‘From Today I have No Future’ – A solo show by M. Pravat at Aicon Gallery in Manhattan is almost a blueprint for loss, life and living – it is about streetscapes and mindscapes, of memories and the past but also about re-imagination, and new layerings added to the scaffolding of what we remember.
She was born in Mysore, Southern India in undivided India. She grew up in pre-Independent India but died in New York, an American citizen. Y.G. Srimati is one of India’s forgotten artists and a Renaissance Woman.
Some of the most poignant testimony of a culture in flux is Thomas Kelly’s ethnographic work of marginalized, landless communities. He has lived with the Badi people where the young women have had to sell themselves to keep their families out of poverty. Once they were singers and dancers and entertainers at weddings and other ceremonies – now these women have to use their bodies as a source of income.
Using a Gates grant, Kelly looked into the lives of fallen angels in various parts of Asia, from ‘maalish’ or massage boys in hotels to sex worker communities, analyzing what drove them to this work and how they could be helped by the organizations.
The Metropolitan Museum Of Art & India’s Ministry of Culture have renewed for five years the two-way partnerships with Indian museums for sharing knowledge and expertise.So over the next five years there will be 35 new fellowships; annual seminars and workshops in India; follow-up visits by host supervisors at fellows’ home institutions; visits by the directors of the participating Indian museums to the fellows’ host institutions; and meetings of the advisory committee to organize and plan seminars, workshops, and interviews.
There’s a solid 18-karat gold toilet in America – but it’s not in one of Donald Trump’s opulent bathrooms. It is instead in a humble public restroom, to be used by the 99 percent of ordinary people. You can use it and so can I. See it at the Guggenheim Museum!
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is the city’s largest art museum, has always been New York’s crown jewel. Now along with its iconic Fifth Avenue space and the Cloisters, it has a new avatar, Met Breuer (pronounced Broy-er) on Madison Avenue.
In this exhibition you get to see the unclothed form in all its avatars – sensual, erotic, aged, sorrowing, even in anguish. The nudes takes many forms, with inspiration drawn from the ancient sculptures, bazaar pin-up calendars as well as those done by many artists of nude models in their early years as part of their art school training.
We talk of today’s India as a great global power and of its international trade and cosmopolitan nature, but all this was already happening in India’s Deccan Plateau in the 16th and 17th centuries where, drawn by the access to port cities, diverse immigrants, merchants, mercenaries and missionaries from different parts of the world had landed, lured by the riches of India.
Narasimha, the mighty God Vishnu in his half man-half lion avatar, sits with his frontal arms relaxed in meditation, his two rear arms bearing the chakra disc and the conch shell, which is now missing. Around his tautly crossed legs one is amazed to find a yogapatta – or yoga strap!
For many contemporary practitioners of yoga who consider the yoga strap to be a part of their daily routine in a studio, this brilliantly executed Chola period bronze sculpture is an eye-opener. It shows that not only did yoga originate in India but goes all the way back to the Hindu gods.
Home and exile are two of the most evocative words in the English language, and they are seared into the work of Zarina Hashmi, noted printmaker and sculptor, who was born in Aligarh in India. Zarina, who goes by only her first name, has been a nomad, a transient who has taken many journeys, crossed many borders. The floor plans of past homes, the many stories of dislocation and the sweet lost language of Urdu are embedded in her prints.
Having worked in relative anonymity for 35 years from her small loft in Manhattan, NY, Zarina, 75, is now suddenly on the international art world’s radar. The prestigious Guggenheim Museum is showcasing “Zarina: Paper Like Skin”, the first retrospective ever of an Indian woman artist, featuring 60 works dating from 1961 to the present.
Yes, it’s that time of the year when Asian art takes over New York City and art-lovers from all over the world come to the Big Apple. Just before Asia Week opened (March 13 -21) I spent a day with a group of bloggers and journalists in hot pursuit of hidden treasures.
The images are searing. Images of children who’ve lost their innocence, their childhood in the harsh world of bonded labor. Their eyes stare back at you without emotion, their lips frozen in a non-smile. This is art but art painted with the colors of true life. Each image by British portraitist Claire Phillips is of a real child, a child slave rescued by Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi’s organization, Bachpan Bachao Andolan. Meet the artist who journeyed to India to document the lives of these children.
Sometimes entire worlds disappear yet art survives and tells us the stories which would have remained untold. Fabulous life-sized images of Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesha, and a pantheon of Hindu Gods have been unearthed in Southeast Asia and they look not quite like the deities as we know them in India. The features seem Southeast Asian, the headgear is different but there is no doubt as to their Supreme Power. Though the inspiration is Indian, local aesthetics and local artists have given these vibrant, exquisite masterpieces of Hindu and Buddhist icons a flavor all their own.
For the first time, the cream of the cream of the treasures have been gathered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York: – ‘Lost Kingdoms – Hindu Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia’ which brings to light this long-forgotten world.
This mesmerizing image by the artist Anil Revri is called Ram Darwaza – and you wonder why.
“These works pay homage to my mother. A leading exponent of the classical Indian Dance forms of Bharat Natyam and Kuchipudi she had, in her final days, expressed a great desire to be able to enter into one of my geometric compositions, and, accompanied by Lord Rama, dance her way into the distant horizon.”
This painting has just been acquired by the Asian Art Museum in Berlin.
Calcutta was once known as ‘City of Palaces’ and in the days of the British Raj there were opulent buildings built by the rulers as well as the Bengal elite. Today many of these grand structures are in decay and a passionate chronicler of these disappearing stories is Prabir C. Purkayastha, award-winning photojournalist who tells evocative tales through his camera.
Purkayastha was recently in New York where the Sundaram Tagore Gallery showcased Stories in Stone: Colonial Calcutta, images which tell the story of grand edifices in decline.
“These sadhus are like a living question that people have forgotten to ask,” says noted photographer Thomas Kelly. “Their painted bodies confront us with essential questions at the heart of existence…provoking the questions, ‘Who am I?’ ‘What do I need?’ ‘What is really important?’”
So as we ponder this, we can take a stroll through the beautiful Rubin Museum of Art situated in frenzied Manhattan and see how the sadhus are trying to make sense of the world.
I’m always intrigued by the fact that this gorgeous museum devoted to the soul and to spirituality was once a highly materialistic shopping heaven – Barneys! Now to walk through it is like being in a temple of peace, and each of us is free to find our own path to salvation.
Bollywood may be loved by the frontbenchers in Indian cinema halls but it has friends in high places too – the elite world of contemporary art. There is just something about the surreal, over-the-top world of masala films and item dance numbers that strikes a chord in the more rarified world of contemporary Indian art.
A new show ‘Cinephiliac’ at Twelve Gates Art in Philadelphia, PA, checks out this phenomenon with the work of emerging as well as noted artists, a creative dialogue between art and film. This new exhibition reinforces these influences and shows the work of both Indian and Pakistani artists, for the effect of Bollywood cheekily crosses borders and permeates different cultures.
“What I find remarkable is that miniature painting is so intrinsic to Indian art history but it seems as though Indian artists and Indian art schools have decided to be just colonized by the West and Western art traditions instead,” says Olivia Fraser.
” All the most important Western-born twentieth century art movements: cubism, abstractionism, modernism, post-modernism have been successfully encouraged and developed here but miniature painting has been relegated to the dusty shelf of ‘craft’ – something that is stuck in the aspic of tradition and has no developmental, political or aesthetic possibility of change.”
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh…migrants from towns and villages, leaving everything behind to create something new, something of their own in America.
It’s all about journeys, about the lives you leave behind and the new ones you make. We’ve all got into a plane, left a place and arrived somewhere else. The baggage we’ve carried is physical things – loved old photographs and mementos, homemade garam masala – but it’s also about memories, lost homes and loved ones who are no longer with us.
The way artists deal with this excess baggage and physical and mental borders is through paint and canvas, creating a new reality which did not exist before. For the past ten years, IAAC’s ‘Erasing Borders: has been giving this space to artists to share their creations and their innermost thoughts, and this year too artists participated in this long lasting celebration of home and the world, as more and more artists take on the global trek.