Man, animal share space and colours (Weekly Art Column, Rainbow Palette, With Images)

March 27th, 2009 - 2:53 pm ICT by IANS  

By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, March 27 (IANS) Man is an animal with a thinking head. His ability to rationalise sets him apart from the beast in the forest, though both belong to a broader generic canvas called ‘life’. “The Human Animal” art exhibition explores the unseen threads that bind the human and animal worlds through a series of sculptures, installations and canvases by young contemporary artists.

The exhibition, at the Religare Arts-I gallery here, curated by Marta Jakimowicz opened March 19 and will close April 9.

Modern and contemporary Indian art, says Jakimowicz, is full of animal figures, though their forms have changed over the decades. Jamini Roy painted graceful animals, stylised in their rustic simplicity, whereas Tyeb Mehta was minimalistic and abstracted in his depiction of the animal world that conveyed, rather than portrayed, the idea of a beast.

In contrast, M.F. Husain’s horses and elephants exuded a sensuousness, while artist K.G. Subramaniam was intense in his vision of the wild.

Each of their animals was endowed with human traits - either in its form or in its body language.

The artists carried the “masterly beasts” a step further by combining figures of animal and man in their frames to bring out the similarities and contrasts.

Artist Gurusiddappa G.E.’s “The First Rain After a Long Summer”, explores the sexuality of two species through a collage of a mating couple and dogs in grey monochrome, comparing it to a blossoming golden flower, which blooms on the top of the erotic lovers. The flower offers a relief in colour, offseting the grey act with its sunny radiance.

Curator Jakimowicz calls the two-part acrylic series on canvas “contentment of the first rain”.

Viraj Naik’s five-part “Nomad” series in graphite and colour pencils is a curious figment of imagination in which the man wears an animal face. In the first frame, a piggy-rider (astride a pig-like beast) sports the face of a cow, in the second human thighs morph into cow-heads, while in the third, man becomes a parrot with a beak for nose.

In the fourth, he turns into garuda astride a lion cub and in the fifth he loses his shape in a flurry of elephants, swan, donkeys and hippopotamus.

The hybrid and eclectic themes span a gamut of artistic genres, drawing from folklores of diverse lands, popular theatre, social realities and literature.

“Theme-based shows are our current focus,” Mukesh Panika of Arts. I, the brain behind the exhibition, told IANS.

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Colour-scapes of Rajputana

Located 206 km from Jaipur near Kota, Bundi is one of the most interesting cities in Rajasthan, known for its blue homes and palace frescos.

The Bundi School of Painting, which peaked during the 17th century and influenced the Kotah painters, depicted everyday life in the court of the Rajput rulers. It was documented by a French officer, Count Mondave, who travelled to Kota in the 17th century.

An exhibition of 27 photographs, ‘Frescos of Bundi Palace’ by Giorgio Bondi, closed at the Italian Embassy Cultural Centre in the capital March 25.

The images, minutely detailed and documentary in nature, captured the “water-colour transparency” of the fresco painters, who were masters of the figurative forms of the Rajput miniature school.

Bundi art culls liberally from the Krishna Leela, the lores of Radha and Krishna, the wars that the Rajputs waged against the Mughals, the life of the women in palaces and the numerous shrines that dot the hilly town, flanked by the Aravallis.

The photographs are also an archive of sorts, preserving the couture, and styles of 17th century Rajput women - detailing even the drapes of the long-sleeve dresses of Rajput women, the fine ‘dupattas’ (head scarves and body wraps), hairstyles, accessories and the heavy gemstone jewellery that accompanied the clothes.

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Catwalk on canvas

Artist Vineeta Dasgupta brought high fashion, attitude and womanhood under scanner through a series of acrylic works on canvas at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week that ended Sunday.

The works, “Fashion & Attitude/Womanhood Under Scanner”, were exhibited earlier at the India Habitat Centre in January.

Dasgupta’s art is an intuitive response to the fashion world, establishing that high fashion is deeply rooted in the ancient Indian concept of ’shringar’.

Her canvas, “Ardhanari Nateswar” - a figure of a half-male and a half-female model, represents the hip-hop androgynous aspect of contemporary Indian fashion.

The man becomes a woman when he walks the ramp, while the woman feels like the man as she shows off herself and her clothes.

“When Clothes speak”, a collage in silhouettes and shadows, portrays timeless style statements in clothes made by heroines of our century like Mother Teresa, Indira Gandhi, Queen Elizabeth and Marilyn Monroe.

Her frames - put together - are like an alternative catwalk in colours and content.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at madhu.c@ians.in)

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