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25 Years of The Guild


A. Ramachandran I Akbar Padamsee I Altaf I Amit Ambalal I Anupam Sud I Baiju Parthan I
Dilip Ranade I G. R. Iranna I Gieve Patel I Gigi Scaria I Gulammohammed Sheikh I
Jyoti Bhatt I K. G. Subramanyan I K. Laxma Goud I K. P. Reji I Krishen Khanna I
N. N. Rimzon I Nagji Patel I Navjot Altaf I Pooja Iranna I Prajakta Potnis I Rajkumar I
Rakhi Peswani I Ram Rahman I Rashmimala I Ravi Agarwal I Riyas Komu I
Sathyanand Mohan I Shadi Ghadirian I Shantibai I Shibu Natesan I Sudhir Patwardhan I
Sumedh Rajendran I T. V. Santhosh I Vidya Kamat I Vivan Sundaram I Zakkir Hussain

Preview: 19 August 2022

On view until 25 August 2022

at
CCA Galleries
Bikaner House
Pandara Road, New Delhi
 

  . INSTALLATION VIEWS                . EXHIBITION  

 

 

Deeptha Achar
 

             

Reality Effects

“…if it were not subject to an aesthetic or rhetorical choice, any ‘view’ would be inexhaustible by discourse: there would always be a corner, a detail, an inflection of space or color to report; on the other hand, by positing the referential as real, by pretending to follow it in a submissive fashion, realistic description avoids being reduced to a fantasmatic activity”
Roland Barthes, “The Reality Effect” 

One way that this grouping of works by five artists—Amit Ambalal, K. P. Reji, N. N. Rimzon, Sudhir Patwardhan and Vidya Kamat—is tied together is through a specific engagement with the question of the real. This does not mean that the works are realistic, nor can we say that they seek to represent a reality that somehow lies outside the canvas. Whether they represent man’s relationship with animals (Ambalal), a procession (Reji), childhood and memory (Rimzon), citizenship, relationships and modes of being (Patwardhan) or the question of contemporary devotion (Kamat), these works invoke the question of the real in and through a range of registers that complicate the idea of the real. Representing multiple themes and diverse idioms, these works, taken together, quietly propose that the domain of the real is not of some referential truth but a language, a system of signs that generate meanings encoded in the idiom devised by the artist. The varied realist idiom on display here, in their striking difference of theme, style, technique and palette, and indeed the varied realisms that the artists have drawn on serve to suggest that the question of the real, far from gesturing towards a notion of truth, in fact, points to the fragility that lies at the heart of meaning and the will to power that seeks to designate a (real) meaning as truth. 

Amit Ambalal

Amit Ambalal’s works displayed here carry all the characteristics that have come to mark his oeuvre: his use of vivid color, his gently satirical take on his subject, his intermingling of the traditional with the contemporary, his representation of animals. These two untitled works do not give us a specific clue about the drama of the world embodied here, but it is clear that the works represent significant moments in a narrative peopled by men and dogs. These watercolors draw the viewers into an unfamiliar story, inviting them into a shared reality; its dramatic contours and narrative strategies seem strangely familiar as if one has heard this tale before. In response to Khanjan Dalal who asked him whether the animals he portrayed are from real life or an invocation of his study of painterly traditions such as the Nathdwara tradition, Ambalal has said that he chooses not to work with “a fearless realism” but to twist animal imagery in a way that allows him to depict human situations through what are recognizable portrayals of animal life (Khanjan Dalal in conversation with Amit Ambalal, October 2015, Ahmedabad: Sahapedia).

Sudhir Patwardhan

Sudhir Patwardhan says “I have always thought of myself as a realist painter, responding to the social, political and personal reality of my life. For me, representing the world I see around me has been important. I adopt a realist language for this purpose. But ‘realist’ needs qualification, for my aim is not to make an exact replica of visual reality. What I see is not separate from my feelings and thoughts. These are part of my experience of reality. All that I have thought, felt, read and seen, including works of art, are an integral part of my experience of reality at any given moment. And so, my project of realism becomes a complex negotiation between my surroundings and my inner resources.” In this suite of paintings, one can see the play of multiple realisms: the closeups in Four Modes, the portraiture of Three States, the narrative drama of Search for Papers, the monochromatic rendition of the Couples series. These surely underscore the attempt to comment on specific moments rather than offer a mere “replica of visual reality.” Indeed, as Patwardhan continues, “... As a realist painter, I am continually faced with the question of the relation between the language of realism and reality itself. Realism lays no claims on ‘truth’, on being closer to reality, than an expressionist, symbolist or abstract language. But it does pose the question of the status of representation vis-a-vis reality more directly and sharply.”

K. P. Reji

K. P. Reji has stayed with realism over decades as a preferred choice with which to represent urban landscapes, interactions, social worlds, and structures of feeling. His vivid canvasses, often in large format, frequently drew the eye horizontally across their surfaces, nudged by the composition. Recently he has shown works that use only silver and black; The Wait (Jetty) shown at his solo Cut Pieces (2022) is an example. His diptych Flag, created for this show, stops you in your tracks. The canvas is crowded, an enormous procession is moving slowly or has halted and, in the backdrop, the varied foliage, as also the attire of the figures here, suggests that the locale could be rural. Hovering over the scene are flags carried by the procession, as ominous as clouds that portend a storm. Recalling, to some extent, Somnath Hore’s wood engraving of a procession bound for Satibari during the Tebhaga Movement in the 1940s, Flag draws on a stark imagery for its power. Despite this shift to a monochromatic schema and a language that works away from a conventionally descriptive realism, Flag invokes another kind of realism that is often associated with quick sketches, and so, unsettles the expectations that are associated with oil on canvas.

N. N. Rimzon

The suite of charcoal drawings presented here draw on and are coterminous with his sculpture. They present landscapes commonly seen in Kerala today, yet they appear distant in time, largely unpeopled and bearing a sense of stillness. However, this is not a mere invocation of ‘nature’: human presence is everywhere, from the built environment portrayed here to the footpaths that mark not only the comings and goings of human beings but their existence in the milieu through time. These works seem to summon a mood, a sense of ritual that is at once private and social. Arguably, they invoke a version of childhood and appear to return us to a remembered realism of that period, almost as if the memory of an earlier time is mirrored by the clean lines of the visual language. The poetic character of these drawings work hand in hand with referents that are present and contemporary. In a conversation with K. Madhusudhanan, Rimzon has talked about how all that he draws can be seen everywhere, that ordinary landscapes populate his drawing; it is out of these everyday references that he builds poetic imagery and a symbolic order (“In Conversation: KM Madhusudhanan and NN Rimzon”, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art YouTube Channel, 2016).

Vidya Kamat

The works featured here are a section of a series of seven photomontages on vinyl titled Making of Krishna by Vidya Kamat. They feature digitally manipulated photographs of her sister, a popular oleograph of Lord Krishna and herself. Photographed in the context of an upper middle-class, upper caste household pregnancy ritual end-twentieth century India, Kamat’s sister is posed as Lord Krishna in the hope of bearing a male heir. Across the series, first Lord Krishna and then the artist herself comes to be overlaid on the body of the pregnant woman. All the while, the accoutrements of an upper caste/class home populate the frame. At one level, these works can be read as a study of the afterlife of mythological imagery, of mythological representations transformed by the arrival of print technology and the ubiquitous calendar art, by popular ritual and by the artist’s own manipulation of mythical images. Read thus, these images render the mythological contemporary, and in doing so, asks questions about the function of the mythological contemporary in our time. It seems apparent that Kamat’s background as a doctoral researcher in comparative mythology informs her art practice. Yet the photograph, and the mediatic realism that it is predicated upon, seems to be her preferred medium. Such a move surely enables the modernization of the mythical and allows its circulation and use in present-day narrative.

© Author and The Guild

 

     

Amit Ambalal
 

                 
               

Untitled
, 28.4.1999, watercolour on paper, 22 x 30 inches


 
 
Untitled
, 1989, watercolour
on paper, 22 x 30 inches
             
K. P. Reji
 
                 
               

Flag,
2022, oil on canvas,
72 x 144 inches


 
                 
N. N. Rimzon
 
                 
           

House under the Stars,
2016,
acrylic on plywood,
22.5 x 20.5 inches


 
 
House of Asan
, 2013,
acrylic and charcoal on
paper, 23.5 x 24 inches
 
Untitled
, acrylic and charcoal
on paper, 27.5 x 21.5 inches
 
Untitled
, 2016, acrylic on
board, 26.5 x 20 inches
     
Sudhir Patwardhan
 
                 
           

Search for Papers,
2021,
oil on canvas,
30 x 36 inches
 
Couple I and IV,
2010,
Pastel on tinted card
5 x 8 inches (each)
 
Couple II and III,
2010,
Pastel on tinted card
8 x 5 inches (each)
 
Three States - 1, Resolve,
2022
Oil on canvas, 22 x 18 inches
     
                   
           

Three States - 2, Despair,
2022
Oil on canvas, 22 x 18 inches
 
Three States - 3, Hope,
2022
Oil on canvas, 22 x 18 inches
  Untitled (face 1), 2015
Oil on canvas, 10 x 8 inches
 
Untitled (face 2)
, 2015
Oil on canvas, 10 x 8 inches
     
                   
           

HEAR 'Ear'
, 2009, Acrylic
on paper, 15 x 12 inches


 
 
SMELL 'Nose'
, 2009, Acrylic
on paper, 15 x 12 inches
 
TOUCH 'Hand'
, 2009, Acrylic
on paper, 15 x 12 inches
 
WALK 'Foot'
, 2009, Acrylic
on paper, 15 x 12 inches
     
Vidya Kamat
 
                 
             

Making of Krishna I
, 2005,
Digital photomontage on vinyl,
32.5 x 20.5 inches, edition-3/3
 
Making of Krishna II
, 2005,
Digital photomontage on vinyl,
32.5 x 20.5 inches, edition-3/3
  Making of Krishna V, 2005,
Digital photomontage on vinyl,
32.5 x 20.5 inches, edition-3/3
         
                   
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                 
               
               
   

 

 

 

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