New Trends From The South

by Apparao Galleries

India is a diverse country and the influences are varied. In the field of contemporary art,the artists inIndia have drawn their inspiration from several sources,some have delved into their roots,others intotechnology, culture, popular culture, society, politics. environmental concerns etc while others haveattempted to be interdisciplinary in their approach.This show offers an overview of the contemporary development in art from the Southern geographicallocation, where a large cluster of artists have marked a distinct posture of difference through theirsensitive response from the location of their city with varied cultural, urban and political developments,that has shaped their artistic expressions.Institutionalized art pedagogy and patronage has led to the growth and development of serious art.Artists consequently have been experimenting, pushing the boundaries of their artistic creativitythrough exploration with technology particularly video, photography, multi media installations, computertechnology, virtual reality etc influencing their art making process today popularly known through thenomenclature of new media.The book provides an insight into these varied dimensions which allowed art to evolve and develop,with patronage playing a defining role in the furtherance of the career of these artists through gallerypromotion that gave visibility and pushing the sales of their works to knowledgable collectors andconnosiours. Looking at the influences that allowed for art to blossom,one viewed the patronage asthe most important aspect.In Karnataka,the technology boom, unorganized urban development,offered artist opportunities tointerface with varied mediums for appropriate expressions. In Tamilnadu.the conceptual, the philosophicalas well as the popular culture aided the artists in offering a different trajectory for development. Keralaartists contextualized within a dominant literary background, enhanced by cultural and technologicalawareness have created contemporary statements through engagement with different mediums frompainting to photography to installations. The Andhra artists appear to be regionally contextualized withfigurative idiom drawing their inspiration from their locale offering expressions that remain within thedomain of modernity.The essays have been penned by art historians and critics namely Ashrafi S. Bhagat (Tamilnadu), SureshJayaraman [Karnataka],Vaishnavi ramanathan [Andhra Pradesh] and Tanya Abraham (Kerala).

 

Dialectics Of Tradition

Dr. Ashrafi S. Bhagat

“Only a dialogue with the past can produce originality” – Wilson HarrisTradition is the future out of the past. However historical traditions are not reconstructionsof the past. Rather, the past is reinterpreted, fashioned anew or “invented” to meet the possibilities anddemands of the future or contingent contemporary moments. The exhibition Dialectics of Tradition ispremised on the works of four seminal artists who contoured the development of regional modernitywhich emerged as the Madras Art Movement in early 1960s. Dialectics, understood as changes thattradition was capable of transforming to contemporize those moments of modernity in which thevernacular or local culture was reworked, recovered and reinvented to fulfill contingent momentswithin the postcolonial nation in the 60sThree artists who represent the dialectics of tradition are K.C.S. Paniker, K. Ramanujam and VeluViswanathan. The tradition they engaged with was the regional, folk and canonical. The latter suggesteda notion of conceptual as a mode for art making in visual arts, while the former was within the domainof popular culture, which had marked its presence within modernity in different and distinct ways.Paniker’s breakthrough in his Words and Symbols mark the final achievement of his career.It dawned on Paniker that line as a tool was not exclusively meant for structured drawings namelycreating human forms or descriptive representational reality, rather it could be willed by the artist to bebroken or accented and can completely be divorced from the sensual world of recognition. Paniker’sartistic practice was incisive, robust and fearless. He reconstructed images from his regional traditionconceptualizing it within the language of research, where complexity and simplicity fuelled creativetension.Viswanadan engaged with yantras integral to the ritual of dhoolichitra in Kerala, an ephemeralart form that has a limited spatio-temporality, extended into the realm of visual arts to be interpretedaccording to the artists’ sensibility. Ramanujam may stand apart but shares a thread of commonalitywhich connects all the artists within this cluster. His art encompasses the world of visual culture at thatmoment in modern Indian art trajectory, which today has come to be seen as an episteme invading thecanonical domain of Art History. Ramanujam in his works fantasized and imagined a surreal world inwhich he was a reigning monarch, much admired and loved, carried in a palanquin or riding horse backmajestically within an ambience of gloriously constructed architecture. These ideas were divined by himfrom cinema sets and the stories of Chandamama which he read voraciously.Imagined from the position of popular regional culture, these artists encapsulate the conditionof postmodernity, in which tradition is referenced, popular culture finds an integral space as thedistinction between high and low art gets negated. The mimicking and appropriation of certain regionalcultural art forms as the yantras in Dhoolichitra integral to tantric ritual attained popularity as it wasremoved from its sanctimonious status to be appropriated by these artists, invading the decorativespace in their works except for Ramanujam. Serving as a springboard for ideas each of thes eartistsconnect through commonality of certain cultural art or craft form. Serving as a springboard for ideaseach of thes eartists connect through commonality of certain cultural art or craft form.

 

Evocations & Moods: Avant-Garde Art Of Rabindranath Tagore

Dr. Ashrafi S. Bhagat

Visionaries have shaped India’s destiny for centuries, defining the country in its varied cultural,social, political, philosophical and religious dimensions. Within the domain of eminent visionaries thename of Rabindranath Tagore emerges as a modern avant-garde artist who reshaped India’s emergingmodernity and gave it a momentum that marked a different trajectory in its development.Chennai will witness a showcasing of a rare collection of the bard’s original drawings andpaintings, sourced from private collections, to mark the celebration of the Tagore’s 150th year ofhis birth. He was the first Indian artist emerging during the late 1920s to represent internationalmodernism.In this exhibition, portraits of Rabindranath Tagore delineated by various artists as AbanindranathTagore, Gaganendranath Tagore, Hemen Majumdar, Atul Bose and Jamini Roy finds a privileged place.The visual portrayal of the poet interpreted differently by these varied artists offer an interesting studyin its technique as well as visual language.Hemen and Atul’s rendering is realistic and painstakingly worked out, in comparison toAbanibdranath and Gaganendranath’s portrayal which have the saliency of the wash technique of theBengal School. Havell’s attempt in reforming the art-school curriculum by orienting towards a greaterstrength of Indianess; had provoked a break away among a group of students, leading to the formationof an alternative school under Ranada Prasad Gupta that consciously wanted to preserve the tenetsof Academic training. Hemen and Atul were both products of this private institution, the Jubilee ArtAcademy. Hemen helped to perpetuate the popular Ravi Varma model of Indian painting. In order topromote the works of Academic painters a Journal of Indian Academy of Art [1920] was establishedby Hemen and in 1921 another platform for the academic artists was provided by an organization -Society of Fine Arts that was set up by Atul Bose. The realistic visual language and the gentle washtechnique in the portrayal of Tagore has further enunciation in the broad pointillist technique of JaminiRoy’s portrayal of Tagore represented in the company of Mahatma.With Tagore, his art was contoured by his international perceptions consequent to his exposureto modern European art during his varied travels. While at the domestic front the art scene was shapedby the nationalist ideology; Tagore’s art, during this political struggle was cast in a different mould toexpress his subjectivity through free wheeling imagination and visionary approach. Art and aesthetichad been central to his creative concern.Modernity was reflected in his attitude towards painting. He did not restrict to one mediumalone. Unorthodox in his manipulation of tools, he used fingers, rags, paper etc to spread colour onthe surface. He considered art to be an act of self expression, rather than a correct representationof the visual world, configuring for himself the dramatic and dynamic visual language that made his artdifferent from the Indian contemporaries of the decade of 30s. Tagore’s modernism viewed from withinthe Indian context was at odds with that of his nephew Abanindranath Tagore and other contemporaryartists.Tagore’s avant-guardism was his engagement with expressive exaggerated and distorted formsarising out of his subconscious relating him to a kindred spirit with the surrealists, an Avant- gardemovement that foregrounded dreams, fantasy and unconscious as a powerful force in the origin ofthe images. His unorthodox forms were also conditioned by his writings, where he had naturallyexperimented with the fearsome and the grotesque. Expressionism and Surrealism with their interestscentered in primitivism and subconscious imagery influences his work.

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