31 Oct 2014

Art News: Sparsha, Indian Art Exhibition at Kunstmuseum Bochum, Germany

Sparsha, a contemporary Indian art exhibition is set to open at Kunstmuseum Bochum, Germany

An exhibition exploring reflections on Hindu rituals by contemporary Indian artists previews on 2nd November at Kunstmuseum Bochum Germany. This exhibition titled Sparsha will display videos, installations, sculptures, miniatures as well as Tantric art.

Mahirwan Mamtani, an Indian artist based in Germany will be showing 21 works from his series Transmuted-Fotos as part of Sparsha. Mamtani is a painter, graphic and multimedia artist, who grew up in India and moved to Germany in 1966. He was awarded a scholarship by DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) to study painting at the Kunstakademie. Since then he has been living and working in Munich.
Artist Mahirwan Mamtani's Centrovision, Art Scene India
In the 1960s, influenced by Constructivism and Tantra art Mamtani came up with the series Centrovision, which consisted of more than 3000 works in 1990. “The inspiration for Mahirwan Mamtani's conception of "Centrovision" is derived from the manifestation of tantric doctrines. Emanating from the centre toward the outside, his forms are akin to the mandala concept, the visual manifestation of which are based on the axiom of microcosm versus macrocosm,” explains Dr. L.P. Sihare.
Artist Mahirwan Mamtani's Transmuted-Fotos as part of Sparsha, Kunstmuseum Bochum, Germany, Art Scene India
Regarding Transmuted-Fotos, Mamtani explains, “These are the photographs of my dance performances which I have over-painted with acrylic colours.” He performed dances wearing several mandala masks, which he painted on wood. These dances were recorded in the form of photos and videos and then painted over the surface of the resulting photo sheets with acrylic colours, creating a series of new mixed-media works of art. The result is human figures with mask like faces assuming new identities, and poised as enigmatic creatures. The performative stances and theatrical settings heighten elements of mystery, drama and the absurd.

According to Günter Ebert, “Mamtani´s figures appear with a mysterious aura and gravity begins to dissolve. What is invisible in the real world is visible here. The background of his paintings consists of molecular structures floating in the atmosphere, the so-called “orbs”. This transmutes the body thus a fantastic world of thought takes shape and opens the doors into a hidden world.”

Exploring plurality of cultures, the diversity and paradoxes existing in India and its linkages with ritualistic traditions,Sparsha promises to be interesting. The other artists invited to participate in this exhibition include Desire Machine Collective, Chitra Ganesh, Sunil Gawde, Subodh Gupta, Amar Kanwar, Subodh Kerkar, Nalini Malani, Mahirwan Mamtani, Monali Meher, Prabhavathi Meppayil, Pushpamala N, Mithu Sen, Tejal Shah, Viveek Sharma, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Sudarshan Shetty, L.N. Tallur and Thukral & Tagra.

The exhibition will open on 2nd November 2014 and will continue until 1st February 2015 at Kunstmuseum Bochum, Germany

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17 Oct 2014

Art News: An Eclectic Collection

The eleventh annual show at Galerie Sara Arakkal, Bangalore has some interesting works on display.

Adimoolam K.M Queen 21''x14'',  Ink on paper, 11th annual show, Galerie Sara Arakkal, Art Scene India
In Bangalore, the annual show by Galerie Sara Arakkal has attained a ritualistic flavour and is held sometime between August and September every year. It has become a meeting point of artists of all ages and from across the length and breadth of the country. In its eleventh edition this year, the exhibition once again brings together contemporary artists from Bangalore and elsewhere to showcase their works.

Some of the artists whose works are included in the show are Adimoolam K M, Anjoli Ela Menon, Azis T M, Bharathi Sagar, C F John, Gopinath S, Gurudas Shenoy, Jasu Rawal, Mridul Chandra, Md. Rizwan, Rekha Rao, Shanthamani M, Shirley Mathew, Seema Kohli, S G Vasudev, Venugopal V G and Yusuf Arakkal. This year Galerie Sara Arakkal has introduced four new artists Aishwaryan K, Lokesh B H, Nedunchelian and Thirumala Thirupathi.
Aishwaryan.K  Menasu, Gouache& Indian ink Elephant dung paper 2, 18''x18'' 2014 11th annual show, Galerie Sara Arakkal, Art Scene IndiaYusuf Arakkal Still life, oil on canvas, 18''x18'' 11th annual show, Galerie Sara Arakkal, Art Scene India
 Azis  Untitled Acrylic on canvas, 18''x18'' 2014 11th annual show, Galerie Sara Arakkal, Art Scene India
There are some very good works on show and the pricing is also on the affordable side. On the whole, this exhibition is interesting because it brings together such diverse artists together on a single platform, but the lack of a curatorial intervention is quite evident.

One feels that there is huge potential to turn it into a major forum in Southern India for showcasing some of the finest art from a select group of artists. And, one hopes that this is taken into account when planning for next year’s annual event.

 The show will continue daily at Galerie Sara Arakkal till 31st October 2014

Let me know if you visit the show. And, which works did you like?

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15 Oct 2014

Raja Ravi Varma’s Oleographs: Glimpses from the Past

Raja Ravi Varma's oleographs offer insights into a significant cultural phase of the late 19th century India

An exhibition of rare oleographs by Raja Ravi Varma opens tomorrow (Oct 16) in Bangalore. Titled Emotions; Relations; Reflections, these select oleographs from the Ravi Varma Press belong to the private collection of Sachin Kaluskar from Vadodara.

The exhibition has also been curated by Sachin who has adopted a thematic approach in categorising them. Sachin started collecting oleographs purely by chance when a print of ‘Saraswati’ turned out to bear a mark from the Ravi Varma press. His curiosity piqued, Sachin researched on Ravi Varma’s oleographs and was fascinated by what he read. He then went on to collect these prints from friends, royal families in Saurashtra and even temples. He has now been collecting oleographs for the last eight years and has amassed a large collection, parts of which he has exhibited in various places.

According to Sachin, Ravi Varma’s paintings depict multiple emotions such as devotion, love, pain, anguish, innocence and power, amongst others. This exhibition of oleographs too portrays gods and goddesses in a human form, and are depicted experiencing myriad emotions - in effect every oleograph has a unique story to narrate.
Ravi Varma (1848 –1906) born in Kilimanoor, present day Kerala was a prolific painter who depicted scenes from the epics and mythology, and also painted portraits of royal families. He was the first Indian artist to depict cultural themes through European painting techniques and was also one of the first artists to use oil as a medium of painting. His paintings of gods and goddesses and vignettes from mythological tales are well recognized and reproduced even today.

Ravi Varma’s oleographs also called chromolithographs were instrumental in taking art to the masses. Oleography (oleo means oil) in essence is a process of reproducing an oil painting on paper to match the exact colours and brushstrokes with the objective of making it look like an oil painting. The technique was pioneered in the 1830s by an Englishman George Boxter but came into wide commercial use only in the 1860s. Oleography was the most popular method of colour reproduction until the end of the 19th century, when more efficient techniques rendered it obsolete.

It is believed that Ravi Varma started the lithographic printing press on the advice of Dewan Madav Rao in Mumbai in 1894 and it was managed by his brother, Raja Varma. The printing press was procured from Germany and the technicians to operate the press were also from Europe. The oleographs were mostly of Hindu dieties and depict scenes from the Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Puranas. The oleographs were very popular and continued to be printed even after Ravi Varma's death in 1906*.

136 oleographs will be presented in this exhibition and a few of them show the effects of ageing on them, which is no surprise given that they are almost 100 years old. Damyanti, Maneka and Vishvamitra, Nal Damyanti Vanvas and Radha Vilas are some of the prints which will be on display here.

The exhibition is on view at Phoenix Market City from October 16-22, 2014.


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13 Oct 2014

Art for Festive Occasions

Art is a wonderful way to add colour, style and statement to our surroundings

Festivals are an ideal time for family and friends to get together and celebrate the occasion and to take the opportunity to reiterate lifelong bonds. Deepawali which is celebrated across the country with great enthusiasm and joy is a festival which mandates spring cleaning and decorating home interiors on an extensive scale. It offers immense possibilities to unleash your creativity and decorate interiors innovatively.
Art for Festive Occasions, Art Scene India, Image courtesy Bipasha Sen Gupta
Art is a wonderful way to add colour, style and statement to our surroundings. Colours and moods are interlinked and it is a well-known fact that bright vibrant colours which symbolize energy and vigor are uplifting and help in creating a spirit of celebration. Also, colours that are used symbolically in our tradition and culture as part of rituals and ceremonies, such as ochre, vermilion and rust should be used generously to reaffirm the festive spirit. This would be a good time to choose paintings which reflect not only these colours but are also celebratory in nature.

Conventionally, paintings are the most popular form of artworks that are Art for Festive Occasions, Art Scene India, Image courtesy Mahirwan Mamtanidisplayed in homes and it is common to have a large painting placed over a central seating area and it works well in most interior spaces. During the festive season it would be a good idea to display paintings which focus on traditional and ethnic themes. These can be put up as a set or singly if they are large.

In addition, there are several other options apart from just traditional ones which can also be used to create a unique and different look. Displaying art in the form of accessories is also a wonderful way to enhance your surroundings. For instance, having paintings or sketches on functional and utilitarian accessories such has chairs, cushion covers, coasters, coffee mugs, decorative wooden boxes and Art for Festive Occasions, Art Scene India, Image courtesy Sanghita Dasso on not only make these functional items colourful but also very dramatic. A single large piece of furniture such as a chair or a table can be hand painted by a professional artist to turn it into a conversation piece. This may be slightly expensive but if you look around you should be able to find an upcoming artist or a student who can do this in a more affordable manner. And, in case you are artistically inclined you could always try painting it yourself, but do experiment on a smaller and less expensive piece first. For a larger number of collectable items, a screen-printed option which has been done professionally works much better.

Art for Festive Occasions, Art Scene India, Image courtesy AhambhumikaThese days, it is common to have a wall as an accent by painting it in another colour and by using textures to enhance its mundane appearance, instead you can have a wall accentuated by having it painted by an artist. Here you can either have a contemporary look or opt for an ethnic or traditional finish by getting it painted by a folk artist. An abstract sketch or a colorful mosaic will look fabulous in a contemporary décor, while Madhubani, Pithora, Worli or any other folk or tribal art can make a huge difference to the ambience. Both these options are worth exploring and are sure to make your décor stand out.

Festivals are also a great time to display traditional figurines, antique paintings and other artifacts which are either hand painted or customized. The important thing is to be creative in your display and choose artifacts with care to ensure a festive air prevails.

Images courtesy Bipasha Sen Gupta, Mahirwan Mamtani, Sanghita Das and Aham Bhumika
This article was published earlier in The Times of India-Property, Bangalore

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24 Sep 2014

Studio Visit: Milind Nayak

Studio visits offer fresh insights into the process of art making.

This week’s post is an informal update on my visit to artist Milind Nayak’s studio. Milind, who is recovering remarkably well from a recent health scare, is back at his easel and doing what he does best - paint these amazing landscapes! Right now, he’s working on a new series, where he explores the ‘ripple’ effect, both literally and metaphorically. But, more on that some other time. Some of the large canvasses are truly spectacular and I look forward to seeing them on gallery walls soon.
Artist Milind Nayak in his studio, Art Scene India, Picture: Nalini Malaviya
We talked about various things as we looked at his early works – some from the 1970s, when he was closely associated with the veteran artist GS Shenoy, who is no more. It’s always fascinating to revisit old works and see the kind of influences that existed at the time, and then to observe how the evolution occurs, and changes in form, colours and textures take place organically over the years.
Artist Milind Nayak in his studio, Art Scene India, Picture: Nalini Malaviya
Studio visits are always exciting and give greater awareness about an artist’s work, not only is one listening to the artist’s words and his/her interpretations, but one also gets insights into the process of art production.

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