Review by Hemavathy Guha
September 01, 2018


Extending the Contemporary
Curated by Rahul Bhattacharya
August 9-28, 2018
Art Konsult, New Delhi

Art Konsult started this season with a colourful and beautifully visualised exhibition titled Extending the Contemporary in their gallery space in Hauz Khas village. Conceptualised and curated by Rahul Bhattachraya, the exhibition was a kaleidoscope of various artists and their art. While there were young artists like Varnita Mahajan, Aditi Agarwal, Manjot Kaur and Monica Seth, one also got to see a few works of established artists like Saba Hassan, Pratul Dash and Indrapramit Roy.

Artist Aditi writes down her thoughts in her diary and doddles on them. What she has written and doodled over the course of a month in her diary has become her art work. She says that since her handwriting is not clear, one cannot make anything out of it and it becomes a picture with textures. In some ways, her work is thought provoking as it records her daily activities and erases them also. She has projected the dairy on the wall also and the pages keep turning. You can either turn the pages manually or look at the projection.

Jimmy Chishti, the artist from Nagaland who is also pursuing his PhD from JNU paints occasionally and revisits his paintings every now and then. He has exhibited his paintings which reminds one of his native place. As the curator Rahul Bhattacharya says ‘’The artistic practice of Jimmy is deeply invested in the formation of a Naga modernist visual language. Chisti describes his art as “that explores the various folk-art traditions from around the world with a focus on the visual aesthetics of Nagas of North East India”. I found the lines to be strong and bold and the figures standing out. Jimmy has also exhibited a totem in Black and white which stands out majestically.

Partha Seal from Assam has exhibited photographs taken in Indo Bangladesh border which though small have a lot to say. In one photograph, you can see a muslim man sitting and praying on his cot although the house is flooded. In another two birds seem to be wondering which country they belong to perched on overhead wires.  The other photograph is titled waiting for the light to come in.

Saba Hassen has exhibited a charcoal drawing which speaks of her skill in the medium. Varnita Mahajan who has exhibited mixed media on paper and wood explores her sexuality through her work. She tends to promote ‘female body confidence’ in her untitled works and brings about a fusion between art and fashion.

Meenakshi Jha aka Mee Jey has exhibited works done on mica paper and acrylic on paper. Her works are interesting where she has only shown the parted legs of a woman. She makes it humorous by juxtaposing a small sized man standing under her thighs taking support with one hand. A similar man is sliding down holding on to her nipple, while yet another is examining her lower part. The work is titled ‘History Geography’.

Gujarat-based artist Prakash Jogi has exhibited pen and ink drawings, which resemble gond tribal art, but the treatment is modern. Pradeep Mishra has exhibited oil on paper mostly in monochrome. One of the painting is the world map, the other that of farmers and yet another of village labourers. Indira has exhibited two sculptures in wood, which are quite thought provoking, In one of the work, she has used different kinds of wood for different kind of people and all looking through a window, with their hands raised. The work is titled ‘Social Inclusion’. In the work ‘Attitude of Success’, an ant is trying to catch a bottle gourd much bigger in size. On the other side the same ant is trying to balance a huge gourd on its body.

Monica has exhibited pieces of cloth stitched on a base of casement cloth. She takes the cue from tribal motives and the small pieces of cloth, with a bit of dyed cloth in the centre, adds to the mystery. She stiches them on machine and not by hand. Rohen has exhibited several paintings of head inspired by Souza. Artist Pratul dash has scaled down the size of his works and has also used various materials like bindi, flowers, etc to create mixed media works. Rashmi has cut and pasted several layers of paper on Japanese paper and also coloured and painted them.

Manjot does not believe in any axioms and she has just drawn on paper as her imagination runs taking inspiration from biological functions of cell formation, meiosis and mitosis. Her works are lively in ultramarine blue, orange and white. She has directly exhibited the paper works on the wall without any outer frames. Lucky that she got the support. Mega Joshi has exhibited two paper works titled ‘Blood Moon Woman’ where a woman is sitting near a wine glass. One can infer many meanings with a women’s body and blood, link between moon and the biological function of a woman’s body and so on.

And finally, Mahima Bhayana’s paintings in acrylic have a swathe of thin and thick lines in different hues crisscrossing across the canvas. She says about her works "The aesthetic experiences I experience while being in a Darga, stimulate me, and that experience forms the core of my painting practice. The thin flowing calligraphic lines used in the Rajasthani Miniature tradition have been a foundational inspiration. These body of work are an important part of my search to develop a new contemporary language with miniature inspired lines.  In today's time, the aesthetic and spiritual existence of the Darga is precious and healing, my works distill my personal aesthetic experience of that relationship."