samedi 24 avril 2021


Source Abir Pothi by Shampa Shah
“Jangarh is no ordinary artist painting in any traditional manner or style. He is not just an icon maker. Inventive and innovative, he opens up vistas that perhaps have no parallel in Pardhan or Gond art. The Leela (playfulness) which Jangarh brings to his art is without parallel, yet it seems to belong to some submerged tradition.” — J. Swaminathan, The Perceiving Fingers. The first thing that rings in my mind when I think of Jangarh is his laughter — a peal of laughter in its most real sense, echoing exactly like the laughter with which the character of Mozart has been endowed in the film Amadeus. In the film, it was assigned the name ‘the laughter of God’. Jangarh’s, too, was the laughter of God, which unnerved you with its innocence and abandonment. It was the innocent laughter of a person unaware of the vagaries of life. The life of Jangarh Singh Shyam has been “the stuff dreams are made of”, to borrow from the essay Dream Children by Charles Lamb. His journey from his native village Patangarh, tucked away in the folds of undulating hills and forests, to the urban city of Bhopal, and from there to some of the biggest centres of art in the world has been fraught with excitement and fears. Durgabai Vyam, another very talented Pardhan painter, shared with me that in the village, before the discovery of his genius, womenfolk used to fondly call Jangarh ‘Kanva’ or crow, because of his wisdom and inquisitiveness. When Jangarh decided to leave the village and settle down in Bhopal, the women bidding him farewell cried, “To what unknown lands will your inquisitiveness take you dear Kanva? May you be blessed always.” Did the women of the village have a premonition of his overseas sojourns, bringing accolades and fame to the entire community, followed by his untimely demise in the faraway land of Japan?
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jeudi 22 avril 2021

How galleries, intellectuals, and patrons have shaped contemporary Indian art

Source Art Basel by Kanika Anand
India is a country rich with history, and its heady mix of colors and sounds, tastes and appetites, positions and compositions are embedded in the country’s cultural landscape. But despite the plethora of diverse artistic practices, a new generation of forward-thinking curators, and platforms with an international reach, such as India Art Fair, Kochi-Muziris Biennale, and Serendipity Arts Festival, the contemporary art ecosystem in India is largely still overlooked by the state. Adequate infrastructure to support public institutions and artists through funding opportunities like grants and awards has not appeared. Consequently, a handful of patrons-turned-gallerists have expanded their roles beyond their conventional scope and become the bedrock of the contemporary Indian art scene.
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mercredi 21 avril 2021

Those invisible women who labour over kantha quilts

Source MintLounge by Somak Ghoshal
The desire to mend, repair and reuse is intrinsic to human nature, though that may be hard to believe in this age of disposable living. Archaeologists have found needles among the ruins of the Harappan civilisation, a discovery that imbues the familiar act of sewing with an aura of distinction. The ongoing online exhibition, Painted Stitches, Woven Stories, organised by the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), headquartered in Bengaluru, intends to draw our attention to the alchemy of thread and needle, the poetry spawned by their conjunction, and the layers of memory and meaning these seemingly everyday materials can produce. Yet, even as the world becomes increasingly alert to the richness of what is still seen as an artisanal tradition (though major auction houses now regularly have heirloom textiles and tapestries in their lots), the original creators, inheritors and preservers of these quilting traditions are far from getting their dues. Let alone any acknowledgement of their name on the work they make, most of these women are not even given basic minimum wages for their labour, partly due to the informal and unorganised nature of their work and partly due to the snobbery of the art-historical and commercial establishments. Until the latter shift their focus from redundant debates on the merit of ‘art’ versus ‘craft’, the invisibility of the subcontinent’s quilt makers is unlikely to diminish. MAP’s current effort is a step towards not only making the creations of these invisible women widely visible but also the labour that goes into bringing these objects to life.
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