2013, Sahej Rahal. Image Credit: http://www.chatterjeeandlal.com/show-images-videos.php?LinkID=131

Threading the path of creating a surreal character in a real life urban ambience, Sahej Rahal has a child like euphoric reaction to every object he comes across. To Rahal found objects play a critical role in his creations, a bath tub was an integral part of his video creation as was the didgeridoo instrument in his Bhramana II performance art.  In the two minute film a monk like character has a bath in a mundane bath tub in a surreal ritual. He fascinated by war, rituals, ceremonial processes and myths. He is an artist with full of zeal and gives it all to his art he says “I just pick the coolest things I come across… it’s a lot of fun.”

Helmet, 2013, Sahej Rahal

Helmet, 2013, Sahej Rahal. Image Credit: http://www.chatterjeeandlal.com/show-images-videos.php?LinkID=131

Sahej Rahal’s current exhibit, Forerunner transpires from these diverse experience and explorations. A series of photography, video documentary and sculptures the show is a visual maze. One gets enamoured by the other worldly creatures and the dynamism.

Forerunner is on display at Chatterjee & Lal gallery, Mumbai until 28 September 2013.

To Read More Click Here.

Art Night Thursday, Mumbai

Tarika Agarwal of Saffronart gallery-hops in Mumbai on the occasion of the latest edition of ‘Art Night Thursday’

Mumbai: It was quite an exciting experience walking around the Mumbai Art District at night for the first time as part of Art Night Thursday last week.

Started in London, the idea is that on the first Thursday of the month, participating galleries and museums stay open past 9 pm. It was an amazing way to get introduced to the great art scene in the vibrant city of Mumbai. It has managed to promote museums and art galleries as fun places to hang out in the evening.

The trail consisted of seven galleries. There was a vast variety of  works on display – tapestries, video art, sculptures, installations, oils, acrylics to name a few. I started my journey alone but somewhere along the way it became a nice little group of art lovers walking about the streets of Mumbai from one gallery to another. It was nice to see how college students, art students, the retired and collectors were in the same space enjoying, appreciating and discussing an artist’s work.

In this edition of Art Night Thursday, here is the list of a few of the artists being exhibited and the kinds of work they were showing –

Monika Correa, Homage to Kepes, White Warp
Image Credit- www.gallerychemould.com

In an exhibition of Tapestries at Chemould Prescott Road, Monika Correa has explored the underlying relationship between weaving and the diverse patterns and textures of nature. Read more.

Prakaash Chandwadkar, Untitled – 001, Acrylic on Lokta Paper
Image Credit- www.gallerybeyond.com

In a group show at Gallery Beyond, Prakaash Chandwadkar had showcased a few acrylics on Lokta Paper (wild crafted, handmade artisan paper indigenous to Nepal).  These works display the vistas of the Himalayan Ranges around Nepal where he treks.

At the Guild, Rakhi Peswani presented ‘Anatomy of Silence’. The artist believes that silence is an integral part of paintings, sculptures and objects. Art holds a mute relationship with the society it is created and survives in. She shows the human body in a handmade avatar which is close to displacement and demise. The relationship between a laborious work and a craftsman’s body is explored and seen vis-à-vis the situation of the handmade today.

William Kentridge

William Kentridge, Untitled, Indian Ink on pages from The Century Dictionary; An Encyclopedic Lexicon of the language.
Image Credit- www.volte.in

One of the best shows was the William Kentridge solo exhibition, ‘Poems I used to know’ at Volte, which combines large drawings done in Indian ink on multiple pages from books that have been put together, a film installation, a series of slip book films, sculptures and a large tapestry. Read a review of the show in the Mint by Girish Shahane.

Shine Shivan, Glimpse of Thirst (11), Fabric, jute, fiber, marbles, fiber glass, artificial hair, sequins and beads.
Image Credit- www.artinfo.com/

Shine Shivan’s ‘Glimpse of Thirst’ at Gallery Maskara exhibits a provocative body of work including a large group of hybrid, fantasy characters crafted from various non-typical materials and a video installation.

Nityan Unnikrishnan

Nityan Unnikrishnan, Untitled, Mixed Media on Paper
Image Credit- www.chatterjeeandlal.com

Chatterjee & Lall previewed Nityan Unnikrishnan’s solo show ‘While Everyone is Away’ during Art Night Thursday. This exhibition consists of fourteen paper-works and two sculptures, and is the first time the artist’s three-dimensional works have been shown. According to the exhibition note, “He derives from a variety of sources to build his works: memories, literature, the arts, Arcadia, the modern world, his present life. The individual works are open to a variety of interpretations; little niches and low voices offer up clues as the viewer navigates their densely worked surfaces.”

Risham Syed

Risham Syed, Untitled Lahore Series # 11, Acrylic on Board on Canvas
Image Credit- www.project88.in

Risham Syed’s first solo exhibition in India titled ‘Metropolyptical: A Tale of a City’ was on view at Project 88. The artist portrays modern day Lahore, a place she calls home, yet remains a complete stranger to, due to the construction and deconstruction which is a mystic version of post-modernity.

Imagine getting a chance to see different collections of great art for an evening every month. Four to five hours of one’s time spent in appreciating the creativity of the young and the established felt like no time at all! I consider this a MUST DO if you are visiting Mumbai or are in South Mumbai when the next editions of Art Night Thursday are taking place.

Frieze London 2012

Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart on one of the most avant-garde fairs in the world

London: The time of the year when all contemporary art lovers descend on London for one of the greatest international art fairs has just passed. Regent’s Park in the heart of the city just hosted the Frieze Art Fair & Frieze Masters 2012 for four days (11-14 October).

With its overwhelming size and number of participants, Frieze allows you to view some of the best art from all over the world and immerse yourself in a sea of colours, shapes and unspoken words.

The presence of South Asian art at the fair seemed to be more evident in this edition compared to previous years. Two Indian galleries, Chatterjee & Lal and Project 88, which was in the Frame section of the fair last year, confirmed their presence and many of well-known international galleries included works by Indian artists in their exhibits.

Nikhil Chopra, Yog Raj Chitrakar, Memory Drawing IV, 2010

Nikhil Chopra, Yog Raj Chitrakar, Memory Drawing IV, 2010
Image Credit: http://friezelondon.com/exhibitors/exhibit/4973/1083

Chatterjee & Lal focused its attention on performance art, with Nikhil Chopra and Hetain Patel, two artists who approach this form of expression in different ways. While Chopra mainly uses costumes, drawings and photography, Patel works with self-decoration, video and photography. The latter explores issues of identity using characters to which he contrasts and compares himself. Nikhil Chopra, on the other hand, expresses himself through live performances whose characters are quite auto-referential and discuss the issues of the modern world. Time is an essential element of his performances. The artist is fascinated by how things transform over time and how the repetition of events is almost ritualistic. However, once the performance is over we are left with pictures and drawings which document the act and have the task of bringing the emotions provoked by the performance back to life.

Hetain Patel, Mehndi 9, 2012

Hetain Patel, Mehndi 9, 2012
Image Credit: http://friezelondon.com/exhibitors/exhibit/4973/1058

Project 88 had on display a selection of works by Sarnath Banerjee from his project on the London Olympic Games, “Gallery of Losers”which ironically tackles the theme of winning/losing. For the first time in the history of the Olympics the attention is focused on the losers and the people who almost made it.

Sarnath Banerjee, High Jump (set of 16), 2012

Sarnath Banerjee, High Jump (set of 16), 2012
Image Credit: http://friezelondon.com/exhibitors/exhibit/4953/1381

In “Poise II” Neha Choksi engages with themes of detachment and disappearance using installation art. The piece comprises a mattress held up by vases containing faded flowers.

Neha Choksi, Poise II, 2010

Neha Choksi, Poise II, 2010
Image Credit: http://friezelondon.com/exhibitors/exhibit/4953/1377

The feelings of sadness provoked by this work are soon lightened by an installation by Raqs Media Collective called “Whenever the heart skips a beat”.

Raqs Media Collective, Whenever the Heart Skips a beat, 2011

Raqs Media Collective, Whenever the Heart Skips a beat, 2011
Image Credit: http://friezelondon.com/exhibitors/exhibit/4953/1379

The unusual clock moving forwards and backwards, skipping beats regularly, creates witty combinations of words. Also on display is Raqs Media Collective’s “The Philosophy of Namak Haram Revised”, a picture reflecting on all the things we should do but we cannot. One of these is the debt we have towards books which give us knowledge without being repaid. Thus, we all are ‘Namak Haraam’, innate debtors for the knowledge we constantly steal from books in our daily life. The other artists on display at Project 88 were Huma Mulji and the Otolith Group.

Raqs Media Collective, The Philosophy of Namak Haram Revised, 2012

Raqs Media Collective, The Philosophy of Namak Haram Revised, 2012
Image Credit: http://friezelondon.com/exhibitors/exhibit/4953/1378

Other Indian art works on display at Frieze were by Dayanita Singh at Frith Street Gallery, Shilpa Gupta at Yvon Lambert, Bharti Kher at Galerie Perrotin, and Anish Kapoor at Lisson Gallery. Corvi-Mora Gallery exhibited works by the Pakistani artists Imran Qureshi and Aisha Khalid.

Imran Qureshi, This leprous brightness, 2011

Imran Qureshi, This leprous brightness, 2011
Image Credit: Picture by the author.

This year, for the first time, Frieze opened the door to galleries displaying work by old masters as well, perhaps to attract visitors and illuminate some of the forms, techniques and concepts behind contemporary art. This newly opened section had on display different kinds of art up to the year 2000, leaving the exclusivity of the last 12 years to the main area of the fair. Frieze Masters enjoyed great success, rivalling TEFAF Maastricht, perhaps because of the merging of old masters, antiquities and some modern artists. In this section Indian art was on display at the booths of Sam Fogg and Francesca Galloway.

After this deep immersion in the art world, we will need a few days to process all of the images and the concepts behind the works. Frieze is definitely a unique yet overwhelming experience. Nevertheless, as always, I’m already looking forward to seeing what will be on display next year to please our eyes and stimulate our minds.

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