Udarta / Kindness: Australia India Cultural Exchange

Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
16th – 29th March, 2012

The exhibition is the cornerstone of a project in both India and Australia to celebrate twenty years of cultural exchanges between visual artists, writers and musicians. Udarta/Kindness less as a theme and more a non-prescriptive reflection on a state of mind and action, captured somehow, somewhere the nuances of meanings of the words daya, karuna, neki, namrata, sanbhavana, udarta. While seeking the most culturally appropriate and Indian specific term, it was agreed from the outset that ‘kindness’ as a quality was unequivocally essential for social cohesion in both intra and intercultural relations in an increasingly complex global environment.

Dr. Alka Pande
Winter 2012


Parallel Journeys

Visual Arts Gallery, Institute Cervantes, New Delhi
28th Jan – 8th March, 2012

In contemporary art, India and Spain are very distinct, yet they have two artists, two towering individuals who influenced and touched the lives of people worldwide – Pablo Picasso and Rabindranath Tagore. No single artist in India is unaware of Picasso, the icon who gave the world a strong language of modernity. Meanwhile, in India, the period of modernity was expressed chiefly through cinema (Satyajit Ray) and literature (Rabindranath Tagore), rather than in fine art. Tagore -the great universal humanist- with his many facets of genius, a figure of literary excellence and humanistic values, his commitment to modernity with his idea of the universal human spirit has penetrated the Euro zone.

Against this backdrop, comes the journeys of two artists, Sunaina Bhalla, an Indian artist who lives in Singapore for the moment and Jordi Gispert Pi, an artist from the region of Catalan in Spain. Both are thoughtful artists who are engaged with their personal environment.

Jordi brings in an element of design in his paintings. He also looks at the commercial strategy of the possibility of exposing and collecting many units of the artwork. The basic composition however is in three stages maintaining the traditional division of the cosmos at four different levels, the earth, growing fresh and green, the water, between the waves, mountains, the sky with the castle of cloud and fire.

Sunaina, on the other hand, has been engaged with issues of gender in the recent past. The body of her work seeks to foreground the increasing visibility of the contemporary Indian woman. Sunaina wonders why Indian women feel the need to pursue equality with men, when they have reserves of formidable strength within and this is what defines the thematics of the show.

For this particular exhibition, Sunaina’s colour palette has changed dramatically. She is using strong stark contrasts of black and white with hints of red. Black and white almost a ying / yang, purusha /prakriti, shiv /shakti , man /woman signifies the two genders. Splashes of red are used to display the emotions, i.e. passion within the woman as a source of power and strength. Sunaina delves into the complex and rich cultural signifiers of colour within the Indian context.

Parallel Journeys is an interesting trajectory of two diverse voices from two different geographies expressing the emotions of two distinct artists

Dr. Alka Pande
Winter 2012



Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
24th Jan – 2nd February, 2012

The idea of Adbhutam – rasa in indian art, germinated fourteen years ago when CIMA held its London show, Chamatkara, in 1996. The aim then was to project the distinct identity of India’s artistic vision for a Western audience. But the need for a similar show for an Indian audience remained unfulfilled all these years. And yet, probing the challenge of an ancient civilization in its interface with a rapidly-changing world was extremely seductive and demanded attention.

The exhibition re-examined the earlier concept in the light of contemporary concerns and finally decided on this exhibition: a contemporary Chamatkara, where we’ve included many artists working quietly on indigenous ideas but in exciting new ways and with new media.

The exhibition discovered that certain aspects of the London show seemed irrelevant in the current context; but the inclusion of new media, not part of Chamatkara at all, now claimed a vital space in this show. Another element that shaped our focus was the diasporic vision. There are Indian artists living abroad who explore India’s cultural legacy in their art. And there are those from abroad who’ve settled in India, accepting the ethos of their adopted region. The overlap that such fluid and multiple identities yield deserves serious enquiry.

Dr. Alka Pande


A solo show of Tina Chandroji – Reclaiming Reality

Chaitanya Contemporary
Connoisseur, Kochi
28th Nov – 02 Dec 2012

Reality diffracts into plurality, the oneness of reality is replaced by the ones of creation. – Charles Biedrman

The term ‘reclaiming’ comes with the dual authority of possessing the given entity. And when the term is juxtaposed with the ‘realities’, it adds further connotation: the ‘reality’ is no more singular but plural. We enter the world of realities with an understanding that we are no more driven with single terminology of understanding but the authority to reclaim reality is in itself multitude.

Tina Chandroji’s canvases showcase‘ the multiplicity of India’, with particular reference to the city of Mumbai, where she was born, educated and where she preaches art. A city of dreams, of opportunities of excitement, Mumbai takes its name from Mumba Devi. A city where passions run high, where many come in search of a great life. Makes me draw a parallel to Dick Whittington where he felt the streets of London were paved with gold. Very much a Mumbaikar, of Gujrati origin, Tina paints the city scrapes, the hawkers, the Parsis, the shops, the interiors of private and public spaces of the city she grew up in.

A keen observer of the reality around, Tina loves the traditional medium of oil on canvas and naturally her beau ideal is Michelangelo. The uber realism of Michelangelo’s is seen in a different light in Tina’s artistic oeuvre. Her paintings are meticulously edited, with an almost obsessive eye for detail. Capturing her immediate surroundings with the help of the camera lens, a natural development from her art direction days, Tina then composes each frame infusing them with beauty. Beauty too is intrinsic to every visual landscape which Tina executes. She begins by putting at least three layers of extremely fine oil colurs and after the application of the third layers she then starts executing the layout, again another legacy from her film days, It is then that she starts executing the composition, which is replete with beauty and finally comes an image of God. It could be any icon of God. From the Hindu Gods to Islamic, Sufi, Zorastrian, Jaina, Buddhist, interfaith symbols are present in the work.

The city of Mumbai, which is her home, is represented by Tina through, colour, through realistic human images, through cross cultural referencing, and above all through her singular visual language which is ornately detailed almost like a complex weave of a Persian Carpet. In her paintings which appear like showcase Indianess, Tina literally draws you into a world, which is very much reclaimed by her. It sits at the fulcrum of traditions and modernity which is India here and now.

The undying link between tradition and modernity not only adds plural meaning to the reality but sets the nuances of the order. Within this frame, this conventional distinction between order and chaos comes into question. What seems chaos at first site, silently draws the intricacies of an order. Tina’s works ‘showcase’ the interplay between gods and other manifestation of modernity. The symbols embellish the facts of reality, which are ‘showcased’ in Tina’s work. Thereby, we are led to a journey, intercepted by the practice to regularly reclaim these realities.

Dr. Alka Pande
Winter 2012