Roobina Karode will discuss the ongoing exhibition at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art showcasing Nasreen Mohamedi’s retrospective, ‘A View to Infinity’. She will be expounding on the curatorial choices she made in the shaping of the exhibition, the challenges she encountered and share her ongoing formulations on Nasreen’s distinctive art pedagogy and practice, her oeuvre and the trajectory of subliminal abstraction that she steered at a time when figural narration was predominant in India.
As her student at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University of Baroda, and as her neighbour, Karode came to know the artist very closely through many interactions with the artist from 1977 to 1990. Having spent long hours at her studio-cum-home, she will be sharing the artist’s persona with the audience through personal anecdotes and rare insights registered by her into the self-evolving discipline of Nasreen, with regard to both, her art and life.
The way modern Indian art and Indian culture are viewed in globally important art institutions has changed. This is evident from recent displays at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Venice Biennale, London’s Tate Modern, the New York Guggenheim and Rotterdam’s Witte de With. No longer are indebtedness and belatedness the only prisms through which Indian and other non-Western forms of modernism are viewed. The examples of Nasreen Mohamedi, V.S. Gaitonde and Tyeb Mehta illustrate the shift in understanding.
Will the new openness result in a more widespread revaluation of culturally inflected modernism? This talk will refer to the sentimentalism of twentieth century Indian art, an emotiveness that departs from established norms of modernism. The artists cited are Ravi Varma, Abanindranath Tagore, Chittaprosad, S.L. Parasher, Nasreen Mohamedi, Amar Kanwar, and A. Balasubramaniam. Further, the biennial as the primary mode of the dissemination of contemporary art will be investigated with questions of how well-equipped it is to accommodate cultural difference.
Admission free and open to all.
Baptist Coelho incorporates installation, video, sound, photography, found objects, site-specific works and public art projects in his art practice. His projects frequently merge personal research with collaboration from people of various cultures, geographies and histories. Throughout his practice, he employs the use of atmospheric stimuli and residual work, such as found objects, to engage the viewer into the story and allow them an interactive space to reflect on their own surroundings and predicaments.
As immersive experiences, his projects take on the mode of being ‘works in progress’, which become the foundation for long-term projects. His work takes the form of various media which often contend with history, conflict, gender and emotions. Exploring the multiple possibilities of new media and conjuring meaning out of raw experiences, Coelho articulates unspoken stories that have local contexts, but describe global perspectives. The artist will be in conversation with author and journalist, Deepanjana Pal, who has written extensively on his work.
Admission free and open to all.
The large-scale painting ‘Mumbai Proverbs’ marks a culmination of Sudhir Patwardhan’s forty-year engagement with Mumbai. Patwardhan’s relationship with Mumbai has changed through these four decades, as the metropolis itself has undergone drastic transformation. In the past, writes the artist, “I have mainly employed three strategies to paint the city: the street-level view of a participant; the panoramic view of a observer; and, lately, the guarded view of a city fragment, viewed while looking out of a window. When I began sketching and thinking about the current project, I realised I wanted to bring into play all these earlier strategies. Given the scale, the panorama would predominate, but it would be inter-spread with breaks and close-ups. Interiors of homes, factories, offices would merge with the streets and aerial views. Inside and outside, near and far, private and public, would be brought together. Mumbai is transforming daily, giving us glimpses of the future; and Mumbai has a past that, too, is everywhere.” Patwardhan chose a seven-panel structure, reminiscent of a Japanese screen: “Binodbehari Mukherjee’s Hindi Bhavan mural at Santiniketan was a point of reference, as were Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry Mural and Leger’s ‘City’.” Read from left to right, the panels narrate the city from its colonial beginnings to the Information Technology age. The other narrative linking the fragments is the flaneur’s roaming, which discovers what makes this one city, indeed, one’s city. Patwardhan will be in conversation with poet and cultural theorist Ranjit Hoskote, who has written extensively on his work.
The program is organised by the Mohile Parikh Center in collaboration with the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai
Atul Dodiya and Ranjit Hoskote have enjoyed a friendship and collaboration that extends across 25 years. They have interacted in various modes: Dodiya as artist, reader of literature, viewer of cinema and raconteur; Hoskote as poet, art critic, cultural theorist and curator. Over the years, Hoskote has contributed essays to the catalogues of Dodiya’s exhibitions, and curated two monographic exhibitions of his work, Bombay: Labyrinth/ Laboratory (Japan Foundation Asia Center, Tokyo, 2001) and Experiments with Truth: Atul Dodiya, Works 1981-2013 (National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, 2013). Dodiya and Hoskote have also collaborated on an artist book, featuring a series of watercolours by the former and a sequence of texts by the latter, Pale Ancestors (Bodhi Art, 2008). In 2014, Prestel Verlag, in collaboration with the Vadehra Art Gallery, published the 468-page monograph, Atul Dodiya, edited by Hoskote and including essays by the editor, Enrique Juncosa and Thomas McEvilley, as well as a conversation between the artist and Nancy Adajania, along with an exhaustive record of the artist’s work over more than three decades. To celebrate the publication of this monograph, Dodiya and Hoskote will engage in a public conversation ranging across a variety of subjects that have fascinated them both: the emergence of the literary avant-gardes in India in the 1960s and 1970s, the challenges facing artists during the 1990s, the negotiation of the globalized present, the presence of language within Dodiya’s images, and the role of the artist as collector and researcher.
Admission free and open to all.
This lecture is based on Adajania’s ongoing research into the lost histories of transcultural initiatives launched during the Cold War era. She argues that the first few editions of Triennale India (inaugurated in New Delhi in 1968) were the manifestation of a confident globalism from the South and even a globalism before globalisation. Initiated by the visionary novelist, editor and art critic Mulk Raj Anand, Triennale India consciously articulated the Nehruvian internationalist vision of non-alignment that sought solidarity among Asian, African and Latin American countries, marking a ‘third position’ in Cold War politics. However, as she will demonstrate in her lecture, the triennale was from the very beginning mired in misunderstandings. First, it became trapped in a fruitless contention between rival narratives of the concept of internationalism. Second, it fell victim to a struggle over the scarce resources of State patronage, as represented by the Lalit Kala Akademi, the organizing body of the triennale, which was to become increasingly intransigent and bureaucratic during the 1970s and 1980s. Even as Adajania has produced a context-specific regional history of this initiative, she found it necessary to critically evaluate its connections with other transformative histories within global biennale culture, such as those of the 1968 Venice Biennale (also called the ‘police biennale’) and the 1st Sao Paulo Biennale (1951), credited with having broken the Euro-American hegemony, but in fact arguably acting as an extension of it. Triennale India rarely finds mention in the thriving biennale discourse, and her attempt is to refocus attention on it as a pioneering, visionary project that came much before its time.
Admission free and open to all.
Incorporating concepts from visual arts, architecture, vernacular crafts and cultural studies, Cultural Re-imaginations has attempted to challenge the traditional boundaries between art/architecture, artist/artisan, crafts/arts, public/private and inside/outside. The project has attempted to ‘create circumstances for unanticipated convergence of disciplines, ideas and people’ by becoming a platform for collaborative work between bamboo artisans, artists and boat-builders.
Indrani Baruah will share her ongoing cultural experiments in the public realm and the intuitive practice that has evolved over the years out of her interdisciplinary background. She will discuss the constantly evolving process, methodology and forms as manifested in her current experiments on the River Brahmaputra in Guwahati, Assam. Engaging with the ideas of ‘genius loci’ and placemaking in the context of the city, the river and the ‘collective cultural journey’, the three stages of the project Cultural Re-imaginations will be expanded upon.
In collaboration with the India Foundation for the Arts and the Somaiya Centre for Lifelong Learning.
This presentation will introduce the field of social sculpture and connective aesthetics, and what this has to do with shaping an ecologically viable and humane future. It will reference the theory, practice, and pedagogy Shelley Sacks has developed over several decades, including its roots in Joseph Beuys, Rudolf Steiner, Goethe, Schiller, and Jung. It will also highlight other key sources from Ivan Illich, Paulo Friere and E.F. Schumacher, to Vedic and Buddhist teachings, including Gandhi, Coomaraswamy and Tagore.
These ideas will be brought to life by her work to create new language in phrases like ‘Sustainability without the I-sense in Non-sense’ as well as images and descriptions of her social sculpture projects like Earth Forum, University of the Trees and Exchange Values - her acclaimed social sculpture with small farmers and global consumers, which since 1996, has been in many venues around the world, including the Johannesburg National Gallery for the World Summit for Sustainable Development in 2002. The ‘connective practices’ and ‘creative strategies’ in these projects – concerned with the relationship between imagination and transformation, freedom and responsibility, and inner and outer work - explore different forms of ‘capacity building’ and of ways to be ‘agents of change’.
Her talk will also outline the work of the Social Sculpture Research Unit in Oxford Brookes University, how this sits in an institution, and its interdisciplinary graduate programs that enable practice-based research. Shelley Sacks, like Beuys, regards teaching as an artwork, and institutions like universities, as one of the places where ‘enchanters need to appear’.
Admission free and open to all
As an artist linguistically poised on the threshold between tradition and modernity, Ganesh Pyne was symptomatic of the 1970s modernist developments in Indian painting; however, his personal expression was also marked by the difference of individual distinction.
Through their stylistic and thematic concerns, his paintings become an index to the characteristic features of the art of the period. They reflect a keen consciousness of time, culture, ambience, socio-political conditions and individual identity, while situating the individual within immediate locale of one’s existence.
The Himmat Workshops were a response to external as well as internal conflict, and therefore situated as much without the studio as within. To situate art within a zone of devastation is to test its capacity for survival in extreme conditions, but for the same reason, also gives rise to some rare insights. It provides a framework that enables investigation, and answers questions regarding responsibility, function, and appropriate action within a given context – predicaments that are common to most disciplines and professions.
The Himmat Workshops is a research project (2002 - 2012) initiated by Vasudha Thozhur and supported by the India Foundation for the Arts and KHOJ International Artists’ Association. It involved collaborating with Himmat, an activist organization based in Vatva, Ahmedabad. The presentation is in conjunction with a comprehensive exhibition - Beyond Pain: An Afterlife - at Sakshi Gallery and Project 88.