BEYOND THE FRAME

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Participating Artists

Achuthan Kudallur, Adimoolam K M, Akkitham Narayanan, Akhilesh, Anitaroy Chowdhury, Arindam Chatterjee, Arpana Caur, Atin Basak, Badrinarayan, Bijon Choudhury, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Chandra Bhattacharjee, Ganesh Haloi, Gogi Saroj Pal, Harshavardhan Swaminathan, Jatin Das, Jogen Chowdhury, K.G.Subramanyam, Lalu Prasad Shaw, Maite Delteil, Nayana Kanodia, Palaniappan, Paritosh Sen, Prokash Karmakar, Prabhakar Kolte, Sakti Burman, S H Raza, Shuvaprasanna, Shymal Dutta Ray, Shipra Bhattacharya, Thota Vaikuntam, Vasudev SG, Ved Nayar, Viraj Naik, Yousuf Arakkal

On view till November 2, 10 am – 9 pm

The exhibition will continue thereafter at Kynkyny Art, 104 Embassy Square, 148 Infantry Road, Bangalore.
November 3-10, 11am – 7pm on all days except Sunday.
Ph: 91 (80) 40926202, 40926206, www.kynkyny.com
Please call or write in to us for more details & enquiries: [email protected], +91-98862-18518

Catalogue Essay

Strands of Social Semiotics:
“Beyond the Frame”

“Beyond the Frame”, is a group show of masters and eminent artists comprising works by senior painters and sculptors- a representative fraction though which has contributed enormously in the making of our contemporary visual text. The paintings included in this exhibition do not necessarily claim to unfold a step by step historical evolution and development of our modern art, nor do they represent all trends being pursued by our contemporary art practitioners. Whereas these would provide some idea of the development of the past fifty years, these could reveal the intense struggle of modern Indian painters to achieve their own held aspirations. If some had destroyed an old grammar and gave birth to fresh discourses, others generated new art experiences by amalgamating diverse inherited sources and thus precipitate the question of modernism and in the process it does a series of retakes on the assumed history of modern movement in India.

The exhibition space acts as site where these eminent artists work out their destiny, the right to signify, human experience the “wholeness’ of existence for to exist to dispense with utilitarian projects and engage the violent dynamic that has no other object than the return to a lost totality. Such encounters open the interior experience of wholeness and belong to the realm of the sacred and erotic. Their truth is known only because of a set of accidents. There is no more reality that meets the eye and then listens to what is produced in addition to exchange identifiable in the dialogue to keep the record of these invisible events.

This exhibition keeps the record of such events, nearly effaced, self-effacing, but altogether real, a breaking or a wounding on the subject of breaking and wounding inscribed into the very body of this faithfully produced space-this exhibition that gives birth to this dialogue, a genre that shows unmistakable colours as the question of interpretation of an encounter. What is also important for us that works in this show need to be seen in the context of its current concerns, practices and expectations provide a sort of crucible of the art of the moment. Works that are self referential, steeped in personal vision that is intimate and preoccupied with explorations of form, space and myth. Viewings that result, not in familiarity but fresh discoveries.

One suspects nevertheless that a passion still burns within these artists, even if its flame is kept under strict cerebral restraint. For some, however, the fire roars at the edge of control and it is turbulent as life itself. This exhibition addresses some of these artists. Their work is often linked to the painterly tradition of Abstract Expressionism with nuances of myth, transfiguration effervescent with eclectics and academic realism and the ephemeral narrative school; it is at least painterly and most nonrepresentational. But the historical ancestry of their art is of less significance than an understanding of how it asserts itself within the present. In fact, what these paintings do is affirm the relative unimportance of historically- derived meaning in favour of a compelling physicality and emotional presence. They are distinguished by an absence of the moat of theory surrounding much contemporary and conceptual art. This gives the paintings that quality of a world whose contents might be said to be suspended in a simultaneous presentness of being.

How does one treat or look at the disparate genre that is produced. Treats, that is to say transforms, exchanges, trades negotiates, leaves nothing of the pre-established classifications intact and play all the meanings- gender, sexual, grammatical and visual. Now the novelty of these exciting and powerful artists in this show born precisely of this articulation which considers them together, and the triple practice conjugating questions of various orders, a treat to watch them work in this perspective gives a specific turn to the problematic in so far as it is indissociable from those beyond art.

The combining of images as in the works of venerable masters like Atin Basak, Arindham Chatterjee, Arun Bose, Anita Roy Choudhury, Amitava, Arpana Caur, Achuthan, Akhilesh, Adimoolam K M, Badrinarayan,  Bijon Choudhury, Chandra Bhattacharjee, Ganesh Haloi, George Keyt, Gogi Saroj Pal, Jatin Das, Jogen Chowdhury, Kishen Khanna, Krishna Reddy, Lalu Prasad Shaw, Laxma Goud, M F Husain, Maite Delteil, Nayana Kanodia, Paritosh Sen, Prokash Karmakar, Rini Dhumal, Sakti Burman, K G Subramaniam, Shyamal Dutta Ray, Shipra Bhattacharya, S G Vasudev, Ved Nayar, Viraj Naik, Wasim Kapoor, T Vaikuntam & Yusuf Arakkal. The images or the visual texts that mediate through our own experience we jealously guard and with skills we guard our symptoms. They are something we wish to give for they speak our desire. But the same desire may find other forms of representation and interrogates painterly values at the same time.

The beauty and idea of these works hold us in extreme promises to challenge representation as “formidable tool of domination” but to a re-definition of realism because its high time to realize we will no more be restricted by debased modernism and redefine the definition, of realism, abstraction and cultural representation. These works also reveal that one of the important problems facing non-centrist international culture in all parts of world is the need to come to terms with essentialist thinking in order to create of new concepts of true opening field of cultural construction.
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The syntax of these painted surfaces is built on epiphany: the disclosure of the sacred wall, personal –discovery as it were. It is a metaphoric mode of self-presentation: self understood as quasi –self, for it has no perceptual components. The presence of the wall is sheer in some because the perceptual components are woven into the surface: what we are exposed to is the phenomena of sheer surface in which is included the neutral surface space of the canvas inasmuch as it is part of the woven layers of colour tonalities. Within the relatively quiet frame there is intense activity; obviously, the energy made visible is controlled, and one has to watch closely the expressive visual modulation of color into which are woven interlocking planes which are so thin that they may go unnoticed. Works of the Masters are illuminated as it were, by an entirely expressive affective surface, but it never gives itself away as external sign- rich in privacy and inwardness and remind us that painting is an act of mind where the memory mode plays a vital part; the memory of surface values remains with us whether we are looking at his painting or not.

When the painting is not before us the recall sensations stay with us; the interaction between repetition and recollection has already become a part of the memory. What stays in the memory is not so much the repetitive nature of the surface but the sensations one had of it. Meaningful works like these showcased in this exhibition hold such equal promise for us. Because we have experienced art only in the margins, we find ourselves not only alienated but alienated from our own alienation; without doubt we speak in a feeble tongue. We have exchanged our positions as critique of coloniality and the modern resulting meaningful discourses. The images here are replete with images retrieved from the times and spaces he has navigated inwardly and intensely with an indiscriminate abandon, unconfined. It becomes interesting at this point how these introspective elements interact with the existing play with form and the resultant stylistics like an ongoing ripple in a brook.

Artists have often wrestled to forge a relationship between their personal identity as an artist and that of their home. This is also linked with a deeper realization that the handling of a body of paint, its articulation and sense of gesture as paint, are largely capable of an immediate registration of the movement in time of an intuitive-subjective experience with the culmination of a romantic apogee. Only in the dissolution of the subject do we know that consciousness is the ecstatic discovery of human destiny. Not an originator or proprietor, but a fissure, an opening where you would like to grasp your timeless substance, encounter only a slipping, only the poorly coordinated play of your perishable elements. It is associated with living, living more ascertaining to life upto the point of death than act.

In these entire works, one can see eroticism as one of the means of revolt, not an exercise of power but a tumultuous upheaval of limitation which may be called ‘sovereignty’. They depict a meaningless loss- transcending the development of means – an escape in her antiquated world. However, escape is toward the impossible world whose extreme limit assumes laughter, irony, ecstasy, terrified approach towards the end.
In these recent works the painted space act as site where humans work out their destiny, the right of a man to ascertain his destiny. One relates to narrative elements and still enjoys the paintings as brilliant compositions. In these works the practitioners coaxes frenzy, and drama from the strokes of the brush, marking exquisite somber passages of colour. He/She is no longer the recluse painter but a theatre director carrying with him the concept of the whole thing. The theatrical, dramatic use of the light in these works emphasizes a narrative, and the abstract chiaroscuro of luminosity and darkness modeling from across the canvas, but there is also a use of light-accents to pick out sequences of movement.

The works in this exhibition posit a sign well beyond the historical enterprise of the horizon-the figures refuse to go away, refuse to disavow subjectivity itself –on their stationery trip- an endless trip- on the outermost images of mimetic sleep. During the last two decades scores of young artists and curators have emerged from the nation’s institutions of higher learning, places where bohemian myth and middle-class yearnings curiously blended, all intent upon making their presence felt. Out of this postgraduate brew of talent and sophistication, commercial pressure forged the contemporary notion of the artist as pro, a hybrid of cultural savant and corporate strategist, of sensitive artists pursuing their careers with intellectual prowess and ruthless dexterity. Under the stress of an accelerated demand on its tenets, classical modernism began to distort and deform. It oozed more and more well schooled rhetoric to cover its claims and presentations. In a scenario of such measures this exhibition showcases our venerable masters of contemporary art practice. The paintings on display here overflow the edge and confront our borders of geographical construct which is in closed walls of our mind. We ask where is the porosity of such limits, the uncertainty of sharing, and the fragility of resolutions. Between where at one’s stake is reaching the limits, playing with them, establishing passages.

 

Nanak Ganguly.
September, 2010.

Nanak Ganguly is an independent art critic based in Kolkata.