Six months ago, five contemporary European abstract artists were invited by Ashwin Thadani, founder of Galerie Isa, to showcase their vision of the monsoon through artworks. As the season approached, the works arrived, and are currently on display, as part of The Monsoon Show.
Four of the seven artworks used recycled day-to-day items. German artist Gregor Hildebrandt is known to make art out of music cassettes; Welsh artist Dan Rees makes art using Plasticine (modelling clay) and Artex (a building material); Russian-Tunisian artist Nadia Kaabi-Linke takes imprints of walls that are hundreds of years old and transfers it on to her artwork; German artist Anselm Reyle uses found objects such as LED lights, car lacquers and foils and reinvents them through her works.
The exhibition also showcases artwork by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s water-colour and pencil-on-paper work; Eliasson has previously worked with elemental materials such as light and water. Also featured are works by Spanish artist Oliver Roura, whose leitmotif is geometric shapes reminiscent of microscope slides. Dan Rees, Artex painting, 2014, Oil on canvas
Thadani says that it wasn’t a conscious decision for the artists to work with recycled material. Having said that, “it is a common practice in western contemporary art to use found-and-recycled objects,” he says. Interestingly, none of the artists have actually witnessed an Indian monsoon, so they had to read up or rely on their imagination. Kaabi-Linke, who is exhibiting her painting Spick & Span in June (made using graphite on silk paper on canvas) drew from her memories of rain in Tunisia: “I imagined heavy rains with a strong socio-psychological impact, something I know from Tunisia. In the end of the summer, the rain falls on the dry ground, and creates myriads of water streams. The changing climate affects the behaviour of people,” she explains.
For artist Gregor Hildebrandt, the peacock dancing in the rain served as the inspiration for his work, Peacock Fountain. Made using cassette tape and acrylic paint on canvas, the title also references the music album, Kékéland, by French singer Brigitte Fontaine. Hildebrandt says, “I’m in constant search of old cassette tapes to convert them into a painting. I visit markets and music shops for them. It is a challenge to source them, and the process is time-consuming, so the artworks take a while; this one took the better of five weeks.” What is ‘found object’?
The term ‘found object’ comes from the French ‘objet trouve’ and describes art created from manufactured or natural objects. The items must have a non-art function, which are then interpreted in an artistic way. Pablo Picasso first used this idea in 1912, and years later, Marcel Duchamp was also known to use it.