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Intricate works by talented artists woven around specific themes
A thematic event, ‘L'exigence de la saudade’, curated by Sumesh Sharma and Zasha Colah of Mumbai-Clark House Initiative in conjunction with Paris-based Kadist Art Foundation, features a trio of talented personalities artists from India – visual artist Prajakta Potnis, Padmini Chettur, a contemporary dancer, and master weaver Zamthingla Ruivah known for creations conceptually engaged with remnant cultural forms so as to reinvent them in the present, and not merely as endangered traditions. Nalini Malani, Jean Bhownagary, Maarten Visser and Krishna Reddy are other participants alongside intervention in the public space by Prabhakar Pachpute and Justin Ponmany.

Their presentation together builds a complex and bewildering backdrop of the Indian subcontinent - too culturally conjoined with everything else, for any sense of nation to arise, as an accompanying note elaborates: “In this term saudade, as in the name ‘Bombay’ (bom baía), is heard the persistence of a Portuguese past. Exigency and saudade, retain the tension of opposites; the consciousness of the past in the present, which permits the envisaging of what is still to come.” Chettur looks to displace the captivating choreographic tradition to a mesmerizing minimalistic idiom that visually translates philosophical concepts of time and space as they relate to contemporary experience. Ruivah revives the rich tradition of weaving to narrate the events of a community from the north-east of India.

The installation skillfully realized in situ by artist Prajakta Potnis is an outcome of her observation of the various different types of architecture, which compose a city. She echoes the social imaginary of the inhabitants through fissures or peeling walls. The works in the exhibition are juxtaposed with those of certain artists from India living in Paris more than four decades ago. Malani described her time there as a ‘prise de conscience’. She lends to the exhibit a small papier mache head made in 1971. A sculpture by Krishna Reddy is an eidetic memory of students outside his window in the city in 1968. Bhownagary’s ceramic mask, also made in Paris, is included in the showcase.

On the other hand, a proposed exhibition of Indian art, entitled ‘The Rising Phoenix: A Dialogue Between Modern and Contemporary Indian Art’, at The Queens Museum of Art (QMA) sure is set to become one of the most comprehensive explorations of Indian artists and their rich legacy at any cultural institution in America in the last several decades. Following ‘Out of India: Contemporary Art of the South Asian Diaspora’ (1997-98); ‘Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India’ (2005); and ‘Fatal Love: South Asian American Art Now’ (2005), this will be another significant QMA project that focuses on modern & contemporary art. It looks to contemplate and compare Indian history’s two critical moments - the post-Independence phase, witnessing the rise to prominence of the Progressive Artists Group (PAG), involving MF Husain, FN Souza and S H Raza apart from Ram Kumar, VS Gaitonde, Krishen Khanna, Akbar Padamsee and Tyeb Mehta.

‘The Rising Phoenix’ carefully explores and examines the pivotal formation of India’s modern art movement in India. Second, it will look into the globalization of Indian art scene, which gathered momentum in mid-1990s, when several mid-career artists from the country featured in ambitious international biennales and exhibits, with 1997 as a key year. It not only marked 50 years of India’s freedom but also saw a number of artists being exhibited across the globe, representing a defining phase in Indian art. Upcoming, talented artists became an integral part of the international art scene through residencies and scholarships. Tracing this transition, the exhibition intends to reflect on this ‘moment of the Indian zeitgeist’, which inhabit different spaces including popular, personal, the global/local, and technological by engaging in video, performance, film, painting etc, comprising existing pieces as well as new work commissioned for it.

Curated by Dr. Arshiya Lokhandwala, ‘The Rising Phoenix’ undertakes a dialogue between the Progressive/ modern vis-à-vis contemporary Indian artists that through a comparison narrative of critical questions and observations between the two periods will lead to a deeper insight into Indian art and its history. Meanwhile, a solo show of recent artworks by Aditya Pande takes place at Artemons Contemporary, Austria. His works of art exude controlled spontaneity, elegantly grotesque, intricately ordered anarchy and digital primitivism. They balance every movement within the complex composition with its opposite, combining the skills of printmaking and drawing with the surfaces of painting as well as photography. His digital, mixed-media collages invariably dazzle us with their energetic explosion of colors and their intricacy of lines. The graphic designs are physically altered after printing to create a surface that blurs between two dimensions and three. He economically creates the impression of deep recesses with sparing collage elements. Only after a closer, one can decipher which elements lie flat and those coming off the surface.

Born in Lucknow in 1976, he received a degree in Graphic Design at the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad in 2001. Among his other recent exhibitions are 'Half-Life', Chatterjee and Lal, Mumbai (2012) and 'Happy Birthday', Nature Morte, Gurgaon (2011) apart from group exhibitions and fairs like 'Panoplism', Nature Morte, Delhi (2013); 'WAR ZONE: Indian Contemporary Art', Artemons Contemporary, Das Kunstmuseum, Austria (2012); and 'The Phenomenal World', Otto Zoo, Geneva (2012). A curatorial essay reveals: “Aditya Pande's work mixes computer graphics with painting, drawing and collage, blurring the lines between techniques and imagery. Scribbled animals are rendered in a high-tech computer language and juxtaposed against buoyant forms and colors. Also a partner in Tota Design, which specializes in product and graphic design, his painterly works owe freshness to his unorthodox approach and frame of references.”