Shrine Empire Gallery presents five women artists in India Art Fair, 2012

Surabhi Trivedi | 01 Fév 2012, 05:46

New Delhi: A book in acid-free paper covered with 22 k gold leaf, bankura horses made with the rich red soil of Bengal, ceramic tiles with Islamic calligraphy, a video installation that alters the notion of comfortso what’s common between them? Well, they have been created by women artists - Samanta Batra Mehta, Farib S. Alam, Kiran Chandra, Priyanka Dasgupta (all four are based in New York) & Suchitra Gahlot (Gurgaon) – who will be showing their art at the India Art Fair, slated from January 25, 2012 till January 29, 2012 at NSIC Exhibition Grounds in New Delhi, and are being represented by Delhi’s Shrine Empire Gallery committed to showing and promoting artists that are redefining the boundaries of contemporary art practice.


While all the five artists, whose work will be exhibited at Stall no. E-2 at the India Art Fair are bound to wow the audience with their out-of-the-box art practice, the show stopper is certain to be Antiquity, a book installation embellished with 22 karat gold leaf made by New York-based Samanta Batra Mehta. Priyanka Dasgupta is part of the video lounge where she will be showing two videos titled Dreams of In-convenience.


Says Shefali Somani, Director, Shrine Empire Gallery: “Using acid free paper, 22k Gold leaf and antiquarian books, Samanta Batra’s recent body of work is concerned with India’s Partition and post-colonial dialogue, an interest borne from her family’s own personal history. The works examine the nature of displacement, dislocation and migration. It also obliquely voices the concerns of her own migration (albeit by choice) from Bombay to New York. The work is replete with visual references to the theme with the use of antiquarian books and imagery from that period.”


Says Samanta Batra Mehta: “My practice includes drawings, photo and installation based art. I am interested in mapping connections between the human condition and the environment we inhabit. Using the body and abstracted organic forms as metaphor for land, earth, people, my work investigates themes in personal history, gender constructs, social order and colonization. I draw from a broad range of influences including history, myth, the natural world, antiquarian illustration, religious iconography, mystical philosophies, being raised in India, becoming a mother and my life in New York.”


Fariba S Alam, a Brooklyn, NY based photographer and installation artist, shows an installation in ceramic tiles and digital print titled Jennifer, With Your Orange Hair from the series Future perfect, 2011. “I collapse a broad spectrum of the photographic tradition - from black & white to digital, from anthropological to personal - to give history the immediacy of the present, and to establish the notion of identity as an undulating continuum. I mine my family’s archival photographs in order to weave in my personal history. I investigate the fluidity between the intangible and real, the tension between spiritual transcendence and corporeal immanence, while space and direction are rendered ambiguous.”


For this work, Alam has drawn from a broad range of visual influences, including mathematical diagrams, calligraphy, scientific patterns and architectural blueprints. She is particularly drawn to the duality of mysticism and hard science that resides in the idea that life unfolds in defined and continuous patterns.


Alam says: “I also explore Islamic and minimalist techniques of serial repetition to construct a site of transition that is at once grounded and yet propelled by constant movement and flux. Symmetry becomes an anchor in both my process and my visual language, as does the notion of the body as territory or vessel in spiritual and erotic yearnings. Finally, I use similar-sized, repeating tiles to concretize the Islamic and architectural references in my pieces, as well as patterning and geometry in reductive art. Religious and secular allegories - with themes of migration, travel and fantasy -often inhabit my narrative influences. For example, several of my works reference the parable of the Night Journey or Mir’aj, in which the prophet Mohammed takes a mystical voyage from Mecca to Jerusalem riding a creature half- angel, half-horse.”


On the other hand, New York based and India Art Fair debutante Kiran Chandra’s installation titled State of Bengal, made of Bankura horses and crocheted doilies is a response to her environment. The artist claims her working method is to take inspiration from everyday life. Says Kiran Chandra: “I work in interventions. Interventions on symbols and language - that carry within them a set of codes and meanings that are apparent to the viewer or the user. The grandeur of the Victoria Memorial, the endearing cottage industries’ symbol of the Bankura horse and the delicate elegance of the tatted or crocheted doily are read and regarded by us in a particular manner. But what happens when those readings are distorted, subverted or intervened on? Their meaning changes.”


Hence, Chandra makes references to The Victoria Memorial, Calcutta’s symbol for the City of Joy which is also a marble tomb to the dead aspirations: the queen will visit: she never did, Bengal’s Glory, which is dying a slow death today. Those aspirations and promises have been drowned in the sound track of the city today: blaring traffic, air horns and aural chaos.


The Bankura Horse, with its perky ears and upright frame may evoke in us connections to the Asvamedha ceremony, even the treacherous gift of the Trojan horse. Here it is the symbol of rural handicrafts and is made of the rich red earth of Bengal. These horses have been painted a Wedgwood Blue – the colour made famous by a British ceramist. Wedgwood pottery was always decorated with pastoral scenes, idyllic English country- side themes. “My intervention is to taking over the red earth colour with an English blue. Idyllic and rural don’t exactly go together in Bengal anymore.”


The politeness of teatime - also an English legacy- has been intervened by a text: Divide and Rule. Enmeshed in the fabric of the doily are the words: Divide and Rule. Bengal was divided and ruled first in 1905, and continues to be fragmented – between those who have and those who don’t, those who run it and those who try and survive in it. Governments have changed but systems remain the same.


In the Video Lounge, US-based artist Priyanka Dasgupta shows a single channel video titled 'Dreams of In-convenience-3' which is a response to Freud's theory, where he claims that 'Dreams of Convenience' occur in order to resolve anxiety, substituting physical action with dream action, in order to fulfill repressed wishes or desires.  Says Dasgupta: “In my experience, and as visualized in the installation, there is nothing convenient about these occurrences.  They serve solely, to further un-resolve and compound waking anxiety. The video features a bed, left exposed to the elements, being constantly pummeled by rain, until it finally, completely, falls apart.  Seeing the bed, a symbol of safety and security, being destroyed by rain, a giver of life, creates a jarring juxtaposition of sentiment vs. perception.


Dasgupta’s second video, also titled Dreams of In-convenience-5, presents the interaction of a woman in a red dress and a tree, and is the final piece in the larger installation, 'Dreams of In-Convenience'.  As the video progresses, the woman unravels her dress, tying ribbons to the tree, an act influenced by the tradition of tying pieces of cloth in temples, to make wishes.  Here, the woman seems to be pulling from herself to make these wishes, and as the tree turns red with ribbons, she gradually disappears.   


Gurgaon based Suchitra Gahlot is a conceptual artist. A deeply personal narrative and minimal sensibility informs her video installations with a delicate temperament. Meticulous detail and wordplay are used with significant effect to render wit and irony to her work.


Gahlot’s work Discomfort is a video installation - a series of short films document people using their “wrong” hand to execute everyday things. Left-handed people are required to use their right hand to complete a nominal task such as writing a journal or painting their nails, inversely so for right-handed people. The inherent discomfort of the experience lends a certain amateur flavour to the films. The video screens themselves are contained within tentacle confines that lend a sculptural quality to the work, the lopsided arrangement making even viewing difficult.

Domaine thématique:
Pratique artistique
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Arts communautaires
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