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Sophia Powers

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It was a bright cold afternoon as I trudged through the thick snow to meet the artist O Zhang at the Queens Museum of Art where her exhibition “Cutting the Blaze to New Frontiers” is on view. The show, a collaborative effort made with local children as part of the museum’s inaugural artist’s residency program, commemorated the 70th anniversary of the 1939 World’s Fair and featured the work of a group of local immigrant teenagers who were asked to envision their native homeland. Zhang had... [more]
    It is with great excitement that I have this opportunity to expand ArtSlant into China, a place with which I’ve had an intense personal dialogue since childhood.  My first encounter before age two was being traipsed about China via backpack; an over-the-shoulder view of my father’s self-guided peregrinations through dozens of Buddhist monasteries and temples just then recuperating from decades of repression.  A vivid memory of that trip is of my toddler’s perspective of looking up at the... [more]
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Bogotá for Beginners   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Posted 2/6/10
I went to South America for the first time this winter. I don’t speak any Spanish.  I didn’t know the difference between arepas and ceviche… I thought I’d be able to get burritos or tacos at every meal.  My destination was Bogotá, Colombia where my best high school girlfriend had been living to do dissertation research for a PhD. I certainly didn’t know any more about contemporary Colombian art then I did about traditional cuisine, but I was bent on finding out what I could in three... [more]
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A Little Peers Flavor   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Posted 1/25/10
What common experience unifies many of the greatest Indian artists of the last decade?  Is it divine inspiration?  Perhaps.  But for sure, it is Khoj (International Artist’s Association).  From Subodh Gupta to Pushpamala N., the list of artists that passed through Khoj’s workshops reads like a who's who of Indian contemporary art. This next year, you could join the ranks. Khoj has just issued its call for applications for the 2010 Peers Residency.  Six recent graduates or masters students... [more]
New York, Dec. 2009 - After being wowed by Chitra Ganesh’s fall mural at P.S.1, ArtSlant’s Sophia Powers caught up with the artist at a west village cafe for a heady pairing of wine and conversation.  The discussion ranged from semiotics to sex, and the following interview offers some of it’s highlights. Chitra Ganesh, The Silhouette Returns, 2009; Courtesy of the artist and Steven Bates Sophia Powers:  One question I often like to begin with is, did you always know you wanted to be an... [more]
Have you ever wondered how you would behave—what you would do, how you would comport yourself while doing it-- if others were watching your “private actions?”  I suppose this sort of rumination is the secular update of the classic notion that God is always watching.  Perhaps the need for this feeling is still there, despite the jump from deep interiority to radical exteriority that much of modern consciousness seems to have taken.  What if there were a public audience for your private... [more]
Want to eat well and pay next to nothing in the company of the country’s most exciting artistic and literary luminaries?  Who doesn’t.  Café Samovar, below Bombay’s infamous Jehangir Art Gallery is the place to go.  This charming narrow corridor of a café has been a favorite with bohemian artists down on their luck as well as Bollywood stars at the height of their careers since it opened in the 1963.  This is the place where Amitabh Bachchan took his wife Jaya on their first date, and the... [more]
  Sophia Powers had the pleasure of meeting with T.V. Santhosh in New York, where he traveled for the recent opening of his show “Blood in Spit” at the Jack Shainman Gallery.   T.V. Santhosh, Bitter Lessons II, 2009, Oil on canvas; Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY Sophia Powers: Let’s start by talking a little bit about your show that just opened at the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York.  I know that both your B.A. and your M.F.A. were in sculpture, but this recent show... [more]
This Thursday, Khoj International Artist’s Organization in Delhi is presenting a special “Pecha Kucha Night.”  As the event brochure explains: “Pecha Kucha (chit-chat in Japanese) is a presentation format for creative work.  The challenge is to present a philosophy over 20 slides, each of which is shown for 20 seconds giving each speaker a total presentation time of 6 minutes 40 seconds.”  Thursday 15th October, 2009 at Khoj Studios, S-17, Khirkee Extension, New Delhi 110017.  The doors open @... [more]
Too often, the problem with public art is that it goes largely unnoticed—blending into the background like just another example of corporate architecture.  This August in Delhi, however, the hotly contested steel “Sprouts” that speckle the AIIMS flyover “garden” have received the opposite critique.  Drivers, apparently, can’t keep they’re eyes off them.  This 3-crore public art initiative was designed by N.I.D.’s Vibhor Sognani as a metaphor for “emerging” India, on the country’s 60th... [more]
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Some Space in Common Places   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Ramakrishna Behera at Bose Pacia Kolkata September 10th, 2009 - October 16th, 2009
Posted 10/5/09
What happens when a Chemical Engineer from Orissa decides to teach himself painting?  For two more weeks you can see for yourself at Ramakrishna Bihara’s first solo show at Bose Pacia’s Kolkata gallery. The exhibition features canvas after canvas of familiar places fantastically distorted as if seen in the reflection of a car’s buffed bumper.  What’s more, the outer space (yes, stars, planets, swaths of milky way etc.) makes a dramatic incision in the majority of the... [more]
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Urban Fun in Two Dimensions   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Gigi Scaria at Chemould Prescott Road October 5th, 2009 - October 31st, 2009
Posted 10/5/09
Here is an artist who deals with hip, timely, urban, and highly politicized themes in a way that is also visually engaging.  Wow!  Meet Gigi Scaria…if you don’t already know him.  This Delhi-based, Kerala born artist has been making a splash in the last few years with recognition around the world for his work in just about every medium.  Though he was trained in painting, some of his strongest work has taken the form of video or installation projects. The most recent show at Chemold... [more]
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Six Artists Deep in Gurgaon   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Muhanned Cader, Mahbabur Rahman, Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan, L.N. Tallur, Chandraguptha Thenuwara, Jagath Weerasinghe at Devi Art Foundation August 21st, 2009 - November 1st, 2009
Posted 9/6/09
If the A. Balasubramaniam show has left you surfeit with sublimity, then visit the Devi Art Foundation for an antidote of socio-political specificity and grit.  “Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the ‘Souvenir Maker’,” at the Foundations’ gorgeous year-old Gurgaon space, is an event not to be missed. The exhibition is essentially a three-part affair.  One portion of the museum displays a solo show by the mid-career Bangladeshi painter and performance artist Mahbabur Rahman, while another level... [more]
Sophia Powers, ArtSlant’s India Editor, sat down to discuss artmaking with Sumedh Rajendran over a bottle of red wine around the block from his Noida studio.  The following came from that conversation.  Sumedh Rajendran is a Delhi-based artist know primarily for his sculptural work.  He was awarded his B.F.A. in Sculpture from the College of Arts, Thiruvanathapuram in 1994, and received his M.F.A. from Delhi College of Arts in 1999.  He has been exhibited extensively across India and abroad,... [more]
Last month’s second annual India Art Summit was an ambitious event that largely lived up to its hype. There were seminars and performances, more galleries than probably anyone was expecting, and best of all—genuine excitement (about the socializing if not the art). It’s true that a cup of coffee was 100 Rs., and the star-studded three day-long speaker series left each participant only ten minutes to talk, but the whole four day extravaganza was justified by a glimpse of Nevil Tuli sporting a... [more]
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The Playful Form   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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A. Balasubramaniam at Talwar Gallery - Delhi August 22nd, 2009 - January 30th, 2010
Posted 9/3/09
  When a friend from Khoj International Artist’s Association told me I couldn’t miss A. Balasubramaniam’s show at Talwar, I knew it would be good.  What I didn’t expect was that it would be among the best shows I’d seen all year.  “(In) Between” is sensuous as well as smart, and perfectly conceived for the intimate Neeti Bagh gallery. The exhibition is executed almost exclusively in white.  Balasubramaniam presents a collection of sculptures and installations that each subtly... [more]
Just outside the entrance to the Kashmere Gate Metro station sits an oversized pail on a pedestal.  It is a stark and shiny contrast to the unmanicured grime it towers over, and makes the walk to the metro feel a bit like a Desi version of Alice in Wonderland (I ate the samosa which made me shrink).  The erection of this work is no small feat, however, as it is a significant step towards closing the gap between the elite and majority experience of contemporary art.  Subodh Gupta—the artist... [more]
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The March of Modernism   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Group Show at National Gallery of Modern Art - NGMA Delhi January 19th, 2009 - December 31st, 2014
Posted 7/25/09
After ten years of construction, the new wing of India's largest and most significant museum, the National Gallery of Modern Art, has finally opened, and doesn't disappoint. The inaugural show "In the Seeds of Time," traces the development of Indian modern art from pre-British miniatures to the conceptual installation work of contemporary heavyweights such as Subodh Gupta.  It is really a must-see for just about anyone interested in current global art.  For those who fancy themselves experts... [more]
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Oasis of Activity in the Monsoon Drought of Delhi's Artscape   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Jenson Anto, Arun Chatterji, Rana Debnath, Arunesh Dogra, Ratna Gandhi, Sushil Goswami, Jyoti Ranjan Jena, Megha Joshi, Rituu Kamath, Anant Mishra, Raj Kumar Mohanti, Daina Mohapatra, Shafi Qureshi, Dr. Sanjay Sahai, Avishek Sen, Mukesh Sharma, Dhiraj Singh, Gagan Singh, Pratibha Singh, Sher Singh, Rajarshi Smart, Satadru Sovan, Sanjay Sundram, Pradosh Swain, Meghansh Thapa at Religare Arts June 1st, 2009 - August 6th, 2009
Posted 7/25/09
If the National Gallery of Modern Art's stunning, though conventional, fare leaves you hungry for experimentation, head over to the newly outfitted Religare gallery.  For the last few weeks they have played host to an interesting open-studio-cum exhibition conceived as a way of stimulating artistic energy during the normally quite enervated summer art-scene in New Delhi.  Each day from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., viewers are invited to wonder through the space and watch artists at work.  The... [more]
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Minton's Playhouse   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Posted 5/25/08
  Minton's Playhouse208 West 118th StreetNew York, NY 10026212-864-8346Tired of expensive art?  Head uptown to Harlem and drop a few bucks for a drink and a bar stool at Minton's Playhouse, a jazz and tap dancing joint of legend since the 1930s.  Located on 118th Street between St. Nicholas Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, this place feels like stepping into an American set from the last century.  Aside from the atmosphere, the dancing and music is technically stunning, and... [more]
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Lynn Hershman Leeson's Olympia   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Lynn Hershman Leeson at bitforms gallery April 26th, 2008 - May 31st, 2008
Posted 5/25/08
  Lynn Hershman Leeson's exhibition updates and recreates Edouard Manet’s Olympia with a life-size sex doll reclined on an ivory chaise, elbow propped with pearl-ringed neck and flowers bedecking her hair.  If the allusion is not evident enough, Leeson has slide-projected the infamous 1865 painting directly ... [more]
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Neo Rauch at Zwirner   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Neo Rauch at David Zwirner- 533 W. 19th May 12th, 2008 - June 21st, 2008
Posted 5/25/08
If the Leeson show at Bitforms is sparingly curated, the exhibition of German painter Neo Rauch at David Zwirner succeeds as an ambitious spectacle.  The canvases themselves are imposing – scaled like history painting from Europe before modernism, or abstraction in America at the height of modernism.  Yet their subject is neither romantic or abstract, but rather strictly surreal.  Each painting features a constellation of figures mostly unaware of each other's presence, lost in daydream... [more]
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Rawhide   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Posted 4/6/08
Want to sip $3 beers ensconced by counter-culture masterpieces of the 20th century? As long as you don’t mind the pictures obscured by go-go dancers, then Rawhide is the watering hole for you! Tom of Finlands’ line the walls at this self-proclaimed “oldest gay bar in Chelsea.” Rawhide 212 8th Avenue New York, NY 10011 -Sophia Powers   [more]
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A Look at Ashok Sukumaran   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Ashok Sukumaran at Thomas Erben Gallery March 20th, 2008 - April 19th, 2008
Posted 4/6/08
If Henry Darger is among the most private of well-known artists, then Ashok Sukumaran represents the opposite end of the spectrum-- a spectacularly public conceptualist little known to the New York art world. But not for long. represents the artist’s East Coast debut, though his popularity in India has been long indexed by reoccurring mentions in ArtForum and the like. Sukumaran is a sort of public sphere electricity artist, in a country where just a tiny minority is familiar with the notion... [more]
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A Look at Henry Darger   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Henry Darger at Andrew Edlin Gallery March 28th, 2008 - June 7th, 2008
Posted 4/6/08
At the Andrew Edlin Gallery, one of the world’s most famous recluses comes to light. Chicago’s Henry Darger was a janitor by day and the architect of a universe by night. The more than 14,000 pages of paintings, drawings, and writing discovered by his landlord at the time of his death detailed the epic battle waged against evil by his (usually penis-studded) legion of young Vivian (Catholic school) girls. The works are as playful as they are uncanny. Darger often sifted through trash in search... [more]
Almost a concept piece itself, Honeyspace somehow exists as an artist-owned exhibition space in the heart of Chelsea.  Barring rain or snow, the gallery is open and quite literally free to the public.  The work is unattended.  Patrons may drift in and out and pick up artist’s business cards if they want to negotiate a sale.  (Of course, there is nothing but good manners to stop them from just picking up the artwork they fancied).  Honeyspace is an unprecedented experiment in the heart of the... [more]
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A Look at Manisha Parekh   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Manisha Parekh at Bodhi Art, New York February 15th, 2008 - March 15th, 2008
Posted 2/24/08
If the national imaginary isn’t your bag but new Asian art is, then head instead north to Chelsea. Bodhi Art is among the finest galleries of up-and-coming Indian artists. On view currently are the elegant minimalist works of Manisha Parekh, a young, promising mixed media virtuoso whose work is bereft of obvious Indian indices. demonstrates Parekh’s exquisite obsession with the organic. Undulating ovals are composed in two- and three-dimensions with an obsessive dedication that is... [more]
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A Look at Xia Caomin, Qin Feng, Hu Renyi, Ai Wei Wei, & Han Xin   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Group Show at Ethan Cohen Fine Arts February 1st, 2008 - March 15th, 2008
Posted 2/24/08
A stroll down Jay Street (Manhattan’s shortest) will yield one of the city’s most fetching and intimate galleries—Ethan Cohen Fine Arts. This small citadel for Chinese contemporary art has been around long before the hype of recent years. In fact, the gallery was the first in America to specialize in contemporary Chinese art, opening in 1987, around the same time that Chinese artists were first experimenting with a contemporary aesthetic. As the current show will evince, Ethan Cohen Fine Arts... [more]
Missed Miami Basel?  Worry not!  Head into Brooklyn and proudly order a Manhattan at the Miami Bar at 2204 Avenue X.  Toast to all the bad art you missed, and take along an art magazine or two for reviews of some of the better showings.  By the time you read this, anything worth seeing has likely arrived in New York.   Miami Bar 2204 Avenue X Brooklyn, NY  11235 Tel:  718.769.2281    [more]
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An Elephant in the Gallery   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Bharti Kher at Jack Shainman Gallery 20th Street November 15th, 2007 - December 22nd, 2007
Posted 12/9/07
Bharti Kher is one of the cleverest artists I have ever seen.  As a young artist just breaking into the Western market, she works primarily with the bindi-- the Indian forehead decoration traditionally donned by married women, and also Madonna in her more experimental moments.  Using only a multitude of these small half yin-yang shaped adornments, a canvas, and some glue, Kher made a pair of pieces called and Swallow.  In the first work, a plethora of bindi's radiate out headfirst from a... [more]
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