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Conversation Collaboration Transformations

Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre
2nd – 7th October, 2010

“This is indeed India: the land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendour and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a thousand nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great- grandmother of tradition, whose yesterday bear date with the moldering antiquities of rest of nation-the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once by even a glimpse, would no give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.”

Mark Twain, Following the Equator, 1897

India with its vibrant economy, India with its excesses, India with its grinding poverty, India with its splendid renaissance. From the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi whose message of non violence and truth is becoming increasingly significant, to Arundhati Roy who with Medha Patkar , Aishwarya Rai, Vandana Shiva, Kiran Bedi, Mother Teresa, Indira Gandhi, is reinventing the ‘saptmatrikas’ or the seven primordial mothers to the holy trinity of Lakshmi Mittal, Narayana Murthy, and Salman Rushdie.

Traditional India and Modern India move hand in hand in the land of Hinduism, the seat of Buddhism, the world’s largest democracy, the home to artists, dancers, poets and thinkers.

Each of the 28 states has their own living and dead icons. From temples to fine art, from folk to tribal art, from prose to verse, from dance to music each state has its own language, its own flavour, its own sensations.

Having said that India holds within it both indigenous wisdom and the digital revolution. The duality of the land is seen in its internal and external terrorism, its abject poverty, and often lack of basic living facilities like potable drinking water. This duality makes India one of the most dynamic and challenging societies in the world.

Thus the exhibition Converstaion Collaborations Transformations will provide an insightful entry into the Wonder that is India. While the exhibition will open prior to the Commonwealth Games I would want the exhibition to showcase the diversity of the land to both visitors and the citizens of India.

Dr Alka Pande
Curator
2010

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The Kalpana Shah Show

Power of Love – II
The Visual Arts Gallery
21st to 27th March 2010

Kalpana has been painting since the last 25 years. Her works reflect her inspirations cumulated form her surroundings, the rich experiences she has had in her childhood, her love for music and writing. She was driven by nature when she looked at the earth, sun, moon, rivers, mountains, and sky. She was always fascinated with colors, textures, forms and specially abstractions. She says, “I have been fortunate to see lot of art around me and my closeness to masters and many contemporary artists made me more mature in my own language”.

Her love for abstraction in nature was her inspiration.

Kalpana’s style of painting is very distinctive as it brings out the amalgamation of abstract disciplinary style, rhythmic textures, poetic inspiration and constructivism to her artworks.

The paintings bring out the dramatic visual effects that change according to the day and night which reflect the power of love that gives strength to all of us and enable us to lead life with determination. Kalpana feels that her paintings are being with her loved ones in her heart. She says, “Sometimes I am chanting with each stroke. I play with colors and forms without thinking of any art I have seen in my life”.

About her installations she says, “My installations are out of my visualization of metal as soft and lyrical form. Power of love can change the hard into soft. I was imagining steel as textile, I worked hard to find a way to translate my visuals into real forms. I enjoy each and every installation in the process and they somehow started relating to my paintings too. The source is one. The music is composed by one soul, which has experienced a lot of love in life. And in the middle of chaos I always try to find peace and love in the world”.

Power of Love – II

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Uday Dhar Show

Uday Dhar – an artist of Indian origin living in New York – in New Delhi.
March 2010

“The opinions which we hold of one another, our relations with friends and kinfolk are in no sense permanent, save in appearance, but are as eternally fluid as the sea itself” – Marcel Proust

“The Exquisite Corpse” in itself is an oxymoron. “Corpse” connotes dead, decaying, but “exquisite” brings in a completely different ‘rasa’ or emotion to it. And it is in the juxtaposition of two such different words that an interesting “dhvani” is produced. “The Exquisite Corpse” is the debut solo of artist Uday Dhar – an artist of Indian origin living in New York – in New Delhi. It is time now, after the big art boom in India and after Barack Obama’s plea for including India as a Permanent representative in the UN, that Indians too are very much part of being global citizens.

Uday is bringing in a refreshing language of art – like mobile downloads, fashion advertisements, newspaper articles and flashy web content – in his work. “It is about the frisson created by the new global way people live today. With the frequency of travel on an airplane, use of the Internet to find information, and social networking sites, people are able to mix and match experiences, contacts, and loves across boundaries of time and space.”

The rich use of kitsch elements in his work blurs the distinction between “high” and “low” culture. In his world, Uday does not find too much distinction between the culture of philosophy, spirituality, pop music, internet matchmaking, porn websites. For him, art is a social commentary of the outer landscapes, which are part of his visual mapping. Born in London, having spent his early life in the cow belt of India, i.e. Patna in Bihar, then in Berlin and New York, Uday is a global citizen. His work has been drawn from different sources: the Internet, fashion magazines from India and the United States, newspaper articles, websites, and art books. Through a careful selection of juxtaposed images – to provoke thoughts about connections to art history, cultural references and social frameworks – he attempts to define a worldwide existing society. Uday is exploring traditional norms of identity, which are being transformed by cultural products and social networks. An artist of Indian origin, Dhar, like many global citizens, is at home anywhere in the world. In this age of cosmopolitan internationalism, he is deeply engaged with the fluidity of identities. His work is complex and

deeply layered, with a painterly, poetic quality to it. The set of 14 paintings depicts the rich and complex layers of his cultural location and personal freedom.

The underlying theme for the exhibition is about human identity in the age of consumption, as – according to the artist – all societies are participating in some form of global consumerism. This “aspirational” consumption and exchange does not have to be of products, but can be of cultural experiences, spiritual deeds such as charity, among others.

As an artist of South Asian descent, settled in America, the sense of being different from others has made the artist deeply aware of the uniqueness of his experience. Like most immigrants, he is more starkly concerned with the double-vision, or the two-sidedness of every effort. According to Dhar, he would not experience the same thing if he lived in India.  Dhar admits that his works changed dramatically after his father’s passing away in 2005. But as you will see in his older works, a single theme links them all: the deep conviction about translating and reinterpreting his Indian heritage to a new context with new emotions. The artist recalls how his family and personal history has been like a collage. There have been many juxtapositions that have brought different elements together to form a sense of self and family. Exposed to heterogeneous experiences, Dhar considers this mixed up collage a natural part of his life.

There are two series of works in the show. Both of them are linked, and both refer to Dhar’s conception of the fluid nature of identity, unrestricted by culture or geography.

“Mirror Mirror on the Wall” depicts, through the repetition of a profiled head, the concept of “Purusha – the original man, or mankind.” Throughout this series, the profile remains the same, but what happens inside the profile- and the materials used to make them-changes with each; hence, the idea of an avatar, the spirit reappearing in different forms through time and space.

“The Exquisite Corpse” series is a different take on this notion of fluid identity. Images from different contexts are combined and layered to create a new synthesis. One might call them self-portraiture without the portrait. It is a comment on how identity is forged through the consumption of specific images and products that define who we are and what we are engaged with. In the age of the revolution of information, one’s location does not restrict the exploration of other experiences elsewhere.

Through the current body of work which has emerged out of his engagement with his personal reflective journey, Uday is part of the mainstream of an international artistic community, which is evolving a global language reflecting the concerns and engagements with the past and present. His visual representation is a complex web of personal histories and present concerns of a cosmopolitan language. Returning “home” to India, Uday is investigating the concept of viewership perception and acceptance of a new language and new ways of representation.

“It is about the frisson created by the new global way people live today.”

Dr. Alka Pande
Curator,
Winter 2010

1 Copyright-Salaam Baalak Trust- Where The Streets have No Name- Dr. Alka Pande
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Salaam Baalak Trust

Where the Streets have no name, April 2010