The Absent Figure and The Intimate Present

(Special Report published in Anthology of Exhibitions, ARTIndia Magazine,  Volume XXI Issue II, 2017. p.p 35)

A dual display curated by Girish Shahane hinged on two phrases from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, was hosted by Gallery OED, Fort Kochi, recently.
Country Matters, mounted at the Beyond Malabar gallery, from the 9th of December to the 10th of January, reflected contradictory attitudes towards sexuality in a strange yet astute manner. ‘‘Country matters’ is a play on the expression for female genitals. The show had five artists including Mithu Sen, T. Venkanna and Meenakshi Sengupta  investigating the voyeur’s gaze, as well as the male gaze.
Send Some Candids by Fabien Charuau used downloaded porn photographs with defaced women, printed on A5 size paper, and  hung with sexually suggestive comments found on the Internet. In contrast to Charuau’s deft imagery was Meenakshi Sengupta’s Spices that employed spices as pigments to make stark line drawings of nude women in pornographic poses with textthat traversed between niches in the gallery.

Mithu Sen’s  part skeleton, part spindly-legged male figures  were uncompromising and filled with levity. T. Venkanna’s representation of male and female figures in an installation made of  34 images stuck together probably commented on  the display of sexual imagery in public places. Dibin Thilakan’s sole painting worked within an art historical framework and was reminiscent of Aegean paintings, with its composition of ethereal rhythmic figures.This show dwelled on the contentious yet subtle undercurrents of our hypertrophic digital age, and  probed the generation and use of slang in the media and everyday life.

Abstract Chronicles that featured   works by six artists, from the 10th of December to the 24th of January at Gallery OED, highlighted the excesses of everyday imagery by transmuting  them into abstract images.

At the entrance, a glimpse of Parul Gupta’s work made you want to re-check whether the vertical lines were still or moving. The canvas with vertical lines, through subtle shifts, provided the viewer with a three-dimensional spatial experience. In an uncanny way the canvas of Sediments by Vibha Galhotra  seemed to erupt with a  sudden flash of black strokes.   By contrast, Tanya Goel’s minimal monochromes Notations (Angle 50 Degrees), were surfaces that blended the excessive material diligently, and deceived the viewer with its imitation of the flickering screen with pixels.

Everything is made available to us at one click in this virtual world.  Fabien Charuau’s intensely coloured A Thousand Kisses Deep used prolific digital imagery that were processed through an algorithm that could express the energy of pixels in each image. These images were abstract representations of intimate moments like a couple kissing or a crowd praying. Charuau’s algorithms could well have cocked a snook at Georges Seurat in his time! Manish Nai’s print with hazy numerical draping carried layered billboard advertisements that questioned the painted surface and photographic imagery.

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