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Side shows

SMALL WONDER: A work by Wasim Ahmad

No matter how big your art appetite, it’s impossible to take in the entire orbit of collateral events that spring up around the time of the art fair. Here are some events worth your attention…


The study of human anatomy and its artistically accurate depiction on the canvas form an integral part of every artist's training. And it's only a trained artist that can tell the difference between two forms of the unclothed human body - the naked and the nude. There, indeed, is a fine line separating the two. While one is a social comment, the other is voyeuristic, explains Kishore Singh of the Delhi Art Gallery that launches a strong show, The Naked and The Nude: The Body in Indian Modern Art, this weekend.

"We've been documenting Indian art and doing thematic exhibitions on regions, landscapes, etc. And a show on the human body was in the works for some time. Whether around the India Art Fair or six months down the line, we would have done this show anyway, "says Singh.

This exhibition and the accompanying book featuring the art in the genre by a gamut of Indian artists, is perhaps, the first comprehensive look at the subject. It features works even by those who are not usually associated with the theme. "While every artist studies the human form, some stay with it, like F N Souza and Laxma Goud, while others abandon it totally, " says Singh. Through 258 works by 80 artists, the show brings together this disparate group of artists and their experiments with the bare human form.

For instance, there are paintings by Amrita Sher-Gil who was the earliest Indian artist to paint nudes without a sense of unease;she not only used her sister as a model but even did a self-portrait in the nude. While Sher-Gil's nudes were imbued with sensuality and were unabashed about their sexuality, there are those by K H Ara who are fully conscious of their modesty yet ungainly in physique. That is opposed to the raw sexuality exuded by F N Souza's nudes. On the other hand are Jogen Chowdhury's women whose bare bodies are depicted as repositories of the society's ills;some of Suhas Roy's sketches too show naked women as symbols of social disasters. Then there are the pregnant women in the charcoal sketches of A A Raiba who are conscious of their swollen bellies. The nude female form, as expected, dominates the show with few instances of male nudes;the latter are represented through works by Bhupen Khakhar, Rameshwar Broota and a few others.
It's a seminal show to understand the fine nuances of the depiction of an uncovered human form in art, which is not always executed to titillate or generate controversy.

The exhibition is on view at the Delhi Art Gallery, from February 2 to March 15



Their visas may not have come through, but their works did make it in time for Crossing Over, an exhibition of contemporary art from Pakistan. Works of 13 artists from across the border are showing at Bhavna Kakar's Latitude 28. She had set the ball rolling last year when she was visiting Bangladesh and met Pakistan's ace artist Rashid Rana and curator and writer Ambereen Karamat who's also curated this show. "That's when we decided to bring in a show of contemporary artists from Pakistan to India. "says Kakar.

The last two decades, says Kakar, have unfolded several interesting trends in the Pakistani art scene. "Known at one point for its miniature art, it now covers a very broad and diverse spectrum - much of which can be viewed in this exhibition. "Rana, in a self-imposed "detachment phase" is not a part of this show but has helped conceptualise it.

Talking about this show, the Lahorebased Rana (who's in Delhi to participate in a panel discussion at the art fair) says, "The paradigm that was once associated with Pakistani art has now been broken. From the 'neo-miniatures' of the '90s, our contemporary art is one that people, anywhere in the world can relate to. It's part of the new of 'trans-national' art that's being produced everywhere in the world. "

Other than two miniature artists, after all, as the curator Karamat says, "that genre continues to still be very vibrant, the works mostly show a bridge that allows the crossing over to new styles". The two miniature artists in question are Waseem Ahmad and Sabina Zaffar. The works, over 50 of them, also include two videos. "We also have works by Muzumil Ruhil and Mohammad Ali Talpur that throw new light on the use of scripts and texts, " says Karamat who goes on to mention an "interesting" work on a 26'X 9' flex material by Mahbub Shah featuring the first Pears soap ad in Pakistan. "It shows the boy 'white-washed' after using the soap, " she laughs.

Aroosa Naz Rana, the only artist who has touched down in Delhi for the show, is "exploring the idea of multiple realities we live in. I have tried to document these realities, which we, either intentionally or unintentionally, cross over with ease frequently in our daily lives". The exhibition also shows works of Quddus Mirza, Jamil Baloch, Ayaz Jokhio, Sajjad Ahmad, Imran Ahmed Khan, Saira Sheika and David Alesworth.

Crossing Over is on from February 2 to March 2 at Latitude 28, New Delhi



Cnema is a visual medium, but what if it is stripped off its visual component? Can there be an "audio cinema" that comprises only sound and no picture? In a novel experiment, an organisation dedicated to promoting art and artists, the Khoj International Artists' Association, will try to answer these questions, playing eight different sound installations in six film auditoriums of a Delhi multiplex.

"This is cinema for the ear, " says Alexis Bhagat, the co-curator of the event. The two hour-long exhibition is called Listen, My Heart, to the Whispers of the World. . . The title is derived from a Tagore poem. The soundtrack will play repeatedly in blacked-out auditoriums in an attempt to create what Bhagat calls a "soundscape".

Some of the pieces are ambient sounds, like Iain Armstrong's Annapurna Pastoral, recorded during a trip to Nepal's Muktinath. "It is soundtrack that people in Delhi should find relaxing, " says Bhagat. Another exhibit is the complete soundtrack of Om Dar-Ba-Dar (1998), director and scriptwriter Kamal Swaroop's avant garde film about a boy growing into adolescence in a mythical town.

Hildegrad Westercamp's Into The Labyrinth attempts to merge dream and reality in an Indian context. Based in Canada, Westercamp is a renowned name in the world of sound art and has edited journals and newsletters on the subject. This work is a collection

of sounds recorded during her several trips to Delhi and Rajasthan in the 1990s. Ujjwal Utkarsh's Yatra is made along similar lines and attempts to capture the rhythms and transitions of a train journey. Pooja Sood, the director of Khoj, says the event is an extension of their effort to push the boundaries of art. It has been coupled with the opening of a separate exhibition on sound, titled Auditions: Sound Residency, which will be on at the Khoj studios till February 6.

'Listen, my heart...', featuring eight sound art pieces by Indian and international artists, will be held at DT Cinemas, Saket, New Delhi on February 2, 2013


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