2012 was an eventful and exciting year on the Indian art calendar, from Mumbai to Delhi, Kolkata to Bangalore. Here’s ArtSlant’s favourites from 2012, spanning from old masters to new media.
Yoko Ono’s first ever exhibition in India opened at Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
Yoko Ono may be a relic from times long forgotten but her appeal to what is humane within us is still stirring. Her ideas of "peace", "beauty" and "healing the world through women's power" might be appealing to simple universalism but her understanding of the world that she inhabits is far from reductive or naïve... (Manjari Kaul)
Aki Sasamoto’s Centrifugal March at Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi
The performance worked as a meta-critical piece as it pointed towards the very nature of performance art – a life lived twice over. The characteristics of a live performance are akin to human life in Sasamoto's philosophy – lived through a mortal body and then embodied in a material object that becomes a referent to the deceased. A performance must be ephemeral, yet the second time around the performance is lived through memory. Thus performance is a kind of death. Aki Sasamoto's performance writes an epitaph for an art form that must perform its own death to be remembered ad infinitum... (Manjari Kaul)
Sathyanand Mohan, Q (ABECEDAIRE), 2010 - 2012, Inkjet Print on archival ilford fibre silk paper, 16 x 24 in.; Courtesy of the artist & The Guild Art Gallery.
Sathyanand Mohan’s series of twenty-six playful photographs, Abecedaire, at the Guild Art Gallery in Mumbai, evoked this story of childhood crossword puzzles and intangible life lessons.
When we would arrive home, my grandfather would walk me through the garden as he watered the plants. This is the biggest Neem tree in the world, he said. If you could survive on one thing alone, it would be a Neem tree. In the evening, Charlie Chaplin on TV and whiskey in hand, he would solve the crossword, and long multiplication problems in minutes, as I would watch. He taught me to pay heed to the number of alphabets, to words, to the right combination of hints and the pre-calculation of answers. It was like night school, except fun. I would marvel at his genius, and have since thought of geniuses not as untidy, nutty professors, but silver-haired gentlemen in suede shoes and tweed elbow patches who love to eat ice cream and ride toy trains... (Himali Singh Soin)
Shivariju B S, Face Two Face, at Gallery Sumukha, Bangalore
I can't help but imagine the same three men congregating at the same bench today still laughing about the odd appearance of the golden Gandhiji and the photographer who took their picture with him. It was this sort of interaction between the actor and the everyday people he encountered on the streets that I found most interesting in the photographs… (Sophia Powers)
Madan Mahatta at Photoink, New Delhi
Mahatta’s images chronicle a period that shaped much of modern Delhi and indeed India as it is today, an oft-neglected era sandwiched between pre-independence and post-liberalisation. They tell other stories, if obliquely, of the city’s industrialisation, buildings now missing, or the haphazard, unplanned building that was to come... (Shruti Parthasarathy)
Raghu Rai, Divine Moments, The Seagull Foundation for the Arts, Kolkata
These black-and-white photographs capture children of the street in Calcutta, labourers working in dizzying heights in Delhi, and holy men in Benares. A particularly captivating image is that of two old men passing each other by – one bent over and the other ramrod straight. The philosophical undertone of such an unprepared moment is what makes it a masterpiece, elevating it from an ordinary mundane slice of time, to one that embodies a human spirit somehow timeless and free of shackles of space, society or culture... (Paroma Maiti)
Avantika Bawa, Another Documentation, Installation shot, Site- responsive installation, 2012, Metal scaffolding, black sand, metal, wood; Graphite on paper and Digital prints on archival paper; Courtesy of Gallery Maskara and the artist.
Avantika Bawa, Another Documentation, Gallery Maskara, Mumbai
In Another Documentation, Bawa continues to engage with the city – this time in a larger context. Going from construction site to construction site, she posits her pastel, sharply delineated drawings against found material within the site. They are all devoid of people, yet the human hand in the drawings intervene – this landscape is man-made... (Deepika Sorabjee)
Reconstructing (White)3 at the Loft At Lower Parel, Mumbai
The Loft is built into the ghostly remains of what was once the Mathuradas Mills and the nostalgia of the structure blends well with the melancholia of an abandoned home. And this feels like an abandoned home, you sense just as you realize you are tiptoeing around the gallery, like an uninvited stranger in an empty apartment, significantly intrigued by your surrounding but afraid of being discovered and asked to leave... (Parni Ray)
Research Pod, Lakeeren Art Gallery, Mumbai
This is a definite physical statement of how serious [Arshiya] Lokhandwala is about engaging a wider public in critical discourse. Three cupboards full of books and two large tables were the basic furniture of the show, inviting and rich in content. This was all there would be for a month. The gallery walls would lie bare; the art lay in the broadening of the mind through knowledge... (Deepika Sorabjee)
Prajakta Potnis, The Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai and EXPERIMENTER, Kolkata
A tubelight pulses randomly. But it is through the gentle whirring of a cluster of ceiling fans whose rpms have been tuned low that Prajakta brilliantly slows time. Threads hang from a multitude of somnolently whirring blades -- cobwebs of unuse? strands of dreams? unfurling thoughts? I want to lie myself down and let time lapse around me. For the moment, all else can wait... (Deepika Sorabjee)
Best wishes for 2013 from the ArtSlant Team!
(Image at top: Yoko Ono, Mend Piece, Installation View, "Our Beautiful Daughters," Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2012; Photo by Briana Blasko, © Yoko Ono.)