Thursday 17 December 2015

“THE SEMPITERNALS” Celebrating creative bizarre in the time of economic slowdown

The very word sempiternal, which is a synonym of the term ‘eternal’ in a more contemporary and earthbound way in, would be apt adjective for the artists of today who still dare to show their creations on a creative carnival as such despite the onslaught of ongoing economic slowdown. A serious question arises here that if the issue of economic slowdown cannot be taken easy in the context of marketing any product of everyday commodity then why it shouldn’t be a serious issue in art and a crucial concern for the art critics too whose role as salvager is of course expected in this difficult time when art ultimately as an aesthetic commodity suffers setback; because a friend in need is friend in deed. 

 “THE SEMPITERNALS” Group of artist at Art Gate Gallery in Mumbai-2015 

The present show “The Sempiternals” is to earmark the spontaneous stubbornness of today’s artists who with their bizarre grey-cell under the very constancy of art as a phenomenon of creative catalyst through the intermittent reactivity of mundane activity, takes up the charge of their self promotion on event of virtual divorce between art and its critics. And that is to commemorate artists’ very eternity in creating despite the gravest odds like existing commercial lows of art market and apprehensive promoters. By now we are aware that autonomy of the flux of art is like autonomy of natural blow of wind; both art and wind cannot be ceased by any consequential force; as both will find its lee-way in one way or other . This show is to celebrate the creative autonomy of today’s artists too who by their own right of karma and by the boon of post-modernism are enlightened enough to know that it is utter foolishness to wait for the art critics to born and show them the way in difficult time as such whereas today’s artists are the critics themselves. Thus they pave their own way to their destiny and the time conspires for their success. Down the ages artists as sempiternal existence have been witnessing intermittent manifestations caused by the changing time and space.

This Group Show is a confluence of seven such artists and erstwhile alter ego who despite their diverse hues of thought process meet to witness the present time offer here a spectacular rainbow of their creations. The result of their perennial witnessing is unusual of the usual, conspicuous from the common and bizarre of the mundane to be relished by the valued admirers. 

Artist Girdhar Gawda with Art lover at Art Gate Gallery- 2015

Girdhar Gawda is an epitome of balance between adoration of cultural tradition and sieved response to dubious novelty of the mundane as with his minimal colour yet deft lines if on the one hand he draws contemplation towards creative grandeur of Indian miniature painting while he withstands the blind emulations to visual influences on the other. 

Recent work  by Artist Girdhar Gawda at Art Gate Gallery- 2015

The very inspiring intricacy and depth in the medium and process of miniature painting had led him to the very roots of cultural ethos of Indian Miniature Paintings that transformed him permanently to devote himself to redefine its style as substance. The arresting compositions of his paintings themselves are self explanatory of why he has developed an immense interest in stories, poems, socio-cultural phrases and historical legends right from his childhood. The elated novelty of spatial dynamics of his pictures don’t lie for his approach towards those historical legends not as religious, superstitious stories but as priceless epics and a treasure house of wisdom.
Recent work by Manoj S Art Gate Gallery- Mumbai

When it comes to another dimension, art of Manoj S. manifests it in rather abstract manner. Manoj, in his sculptures, adroitly blends wood, stone and metal with an semi-abstract dialogue through their obdurateness and softness corresponding to exploration of volume, shape, mass and form. The culmination of all that is a fine visual statement about growth; germination of nature is quintessential of Manoj’s art and sensuous energy is the forerunning pun of his language. Manoj’s art is précis of inseparability of abstract from concrete manifesting the ‘abstract’ semantic of ‘representation’. A remarkable note that one might not ignore to make about his expression is that it is one of the best examples of visual dictions in sculptural abstract minimalism as in response to the ever growing cacophony and verbose of the today’s narration-savvy world. 

Recent work by Ramesh Kandagiri from New Delhi

Then the existence of energy takes rather cosmic action in Ramesh Kandagiri’s acrylic on multiple layer of rice paper pasted on canvas as according to him he paints the ‘act of experiencing’ of existence to an extent where both the ‘experience-r’ and ‘experienced’ are lost. For him abstraction doesn’t mean ‘no real’ or ‘devoid of representational forms’ but it means ‘more real’ rather…to the extent of ‘para-real’ which means intuitive ‘empirico-transcendental’ understanding of deeper realism beneath the surface towards the occult or the atomic element even. Ramesh sets himself to his self imposed voyage of revisiting abstraction in an equanimous zone in his own ‘innermost self’ between his own pulse and impulse as liberated from all established notions of abstraction. Ramesh’s uncanny pictorial space is not an embellished surface of a closed plane but ‘act of experiencing’ of infinite cosmic space rather with unpredictable momentum of energies which he attains through transcendental meditation on the ‘occurring in the instant’ during the conjunction of idea and medium. Here is where this Zen practitioner believes the ‘innermost self’ of an artist is transformed. 
Recent work by Rajasekhar Pendurthi

Rajasekhar P. is a brilliant example of how a positive time-travel towards an artist’s nostalgia can endow both essence and element to his thought and expression. Thus became the memoirs of Rajshekhar’s childhood his source of inspiration. His figures, be it men celebrating ‘cock-fight’, an introvert adolescent deeply engrossed in his thoughts, an old women vending fishes or three fishermen at work, apart from declaring his unparalleled territory of skills in rendering the corporeal reality yet humbly establishes the diligent care in handling his medium which ultimately is his personality trait. One will not disagree with the fact that the meticulous vision of the backdrop of his subjects plays a surrealistic role for his realistic figures; perhaps this is an open secret and strong undercurrent inherent in this silent visual narrator that alarm with premonition a breathtaking range of oeuvre might be released by his adroit hands in future. 
Recent work by Sandhya Shankar Patnaik
Sandhya explores her ‘feminine self’ through coeval incarnation in many individuals while sensuality becomes salient trait in terms of lucid chromatics as the metaphor of feminine grace as if being thawed up through chilly predicaments of feminine social identity. Thus her bright canvases speak about her elated self and her vivacious returns to her surroundings. She has a flair of exploiting the chromatic greys in combination with various chromatic hues to evince typical tenderness through meticulous colour texture; the calm process of doing this is typical of feminine resplendence. Sandhya’s compositions are though innocently simple however tickles deeper sensibilities. The human figures in her compositions whether it is a sitting sensuous-shy lassie, lovers in amorous state or a flamboyant next door damsel all seem to be delving into deep self absorption endeavouring to locate the self in various individuals.
Recent work by Karaka Venkat Rao

Venkat Rao’s pragmatic concerns about social life have inspired him to react to the environmental disasters caused by very human follies as he playfully draws his satire on the ongoing blind stylization of life with reference to techno-modernism. Venkat’s angst reaction to the human’s savage flaws has miraculously transformed his form into gargoyles; partly human and partly animal form. But his compassionate concerns to human have flipped his verdict on them turning them into gorgeous gargoyles rather; just unlike the Gothic horrific gargoyles. Metaphorically as if this compassionate artist has pardoned even their fatal flaws. However, well justified is his this conditional pardon with a lesser punishment to his gorgeous gargoyles that despite being sculptures they are positioned in a confined space; this is perhaps metaphorical of metropolitan human’s convoluted life. Often Venkat prefers arranging his sculptures even with no pedestals which certainly is intentional in order to share the viewer’s space. Thus a close relation is established between the sculptures and the viewers’ life. He uses materials like bamboo, paper, resin and fabric to construct his sculptures. Most interestingly he paints the sculpture giving it a semi-realistic appearance. But most of his methods can be viewed as an influence of sculptural forms of traditional Temple craft of Andhra Pradesh.

Rcent works by Vasant K. Velapuri

Vasant K. Velapuri’s sculptures depicts his journey towards himself; his struggle to realize the omnipresent within himself. Devotional path to self realization has influenced him and his sculptures. Experiments with various shapes and forms helped him depict the spiritual introspection and relate himself to the real by deviating from the unreal. The real-unreal dichotomy is so conspicuous in his sculptural assemblages as he juxtaposes the meticulously handled real-unreal form with day-to-day real devotional commodity. However his real-unreal dichotomy, which though has a devotional flavour yet projects arrestingly occult form, thus displays a spiritual-religious narrative often with portrait of sadhus (sages) in deep self absorbed trance. These creative bizarre collectively admit that if only art is ceased by an economic slowdown then it is not art but something else and not at all autonomous. Thus it is established that autonomy of art endows spontaneity to artists with a reward of position as “The Sempiternals”. 

By Artist Ramesh Kandagiri

Exhibition details: 23rd to 29th Dec 2015-11am to 7 pm

Art Gate Gallery- 1st Floor (above Satyam Collection)
 Chheda Sadan 115, J Tata Road Churchgate Mumbai, India 

Sunday 13 December 2015

Monday 7 December 2015

When we take leave, I feel that the dialogue reverberating in the air, “Raj, naam to suna hoga.” - by JohnyML

Sitting at the large window sill that brings February’s cool sunlight and air into his spacious studio at Akurli Om buildings near the Lokhandwala complex in Mumbai, artist Raj More looks at the sprawling slum below him. Named Kranti Nagar (Township of Revolution), the matchbox like concrete and tin structures spread all over with a peculiar order in its apparent chaos and end up at the foot of a hill which has a forest cover lining the adjoining reserved forest called Sanjay Park. Raj points at the pale brown hutments at the edge of the hill and tells us, myself and my fellow traveller, that though those dwellings look closer in fact they are located quite far. “There is no electricity and no water supply there. Life out there is an ongoing fight against the odds. Yet, children from those slum clusters come to the school below here and occasionally I work with them,” Raj says. “People from my clan are also there in Kranti Nagar,” he continues, “and I go there often, meeting people, participating in community activities and even giving some art lessons to the young people.” Raj seems to be quite earnest in his acts. Does he do this because he has got his clansmen living there? “No,” says Raj emphatically. “I do it because these slum clusters reminds me about my own past life in this big city called Mumbai and it tells me about the indomitable spirit of human beings not only to struggle and survive but also to win and live a life of their own.” True to his words, Raj is one of the rare painters of Mumbai’s life, its people and all what makes Mumbai the maximum city.

Artist : Raj More

Raj More is a well known artist and his fame is heavily depended on his perennial interest in the chosen city of his life, Mumbai. Television channels and newspapers have featured Raj for his ‘Mumbai’ works. His face is familiar even to the ordinary public in Mumbai because he gets featured in the page three columns of newspapers whenever he attends an art do in the city. Raj is stylish in a very peculiar sense; his style, the curly mop that he has and the tough dark complexion give him the charm of the black singer James Brown. Closer to home, he looks more like a serious version of the Bollywood comedian, Johny Lever. The name Johny seems to be his lucky charm as the major liquor brand Johnnie Walker recently featured him in their short film series that highlight ‘inspiration’. Fame has not touched his core leaving him tipsy and making him forget his roots. Calling himself an ‘accidental artist’, Raj too had his share of slum life where once he had lived and worked in an one room tenement. “You can take slum life in two ways; one, you could take it as a breeding ground for your future thoughts. Two, you can get steeled by the circumstances and become one of the slum dwellers. I was lucky to bring the essence of dreaming and toughening in the right proportions in my life. Today, when I look at the slum clusters from here, from this vantage point, I feel the same energy of survival. I do not regret having gone through that experience,” muses Raj.

Artist Raj More and Johny ML from New Delhi

“Raj, naam to suna hoga’ (Raj, you might have heard of my name)- this is one famous dialogue that most of the Shah Rukh Khan characters speak as an introduction to his love interest in many of his early movies. The name Raj is self referential. Raj is king. Raj is one who is born to win and rule. So the name, when it comes to a Khan character, is a metaphor. Our Raj, Raj More too had come to Mumbai to become a film personality. In fact his destination was not Mumbai. It was Pune. After his school education he managed to escape from his town Akola in Vidarbha district in Maharashtra, where he had a comfortable life in a well to do family. His mind was not in academics and he had the ability to draw. More than drawing he had the ability to mimic and act. Pune was the nearest destination where he thought he could nourish his big screen dreams by joining the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). In Pune he worked with theatre groups and earned his name as an actor and team leader. But the FTII dream was not becoming true. Nothing to hold him back, Raj reached Mumbai and tried to join the film industry. It was then someone advised him to join Sir.J.J.School of Art to pursue a degree in fine arts. Raj did not want to become a ‘painter’ as he knew how to paint and working with technicians in the film industry painting sets had become a play for him. He wanted to learn visual communications and he obtained admission in Applied Arts at JJ School of Arts. But in the Applied Art department he was more like a painter and with the unfulfilled desire to join FTII in mind he took photography as an optional subject. To cut the long story short, Raj did not get admission at the cinematography department of FTII. This was a turning point in his life. He now wanted to devote all his time to paint.

Art Writer :Johny ML from New Delhi

As a student Raj was a nonconformist. When J.J. School was all out there to support abstraction in art, Raj decided to stick to the figurative genre. He thought that abstract art was a sort of eye fooling and texture making than making real sense to the artist or to the viewers. But then he understood abstraction as the essence of things and he felt that even in the figurative work there is a tremendous sense of abstraction. It was then he started loading his brushes with colours. He was not looking for a clean and shiny painterly surface. He wanted to build the surface of a painting layer by layer. Soon he found his tool too; the palette knife. He started working like a mason, making brick like layers on the canvases though due to the pressures of the then existing market (and fast moving market) Raj was painting the conventional subjects; Buddhas, Hanumans, Lotuses and so on. A solo exhibition in 1999 at Jehangir Art Gallery, immediately after his graduation, was a super success. Suddenly a new artist was born in Mumbai’s art market. Everyone wanted a Raj canvas but the artist was not ready to go by the demand. The growing dissatisfaction with his own art language, especially the themes, sharp criticism from the peer group and an energetic art scene spearheaded by seniors like Bose Krishnamachari, Jitish Kallat and so on, helped Raj to evolve as an artist with a larger mission and a sharper focus. Mumbai became his pet theme, slowly but steadily.

“I am a Maharashtrian but I could not have called myself a Mumbaikar at that time,” remembers Raj. Negotiating Mumbai, the maximum city with minimum material circumstances for him, was excruciatingly painful for him. “Anyone would have fallen either for lobbying or bootlicking. I did not follow the suit. I just kept on working against all odds. People started recognizing my works slowly for their textural values and then slowly for their thematic orientation. Mumbai had already started enchanting me. I had fallen in love with Mumbai.” Raj started working with Mumbai images in an effort to understand the city and its people. Architectures, BEST buses, taxis, local trains and landmarks were the first images that came to him as dominant features of the city. He started bringing all these images as reflections. Sometimes these images are autonomous in his works and at other times they are interdependent. A BEST bus could reflect a commemorative statue and the heritage architecture while a car wind screen could become a ‘window’ to see the city through. Raj’s obsession with the city went further to a metaphorical level where he started viewing the city as a bull; charging down to attack. It could be his reflection on the sheer energy of the city of Mumbai or even he could be metaphorically speaking about the bullish run of the stock market. But soon we see his bull images wearing dark shades or cooling glasses. These glasses started reflecting the city and its peculiar visual emblems. Then came the helmeted head where the identity of the rider is obfuscated with the city reflecting on the helmet.

Raj More at LokhandWala Township Kandivali(EAST) MUMBAI.

These paintings are mostly red, black, blue and yellow in colour. One cannot say that Raj’s works have cool colours. They are all hot colours and highlight the sanguine nature of the city. The loaded strokes literally weigh the works and we could see the architectural features merging into a sort of abstraction in his works. These works could be called odes to the city of Mumbai. And each loaded stroke could also be seen as the building blocks of the same city. And if one tries to break it down to the constituent part of this city, one would reach a single slum cluster from which the city has metastasised into innumerable edifices and verities. Mumbai cannot be Mumbai if one avoids the cultural narratives created by the Bollywood movies. Raj pays tribute to this aspect of the dream city by painting eternally remembered scenes from cult movies and also by painting the images of the super heroes and heroines from various periods of India’s film history. Sometimes they are dominant in the pictorial frames and some other times they are seen reflected on the other emblems of Mumbai. In yet another manifestation they are seen submerged in other multiple layers of paints. Raj, like this also has paid rich tribute to Delhi also in his solo show titled ‘C for Delhi’ though his first and foremost love remains to be the city of Mumbai.

In his studio one comes across a huge painting with a crowned crow as the iconic central imagery. The background is created by thick strokes of red in a symphonic pattern. A closer look reveals that the colour patches are nothing but the miniature version of the slum clusters that he sees everyday through the window of his studio. “Crow is a survivor and also a cleaner. Sometimes I feel that human beings in this city fringe are like crows; they clean the city and survive.” Raj cannot just get over with the slum clusters. “They are not my reality anymore. But they are there always as a reminder. They for me look like memento mori,” confides Raj. At the other end of the studio one could see an old Godrej Shelf. A second look tells you that it is a painted shelf. The olive green sheen is partly fading and the stickers on it are quite telling. Each sticker on the shelf speaks of the political and aesthetical choices of the owner. “It is one thing that every slum dweller wants to possess. You go to any slum house, you will see a shelf like this,” says Raj. Therefore, this shelf, in Raj’s works become an icon; an icon that the people there worship as the central image of their belief in life.

Raj does not work with any particular gallery. Nor does he approve of the kind of hierarchical structure that exists today in the gallery system. Many well meaning collectors and curators have helped Raj to build up his career successfully. He fondly remembers the names of Nisha Jhamwal, Yash Birla, Niyatee Shinde and so on for supporting him during the formative years of his career. In Delhi Ibrahim Alkazi helped him to root. United Art Fair One and Two directed by this writer and Peter Nagy respectively consolidated his position in Delhi further and today there are many collectors for his works and Rohit Gandhi of Palette Gallery is a promoter of Raj’s works. International fame came in form of the Best Asian Art Award in 2010. It was just a fun application for Raj and even he had forgotten he had applied for it. He was adjudged as the best Asian Artist by EM Gallery in Korea and ever since Korea is a second art home for Raj. In 2012, he received the National Award by the Central Lalit Kala Akademy.
  Israeli curator Ya'akov McMillan and Raj More in Mumbai 

What happened to his ambitions for big screen? Yes, Raj has not forgotten it. He is already on his way to make his first short film. He himself has written the script and soon the shooting will start. As Raj seems to be reluctant to divulge further details of this film, I choose not to press on. Raj, however does not want to wear too many hats. “I want to be known for my works and through my works. There is no artistic self separated from my works,” he asserts. He is critical of the ongoing art scene in India. “There are coteries everywhere. Young artists lose out not because of these coteries but because they themselves become the worshippers of these coteries. One has to find one’s own path but unfortunately many are not doing it,” Raj opines. He says that he could become an abstract artist at any time now, but he is seriously critical about the kind of abstract art that our artists are doing these days. “I would call them seasonal abstract artists. The present flavour is V.S.Gaitonde. Everyone wants to do a Gaitonde act. But he has done his work and gone. Why can’t we think about our own abstract art?” asks Raj. A floor down in the same building, Raj has a spacious house where he lives with his wife Sangeeta More and two children, Lucky and Krish. Sangeeta does a lot of bag designs and decorative works and she has established a business platform for herself with her friends from the same building. When we take leave, I feel that the dialogue reverberating in the air, “Raj, naam to suna hoga.” 

by Johny ML


Emotions are complex. According to some theories, they are a state of feeling that results in physical and psychological changes that influence our behavior. The physiology of emotion is closely linked to arousal of the nervous system with various states and strengths of arousal relating, apparently, to particular emotions. Emotion is also linked to behavioral tendency. This project has different facets of human emotions.Emotions involve different components, such as subjective experience, cognitive processes, expressive behavior, psycho physiological changes, and instrumental behavior.
Artist : Astha Mittal
The word “emotion” dates back to 1579, when it was adapted from the French word émouvoir, which means “to stir up”. The term emotion was introduced into academic discussion to replace passion. Emotions are thought to be related to certain activities in brain areas that direct our attention, motivate our behavior, and determine the significance of what is going on around us.
The emotions portrayed in this project are: Redemption Lust Passion Love Empathy Gratitude Anticipation Memories Hope Contentment Rapture Yearning
Am in love with these pieces of my heart,my soul daughters, don’t know if I can come back.
Presenting to you the chiitergul village girls irtija,astha,aina & aqsa.

About the artist : Astha is an engineer by degree( we all are!),a cook by passion and an artist for the sheer love of art.Having spent most of her life as a wanderer in search of nothing in particular but observing each inch of life,each enigma of existence and working on emotions has been a beautiful experience she says. Expressing her thoughts into an expression by the medium of my canvas and paints has been the most exhilarating experience of her life for the past four years.Painting is a strong medium and she has tried learning it by self over the years.In this particular body of work,she wishes to showcase an essence of emotions which is never spoken of or lost in the oblivion because of very busy life in today’s times
Recent work by  Astha Mittal
Recent work by Astha Mittal

Having spent most of my life as a wanderer in search of nothing in particular but observing why women in each section of our society are not respected for their own individuality. Expressing my thoughts into an expression by the medium of my canvas and paints has been the most exhilarating experience of my life for the past four years.Painting is a strong medium and i have tried learning it by self over the years.In this particular body of work,I have wished to showcase an essence of “her” which is never spoken of or lost in the oblivion because of the so important social customs and practices.

The right to express her rational opinion is always taken away from her irrespective of how educated she is.My work is simple,its my heart which goes to the women who suffers each day and still stays quiet.

by Art blogazine / all image copyright by artist Ashta Mittal : Delhi