Seven Decades of Indian Drawing
Curated by Prayag Shukhla, Annapurna Garimella and Sindhura D.M.
November 10-30, 2014
Exhibition Hall, IGNCA,
Gallery Espace, New Delhi
The opening of this show was a grand affair with the glitz of the art fraternity coming from all corners to celebrate 25 years of the gallery’s history and in parallel also celebrating the Indian art scenario. There were innumerable works from over 60 artists curated carefully indicating the entire span of these 25 years where one could see the works speak of different eras and movements within Indian art in works which are otherwise not that easy to engage with by virtue of their exclusivity in terms of work quality and historical context for the art system and the individual artists.
The idea of putting up a drawing show was a stellar idea as it resounded with the rawness of the first sketches to the finished drawings and in giving drawing a voice as an integral part of what we view as art. As one entered one was taken into Husain’s world with his beautifully drawn sketches and notes bringing out the very core of his work style and visualisation.
While Jitish Kallat’s Traumanama (Cry of the Gland) explored his drawings on man and the urbanscape, Lavanya Mani and Rohini Sen’s work brought the delicacy of a lost world through their works on cloth and paper with thread and ink.
Naini Arora ‘s works explored the intensity of the drawn subject. Chitra Ganesh’s work looked at the mind ramblings of the assumingly perfectly balanced woman where life seems to run a roller coaster. Rollie Mukherjee’s work had a lightness in its rendition of the discovery of man and his relation to nature while Anju Dodiya’s work looked at the physiological and the mind map of the human being.
On one wall were the works of Paramjit Singh and Mala Marwah. Paramjit’s characteristic charcoal sketch on nature and Mala’s delicate pencil sketches brought out the life in their observations on nature. Atul Dodiya canvas and Prabhakar Kolte’s works on paper look at text as a visual on its own while Rakhi Peswani’s works saw thread and stitch as an integral medium of drawing where each work seems to flow with each line and curve within each image.
Akshay’s work is worth a mention for its detailed account on the growth of gawar , a crop, and the use of fracking and its effects on the immediate environment in Rajasthan. Interestingly there were also sculptures from important artists like Sankho Chowdhuri exploring the playfulness of relations between women where the form seemed to mould itself in the lyricism of the work- drawing on stone.
Vivan Sundaram’s works were impressive in their flow and angular form renditions which pulsed with a life of their own. There were amorphous forms which negotiated with the linear lines where the puppets of human existence seemed to be working with their shadows and perhaps their past, looking forward and expanding their associations with the environment.
Nasreen Mohamedi s work had the silent energy of the form and its movement where one can see landscapes, buildings, river boats and skies with the slightest turn of the pen in her inks.
One found the subtler Souza’s where the works kept their buoyancy alive in their exploration of the woman who is defiant yet intimate, revealing her inner mindscape. These works seem to be the start of his making of the flamboyant aggressive work on canvas.
While Ambadas used the abstract visual to get to the core of expression, Om Surya uses the geographical map of a nebulous form coming alive and growing.
In Ashok Ahuja’s work one finds a visual stillness in text spilling out of nothingness engaging the eye in the very process.
Iranna’s carpet speaks of matching contraditions in violence and delicacy of the visual. It is interesting to see paint and stains draw the language where drawn lines act as fillers questioning and digging into the very nature of the mediums.
One of the more outstanding works were Manisha Parekh’s works which explored piercing as marks to form intimate drawings of the subjects she chose to express on.
Amitava’s works with their scribbled lines and paint being stitched by mirrors duct tape, luggage tags and tickets were engaging in their suggestive movement within the work.
Shanti Swaroopani’s sculpture brought one to meditative thought on who we are and our projections to the world.
Tyeb’s drawings which are rare to see, gave a glimse of the clarity of his work from his first draft and the actual visual of the birth of his canvases.
Puneet Kaushik’s works were drawn through embroidery and thread almost caveman like, scratched on black paper. The suggestion was that of the drawing of the core idea, the formation as if of the first semblance, the first complete sketch.
Paula Sengupta’s work was beautiful in its rendition of the tale and the art of storytelling through scratchings of gold paint on cloth with text accompanying each fragment. Each work was delicately rendered and showed the depth of her art.
Mekhla’s work ‘ try’ was interesting its engagement of forms which threaded themselves into a visual mass delicately indication the context of her work.
There was a work of Jeram Patel which was exceptional in its energy and the starting point of a whole series of later works.
The exhibition had exceptional works from the studios and collectors of the works of Manjit Bawa, Bhupen Khakkar, Ganesh Haloi, Jyoti Basu, Anupam Sood, Zarina Hashmi, Chintan Upadhayay, Riyas Komu, Krishen Khanna, Laxma Goud, A. Ramamchandran, Arpita Singh,Mona Rai, Gieve Patel, Swaminathan, Paniker, K.G. Subramanyan, Ara, K.K. Hebbar, Madhvi Parekh, Manjunath Kamath, Moutushi Banerjee, Nityananda Ojha, Samit Das, Sonia Khurana, N.S. Harsha, Meghna Bisineer, Poonam Jain, Prabhakar Bharwe, Probir Gupta, Rajender Tiku, Rakshith Kadlar, Ram Kumar, Ramesh Pithiya, Ravikumar Kashi, Valsan Koorma Kolleri,Ramanujam, SG Vasudev, Nandagopal, Shobha Broota, Shyamal Dutta Ray, Shreya Karle, Samit Das, Shailesh BR, Siddharth, Sisir Thapa, Snehal Chordia, Somnath Hore, Sudhir Patwardhan, Surendran Nair, Tanmoy Samanta, Tushar Joag, Vibhuti Sharma, Vijay Kumar and Waswo X Waswo with R. Vijay.
One had much to take in and ponder over whether it was the expanse of the eras of artists and art works or the particular works in context to their artistic practice and their lifetime.
One exceptional value the show had was its juxtaposition and dialogue of works between the senior and emerging artists and the engagement between different periods of time as a result.
It was clear that the curatorial eye in this exhibition was very active unlike many shows we have seen before. There was attention paid to every detail and placement of work and its environment with a keenness to let the works speak and create multiple dialogues within the space and engage with works across the show.
This was a show that truly created a mark as a documentation of the length and girth of Indian Art post independence till date. An education in itself we have much to be thankful for in getting a visual treat of a lifetime.