The consummate craftsman and not your average art

The consummate craftsman and not your average art
SHOCK AND AWE: Iconic shrine by Chintan Upadhyay
This week we focus on the legendary K G Subramanyan, whose just concluded exhibition ‘Mythologies’ at Gallerie 88, featured 24 of the artist’s recent works on specially made handmade paper. The exhibition which marks the 25th anniversary of the gallery also became the backdrop the Kolkata Literary Meet’s discussion on the career of the veteran artist by three stalwarts of the art world — Jogen Chowdhury, R Sivakumar and Pranabranjan Roy. Art lovers enjoyed the animated discussion on what made ‘Manida’ (as Subramanyan is affectionately referred to), different from the others of his generation. Subramanyan, a true intellectual who turns 90 next month, continues to create his playfully satirical images that are ‘tongue in cheek’ insightful reflections on a wide range of subjects drawing attention to the changing times.

Prolific artist, sculptor, muralist, printmaker and designer, Subramanyan may be considered ‘a consummate craftsman’ whose tremendous versatility with diverse materials ‘allows him to move from one level of communication or expression to another with great ease’. In the catalogue released during the exhibition, R Sivakumar, writes on the strong folk element in Subramanyan’s work and use of mythological images as, “painted images and objects coming alive to surprise living figures in their intimate spaces or by replacing them as it were and taking over their spaces in their absence”.

This year’s India Art Fair, arguably India’s most exciting art event, closed on February 2 having lived up to its aim of attracting not only those who are traditionally art lovers, but others keen to learn more. The attraction is not only to see known names but also the unknown personalities that are part of the eclectic world of art. I feel sure that there were many who might echo the words of a rather young visitor with a distinctly enquiring mind, who plaintively asked her companion: “It’s a bit weird don’t you think?” One might agree that the Dust Sculptures by Peter Buggenhout from Belgium, are far from the average expectation of art for most, but then so are Subodh Gupta’s pots and pans and all the other metal objects that he uses for his creations — and to great effect I might add! Fortunately, there are a large number of other splendid works of art at the India Art Fair that make up for those that might leave some befuddled.

Delhi’s Dhoomimal Gallery seems to have gone overboard during the India Art Fair. Not content by just filling their booth at the fair with the Anjolie Ela Menon curated show Souza — Sacred to Profane, they decided to go a step further by putting on Balcao featuring FN Souza along with eight other artists from Goa. Curated by Subodh Kerker, Balcao opened on January 27, bringing in a range of works by Goan artists to complement Souza’s work. From February 3, ‘Balcao’ moves to the Dhoomimal Galley, where an exhibition on HA Gade, a founder member of the Progressive Artists Group, had opened on January 31 and will continue till February 10.

However, the gallery’s main features ‘Paintings by Legendary Indian Artists’, including the works of MF Husain, Anjolie Ela Menon, HS Raza, J Swaminathan, KS Kulkarni, Manjit Bawa, Krishen Khanna and Souza who has already been mentioned. We might say that Dhoomimal Art Gallery created an opportunity of experiencing a mix of modern, contemporary and traditional art with a wide array of collectible paintings and sculptures of their favourite artists all under one roof.

(The writer is an author and a former art gallery owner)

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