Art: Inside the mind of an artist
You don’t often get the chance to witness an artist’s process of making art. Which is why the exhibition at the Sunaparanta: Goa Centre for the Arts, in Goa’s capital city, Panaji, is such a pleasure. Titled Sculpsit: Between Thought and Action, the exhibition features sculptures by 15 renowned artists including Akbar Padamsee, Anupam Sud, A Ramachandran, Baiju Parthan, Gieve Patel, Gigi Scaria, Himmat Shah, Jyoti Bhatt, K G Subramanyan, N N Rimzon, Navjot Altaf, Rajkumar Korram, Shantibai, Sudhir Patwardhan and T V Santhosh, together with the drawings and photographs that these sculptures were based on. This makes these artists’ works all the more fascinating, because you understand how their ideas take shape, first on paper and then in sculpture.
Work in progress
Hosted in collaboration with The Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai, the exhibition has been curated by art critic Sasha Altaf and produced by Sunaparanta patrons Dipti and Dattaraj Salgaocar. “I was intrigued with the connection between the artists’ initial drawings and sketches, and their final rendering in form,” says Altaf, who had been approached by Shalini Sawhney, director of The Guild Art Gallery, to curate the show. “In the immediacy of drawing (though Baiju Parthan uses 3D software and Jyoti Bhatt used a photograph), you see thoughts that mark a process and trace a range of subjects.”
When you examine the sketches, you see several kinds of work processes, adds Altaf. “In some cases, the intimate portrayals of the figure assume a central position, and at times predetermined rules, structures, and methods govern the form of the image.”
Altaf explains that the drawings and photographs on which the sculptures are based are part of the process and also a medium to understand the final form.
Each work tells a story, ranging from history, mythology and tribal art, to the socio-political situation, nature, the human mind and ever-evolving technology. Akbar Padamsee displays portraits in deep thought, Gigi Scaria explores the relationship between nature and built-up space, Anupam Sud shows female forms that represent spiritual experiences, Himmat Shah captures life cycles and endless realms in their impermanent states, Gieve Patel speaks about the mythical figure, and the works of N N Rimzon, K G Subramanyan, A Ramachandran, Sudhir Patwardhan and Navjot Altaf speak about the socio-political climate.
According to Altaf, each work is open for subjective reading and the viewer thus could draw various meanings from it and not just one. “Each artwork opens up for a more subjective reading, covering a range of thought processes from the immediate and intimate to the investigative, analytical and narrative,” says Altaf.
Thoughts and ideas
Mumbai-based artist T V Santhosh focuses on technology via sculptures of a radio and a tape recorder, which have become obsolete now, littering the world and making it a wasteland. “These two sculptures are a kind of re-imagined documentation of obsolete objects that have become part of our nostalgia today,” says Santhosh. “They remind us of a bygone era, bringing back memories of the cultural and social changes that took place as these objects came into our lives, and how eventually they ended up becoming mere residues of their time.”
His art also comments on how these objects, which are replaced every day with new technology, take a toll on ecology.
Baiju Parthan’s work shows the concept of ‘Post Conceptual Art’ through an image of a pear shown in four different views, showing how digital life is merging with real life, and taking on a new form.
“The virtual now co-exists with the actual,” says Parthan. “Consequently, the post-conceptual art object demonstrates an interlaced sense of artistic viractuality (virtual + actual) that couples the biological with the technological and the static with the malleable.”
Parthan has been working on this concept for 20 to 25 years now. The pear in his work, he says, is a metaphor for human consumption. “It also refers to the fruit borne by the mythic ‘Tree of Knowledge’ that re-wires perception once it has been consumed,” he explains.
Simple, not simplistic
Tribal art may look simple, but it is certainly not simplistic. Two artists from Bastar in Chattisgarh, Rajkumar Korram and Shantibai, are exhibiting their ‘Maria Khamba,’ a carved wooden memorial pillar. Their work speaks of the realities of their region – the agony of women in vulnerable situations is shown in Shantibai’s work, and the plight of locals due to the socio-political climate of their region is seen in Korram’s work.
Veteran artist Jyoti Bhatt is best known for his modernist work in painting and printmaking and also his photographic documentation of rural Indian culture. At this exhibition, that’s on till December 22, there are images of the traditional homes of farmers from Odisha, heavily decorated with tribal art. And there’s a terracotta 3D sculpture by Bhatt, which is inspired by Odisha’s folk art.
This was the outcome of a workshop in which he had participated about 12-15 years ago, and become hooked to the number ‘3.’
“Traditionally, this number ‘3’ has a lot of importance. In the Shanti mantra, ‘Shanti’ is recited thrice. Our god also has three forms – Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. And in Odisha, the idol of Krishna, Jagganath, is worshipped with Balram and his sister Subhadra, which is not seen anywhere else,” says Bhatt. “The paintings of the walls of farmer’s homes also have three dot forms in a triangular format, and this triangle is repeated over and over again, showing growth. Theoretically, it can grow to infinity. So I tried to incorporate all these concepts into my work, indirectly influenced by Odia folk art. I can’t make tribal art as I am not tribal. But I am influenced by it.”
From HT Brunch, November 10, 2019
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