Talent Spotting

Picasso’s Composition with still life by Vishwanath. K

It’s a searing, hot day but one feels immediately invigorated as one steps through the gates of the familiar red-brick building that houses the Delhi College of Art. The institute has given rise to many a leading artist. Their annual exhibition is always an exciting place where one can view the budding artists of the future and lay secret bets on who is going to make it big in the coming years. This year’s Masters first and second year students have put up a very inspiring display of artwork.

We talent spotted and came up with the most promising artists to look out for, thought this is not to say that other artist’s works were not good. Let’s just call it our curatorial teams personal pick! Continue reading “Talent Spotting”

Jignam

A Lhasa based “street photographer“. Making images of India using an old Rolleiflex.  “No politics please”, “no politics”,  he said.  I assured him that the images were being taken for an online magazine.  He wasn’t convinced.

Arpana Caur’s Journey

One must count one’s self lucky, when an exhibition featuring 40-years of an artist’s oeuvre, is all under one roof. “Four Decades: A painters Journey” is a collection of some of Arpana Caur’s best works from the Swaraj Collection, ranging from her early works in the 1970s to the 1990s. It also features sixteen new works from the 2000’s that were added for the show.
The exhibition is curated by Prarthana and Priyanka Tagore and was conceived by the late Rehana Shah, deputy curator of the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru where it opened in September 2016. It travelled to Swaraj Art Archive in Noida, in March 2017. The exhibition is on till the 15th of April 2017.  Majority of the works are from the Swaraj Collection, founded by Vijay Kumar Aggarwal.   Continue reading “Arpana Caur’s Journey”

Zuby and her glass

When you think of glass, one often thinks fragility. Not if you are Zuby Johal though. The 35-year-old, Ludhiana born Zuby has established herself as one of the leading names in glass design and one-off glass installations that are sturdy as they are beautiful. “The first time I saw glass being blown in a Firozabad factory, in UP it was just magical,” says Zuby. However, the story begins earlier than this visit that resulted in instant love of the medium. Continue reading “Zuby and her glass”

Sotheby’s auction room

The princess pining for her prince, in her ivory tower is an oft-repeated theme in Western and Oriental literature and in popular folklore. Artist Raja Ravi Varma, brought his unique take on this theme in his various renditions of the story of ‘Nala Damayanti’. This version, that was painted in circa 1890-1900, belongs to a private American collection and is being offered at a starting bid of INR 3,33,82,500, (USD, 500,000), at the Sotheby’s Auction slated for 14th March in New York. The work is a National Treasure. Ravi Varma has been heralded as one of the first Modern Indian artists, for he learnt the techniques of oil on canvas and brought to it his interpretation of the epics, influenced by European realism. The work possesses opulence, detail and is rich in historicity. “Ravi Varma is an important figure, in the history of Modern Indian painting, which is why his work is priced above an artist like Horace Van Ruith, (also in our auction). Continue reading “Sotheby’s auction room”

Interpreting Contemporary Geographies: India Art Fair 2017

The India Art Fair, (IAF), opened at the NSIC grounds on February 2nd to an increasing number of footfalls. Despite the overwhelming number of galleries displaying typical paintings and sculptures there were a number of provocative and non-commercial Projects.
At the centre of IAF’s right hall, Art Heritage gallery’s exhibition of Vanita Gupta’s Breathe In, Breathe Out: A Medley in Spatial Registers introduced the viewer to an immersive realization of the process of inhabiting a topography. In the context of this work this could signify diverse possibilities: the uneven terrain of individual interiority, the interstices of the human body, or simply the contours of a fluid but intricate geography, including that of the gallery itself, exposed to the continuous traffic of what passes through—bodies, breath, elements, emotions, sensations, and the residue of intervention sand interpretations created by these encounters. Continue reading “Interpreting Contemporary Geographies: India Art Fair 2017”

5 things not to miss at the India Art Fair 17

The 9th edition of the India Art Fair opened at the NSIC grounds on Thursday. The Fair that is showcasing art from about 90 galleries, from across the globe received a decent number of footfalls, for the first day. The crowd, on the opening day comprised mostly of artist, some VIP collectors and the press. Some gallerists had reported that they already had interest and sales of the works. Neha Kirpal is the founding director of the fair, which opens at New Delhi’s NSIC grounds on February 2. The MCH Group, the company that runs the Art Basel fairs, is the new co-owner of the IAF. One could say that this avatar of the Art Fair is characterized by a balance of commercial work and experimental projects. Following are the ones that stood out and cannot be missed.

1. Aicon Gallery’s showcase of Pakistani-American Anila Quayyum Agha’s installation, All the Flowers Are For Me, was one of the most anticipated pieces and it did not disappoint. The work, displayed in a solo booth is a play with light upon filigreed cutouts that characterized by geometric ornamentation’s and patterns. It effectively transformed the busy space of the Art Fair into one of contemplation and repose. The meditative quality of the work engages the viewer, slowing down the quick browsing that is characteristic of Art Fair viewing. Continue reading “5 things not to miss at the India Art Fair 17”

Let’s get physical

Ravi Dhingra with his works

It is a photography show, which is why I found it interesting when people compared the photographs to paintings.  Viewers spoke of colour, texture and rendering of the photograph and were glad that they attended the show rather than just look at the images online. The truth is that despite living in a digital age, where most photographs are viewed on social media and other platforms like Instagram, the physical and corporal nature of the photograph continues to remain important. Continue reading “Let’s get physical”

Appreciating photography as fine art

The distinction between Fine Art Photography and documentary photography is a very thin one. Some of the great photographers in India, like Raghu Rai, Dayanita Singh and Pablow Bartholomew began their careers as photo-journalists capturing some of their best frames while on their ‘beat’. For instance, the Bhopal Gas Tragedy images of 1984, taken by both Rai and Bartholomew is a perfect example of this overlap.  The image conveys a deep sense of tragedy and loss, and it has a universal relevance even though it is very specific to its location. Continue reading “Appreciating photography as fine art”

Minimalism and photography


Minimalism in photography is not a new phenomenon.  A lot of photographers have attempted to do it.  Very few if any have done a substantial amount of  successful photographic work on it.  There are a few international photographers that come to mind including Michael Kenna, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Grant Hamilton. As  Hans Hofmann aptly put it “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”  It is more true today than anytime in the past.  We have a deficiency of time, focus and attention.   Continue reading “Minimalism and photography”

A tete a tete with Gaurvi

1. Do tell us how your journey as an artist began?

My inclination toward art started way back, when I was five years old. My father is a very creative person and was always interested in creating and watching him create, tinkering with stuff made me curious and excited. I started drawing on walls in order to beautify otherwise dull and ordinary surfaces. I am really thankful to my parents, who never devalued or stopped me doing things I loved doing. This encouraged me to continue working and creating. I decided to pursue art as a career, when I see one of my cousins doing her graduation in fine art. I started visiting her studio often and was excited to see how someone could choose art as one’s career. After that I did my graduation from art college Chandigarh and Post-Graduation from Jamia Millia Islamia. Continue reading “A tete a tete with Gaurvi”

‘Goodbye Padmini’

‘Goodbye Padmini’ is Photographer Aparna Jayakumar’s solo exhibition at Bakehouse Art Complex in Miami. Aparna brings a bit of Mumbai, the city where she grew up to the US. When I first set eyes on Aparna Jayakumar’s photographs, that were put up in her Mumbai home, where she lived with her sister and father, I noticed a great sense of empathy and sensitivity in her work. I was also captured by her ability to compose a well-balanced frame in a split second. Continue reading “‘Goodbye Padmini’”

Abstraction makes our brains hurt, but in a good way.

When two disciplines like art and science clash, interesting facts come to light. Take for instance the findings of Eric Kandel, the winner of the Nobel prize of Physiology or Medicine. His book Reductionism in Art and Brain Science has ‘pulled’ the veil from our eyes, as to why the average human being tends to relate easier to a realistic painting rather than an abstract painting. This is because in an abstract painting “Elements are included not as visual reproductions of objects, but as references or clues to how we conceptualise objects. In describing the world they see, abstract artists not only dismantle many of the building blocks of bottom-up visual processing by eliminating perspective and holistic depiction, they also nullify some of the premises on which bottom-up processing is based,” to paraphrase Kandel. Continue reading “Abstraction makes our brains hurt, but in a good way.”

A primer on Abstracts

Save Water 5 by Bipin Kumar

There is a joke doing the art circuit, that an art collector once went crazy over an abstract painting. He was willing to pay anything to acquire it but was embarrassed to learn that the painter behind the work he liked was not the artist but his pet chimpanzee! The joke is often used to illustrate the bewilderment that one often experiences when faced with an art work that has no narrative, no figures…nothing but colour and line. Continue reading “A primer on Abstracts”

Frames from the past

Indira at Anand Bhawan, Allahabad, 1959.
Indira at Anand Bhawan, Allahabad, 1959.

India’s only woman prime minister was a natural in front of the camera. She never posed for a photograph and yet, lens men have captured the most iconic moments of her life, as if it was a posed photoshoot. She had poise, intensity and more importantly the Nehruvian legacy behind her. Whether it was at a press conference or a tender moment with her children, in the garden looking at the flowers or campaigning for the elections, late prime minister Indira Gandhi was a photographer’s dream come true. Continue reading “Frames from the past”

What makes a good photograph?

The question is as relevant today, as it was when photography started.   Photography in essence hasn’t changed much from the time it originated. Yes the cameras and other tools have made it easier to make images and nowadays everybody has a camera on them.  It is just that it is called a phone sometimes.  Tons of images are being taken every day.  One of the most important things to recognize is that having a camera doesn’t make us create good images.  Just like having pots, pans or ingredients don’t make us a chef.  What differentiates a good photograph from an ordinary one?  A lot.  Especially when you are buying photographic art to put up on your wall.   Continue reading “What makes a good photograph?”

Barren Red

puneet-kaushik-2-2-2From The expressive canvases bathed in red and textured by bead-work to the minute paper works of glass beads on gold. Large installations that envelope you into a cocoon of red, festooned fabric and wire-work that hang from the ceiling to the enchanting light boxes that glow with primordial vigor.
Besides his ability to provide the viewer with a varied and nuanced visual experience, Puneet Kaushik has long been heralded as one of the important artists who has brought together aspects of craft and fine art in a glorious amalgam of textures and forms. Many of these are techniques on the verge of extinction… weaving, knitting, crochet and Tibetan bead work embellishment. Kaushik reinvents ‘fibre art’ by crochet being knitted in copper and stainless steel wire. His works are not figurative yet they are not entirely abstract, since the convey very specific emotions and thoughts. Continue reading “Barren Red”

A tete a tete with Sahaya Sharma

dscf1013It is perhaps oddly symbolic that artist Sahaya Sharma’s first painting that led her to become an artist was inspired by a photograph of roads crisscrossing. “I was just 17 and my father, who is my big inspiration and motivator, sent me to intern at an advertising company in Mumbai,” recalls the 23-year-old, Delhi based artist who visited our gallery over the weekend.

“I was not given any work, but a bunch of books on art to go through which is when I came across this photograph of the roads…it stuck in my head and re-emerged in a painting that made after that, though it manifested in the form of ribbons crisscrossing the canvas,” she says. “I had started the work and then kept it under the bed… then it was time to leave for Delhi and my father taunted me about it.  I finished it in one night. The painting is made up of earthy tones and is an early indicator of Sahaya’s style. Continue reading “A tete a tete with Sahaya Sharma”

A season for the arts

snow-cover

While summer is a sabbatical for art, winter is always an exciting time for art lovers. Not only do art galleries plan some of their best shows in the winter, there is much anticipation and excitement over the Kochi Muziris Biennale and the India Art Fair, both slotted for the winter months.

The Biennale’s third edition, starting 12/12/16, is titled ‘forming in the pupil of an eye’. With Sudarshan Shetty as the chief curator, it promises to be a multidisciplinary experience with poetry, theatre and music alongside the artworks which are of course what the Biennale began showcasing over its first and second year. One can also look forward to the presence of several international artists like Achraf Touloub (Morocco/France), AES+F (Russia), Ahmet Öğüt (Turkey/Germany), Aki Sasamoto (Japan/USA), Aleksandra Ska (Poland), Aleš Šteger (Slovenia), Alex Seton (Australia), to name a few.  There will also be artists from Pakistan and a fresh crop of Indian artists. Continue reading “A season for the arts”

Art has been explored

dscf0777Holding paintings up against the wall is quite different from hanging them. That takes time. When you stagger out of the gallery at 1 am in the morning, there can be no doubt in your mind that you all have done a good job. In fact, you’re in love with every string, every nail, every frame, every artwork and you feel a strange sense of pride coming over you. When you get over the rush of pride and become more objective, you spot imperfections, besides that is not the end of it. Invitations, food and drink…it’s a whole check list that the team is busy ticking off. The next day everything seems to be fine, you are hoping that at least 40 people will come. Imagine your joy when the wine glasses are totaled at 170. And that is just people who drank wine! Continue reading “Art has been explored”

The champion of the proletariat

img_0948The moment I heard of his demise, the picture of Yusuf Arakkal swam into my head, of his striding into the room, in a black Pathan suite, his voice booming, “So Georgina have you seen my work?” It was a painting of two kites with their strings entwined. At the time I smiled politely, but over the years of meeting him I grew to like his work and understand him a little better.  Continue reading “The champion of the proletariat”

Going under the hammer

Untitled (Ganesha with the world) by M.F. Husain
Untitled (Ganesha with the world) by M.F. Husain

The auctions are back and they bring good news for the art market. After a slow and sluggish time in the summer, the new season has brought in its wake two interesting auctions. Delhi Art Gallery (DAG) announced the opening of an auction wing in August and the online giant Saffron Art reported brisk sales in their September auction.
Recently Dinesh Vazirani founder of Saffronart, brought down the hammer on an almost forgotten work by artist Akbar Padamsee, at Rs 19 crores setting a new record for the artist. Titled Greek Landscape, the 4×6 painting was acquired by fellow artist Krishen Khanna at a throw-away price. Other artwork that made a considerable impact on the art market index was a 1960 oil on canvas painting by Nasreen Mohamedi at Rs 2.4 core. Bengal School artist Gaganendranath Tagore’s work “Ruben’s Sketch Book” was sold for another record setting price at Rs 1.8 crore. Continue reading “Going under the hammer”

You always find something new

The final print
The final framed print.

As a photographer, I prefer to walk.  Goa is one of my favourite places to go. No, not because of the touristy things but for the old world charm and laid back lifestyle that fits into my way of making images.  I have walked the stretch between Morjim beach and Ashwem  more than a dozen times.  It never ceases to amaze me how every time, I find something new and interesting to photograph. Continue reading “You always find something new”

No longer rare artifacts

“Photographs are no longer rare artifacts, nor primarily a means of learning about the exotic or unknown. They arrive instantaneously on our phones every day from every corner of the world and from all kinds of people. With a smart phone, everyone is a photographer, and images compete for crowd approval on social media channels like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.”

Creative freedom or insanity?

tarazuIt is part of urban lore that the late maverick MF Husain, in December 2010, surprised audiences, (not to mention the unsuspecting gallery owner) by bringing one of his muses, (no not Madhuri Dixit Nene) a live white horse, into the gallery, to paint on it. The gallery owner fearing the horse dung that would follow in the wake of this performative piece, requested the maestro to move the animal to the porch, which he sportingly agreed to. No doubt the ‘stunt’ got the shutter bugs clicking and made headlines, a phenomenon that Husain had perhaps gotten used to. Continue reading “Creative freedom or insanity?”

States of Mind of an Artist

Only an artist knows what a creative mind goes through.  We are all at different levels of evolution.  It is very easy for some to say, “have a clear mind”, “be creative” or “have focus”.  It is a whole different ball game to achieve any of it. WIMG_1651e as artists are slaves to our environment.  We learn from our parents, siblings and friends.  In school and college from our teachers,  on the job from our work mates, bosses and peers.  An artist’s mind goes through a lot of turmoil, confusion and doubt to reach a stage of clarity.  To even begin to unravel the human mind is next to impossible. Continue reading “States of Mind of an Artist”

Great Master

IMG_0860The term ‘great master’, is much bandied about in art parlance, often without much thought of the implications of these two words. For an art novice it may be a term that evokes a certain aura for it  can be loaded with hidden implications that are hard to grasp. The first concern for most art lovers would be, who is a great master? How must we decide this? Especially with something as subjective as art which has infamously escaped the definition of good and bad, words that are still up for debate. Continue reading “Great Master”

Remembering a great maestro

Scan2He believed in long format notes during a lecture. He never liked working on a computer but when you gave him a piece of clay he would fashion it into an endearing object during the course of a conversation. When he took up the brush he would paint the most socially witty situations with flair and elan. Not only was he an artist of formidable repute but he also mentored many young artists. We are talking about artist K G Subramanyan, who passed away battling illness for many years on June 30th 2016 at his home in Baroda. He was 92. Continue reading “Remembering a great maestro”

Boman Irani, William Dalrymple and Sheetal Mallar have something in common?

Boman Irani is an actor, William Dalrymple an author, and Sheetal Mallar a model.  All very distinguished from varying fields but bound by their passion for photography.

I saw some images made by Boman Irani a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised to discover that he was a photographer before he went into theatre and films. Even today if you visit his website, he calls himself a photographer first and then an actor. Some of his standout works have been in the black and white series.  ‘My quiet aunt’ and ‘Freedom’ require a special mention. What he is not showing is key to what he is showing in his works. Even today, being a full time actor, he gives you a glimpse of what he can do with a camera in hand.

A photo posted by Boman Irani (@boman_irani) on

You can view more of his photography on his site and on Instagram.

“As for those young photographers who are taught that photography is all about light and composition alone, well, they are wrong.”  Boman Irani Continue reading “Boman Irani, William Dalrymple and Sheetal Mallar have something in common?”

The urge to make work isn’t easily quelled.

“For Shore and other established photographers like Dayanita Singh, Gueorgui Pinkhassov, David Alan Harvey and Laura El-Tantawy (to name just a few whose work I like), Instagram can be an extra studio, a place to do more. Singh explores the images that fascinate her with a light touch. These photographers pursue an exquisite balance between a sense of freedom and the steady burn of an obsession. They make their Instagram pictures largely with phone cameras but with a pictorial intelligence similar to what they bring to their more formal work. Why do they do this? Why do they try to get it ‘‘right,’’ even in this most informal setting? Because there is, despite the noise, an audience worth reaching on Instagram; because sometimes, for an artist, the urge to make work isn’t easily quelled, even when the work is play, even when the work is unpaid.”

TEJU COLE in the New York Times Magazine.

Get off your butt

Get of your buttIn the late 80’s early 90’s if you asked somebody what they did, the prompt reply would be import export.  It seemed like everybody was into it.  Then a few years later everyone was a model/actor. A decade ago everyone was a filmmaker or a writer.  In the past it was more to do with what you as an individual aspired to be.  The means, tools, expertise, finances to achieve those goals were next to impossible.  Hence the fantasizing. Trends are cyclic.  They come and go. Continue reading “Get off your butt”

The Quartet

I have chosen four talented Indian artists who have distinguished themselves through their skill and dedication and have a great growth curve ahead of them.

Ronny Sen

Ronny-Sen-Khmer-Din-45In 2012, in the month of November, photographer Ronny Sen went to Cambodia and began exploring the striking city of Siem Reap at night on a bicycle that he hired for two dollars a day. “The solitude and mania that pervades the night made a great impression on me and I was drawn to people living on the edge but yet somehow surviving and escaping the predictable ends,” says Sen who trained his lens on images of street walkers, convicts and the desolate streets at midnight. The result was dark and grainy images that evoked a Rilke like poetry in images, these were not the predictable holiday photographs. Ronny Sen (1986) was born in Silchar, Assam. He moved to Salt Lake City in Calcutta in the early 90’s with his family where he still lives and works.He made his first artist book ‘Khmer Din’ in 2013 which was shown at the Photobook fest during Paris Photo and National Museum of Singapore. He has been awarded by the Sony World Photography Awards, National Geographic Magazine, United Nations, Powerhouse and The Forward Thinking Museum. He represented India at the World Young Artists Event in Nottingham in the year 2012. Continue reading “The Quartet”