15 October, 2017

Portrait of India


Photos: The Met Breur, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Text: Mia Fineman

Raghubir Singh (1942–1999) was a pioneer of colour street photography who worked and published prolifically from the late 1960s until his death in 1999 at age 56. Born into an aristocratic family in Rajasthan, Singh resided in Hong Kong, Paris, London, and New York—but his lifelong subject was his native India. The fall 2017 retrospective at The Met Breuer, Modernism on the Ganges: Raghubir Singh Photographs, will situate Singh’s photographic work at the intersection of Western modernism and traditional South Asian modes of picturing the world. It will feature 85 photographs by Singh in counterpoint with the work of his contemporaries—friends, collaborators, fellow travelers—and with examples of Indian court painting styles that inspired him.

The exhibition is organised by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, with the cooperation of Succession Raghubir Singh.

The show is on view at The Met Breuer, New York till 2 January 2018


8 October, 2017

King of colours

Photos & text: Raghav Kohli

I became interested in Ravi Varma’s works, some of which are presented here, because of my father, who is a collector and started collecting Ravi Varma oleographs, among other things, in the early 1990s. I grew up with a keen interest in his collection and bought my first oleograoph about six years back. 

The interesting thing about Ravi Varma as an artist is that he mass produced copies of his work in the form of oleographs to make art accessible to the common man at a time when it was mostly patronised by people of wealth or royalty. Unfortunately, many of his original prints were lost in a fire in the printing press and have become extremely rare over the last few years. Today, his works are part of the mainstream. They continue to fetch record sums at art auctions abroad, while at the same time, you can find copies of his iconic Laxmi and Saraswati in so many Indian homes.

30 September, 2017

Of Gods And Men

Photos & text: Qazi Danish Nazir

Ramlila is a folk play on the life of Lord Rama, and is derived essentially from the stories in Ramayana. It is usually played for ten nights straight in this season, culminating on the day of Dussehra when the demon king Raawan is set on fire. The Ramlila affects an entire population and has a dramatic and enduring effect on the lives of the poorest as well as the richest.

I was already fascinated by the socio-cultural importance of the tradition of Ramlila when I decided to visit the Ramlila Sabha at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, Delhi. I spent a few days with the theatre artists of this particular Ramlila to get an idea of the training and production they go through. I wanted to understand the physical, emotional and intellectual demands made of such actors playing characters who are regarded by the general public as gods.


24 September, 2017

Still Life

An ongoing performance at the Luv Kush Ramlila Grounds in Delhi. Photo: Abhishek Shukla

24 September, 2017

Treasure trove of memories

Photos & text: Palette Art Gallery

Delhi’s Palette Art Gallery has reopened with Long Story Short—a cross-generational group exhibition that explores narrative painting and varied patterns of visual storytelling, exemplified in the work of both modern and contemporary artists. The exhibition features artworks by Amit Ambalal, Arpita Singh, Bupen Khakhar, K.G. Subramanian, Gopikrishna, B.V. Shweta, K.P. Prasad, R. Magesh, Madhu Venugopalan, P.S. Jalaja and Umesh P.K.

Established in 2001 by designers Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna, the Palette Gallery is an extension of their long alliance with art collecting, and foray into promoting and exhibiting. Fifteen years on and after an interim break of three years, the gallery has opened again with an exhibition of artists that represents the gallery’s vision—highlighting the modernist aesthetic, which remains rooted in the Indian political and cultural landscape alongside a more current global pulse. “The quality of art has always been paramount for us, irrespective of industry trends, genre or seniority of an artist. We take a keen interest in growing with our artists and have built lasting relationships with them as well as with other gallerists, critics and curators. We believe in a healthy art fraternity, one that we can contribute to, and learn from”, said Rohit Gandhi & Rahul Khanna in a joint statement.

The exhibition is on view till 8 October at Palette Art Gallery, New Delhi

16 September, 2017

Cryptic & Outlandish

Photos: Clare Arni

Text: TARQ  Gallery

Notorious Rowdies, the show featuring a series of performative photographs by Clare Arni, is on view at TARQ gallery, Mumbai. This show marks Arni’s third solo exhibition at TARQ.

The term “rowdy” has a particularly evocative quality in South India. A “rowdy” is an unsavoury character, an outlaw, with a strangely alluring bravado. Clare Arni’s fascination with the figure of the “rowdy” began a few years ago while scouring the crime beat section of a local daily. This captivating section carried sordid tales of the nefarious activities of local gangsters, many of whom carried cryptic and outlandish aliases like Dairy, Chicken and JCB. The crime beat section and its sensationalist reportage style was for Arni, an echo of the garish aesthetic of film posters that are plastered across Bangalore, the city she calls home.

The posters glamorised violence, with larger than life characters in incredulous scenarios. Fascinated by the specific persona of the “rowdy”, Arni began toying with the idea that perhaps there is a violence and drama in all of us; a rowdy under the surface, waiting to leap out. She began her project by photographing friends—fellow artists and writers—in various modes of the “rowdy”. The participants were asked to delve into the inner life of the rowdy they had chosen to embody, creating elaborate back stories and crime sheets. What began as a fun project has turned into a series of performative photographs that are simultaneously humorous and macabre, with an aesthetic reminiscent of a low budget film. They unearth the dark fantasies of the subjects while also serving as a mirror to the universal voyeuristic fascination with violence. The exhibition is accompanied by a text by Zac O’Yeah, an author and one of Clare’s first “rowdies.”

The exhibition is on view till 21 October at TARQ gallery, Mumbai

10 September, 2017

Maximum Strength

Photos and text: Qazi Danish Nazir

I’m from Kashmir and we don’t have akharas there. So I was curious about akharas and planned to visit one with no intention of documenting anything. I went to the Guru Hanuman Akhara in Delhi and stayed there for a week. While interacting with the wrestlers around, one thing that struck me was their approach towards life and their love and respect for the akhara’s soil.

Despite the stiff completion it faces from the modern gyms, the akhara still manages to find many patrons. The Guru Hanuman Akhara is the oldest surviving wrestling school in India. It was established in 1925 and is the breeding ground for top Indian wrestlers. Located in Delhi’s Shakti Nagar, near Roshanarabagh, it has long been considered the epicentre of Indian wrestling. The akhara is said to have produced some acclaimed Indian wrestlers—including the likes if Dara Singh, Guru Satpal, Subhash Verma, Virendra Singh, Sushil Kumar, Yogendra Kumar, Anuj Choudhary, Rajiv Tomer, Anil Mann, Sujit Mann, Naveen and Rakesh Goonja.

The akhara is named after Guru Hanuman, a legendary wrestling coach of India. And at present it trains about 200 wrestlers under the guidance of Maha Singh Rao.


3 September, 2017

Colour Theory

Photos: Manu Parekh

Text: Guardian 20

These artworks are taken with permission from Manu Parekh: 60 Years of Selected Works, a book of pictures published by Aleph. The book brings together the finest paintings and drawings Parekh has made in a career spanning 60 years.  

In an interview with Annapurna Garimella, published in the book, the artists says, “I do not become emotional about the ‘artistic process’. I operate like I am making a painting. Suppose I was designing a sari, the pattern has to come all over, right? I would put newspaper between sections and get on top of the printing table and say ‘Put a half inch black border.’ They would do that and then I would feel that a half inch red border should also be there. And a thin black line too. Only two colours are possible in Bagru and only two shades and one base colour. So the mind thinks very graphically. I would use that painterly element.”

29 August, 2017

Mythic Reality

Photos & text: Ojas Art Gallery

Master artist Lado Bai, known for creating visually scintillating art works, and protégé artist Subhash Amaliyar, along with three other artists of the Bheel community, will be exhibiting more than 50 artworks at a special show, titled Satrangi. These paintings bring folklore, mythology and daily anecdotes together in the form of acrylic colours on canvas.

Ladubai and Subhash Amaliyar Bhil won the third edition of the prestigious Ojas Art Award at Jaipur Literature Festival 2017. This year the award focused on excellence in Bheel Art and the awards were presented by Sean Anderson, Associate Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design MOMA, New York.

Speaking about the exhibition, Anubhav Nath, Curatorial Director of OJAS Art, says, “The art community has been very supportive of the OJAS Art Award. Over the coming years, we aim to evolve as the premier award in the tribal and traditional art space. As a step forward we will be displaying selected works at the upcoming JLF Boulder, Colorado, USA, which I think is a huge step in taking our culturally rich art forward.” 

The show is on view from 31 August to 24 September at Delhi’s Ojas Art Gallery

19 August, 2017

Modern Marvels

Photos & text: Triveni Kala Sangam

These images are from a group show called Through My Eyes, featuring four women artists: Bhartti Verma (paintings), Manju Tomar (ceramics), Chetnaa (paper works), and Vijaya Chauhan (terracota).

Sushma Vishwakarma, who has curated the exhibition, says, “I have closely watched the artistic evolution of Bhartti and Chetnaa since my college days, while Manju’s works caught my attention during the Garhi Art Festival 2017. Vijaya’s works, which were showcased at the Lalit Kala Akademi’s art exhibition, impressed me immediately. These women artists through consistent pursuit of their art have defined a distinct style and idiom of their own. Inspired by their work, I decided to showcase these talented artists on one platform.”

The show is on at Delhi’s Triveni Kala Sangam till 21 August

Subscribe to RSS - Photos