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Mithu Sen and Chitra Ganesh among six female artists at an international show of Indian art
A new, significant show titled ‘Contradictions and Complexities: Contemporary Art from India’ provides an introduction to the ‘fertile’ and ‘vibrant’ contemporary art scene in India. It includes six artists, namely Anita Dube, Mithu Sen, Chitra Ganesh, Shobha Broota, Sheba Chhachhi and Santana Gohain, all of whom work in a wide variety of media.

Patricia Hamilton, former owner of Hamilton Gallery in New York and Peter Nagy are the curators of the exhibition at d.e.n contemporary at Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA. All of the artists on view skillfully combine imagery and references to traditional Indian culture with more contemporary concerns, negotiating the slippery terrains of identity, globalization and cultural inheritance.

Taking note of the show, Los Angeles Times writer Shana Ting Lipton mentions in an essay: “Though the exhibit consists of the work of women only -- ranging in age from 30s to 60s -- the curators made a conscious choice to focus on a culturally defined, rather than gender-based, theme.”

Among the participating artists is one of India’s young, brightest and the most talented contemporary artists, multi-faceted Mithu Sen who works in a diverse range of media including collage, larger sculptural projects, drawing and installation. The artist here pursues the idea of self and the influence of society on the development of her own personality. She explores different permutations of identity which one can build and try on, depending on desire or necessity.

Her experiences and encounters while visiting different countries and meeting several people have provided some of the artistic inputs for the installation project. The artist, often amused and surprised by others' reactions to her, has opted to translate the same into a body of work that can provoke the viewer onto new self critical tangents. She has incorporated her personal experience into it.

Recovering buried histories to bring them into a public and contemporary realm has informed Chitra Ganesh’s conscious decision to research and work with contemporary and historical political figures as well as mass mediated imagery. She says, “This imagery has not been fully explored and these stories contain question marks best articulated through imaginative visual language.”

According to the artist, her processes of installation and collage work, sculpture and text, mixing drawing, developed as means through which meaning was generated, to begin with. The ongoing convergence and friction - both purposeful and unintentional - between literary and visual narrative accomplished this.

On the other hand, Anita Dube has developed her sculptural practice through her involvement with the Indian Radical Painters and Sculptors Association, a group of young artists formed in the 1980s in Baroda, known for its self-styled critical social and political consciousness.

Employing a variety of found objects drawn from the realms of the industrial (foam, plastic, wire), craft (thread, beads, velvet), the body (dentures, bone), and the readymade (ceramic eyes), she investigates a very human concern with both personal and societal loss and regeneration. The usage of the sculptural fragment to subtly invoke a humanist critical agenda is an expression of her artistic agenda to tangentially address the social through metaphorical means.

Shobha Broota, who hails from a family rich in artistic traditions, happens to be one of India’s most well established contemporary artists. Santana Gohain skillfully juxtaposes various materials and mediums, softness of charcoal to slate like hardness of grey with a sculptural quality, the fibrous feel of textile.

She uses this incongruity of materials to track various possibilities of abstraction. From somber black to grey, to colorful hues she justifiably defines their presence. Her love for drawing, engraving/making-marks on surfaces, which is visible in her works further intrigues the viewers.