10 Jul 2015

5 Reasons a Good Catalogue Text is Essential for Your Art

A well-written catalogue text adds value to your art and provides a reference point for viewers.

 5 Reasons a Good Catalogue Text is Essential for your Art, Art Scene India by Nalini MalaviyaOver the years, I must have received hundreds of press/ media kits from artists having exhibitions. The art catalog on a CD or a hard copy by post has been an inevitable part of the kit and these are sent by the artist or gallery.

It does not matter if the show is in a well-known private gallery, a hotel, or in a public gallery self-hosted by the artist. However, there has been a steady decline in the number of catalogues that accompanies a press kit. Not surprising, given the cost of publishing and printing, current economic conditions and the state of the art market.

Of late, very few galleries will wholly sponsor an art exhibition, let alone pay for a 20 page glossy catalogue. This is how conditions are and it is a matter of survival for many galleries in India. In the West too, the trend of catalogues accompanying an exhibition is on the decline, but remember writing fees are also much higher there. Here, you will find most curated shows have detailed catalogues. Also, museums come out with catalgues that become highly collectible.

In my opinion it is important to have text for a show, whether it is a solo or a group exhibition. You may print the catalogue for the show or do an e-copy now and print it at a later date when you have the resources. The important thing is to get a catalogue done, at the least a soft copy, which broadly means the text – a critical essay by a critic/writer/scholar, an artist statement, images from the show with all relevant details and the artist’s biography. Also, part of the text can be printed on the invite, or you can print handouts for viewers.

Why?

1. A catalogue is an important tool for communication

It is a widely known fact that communication is easier through words. Yes, a picture might be worth a thousand words, and you may have produced an excellent series of visual work, but the right text will add perspective to your art and help in communicating better to viewers, buyers, gallerists and the media. It is also highly relevant when you have the catalogue text written for your art now for future shows, particularly exhibitions planned abroad.

2. A well-written catalogue text adds value to your art

 5 Reasons a Good Catalogue Text is Essential for your Art, Art Scene India by Nalini MalaviyaApart from the communication factor, insights provided by the critic, especially if it is somebody well-known and respected from the art field adds value to the exhibition. In a way, just as the venue/gallery where you are exhibiting is important, so are the credentials of the person writing about your exhibition.

3. The text provides a context

Words help in setting your art within a larger framework. The text should offer a critical analysis of your work, its contemporary context and relevance from an art historical perspective and insights into your work. It tells the viewer what to expect and essentially provides a reference point for your art. There are several artists who believe that they would like to refrain from giving textual clues to the viewer, nevertheless, viewers appreciate reading about your art and understanding where you are coming from.

4. The catalogue is part of the documentation process

Presumably, you are documenting your work as an artist that means cataloging images and all other details digitally with regular backups. A catalogue is an important part of this process, which you can use and refer to whenever required. The catalogue also comes in useful when you approach new galleries, collectors and curators.

5. Internet reach

The Internet allows you to reach out to a much larger audience base, which you may not have been able to approach earlier. In fact, you must plan in such a way that your catalogue text becomes more accessible virtually – you can put it up on your website and share excerpts on social media, emails and newsletters. All this enhances your reach considerably and allows you to tap into newer markets.

Commonly asked questions

Who do I approach to write my catalogue text or essay?

Ideally, a well-known critic is the best option, however, if that is not feasible, look for writers who are well established in the art world and who are familiar with your work. For instance, I like to write for artists whose works I can relate to. That way, I can be fair to the artist and do justice to his/her work. Incidentally, you can also have more than one person writing an essay; just make sure that they address different aspects of your art to avoid repetition. Once you have the text you can decide how best to maximise it.

 

Can I write the text myself?

That would be the artist statement. It cannot be a critical essay on your art. Ideally, you should have both, at least one essay and an artist statement as part of your catalogue, along with all the other elements I had mentioned earlier.

 

What about costs?

It depends on who you approach for the text. It might be possible for you to get a short essay done for a
 5 Reasons a Good Catalogue Text is Essential for your Art, Art Scene India by Nalini Malaviya
couple of thousand rupees by a relatively new writer. But, I would suggest you invest more and have the text written by someone with more experience and better credentials. Remember, how I talked about adding value to your art, that’s one of the reasons you need to approach an appropriate writer who can take your art to another level. Believe me, there are writers who can add so much value to your art.

Be prepared to spend Rs 10,000 to 25,000 or more for a 500-1000 word text. Then, there are additional costs in design, layout, compilation, proofreading and printing, if you choose to do so. If you print, the cost will also depend on the number of pages, size and copies. But, you can choose to print later and do an e-version now along with an abbreviated copy as handouts. Many artists I know design their own catalogue, which saves them a substantial amount of money.

 

This is too expensive!

I agree and therefore you may want to look for a sponsor. There are corporates and foundations that will sponsor the catalogue partly or wholly. You can also approach your old collectors and see if they would like to bear costs in exchange of an artwork. Your gallery may also be able to point you towards the right people willing to share costs in exchange for credits and adverts.
You can also opt for fewer words to optimise writer's fees.

Hope this article helps you in deciding about a catalogue for your current art series or your next exhibition. Let me know if you have any more questions; you can either comment here or send me an email at nalini.indianart@gmail.com

No part of this article can be reproduced in part or whole on a blog/website or in print without permission. 
 
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16 Jun 2015

Art in Interiors: Abstract Art for Interiors

A large abstract artwork in the living space can be a focal point in the decor scheme

Art In Interiors, Artist Shraddha Rathi, Image courtesy Rupali & Gaurav Bhatia, Art Scene IndiaAbstract art can be a perfect choice for modern interiors that feature a minimal look.   

Non-representational art, essentially comprising non-recognizable objects, people or places may sometimes be difficult to comprehend at the first instance. As it diverges from realism, the visual framework of reference shifts and becomes different for the viewer.   

Even though there may not be an instant recognition or categorization, it usually evokes an emotional response.  The colours in the painting assume significance from several perspectives – these are responsible for the response they generate in the viewer and are relevant in creating a harmonious effect in the interiors.  It is therefore important to choose an abstract work of art, whether it is a painting, a sculpture or even an installation, which you can relate to as an individual while keeping in mind its overall impact on the space. 

Art In Interiors, Artist Shraddha Rathi, Image courtesy Rupali & Gaurav Bhatia, Art Scene IndiaIn an abstract work of art, the colours, textures, patterns, lines and the free flowing space are some of the characteristics that may be utilized in a larger context and the theme extended to the general décor. 

For instance, the predominant colour from the artwork can be used judiciously in the furnishings to create a harmonious effect. Contrasts work well too, however one would have to be cautious in using bold colours amidst tones of neutral shades.

Large paintings have a greater impact and can be displayed prominently in any area, which is well lit and conspicuously placed. When opting for larger pieces, one must not clutter the place with multiple small works around it. These are perfect to be displayed against large pieces of furniture, a piano or a sculpture and can be place in the living room, bedroom or in an entryway.  

Art In Interiors, Artist Shraddha Rathi, Image courtesy Rupali & Gaurav Bhatia, Art Scene IndiaHowever, a cluster of smaller works could be placed on adjoining walls while ensuring that there is some commonality between the paintings.  They do not necessarily have to be of the same colour or by the same artist but could borrow or reflect a few common elements. Large open spaces can look stunning with a single abstract work, which is also of comparable size.  It helps to keep the area uncluttered with minimal accessories and furniture as well. 

In general, abstract artworks tend to blend with and complement modern and contemporary interiors, but  there are always exceptions. These paintings can sometimes work with traditionally designed interiors by using colours that are in earth or wood tones, and reflect a few components from their surroundings. In such cases, the artworks can offer an element of surprise and become a focal point in the décor scheme.  The palette or textures when repeated in the drapes or tapestry makes it more interesting. 
 
The writer is an art consultant
Images courtesy: Artist Shraddha Rathi, Rupali & Gaurav Bhatia

This article was published in The Times of India-The Address recently.

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11 Jun 2015

Film Review: Fig Fruit and the Wasps

Attihannu Mattu Kanaja (Fig Fruit and the Wasps) by Bangalore based artist MS Prakash Babu paints an abstract landscape


A series of abstract landscapes meld into one another, interrupted by rural topography, undulating fields and framed protagonists - the cinematic experience captivates you with its intensity. Fig Fruit and the Wasps, a full-fledged feature film in Kannada (with English subtitles) belongs to a different genre of cinema. Far from the cacophony and the song and dance routine that we have become used to, the film is a surprising rendition in restraint and silence.
Still from Fig Fruit and the Wasps by MS Prakash Babu, Art Scene India
The lone entry from India, Attihannu Mattu Kanaja was much applauded at the recently concluded Beijing International Film Festival. It was also awarded with the NETPAC Jury special mention at the 7th Bengaluru International Film Festival 2014 in the Asian Competition section. Directed and written by Bangalore based artist MS Prakash Babu, who completed his post-graduation in painting from Viswa Bharati University, Santiniketan. He explains, “Without adhering to any sloganeering, shouts, preaching and negating the readymade modes of storytelling, the film's narrative flows like a calm river maintaining its own natural rhythm. I am only facilitating that.”

It reminded me, albeit faintly of the minimalist and intense films of the early eighties, when Mahesh Bhatt was still making ‘art films’ and gave us gems like Arth and Saaransh. Although, one must point out that these films were high on narrative (as in storytelling), while the Fig Fruit is an abstract tale.

The film attempts to present a slice of life, there are no histrionics or undue emotion. The narrative lies in the visuals and the silence; lengthy pauses like photographic stills, with no twist in the plot waiting to unfold. Prakash Babu reaffirms, he has kept it deliberately minimal. His background in painting and sculpture is highly evident on his cinematic canvas.
Still from Fig Fruit and the Wasps by MS Prakash Babu, Art Scene India
He writes in his production note, “Topographically each space has its own rhythm. It is enmeshed with the culture, language and day-to-day life of the people living there. The space too has a kind of music. Both internal and external forces govern the patterns of that rhythm. Like a beautiful tree infested with the termite from within, the rhythm of this peaceful fertile land has been rendered hollow. It is not visible to the naked eye. Shallow from within, it still looks beautiful and charming from outside.” And, this is a space that the director and storyteller treads and explores.

The film follows Gouri, played by Bhavani Prakash (Prakash Babu’s wife), a documentary filmmaker who is trying to collect material for her documentary project on instrumental music. Along with a male friend, she visits a village to meet an instrumental musician, who has gone somewhere else to give a performance. Both of them are forced to stay in the village till the musician returns. Bhavani Prakash, a theatre artiste gives an admirable performance sans ‘theatrics’ as instructed by the director.

The 90 minute film is a series of images, which depicts their predicament as they wait endlessly for the musician to arrive. The never-ending road , the moving headlights of the car, the group of villagers standing like a sculptural installation, long silences, verses from the local poet, Vittal’s fascination with the poet - they all create a vocabulary that is both artistic and poignant. The pace in the first half an hour of the film makes you a little restless, but then it settles down into an easy rhythm.

There are two ‘dramatic’ scenes where a dead body is discovered and when Vittal strips and lies down next to Gauri. Despite the palpable tension the director intentionally chooses to not explore it further. In a couple of scenes where policemen enter the frame, the director again deliberately leaves it open for interpretation. As he says, “Sometimes “vision” isn’t what is visible, sound isn’t exactly what is heard.”

Devoid of a background score, the sound of the moving car, crickets buzzing at night and the thundering rain dominate the stillness. A silent sojourn that is sure to absorb you.

You can watch the trailer here http://youtu.be/1L05PFejrkg

25 May 2015

Art News: Presentation on "The art market and the Bangalore visual art scene"

"The art market and the Bangalore visual art scene" at BIC on Thursday, 28th May, 2015 at 6.30 PM.


Bangalore International Centre
(A TERI Initiative)
cordially invites you to a Presentation on
The art market and the
Bangalore visual art scene
By
Nalini Malaviya
Well-known Art Consultant, Writer and Blogger
On
Thursday, 28th May, 2015 at 6:30 pm
Tea will be served at 6.00 pm

RSVP
Bangalore International Centre
Phone: 98865 99675
Venue details
Auditorium,
Bangalore International Centre
TERI Complex, 4th Main, 2nd Cross, Domlur II Stage,
Bangalore – 560 071
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
About the Presentation
An orientation to the visual arts scene in our city, the presentation will provide an overview of the art market in the Indian context with a look at gallery functioning and some of the factors involved in pricing of art. It will include tips on buying art, and on displaying artworks and maintaining them to prevent damage. The art market will be explored further through the art scene in Bangalore, and will look at some of the public and private spaces in the city that one could visit to view art exhibitions, learn about art and buy art. The session will conclude with a brief mention of select Bangalore based artists, who have made significant contributions through their work.

About Nalini Malaviya
Nalini Malaviya is a Bangalore based art consultant, writer and blogger. She has been writing for the media since 2003, and has been an art columnist for Financial Times (Delhi and Bangalore) and Bangalore Mirror. Nalini writes primarily on visual arts, but has also written on health and lifestyle. She has contributed to Times of India, Femina and several other publications including art magazines and catalogs. Some of her prefatory essays for art catalogs are 'Irreverent Gene', curated for Crimson Art Gallery, 'Feeling Absence' a photography show by Shibu Arakkal, ‘Icons in our Midst’ a group show at Artspeaks India, New Delhi, ‘Sounds, Resonance and Imagery’ on musical drawings by Suresh Nair, and several of Yusuf Arakkal's catalogs and books.
An occasional fiction writer, Nalini has published short stories as part of anthologies, such as, The Shrinking Woman, The Curse of the Bird and Bhelpuri. She publishes www.artsceneindia.com, a popular blog cum Ezine featuring art news, events and articles. The website functions as an artist resource and also promotes artists. Currently, she is working on creating an eBook from her published articles.


14 May 2015

Art News: Indian Art Week in London is back

Indian Art Week in London is back

After last year's success, the Indian Art Week is back with a series of exclusive events, to take place between the 6th and 13th of June, 2015

Student art, Indian Art Week in London is back, Art Scene IndiaThe UK-based public charity Arts For India, continues its effort to raise awareness about Indian Arts and provide underprivileged yet exceptionally talented art students with a unique opportunity to study at the IIFA Institute of Fine Art in Modinagar, India by hosting the second edition of Indian Art Week in London. The much anticipated week will bring together auction houses, museums, art dealers, galleries, hotels, and private collectors in London during the 6th and 13th of June 2015.
 
Among this year's highlights attendees can expect:

· Debut exhibition of new artworks by sponsored student Prashant Jha

·  Open Galleries, art exhibitions and Indian Art auction at Christie’s

· Showcase of Stellar International Art Foundation’s collection of MF Husain: The Journey of a Legend.

· “An evening with the artists” & live auction hosted by Farokh Engineer

· NH10 Bollywood film premiere, presented by Eros International

· Awards Gala, giving awards to the leading successes in Art, Fashion, and Cinema
Student art, Indian Art Week in London is back, Art Scene India
It is an event to celebrate Indian Arts while offering stellar upcoming artists the opportunity to showcase their work.

This year’s announced participants and sponsors count the prestigious Christie's, The V&A, Grosvenor Gallery, Francesca Galloway, Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd, Albermale Gallery, Blain Southern, Debut Contemporary, Stellar International Foundation, Eros Now, St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel, The Mayfair Hotel, Knight Frank, The Nth Degree Club, Da Travel and Click Convert Sell.

The 2015 Indian Week will close with an awards-giving gala at The Mayfair Hotel, presented by Sofia Hayat, who has reserved some surprises for the night and will award nominees for success in Art, Fashion, and Cinema categories, among whom are (1) Sabyasachi Mukherjee, famous Indian fashion designer, (2) Oriano Galloni, who got into the headlines with his sculptures (Silent Soul) made with Indian wood and Italian marbles for our event at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and (3) Ashok Amritraj, renowned award-winning film producer and CEO and chairman of the Hyde Park Entertainment Group.

“The Indian Art Week is far more than a typical art event. It is a significant doorstep that allows people to know more about Indian Arts and its significant contribution to the world of fine arts, and  artists deserving a chance to use their talent and amaze the world with their artworks and we are very excited to bring this buzz to London at the beginning of the Summer”, says Erica Emm, Indian Art Week producer.

- Excerpts from the press release

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