THE OPEN VERANDA

Review by Amrita Varma
February 15, 2014

 

Balcao
A group show of Goan artists 
Curated by SubodhKerkar
January 28-February 2, 2014
Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi

Balcao as the show is titled, is a revealing one to say the least. It has freshness and an intense rootedness to the soil and influences of the Goan landscape. Such closeness to the direct influences can rarely be felt in the world today where the mechanized, robotic,global world has taken over our world view within a certain space.

The artists have done well in opening dialogues closer home. The conceptual quality and execution of the works are also to be praised for not having taken out the lighter side of life from the works themselves, which is a characteristic of the Goan land and which ring true in the merit of the works themselves. Yes, the subject matter has a seriousness to it and the integration of both these qualities bring out an incredible show by the young artists of Goa. There is none of that tacky need to be experimental just for the sake of it. The works and the show itself stand on timeless solid ground.

Each work is a careful selection and one has to commend Subodh Kerkar for an interestingly detailed curation into the aspects of what Goan may mean. The exhibition as a whole is an inviting experience and  opens out discussions on various aspects of the Goan mindscape as intended.

One is piqued to see some very interesting works by Souza, which are a tad more relaxed and breezy in their energy than the otherwise, darker more aggressive ones. The breeze of the Goan Veranda or Balcao seeps in and conversations grow from here as one looks at Kerkar’s chilies and the blue works. It is interesting to see Fernanda de Melo e Souza’s interpretation of the personas of people through her portraits, which have a strong undercurrent of the legendary Souza within but show a different language. Harshada Kerkar’scharcoal of a woman with a side glance is stunning in its strength and feminity while Julio D’ Souza’s portraits are macabre and reflect the masks of the darker face of human life even in their entertaining tone.

Conversations are rampant in Viraj Naik works weather with objects or people, and the mileu is a political  onewhere gossip rules roost. In a similar strain, Shripad Gaurav’s works depict everyday Goan life with light satire where  the ‘beatas’ or local gossipers, who are usually women who are middle aged or widowed, move around in small groups discussing every person in the locality.

Vaibhava Kitlekar’s sculptures remind one of a heritage gone by yet stuck within the present.On the other side of the spectrum are Santosh Morajkar’sworks which through the use of the animal form depict Goan life very cleverly. There is also the nuance of craftsmanship in building culture that comes through. It is raw and not as earthy as Vaibhav’s works.

Chaitali Morajkar’s works are delicate comments on the past and the present of everyday going ons, on one stage.

Ramdas Gadekar uses traditional painted patterns and portraits of Goan legends like Vasco da Gama to portray what Goa means. Mosaic patterning is used in a more contemporary sense in Shilpa Naik’s works where the ants and small insects speak of daily life as if going in its microcosm and bringing out the subtleties.

Vitesh Naik depicts the mythological and political contexts of present day situations and people well in his works while Pradeep Naik comments on the psychological impact of political situations  through the visuals of his works where one can see patches which fade as if memory has been tampered with or is erasing itself.

Siddharth Gosavitalks of his subject matter through animals who attain a human aura in their expressions as if seeing through.Last but not the least, are the works by Kalidas Mohan Mhamal and Kedar Dhondu.

One is enamoured by Dhondu’s works which showcase early Goan history with its violent movement trapped within the body language of the figures painted as if speaking those personal histories of their trials silently. Kalidas uses chronology to aid his comment on Goa and its past.

For a show which changes perspectives making one jump out of their black and white world to a world in flow and for the freshness it brings to the Indian art scenario, it is one to be watched and savoured.