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3 November, 2017

India Through Foreign Eyes

Photos and text: Jutta Jain-Neubauer

Travels of the Prince Waldemar of Prussia to India 1844–46—an  exhibition of selected lithographs offers the opportunity to relive the unique trip of Prince Waldemar of Prussia (1817-1849)—through India! His strong desire to explore the unknown world and to understand other cultures caused Prince Waldemar to start the greatest adventure of his life.

At the age of 27 he started his expedition to India and reached Calcutta in January 1845. The destinations of his field studies included Patna, Kathmandu, Benaras, Delhi, Nainital, as well as the regions of the Himalayas up to Tibet and finally Lahore, Jaipur, Gwalior, Indore, and Bombay. Prince Waldemar was also drawn into the battles of the Anglo-Sikh war of 1844-45. The outcome of this journey to India comprised valuable first-hand observations and innumerable sketches, drawings and water colours. After his early death in 1849, this visual material was published and highly admired, also by Alexander von Humboldt. With these lithographs, beautifully reproduced by the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board, we are able to see “Old India” with the eyes of the prominent traveller from Prussia. The exhibition is curated by art historian—Dr Jutta Jain-Neubauer.

Travels of the Prince Waldemar of Prussia to India 1844–46 is on view at Delhi’s India International Centre till 9 November

31 October, 2017

Under The Hammer

Photos and text: Kochi Biennale Foundation

An array of signature artworks of modern and contemporary masters, ranging from the late Amrita Sher-Gil to A. Ramachandran and from Vivan Sundaram to Subodh Gupta, will come under the hammer as the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) is all set to organise a live and online fundraiser on 31 October in Mumbai to support the upcoming fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB).

In all, artworks of 41 artists will be up for grabs at the auction to be held at Saffronart’s office in Prabhadevi, a southern upscale locality of Mumbai. The registration will start at 7 pm while the auction is to start an hour later at 8 pm. Besides live auctioning, bidding will also take place online, on the phone and on the mobile app of Saffronart—an art auction house.

A preview of these artworks was held on 26 October at the Mumbai offices of Saffronart.

 “This is the only revenue generating effort undertaken by the KBF, and the auction is an unprecedented show of support by the Indian art fraternity for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale as all the works are donations by the artists,” said Bose Krishnamachari, the KBF president.

“These donations by artist-patrons show the faith of the art fraternity in the Biennale and the belief that sustenance for it must come from within. Several of these artists have participated in the previous editions of the Biennale and they are donating for the second time,” he added. 

21 October, 2017

A language of photography

Photos: José Suárez & Insituto Cervantes, New Delhi

Text: Xosé Luis Suarez Canal & Manuel Sendón Trillo

The photo exhibition, José Suárez, 1902-1974, Lively eyes that think, takes viewers on a photographic journey through Spain, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, the UK and Japan capturing the 20th century timelessly by José Suárez, who is considered one of the most innovative and avant-garde artists. He authored a photographic language and formed friendships with intellectuals and artists like Unamuno, Albertí, and Akira Kurosawa among others. 

Including 135 photographs, 111 documents and publications, seven audiovisual montages and more, the exhibition gives an insight into the evolution of the art form of photography itself. 

José Suárez is an absolutely unique photographer within historical Galician photography. His images have very defined characteristics, which can be seen throughout his extensive career as a photographer and are the result of a reflexive and very personal vision that was determined by his rich cultural knowledge. These features endow him with a clear authorship that most historical photographers lack. His entire life was closely linked to photography. His brother Paco recalls that Suárez’s camera was like another part of his anatomy, stating “On the few occasions that I saw him without his camera it seemed as if a part of his body was missing.”

The show is on view at Insituto Cervantes, New Delhi till 10 December. Visitors can view the exhibtion from 5 p.m.  to 8 p.m. from Monday to Friday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays

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.

 

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