Freezing Time on Canvas

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The art world scenario has gone through interesting shifts from time to time – from conventional art to experimental forms and from a handful to a sea of artists. There is a lot that has changed all around and considering Ahmedabad, a place rooted in culture, the scenario turned from near-passive to very active. When Bob Dylan crooned The Times They Are A-Changin, he surely didn’t imagine how much and how well his song would fit situations and people across decades. Talking of art, what has indeed stood the test of time is the willingness to express and experiment; an artist’s desire and ability to paint his thought through pencil and paints exists since time immemorial. Time, however, introduced changes. Not just in art but in life around us. That precisely is the theme for the fifth edition of India Art Affair’s exhibition – Samay: A visual experience of individual time zone, put up at Amdavad ni Gufa.

For the traditional and the conservative, it may come across as something beyond comprehension to see an art exhibition that celebrates a lot beyond just paints and canvas. Interestingly, of the 24 works by 24 different artists, each one enjoys a uniqueness that only personal experience can offer. Each work steps beyond the usual mix media zone to accommodate objects and things from life around – from metal scrap, glass, wood and nails to motor and computer accessories.

The team of five artists behind India Art Affair include Ronak Sopariwala, Rakesh Patel, Roma Patel, Milan Desai and Vipul Prajapati and the theme of Samay originated after they themselves absorbed changes around them, often perpetrated by time. While some works revolve around the artists’ personal experiences, a few others reflect upon the changes that come in with urbanization, technology and quick access.

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While Jigna Gaudana has made her own sketches on rice paper from different phases of her life – from the time she was a baby to now, signifying visible change in face, outlook and experiences, she has also pasted towards the artwork edge pottery objects that have been significantly important in her life. So, you see impressions of her footprint while also a haircomb or photoframe she probably held dear from the time she was a little girl. “While a few things get added, there are a lot that get subtracted from our lives as time goes, and yet, some are a constant,” the artist reasons.

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Roma Patel’s work, Time is Money, is interesting considering the current context. She has painted a one rupee coin that seemingly insignificant in value, is extremely important nowadays. “In earlier times, people could facilitate and get things done owing to good relations with friends, acquaintances and relatives. But now, there is a crazy rush for money and very few people are interested in spending time with someone without reason. The backbone of relations and associations is money. And suddenly, even a rupee coin is precious in the current context of monitisation!” explains Roma.

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Defining the good and bad times in life and the various phases that come with it is Ronak Sopariwala whose work suggests through planks of wood the various stages of life – from pre-college to the now. He has used metal nails, wooden planks, wire and chessboards to define his timeline. The treatment on the wooden canvas implies the good or bad times as experienced by him and the chessboards placed on top and bottom right with key pieces switching sides denote the people who left him in trying times. Success and setbacks are depicted as are situations that change owing to time. “Time shows how people once close to you too can switch sides,” he quips, his artwork reflecting his current mindset that asserts “I will now go wherever times takes me”.

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One of the biggest sized artworks is by Rakesh Patel that has a facial silhouette made of mirror glass pieces where viewers can see themselves. This is surrounded by methodically placed motherboard parts and circuit from unused computer across the canvas board to denote buildings. “In recent times, there has been extreme urbanization and plenty of concrete structures across towns and cities which is what I have tried to project here,” says the artist who believes man is caught up in time zones and his life is a projection of the times he lives in.

The exhibits at India Art Affair cost about 30-40 per cent lesser than the usual individual artist price, say organisers. The exhibition is open from 4 pm to 8 pm until Sunday, Dec 11, 2016.

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Photographs: Marmik Shah

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