January – Febryary 2011
by Franck Barthelemy
The winter spleen could still be felt over the city in February though the Attakalari Biennale woke us up. The world travellers would not have missed the ARCO (Madrid), the 30th edition of the Madrid contemporary art fair. This year had a special focus on Russia. Some of the best galleries from the underground Moscow and the experimental Saint Petersburg attended. I wish I could have made it! But Bengaluru, as usual, managed to make me smile: I enjoyed a few exhibitions and a play.
The Jagriti Theatre, which has just opened in the city, gave us a treat with Hamlet: The Clown Prince, a play where a bunch of clowns reinterpreted the famous play. Directed by Rajat Kapoor, the actors messed up the text, invented a new language, laughed a lot and made us laugh even more. From time to time, we could recognise bits and pieces of the original text, but that was not the point really. The evening seemed too short. We wish the new theatre a long life and we hope to see more Hamlets!
The NGMA brought to us Something That I'll Never Really See: Contemporary Photography from the V&A. About 30 works of 27 contemporary photographers from all over the world were exhibited. Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Turk Gavin and Wang Qingsong were part of it. Photography as art is new to India and this exhibition demonstrated to the Indian viewers, and others, why photography is an art. Freezing a moment of time is surely not easy. It requires emotion. It requires talent. It requires a sense of drama. Appreciating that moment beyond the aesthetic can be challenging to the new viewers. Open your mind, build up stories and see something that you will never see in the real world.
The Goethe Institute also organized Frozen Time, Photographs of Dance. Behind the camera were Andrea Esswein, Dominik Mentzos, Agnés Noltenius, Vanessa Ossa, Joerg Reichardt, Bettina Stöß, Bernd Uhlig, Gert Weigelt and Peter Welz. William Forsythe and Sasha Waltz were on the other side. Though it could be a nonsense to think about dance movement and photography, the snaps prove us wrong. In a glimpse of a second, the photographer captures the elegance of a hand, the tension of a face or the beauty of a body. A great exhibition that resonated perfectly with the Dance Biennale.
Apparao presented The Synchronic Fire, an exhibition of bronzes by Kumari Nahappan. Kumari had chosen to feature the king of the Indian cuisine in her works, 'the chilli'. Whether green or red, long or fat, dry or fresh, she represented them in different sizes- table top size or gigantic. Kumari, through years of experience with foundries and metallurgists, found the perfect patina to make the chillies look real. Delicious!
Gallerie De Art celebrated its first anniversary with Pioneering Contemporaries, a show featuring the works of 20 artists from Karnataka and paying tribute to K K Hebbar. We could spot interesting works by Peter Lewis who is in the process of opening a gallery/museum in his home town.
Right Lines was very active and occupied the front scene with two shows, Mayur, an exhibition of paintings by Dnyati Wagh and an exhibition of paintings by Francis De Souza. Both shows proposed to the art lovers refreshing art and a breeze of youth.
Kynkyny ventured in the business of small art works with Small Is Beautiful. Maybe a way to wake up a slow moving market.
From the last few years, Bangalore's heart beat for the 8th edition of Chitra Shante. At the initiative of Chitrakala Parishat, Kumara Krupa Road becomes the biggest gallery in Bangalore every last Sunday of January. More than 1,400 artists participated this year. Students, amateurs and professionals showed their works to probably over a lakh of people. Some came to see, some came to buy, and some came to bargain.Altogether it was a fantastic day.
Tasveer is announcing War and Forgiveness, an exhibition of photos by Ryan Lobo. Ryan travelled Iraq, Afghanistan and Liberia in 2007. Wars, riots and battles made his everyday life. He immerged himself in several stories. He met strange characters, like The General Butt Naked, a war lord who killed and raped thousands of civilians, who became Joshua Milton Blahyi, an evangelist. Ryan explores the limitation of redemption and forgiveness. An exhibition on in March not to be missed.
Gallery G is getting ready to celebrate its 8th anniversary, with Gr8, featuring the artists whom the gallery groomed from the early years. Bharti Prajapati and Rajesh Shah are amid them. Tarun Maity and Suvajit Samanta are joining the group for the first time. The show will be on in March.
Chatting for a few minutes with Bangalore artist Ravi Kumar Kashi was a wonderful experience. His works can be seen all around India- at the Loft (Mumbai) in December, at the Art Summit in January, at the Habitat Centre (Delhi) in February, he is participating in group shows on Gandhi in March and few more in April. Ravi's works have always been very experimental and as such very different. Ravi welcomes curious visitors, like me, at his studio and takes time to explain the various techniques he uses, whether it is organic paper, like banana fibre paper, or photographs of Gandhi artefacts. Good luck for the new shows !
Image Courtesy: Chethan Ram