At first Swapan Seth wanted to call his show 'What the f***'. But the 43-year-old adman-collector, curating for the first time to mark Mumbai-based Sakshi Gallery's 25th anniversary, was politely asked to rethink. So he took the cue from American pop artist Edward Ruscha's quote — "Art has to be something that makes you scratch your head."
'Scratch', the title thus given, comprises 44 bawling-for-attention works. On her choice of curator, Sakshi director Geeta Mehra says, "I knew which artists and what sort of works to expect if I went with one of the known curators. I wanted this to be different." And difference is what she's got.
The tools used here could hardly be spotted at an Indian fine arts show a decade ago — sound and video installations, mustard seeds, reinforced plastic, needles, bamboo... The works themselves are products of the ruling artistic zeitgeist — in which relating a thought-provoking concept is more important than showcasing individual draughtsmanship, making a fresh impact is more desirable than playing by traditional aesthetics.
Seth, who says each of his art buys needs to be approved on its 'coolness' by his teenage sons, sees this as inevitable. "They use what they see around: BlackBerries, iPods, videos…"
But the artists may have decided on the medium from a different approach. Vijai Patchineelam, 26, is a rare one to use canvas at the show. But he's using it to drip paint on another surface. "The way a work gets done is as important to me as the product — it's about accepting errors and chance rather than be guided by a homogeneous dogma."
Is there a theme to such a diverse show? No. "One needs to be Rhett Butler-ish in such matters," says Seth. Those who want to have a finger on the artistic pulse, however, should definitely give a damn.
'Scratch' is on at the 2nd floor of Lalit Kala Akademi till November 19, 11 am to 7 pm. For more call 9167055055.