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Talented contemporary female artists from India in focus
A host of talented female Indian artists seems to be flavor of the season, internationally. You may be wondering in what context the statement really applies! Well, several leading galleries across the world are hosting exciting works by Anita Dube, Chitra Ganesh, among others, which shed light on their practice and thought process.

Galerie Dominique Fiat in Paris presents a solo show of new works, entitled ‘Babel’, by Anita Dube, known for extending the visible thin line wherein words tend to act as corporeal manifestos to comment on the world around, as seen and perceived by her. Deftly engaging the political through an astute aesthetic investigation of text as well as theory, the artist demonstrates apparent interest in the primacy of touch right alongside the visual. The series ‘embodies’ words, literally, as it makes them flesh in gripping performance and photographic works wherein she cuts meat into ‘Keywords’, reflecting on dystopia’s and utopia’s that affect us.

An introductory note states: “In ‘Kash (for Kashmir)’, the artist uses baroque ceiling rosettes, covering them with white velvet and then embedding them with photographs of people, landscape and flowers, after her recent visit to the state. Only Kash (meaning ‘hopefully’ in Hindi), is retained in the word, marred by a black dripping line of blood-filled political conflicts. This line of thinking continues in most works that investigate a human concern with both personal and societal loss and regeneration.”

The Musée Guimet, also based in Paris, presents recent works by Rina Banerjee as part of its ongoing spring-summer 2011 Indian Season. In ‘Chimeras of India and the West’, the Indian-born American artist articulates a unique synthesis of anthropology and fairytales, mythologies and religions, exoticism and mass tourism. Her hybrid, poetic compositions enter into resonant interplay with other wonderful works at the art venue, offering a new perspective on Asian civilizations and their complex relations with the West.

The works express – more evocatively, no doubt, than they would in the arena of an art space – the ambiguities of her twofold identity as a byproduct of both East and West influences, the illusions apparently bequeathed by the past and also the ‘chimeras’ of the new age, many contradictions of the post-colonial world order and the underside of globalization. Challenging the order of the world in an astute mix of imagination and materials, her delicate yet danger-tinged creations give rise to powerful creatures constantly mutating, and at times monstrous - like metaphors of an explosive world, as if in a state of constant becoming.

On the other hand, ‘There is a spider living between us’ at Montreal’s La Centrale marks Tejal Shah’s debut solo in Canada. The popular artist-run center looks to provide a platform for innovative contemporary creative ideas largely informed by feminist and gender theory, also promoting intercultural and trans-disciplinary practices. It currently hosts the emerging Indian visual artist, who works with an array of media like video, photography, sound, installation, and performance. Incidentally, she had worked on an experimental multimedia project by the same title a few years ago, with desire as its theme. She had employed a variety of techniques like still frame animation, photo collage and memoir in it.

Tejal Shah’s practice thematically deals with various concerns located around body, gender, sexuality as well tackles broader issues of nationhood, democracy and hysteria that involve the people, marginalized in the historical narrative. She projects them as the protagonists, pushing forward in unlikely directions in the performative scenarios skillfully sets up. Her body of work, like herself, is acutely feminist, highly queer and political in nature. Apart from exhibiting these concerns, which act as contextual reference points for her practice, the tumultuous vicissitudes of gender and culture, also serve as a site where the artist underscores the contradictions that are inherent in the bewildering braiding of the political and the personal. Apart from her videos and installations, there is also a curated video screening, ‘Second Sight – Contemporary Experimental Film and Video Works from India & Diaspora.’

Simultaneously, ‘The Strangling Power of Dust and Stars’ by Chitra Ganesh takes place at Berlin-based Nature Morte. This significant show features a large-scale multimedia installation made on-site, a series of new drawings, works done on canvas as well as dazzling digital collages. She has created a series of large scale digital prints presenting densely-packed, science fictive, and supernatural scenes. These prints build upon the artist's earlier collages, in which she appropriated a popular Indian comic book series, Amar Chitra Katha. The new works are layered with both art historical and popular references to print culture. She also has produced charcoal drawings that depict film actresses from the 1920s and 1930s, starring in Indo-German co-productions.

Apart from a series of shows by the established and emerging female artists, mention must be made of a unique collaboration between the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Kolkata-based Akar Prakar. The event has been arranged in Munich and Berlin to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of legendary poet-painter Rabindranath Tagore. The organizers have collated works by Aditya Basak, Jayashree Chakravorty, Shraboni Roy, Manjari Chakrabarty, Shraboni Roy, Debraj Goswami, and Adip Datta, among others. The selection has been made keeping in mind the Tagore school legacy. The Munich show is being hosted at the Neumeister Gallery.

Last but not the least, Galerie Daniel Templon in Paris hosts Sudarshan Shetty whose artistic vision encompasses contemporary urban life. By stimulating nostalgic memories and the people’s playful mind filled with curiosity, he cleverly, albeit subtly escapes from the phenomenon that homogenizes the world and plots to do away with the existing value system. In a way, the artist strives to escape from the defined social framework, simultaneously trying to gather scattered fragments of day-to-day life. Through the process of meticulous editing and applying these collected fragments, he then superimposes various intriguing facets of contemporary society.