TRANSCENDING ARCHITECTURAL BOUNDARIES

Review by Hemavathy Guha
October 01, 2018

 

Connecting Lines
Gautam Bhatia, Rajeev Kathpalia, BrindaSomaya, MartandKhosla&Rohit Raj Mehndiratta
September 27 to October 5, 2018
Art Pilgrim in collaboration with STIR
Bikaner House, New Delhi

Art Pilgrim Live and STIR recently mounted an exhibition– Connecting Lines – showing the art of five architects – Gautam Bhatia, Rajeev Kathpalia, BrindaSomaya, MartandKhosla and Rohit Raj Mehndiratta. Unlike an exhibition of paintings and sculptures, this show gives us a glimpse into their thought processes, the germination of the idea for an architectural structure and their forays into drawings and paintings with which they have a close link.

As we enter the gallery,we get to see photographic prints of each of the architect’s paintings or drawings.BrindaSomaya has displayed a print of the painting of a temple with a river in front in southern India as the temple architecture indicates. MartandKhosla has displayed a beautiful photograph of a stunning building,which is the corporate headquarters for Volvo Eicher and Royal Enfield in Gurugramdesigned by him.
Rohit Raj has displayed a drawing, or it can be even mistaken for a dry point etching with twisting and turning lines.Gautham Bhatia has portrayed two men engrossed over playing chess and the light is streaming through the window falling on their profiles in his drawing.Showing the direction of the light streaming through the window is very much a ‘thought process’ which an architect will be concerned about as Gautam Bhatia avers.

Moving ahead into the main gallery, we come across several sketches of Gautam Bhatia on a thin yellow coloured paper, which architects use.In one of the big drawing, several scenes have been depicted involving men playing chess. At times,they are relaxing and sitting down and at times,they are leaning over the table or jumping from the window.These various tiny drawings are arranged with a perspective beginning from larger figures in the foreground to the figures becoming smaller in the background.He has also displayed two bronze sculptures.In one of the sculptures,the head is turned upward and the two hands are positioned as though they are beseaching.In another sculpture,the head and feet  are turned upwards.There is also a charcoal drawing with a long table and many people sitting in different poses like in a conference aptly titled Last Supper. The room seems to be a closed one with just the several windows streaming light.To me it resembled a jail. There is also a drawing where a bottle has been depicted with a stairacase and a tree growing out of it.Different structures have been kept on a table and light is again streaming from a window.There is yet another drawing with a plate and fork and spoon and there are houses on the plate. It looks as though, an architectural project is finished and cutlery put back on the plate just like when we finish dinner. Gautham Bhatia declares’I have tried to draw that which I never would get to build anddelve into unlikely states of space-places that are more ideas than art’. Well said! Unlike visual artists, architects can atleast see some of their ideas being given concrete shape.

Martand khosla has displayed many drawings which have sharp and angular lines creating a tension. According to him ‘they are exploring the relationship between the informal city and the formal establishment which is a complex one,anchored on one end with conflict and another on interdependence’.

He further states, “My art practice explores urban continuity and transformation; it acts as both a counter and a compliment to architectural practice, and my experience of building in India. Situated both as participant and observer, I employed brick dust collected from my construction sites as a language of tension, allowing material to pay tribute to both the temporary and permanent, to construction and demolition.However, an architect’s preoccupation with space emerges not as a challenge to build as much as to foreground an object’s intrinsic potentiality.My current work traverses the lines between sculpture and object, movement and remnant, material and memory.  Inspired by the human churning of urbanisation, I try to replicate micro-process of macro-construction - and simultaneously move from the lens of authoritarian power to its dispersion, exploring the transformations that lie in between.”

Rohit Raj Mehndiratta has displayed pen and ink sketches on paper in burnt sienna and black where the lines have a wavy and spiral movement.A set of three black and white drawings by him show a lot of energy and which if we look closely appear like the jutting out claws of animal like creatures. He has also displayed colourful paintings in red, blue and yellow ochre.Although there are no specific figures or forms, the strokes of the brush with the pigments create the forms.

Acclaimed architect and urban conservationistBrinda, who has been practising since the 1970s and hasundertaken and designed several projects including rehabilitation projects like the primary school in ‘Badli Village’, which she reconstructed after the village was ravaged by an earthquake.A film on the school building and the village accompanies the work.There is also a technical drawing and explanation of the temple at Hampi.

Rajeev Katpalia’s diary with various sketches has also been displayed.He has designed the architecture for the Smriti Van for earthquake victims at Bhuj with several steps and columns leading upto a spot on the top from where one can see the entire city. Detailed sketches of the Flame University inMumbai,Police Officers Mess in Ahmedabad, a client’s home inAhmedabad, a model of the sun point, Smriti van, Bhuj,with photographs of the completed projects have been displayed.

The exhibition explores the connection between the building and its conception, architecture and art– the concern for using art as a way of thinking of architecture and vice-versa. Historically artists were architects and architects were artists. Over time, however, the two disciplines parted ways. The exhibition is only an expression of lines on paper connected to private and professional ideas and investigates architecture as architect, as art and finally art as art. The show takes you through a visual journey starting from the architects work to his art.