Art Review | When less is more

Art Review | When less is more
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First Published: Fri, May 15 2009. 08 56 PM IST

Postcards: (top) An untitled work by Srinagar-based artist Rakesh Kumar; and two untitled works by Shruti Mahajan.
Postcards: (top) An untitled work by Srinagar-based artist Rakesh Kumar; and two untitled works by Shruti Mahajan.
Updated: Fri, May 15 2009. 08 56 PM IST
In Ritesh Meshram’s multi-frame canvas, the humble mooli (radish) gets a quirky makeover. Its insides are dissected, and its importance in the rural kitchen described in a few catchy words. An artist who has grown up around farms in Khairagarh, Chhattisgarh, Meshram draws the mooli—and vegetables such as the brinjal—as a student of botany would: graphic, in the most literal sense.
But they become art in Meshram’s mixed media works of charcoal and acrylic because he lends them an abstract, pop twist and it forms a narrative about Indianness and his own personal roots around them.
Postcards: (top) An untitled work by Srinagar-based artist Rakesh Kumar; and two untitled works by Shruti Mahajan.
Most of his canvases are small in scale, and are available anywhere between Rs15,000 and Rs30,000, but like all the other artists in Studio Practices, a group show at the Chemould Prescott Road space in Mumbai, his work is worth the tasteful collector’s attention.
Curator Sandra Khare of Chemould Prescott presents 15 emerging artists in this show—most of them are in the 30-35 age group and she has known and observed them since 2005. Studio Practices is not “curated” in the strict sense—there is no common thread or conceptual premise for showing these artists together. It’s like a group of solos under one roof.
The show’s significance lies in the fact that it provides collectors and buyers a timely opportunity to look beyond the sought-after names and buy good work in a range of Rs30,000 to Rs1 lakh.
A few days before the show began on Friday, three of the artists—Rupali Sontakke-Angre, Vijay Bondar and Sarita Chouhan—were allotted spaces in the gallery to finish an artwork each, to bring out, in the final work, the relationship an artist shares with his studio.
Most of the artists are not from Mumbai. Rakesh Kumar, a post-graduate from Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai, returned to his hometown Srinagar after completing his studies. He now teaches fine arts in Srinagar, and continues to paint. Three of his large abstract works (priced at Rs80,000-90,000) are part of this show. He’s an artist inspired, or rather provoked, by the “curfews and violence” in Srinagar, and his canvases are surprisingly vibrant and chromatic.
Shruti Mahajan’s project, which is based on memory and reconstruction, includes photographs, an installation and small paintings on her ancestral home in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh.
Sontakke-Angre’s themes are intensely personal—the act of sleeping, insomnia and intimacy. In one of her untitled works, which has a stark white background, a line of beds float along an undetermined watery course, upheld, surreally, by petals.
Shruti Chauhan, the seniormost in the group, draws on the linear quality of flora, and somewhat like Meshram, is interested in “the seed” or “the living core” of her flowers.
The Chemould gallery has been regularly showing works of some of the biggest names in modern Indian art, such as Bhupen Khakhar and Tyeb Mehta, and some influential contemporary names. By showcasing emerging talent with this show, it breaks another boundary—and also embraces the zeitgeist.
Studio Practices is on at Chemould Prescott Road, Fort, Mumbai, till 13 June.
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First Published: Fri, May 15 2009. 08 56 PM IST