Preview | Probing the artistic mind

The Vadehra Art Gallery celebrates its 25th anniversary with three exciting shows this year. The first, ‘Peak Shift Effect’, will feature 16 artists
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First Published: Thu, Jan 17 2013. 07 56 PM IST
A photograph by Sunil Gupta.
A photograph by Sunil Gupta.
Updated: Thu, Jan 17 2013. 07 57 PM IST
What does the world look like when seen through the eyes of an artist? Is art a better, if not truer, reflection of reality? How does the artistic mind respond to social upheaval?
The forthcoming group show at the Vadehra Art Gallery (VAG), Peak Shift Effect, engages with such questions by bringing together the work of 16 artists. Curated by Gayatri Sinha, the exhibition is the first of three that have been planned this year to mark the 25th anniversary of the Delhi-based gallery. The other two shows, scheduled for April and October, will also be curated by Sinha. “All of these shows will include artists who are represented by the gallery, as well as those with whom we share close, long-term relationships,” says Roshini Vadehra, director of VAG. “Also included are young artists who are doing interesting work, and fit well with the themes of the exhibitions.”
The title of the first show has been inspired by scientist V.S. Ramachandran’s research on the way artists intuitively recognize heightened stimuli and use these to carve out an independent creative
vocabulary. “The exhibition does not demonstrate this theory,” Sinha clarifies, “but brings together artists who push in terms of language and concept.” Atul Bhalla, Praneet Soi, Faiza Butt, Shilpa Gupta, Riyas Komu, Sunil Gupta—some of the most distinguished names in contemporary art— will feature in this show. Working with a variety of media, based in different parts of the world, the participants create an arresting synergy of colours, shapes, forms and ideas.
Butt, for instance, is of Pakistani origin but lives and works in London. Her practice involves dense embroidery, often photographs, and hovers between the real and the surreal. Soi, who grew up in Kolkata, is based in Amsterdam now. His spectral figures, sometimes a mere assemblage of body parts and silhouettes, suggest threat and menace. Shilpa Gupta’s photographs, mostly stark and unadorned, push a medium that is inescapably mimetic into the realms of abstraction, insinuating thoughts and ideas in the viewer’s mind that may not necessarily have a direct correlation with the visuals. Sunil Gupta, on the other hand, is showing black and white photographs that are tender, poetic and haunting.
In keeping with the illustrious list that VAG has cultivated over the years, this show too includes artists who are intellectually rigorous while being visually ambitious. “We hope to represent and work with important international artists in our country,” Vadehra says. For a gallery that has shown legends like Tyeb Mehta and M.F. Husain, and has been responsible for bringing the work of Yoko Ono, Wolfgang Laib and Pablo Picasso to India, this seems to be an attainable goal.
In the long run, Indian art, Sinha believes, “will continue to play upon its conventional strengths—outstanding draughtsmanship and narrative abilities”. However, she adds that “there will be other exciting strains—an investigation of image and text archives, and a rise in spaces entirely run and dominated by artists”. If the inaugural show at VAG is any indication, this year will be a particularly memorable one not only for the gallery but also for contemporary Indian art.
The exhibition will run from 22 January-2 March, 11am-7pm (Sundays closed), at the Vadehra Art Gallery, D-53, Defence Colony, Delhi (46103550).
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First Published: Thu, Jan 17 2013. 07 56 PM IST
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