Back to the future: Contemporary artists revisit their earlier work

  • Nidhi Choksi, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 11, 2016 20:32 IST
Like in Love Perhaps, an installation by Sunil Gawde (2011)

What happens when contemporary artists get to revisit their earlier works and notice the transformation? An exhibition documents just that.

Baiju Parthan is considered a pioneer of intermedia art (involving multiple mediums of art) in India. His journey as an artist has perhaps been the most radical one. Many of his works from the early ’90s examined elemental forces involving gravity and fluidity of water. However, in the late ’90s, when communications went online, Parthan swiftly transitioned to mixed media that he felt reflected the new urban reality. His recent work — Chorus 2, 2011 — uses 3D graphics layered over photographs featuring a typical Mumbai street-side dwelling using lenticular technology (images with an illusion of depth, or the ability to change or move as the image is viewed from different angles).

“My interest lies in exploring the ways in which we interpret reality to arrive at the experience that we call our world,” says 60-year-old Parthan. To illustrate his idea, the artist uses paintings, prints, and computer-generated videos to include ‘duration’ as an element in his work.

Like Parthan, many artists’ works have undergone transformation over the years. The Journey is the Destination, pays homage to such artworks picked from Jehangir Nicholson’s collection. The late collector spent his spare time at art galleries, bringing together modern and contemporary art till his death in 2001.

Chorus 2 by Baiju Parthan

Seven works from this collection (beginning from 1968) will meet their present day counterparts in this exhibition. It will have two works juxtaposed from each artist, one of the works collected by Nicholson and the other, a recent one borrowed from the artist, which indicates how the artist’s ideas and medium changed over the years. The exhibition includes works by eight artists including Parthan, Zarina Hashmi, Nalini Malani, Atul Dodiya and Vivan Sundaram, and will feature 17 artworks.

Paradigm shift

Kamini Sawhney, curator of the exhibition, says that she has observed a gradual or in some cases, a radical change in the practices of artists who are a part of the exhibition, from the time Nicholson collected their work, to the kind of work they are doing now. “Since the collection has reflected this kind of transition, it seemed a good idea to carry this theme forward in the form of an exhibition,” she adds.

Also read: Coming home: An artist traces his family’s journey across continents

Some of the premiering artwork includes Atul Dodiya’s recently completed Stag in Traffic and Vivan Sundaram’s artwork, where he has used video footage of artists from Baroda creating art during the eve of Independence Day, 2007.

To make sure the viewers understand the concept of the exhibition, all the signages will be multilingual. A reading corner within the gallery will provide written material on the exhibition, and the artists who are part of it. The exhibition will also have corner stands with printed versions of all the texts and essays that contextualise the exhibition and to provide people with a perspective. “These do not interfere with the display and are available for those who would like the clues to understand the exhibition’s concept,” says Sawhney.

Fact file

What: The Journey is the Destination is on from March 15 to June 30

Where: Jehangir Nicholson Gallery, CSMVS, Kala Ghoda

Entry: Rs 70 onward

Call: 2284 4484

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