Online Magazine
A solo of drawings by Aji V.N., ‘Paper Like Skin’ by Zarina and Bharti Kher’s new sculpture series
The western audiences get an opportunity to know about the life and art of one of India’s most internationally celebrated and respected contemporary artists, Atul Dodiya. He shares his ideas and explains how he has gone about his career in a lecture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Born in 1959 in Mumbai, he is considered a flag bearer of the new generation of postmodern Indian art scene. Marked for the richness of its stylistic vocabulary along with iconographic references essentially rooted in Indian and Western art history, his work encompasses diverse traditions, media images, the written word, mythological and religious tales, political events, national history, and an autobiographical touch. The history and culture of his home country plays a significant role in constructing the barrage of images that informs his oeuvre.

A multitude of references populate Dodiya’s artworks, pointing to their vast preoccupations that embrace issues ranging from exuberant Indian economy to the garish kitsch and disturbing disquiet of daily life. Driven by intellect, intensity and ideas, he continues to experiment with many forms. The artist’s striking imagery has invariably been packed with a stirring swirl of motifs: Bollywood film stars, political icons, and mythological characters. His works find a place in prestigious collections of major museums across the globe. A lecture at one of the largest museums in the US is another distinction for him.

Meanwhile, a solo show of drawings by Aji V.N. takes place courtesy Stedelijk Museum Schiedam. With works drawn on loan from the Netherlands and India, it is comprised of a rich selection of his large-format drawings. A majority of them have been done with charcoal on colored paper. Since 2008, yogis and yoginis appear on drawing paper, full-frontal and life-size, their poses related to those of living statues. They hold our attention with their concentrated gestures and looks, rooted to the spot like guardians of life.

Various worlds mingle vibrantly in the drawings of landscapes from diverse continents, forming both recognizable and distant realms, with an enchanting mixture of culture-historic peculiarities. Born in 1968 in Kallissery in the state of Kerala, he has been staying in Rotterdam for over a decade. His drawings have found a place in several prestigious museums and private collections across the globe. Stedelijk Museum Schiedam is currently hosting his first monographic museum exhibit. To go with the solo show, the monograph 'Aji V.N. Tekeningen/ Drawings' is going to be published, containing an interview and an essay penned by Wilma Sütö, the curator of museum’s modern & present-day art.

The New York-based Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents a show of works by Zarina, entitled ‘Paper Like Skin’. Like a live journal of her personal life and events, her work deals with a multitude of themes like displacement, travel, memory and the home, which all echo through her perpetual experience and larger identity of a Diaspora, bringing to the fore the idea of dislocation. Her deep-rooted attachment to Sufism as well as Buddhism is often reflected in her profuse usage of gold leaf in her works. Conversely, creations like ‘Shadow House’ (2006), cut out of paper from Nepal, are reminiscent of rich Islamic architecture’s sculpted stone friezes and screens (Jali) that let women just peep outside sans they themselves being visible; an interplay of light & shade effectively evoking a house’s ephemeral nature.

Born in New Delhi in 1937, she spent her formative years in Aligarh. After getting married to a diplomat, she often relocated to different countries and continents, profoundly impacting her creative and sensitive mind. This reflected in a sophisticated web of maps and diagrams, embodying the memory of a place, an event, an atmosphere, or the fleeting experience of a sound, a smell, or an emotion. Paper is of core essence and central to her art practice, both as a flexible material with its own history and properties as well as a handy surface to print on. Works in the show incorporate woodcuts and three-dimensional casts done in paper pulp.

Back home, New Delhi based-Nature Morte is hosting Bharti Kher’s ‘Bind the dream state to your waking life’. Continuing to expand her repertoire of materials and references, the series is comprised mostly of her new sculptures that relate to domestic spaces, responding to the interior architecture of the gallery itself. A staircase, a doorway, and a chair are isolated and re-imagined, installed to become apparitions of themselves or elements in a hallucinatory stage set. Her sculptures now employ a complex dialogue between the found object and their manipulation through juxtapositions and various processes. She both excavates and destabilizes the inherent meanings found in common objects to arrive at poetic conjunctions that speak of social tensions and personal discoveries (for the viewer as much as for the artist herself).

Also on view are her signature bindi works that occupy the space of painting yet expand upon its histories and possibilities. A press release elaborates: “Now approaching a monumental scale, they contrast minute detailing with a near panoramic scope. One large diptych makes use of mirrors, smashed and violated, as its ground. Bindis applied on to this shattered reflective surface are subsumed into it, the work overall acts as a residual evidence of a performative catharsis. In another diptych, bindis are organized along a more formalized program, their geometric progressions relating to the warp & weft of woven carpets, the patterning of Islamic architecture, the molecular ordering of matter itself or the digitization of information and imagery.”