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Kanoria Centre for Arts finally took its call to reopen its campus to some excellent activity this Tuesday.
The campus was closed last September after a show by Gallery Ra and another of archival prints held by Kanoria itself at its Urmila Kanoria Arts Gallery even as other neighbors have almost continuously been active, of course with due protocols. All this for the artists’ and viewers’ sake in a time that has played havoc with the world at large with far reaching implications of the sociological, psychological and economical kind, something that has been reverberating in recent interactions by SWAAS, as also in the works of artists in some ways, like for instance, the two works titled Return I and II at the just opened show.
Kanoria Centre in fact has an edge over other Galleries in the surrounding space in as much as it has at its Campus the teaching and training facilities, studios for art learning children, adults and practicing professionals, all of which arrangement was lying totally suspended.
The Centre with help from Neekoee Foundation made an impressive comeback with a well mounted show by eight invited artists that started with some fanfare of a gala evening of music, garba dance and dinner on Tuesday while three artists and invited local guests joined the hosts led by Urmila Kanoria, Curator-Coordinator of the show Neena Naishadh and the Centre staff for the opening.
The Centre is also starting alongside a workshop for imparting inputs for working on ceramics.
The show titled Dvaividyam has some different looking fare and was started with liberal allocation of space for exhibits at two galleries, i.e. to three artistes namely Sharmila Samant, Shweta Bhattad and Late Tushar Joag at Kanoria Centre’s own Urmila Gallery and to five artistes, namely Anita Dubey, Amitesh Grover, Amol Palekar, Nilima Sheikh and Shakuntala Kulkarni at the adjoining Hutheesing Centre.
Of these, two artists Anita Dubey and Sharmila have shown their photographs, another Amitesh Grover has also featured some twenty “photographs” that have no images but have interesting bold captions in capital letters to grab the viewer’s attention and say what they have to.
Artists Nilima Sheikh, Amol Palekar, Late Joag and Shakuntala have showcased their paintings. Swati Bhattad has gone totally on a different but very interesting track as she has featured carefully and laboriously crafted Seed calendars, Seed Bands – the Rakhi and, Seed-Crackers in her informal MP based collective’s attempt to do something for the environment and people who have created the stuff.
Going back to our perception of ‘different’, Nilima’s works titled Return I and II are quite off-beat for their choice of media, size and finish in unusual subdued colours as brush drawings on Sanganeri paper that they are. Created in sizes of 50 cms by 80 cms, they feature a number of human figures – both males as well as females – carrying loads of belongings on their heads and in some cases babies in their arms or backs; also painted are people who look sick or dying with footprints of death all around. All this detail within the moderate frames that gives away instantly the gloom and the distress associated with these migrants presumably returning to their native places in the wake of the Corona Lockdown of March 2020 and associated consequences.
The two works also tend to underscore by a connotation of the word ‘Return’, “migration, return or exodus of all forms” with the incumbent discomfort, trauma and travails also of all kinds.
So the imagery doesn’t remain limited to what may have been the originaly conceptualised context of the creator but aligns to the viewer’s perception, the broader connotation of “dislocation and migration for return or refuge’.
This unfortunate factor has again made a comeback to drawing room discussions with the ongoing Ukrainian War due to which 1.3 million people have fled for refuge to neighboring countries; as also due to the upcoming release of the film Kashmir Files that deals with the exodus and the “Genocide” of Kashmiri Pandits, which many sections of even media and judiciary have falsely denied over the last three decades since 1990.
Shakuntala’s work “When She Roared, the universe Quaked,” in all likelihood is a take on the roaring form of Shakti known variously as Mahishasur Mardini, Kali or Chandi; and a ‘form’ that ordinary mortal women can assume at times of tough trials in their lives.
After an exclusive solo show of abstracts in Ahmedabad, featured at ATMA building some four years ago, Amol Palekar has made an appearance at this show with six of his works which are grouped for display as three each – a kind of two ‘triptychs’.
While one set titled Descent is a fine visual composition in itself with some threads of commonality, it relates to the theme of women’s inequality and oppression and the culprit the ‘toxic masculinity’; the other set is a work-in-protest directly against patriarchy and also at the same time a work in solidarity with women, inspired by Parul Khakhkhar’s Gujarati poem titled “Tare Bolvaanu Nahee”. That makes the work quite self-explicit as the three paintings are also juxtaposed with the text of the poem in the ground of the common frame of the work.
Late Tushar Joag’s set of four works from 2010, titled Collateral Damage has been displayed at Kanoria. It continues the narrative about women on the Day dedicated to them by the world community. This has captions and abstract visuals to touch upon and take exception to the violative, intrusive, interventionist and invasive nature of the “contraceptive pill” devised for the women, as against the free willed playfulness available to men.
Talking of photographs on display, Anita offers two sets of ten photographs of her Delhi home at Tara Society which has shaped her persona as well as evolution as an artist for twenty-five years. The two sets shot on a Minolta in 2000 and 2016 and created as silver gelatin and digital prints also feature Anita as a subject a la the inbuilt portraits. This ‘inclusion’ of her individuality represents generally the intangible emotional and psychological connect anyone will develop with one’s home for a long time as 25 years.
Sharmila takes us on a trip of Mumbai’s famous or infamous Dharavi through her series of photographs titled Hanging Gardens of Dharavi. Reflective of her distinctive eye for not only good visual compositions but also some real beauty sifted from the midst of the chaotic disorder and clutter of this ‘biggest slum’, the photos create a positive image of the place which also now has the reputation of an economic hub also.
Sharmila captures the greenery, the shrubs, the floral growth, the creepers, the climbers and the Bougainville, the money plants some of which hang from ‘pots’ of all makes – the plastic paint containers to make-shift pots to earthen flower pots. There also are interesting shots of forced eruptions that peepal trees can make from the middle of anywhere!
This redeeming exercise in looking at a small effort at beautifying and providing some Oxygen to inmates of the area, looks quite appealing.
Shweta’s Gram Project is not just about creating artefacts or artworks aimed at changing the pitch of festival celebration whereby she and a number of her compatriots from Paradsinga in Chhindwara district also aim at leading a holistic life without migrating to cities and even more, that deserves society’s attention. These articles have seeds embedded within, with the objective of sowing the same when the product is used up for its purpose.
Grover’s image less photographs are about extending the impact of photography beyond ‘its visible level and also how language is intimately connected with cultural codes’.
All in all a unique and a good show presented jointly by KCA and Neekoee Foundation, this one will be a joy to watch. The show is available till March 16.
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