Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Paintings by Indian artist Gaitonde are seen on display at the Bonhams auction house in New York on September 15, 2014. Paintings by Gaitonde, one of the most important modern artists, go under the hammer in New York on Wednesday, highlights in a booming market of Asian art Sales week. (AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad)

NEW YORK: Paintings by one of India’s most important modern artists go under the hammer in New York on Wednesday, highlights in a booming market for Asian art featured this week.

Three oils on canvas by pioneering Indian abstract artist Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde, who in 1964 based himself in New York, are being offered for auction by Christie’s and Bonham’s.

Bonham’s canvases, signed and dated 1961 and 1963, come from the artist’s “non-objective” series and were acquired by US artist Morris Graves, who described him as “fine — or superb — as Mark Rothko at his best.”

The auction house values the oil paintings, which have spent 45 years with a San Francisco collector, at $300-500,000 and $600-800,000 respectively.

Christie’s is offering a 1971 publicly known painting “Untitled” in moss green for $750,000 to $900,000, which it says showcases the “painter, philosopher and alchemist at the zenith of his career.”

Gaitonde’s prices don’t yet compare to the stratospheric ones fetched for Western art, but experts say he is poised to join the international modern art canon, and that there is a robust, emerging market in modern Indian art.

The Guggenheim in New York on October 24 opens the first museum exhibition dedicated to the famously reclusive artist, and Gaitonde work has recently set records in the Asian art world.

In 2012 Christie’s set a world record for a modern Indian painting by selling a canvas for $3.79 million. In March, Sotheby’s sold another Gaitonde for $2.5 million.

Bonham’s three-year-old department of Indian, Himalayan and South Asian art, a minnow compared to powerhouses Christie’s and Sotheby’s, has billed Wednesday’s sale as a real coup.

“It couldn’t be a better time to offer these,” Mark Rasmussen, Bonham’s junior specialist, told AFP.
He regards Gaitonde as the most sought-after modern Indian painter, and said he expected bids from collectors as well as international institutions.

Born in Nagpur, India in 1924, Gaitonde was inspired early on by Swiss artist Paul Klee, then turned toward abstraction and cultivated a lifelong interest in Zen Buddhism.

He studied in Bombay and in 1964 lived at New York’s Chelsea Hotel, then a cultural hub that housed Bob Dylan, Arthur Miller and Leonard Cohen.

Deepanjana Klein, head of South Asian modern and contemporary art at Christie’s, called Gaitonde’s work “poetry on canvas.”

“There is only a finite body of great work and collectors know that. When they see something great they will come and get it,” she told AFP

The last decade has seen an astonishing explosion in the global market for Asian art, fueled by new, cash-rich wealth in China but in which European and US collectors have kept pace.

Jonathan Stone, head of Asian art at Christie’s and based in Hong Kong, told AFP that the growth was so fast that Asian art prices are starting to catch up with Western art.

“Chinese art has taken a lot of the headlines, but the interest in Southeast Asian art has grown considerably, and I know there has been a significant growth in the Indian contemporary and modern market,” he said.

Christie’s had an inaugural sale in Mumbai last year and is setting up in Shanghai to capitalize on new clients, but Stone says none of that detracts from Asian sales week in New York.

“New York remains almost unique in the way we’re able to offer such a range of Asian art across all cultures and all epochs,” he said.

Christie’s hopes to make $26 million from Asian art this week, and Sotheby’s a whopping $42.5 to $58 million, bolstered by Chinese ceramics and classical painting and calligraphy.

Bonhams’ upper estimate for its Chinese, Indian and Japanese art sales is $10 million.

Bruce MacLaren, a Chinese art specialist at Bonhams, said some artists are selling for at least 10 times what they were selling for 10 years ago.

Monday, September 08, 2014

ARTICLE 1364 - What is Wrong With the Art World?

Art in the modern times has rarely been looked at for pure enjoyment of art. It is used as a commodity, an instrument of investment for future profit and a tool for fame and power. All the art that is famous is not necessarily good art and all good art is not always famous. But no one cares. Museums, art dealers, collectors, artists, auction houses and media - they all corruptly conspire for fame, profit and power. And those with a public face are those who are part and parcel of that corporately interlocked conspiracy celebrating that corruption as culture. Those who do not fit are banished, Whitney museum has topped in this arena. Vinod Dave recently went to witness the success of the cacophonous hype this particular museum has been doing for this particular artist since the beginning this artist rose to fame. All fiends have their own porn. This is the art world's porn. The current retrospective is the nauseating pinnacle of this. Vinod felt like scratching every work. But for the beefed up security after a recent vandalism act, he decided to channel his daemon to creative direction instead & concentrated on making the photographs his own work. That, unfortunately, makes Koons' work look better!

Two Big Things Wrong With the Art World 

Article by Jerry Saltz
Photographs by Vinod Dave

Every September, I conduct a semi-sick ritual upon returning to the high school with money that we call the art world. I manically study the thick September issue of Artforum to see what the new season of shows and openings holds. With my social reflexes shot and anxieties running high, the September Artforum provides an abstract preview for the faithful, the frightened, and the shy.
What did I find this time? I’m pleasantly surprised to see a Jeff Koons on the September cover. Not because we need more Koons, but for the last decade or so, with notable exceptions,Artforum has been so theory-prone, it hasn’t paid much attention to this freak of artistic nature. Of course, Artforum being Artforum, it sends a coded message about Koons in a pitch so high that only we art-world dogs will pick it up. The picture is of a 1988 work. “Ah, yes,” we surmise, “the early work is okay, but stay away from anything too large and shiny.” A good Koons essay and a batch of great artist-commentaries on Koons run alongside the usual abstruse articles telling us that cinema and performance and photography are now very, very, important to art, eight pages on Richard Serra’s latest man-of-steel slabs in the Qatar desert, the requisite review of a big international biennial, pages and pages about a silent film from 1930, and reviews where convoluted jargon makes it hard to know what the critic thinks of the work. (Note to critics: Can you at least get to the subject within the first four or five paragraphs?!)
But, in a sense, more important than the articles are the advertisements — the porn of the art world. This is where the art world does its peacocking, more out in the open than anywhere else. Inside the glossy 410 pages (shininess is fine for magazines), there are the ads. Lots of them. By my count, there are 287 full pages of ads in all. That’s 70 percent of the magazine. A whopping 73 of these are from New York galleries — a greater percentage than in previous recent seasons. The rates for these pages vary, are based on different things, and presumably slide for different galleries. (The person long in charge of all this isArtforum co-publisher Knight Landesman, one of the smartest, most nimble, and stylish people in the art world. Landesman mystically seats this fancy dinner party within every issue — cliques, hierarchies, and pecking orders on full view.) Full-page, four-color ads run around $5,000 or $6,000. If the ad falls within the first 20 percent of the mag, the rate can go up to $7,000 or $8,000. I love that a magazine is doing well. But with advertising costing so much, it must be hell these days for small and midsize gallerists to pay as much or more than my annual salary for a year’s worth of art ads. And this is only for one issue of one magazine.

I know that trying to ascertain anything from these ads is doomed to be skewed by the galleries who advertise here. The same exercise with the Brooklyn Rail would yield a totally different view. But as Artforum is still the art world’s unofficial official magazine, I peruse the New York ads with butterflies of anticipation and anxiety. And studying the New York ads, I notice two trends — one vexing, the other awful.
First, of the more than 70 pages of New York ads, well over half are for older, well-established, famous, or dead artists. Now, I love 30-year careers and don’t just want 30-month ones. I love art dealers; almost every one of them is an idealist and dreamer. (Even the annoying ones who can’t stop doing their sales pitches on you while you’re trying to look at art in their gallery — stop it!) But I get a queasy feeling from this glut of well-known artists — the suspicion that while New York is still the main trading floor for the art world, what’s being traded here is more and more guided by trade itself. Good or bad, these shows are so safe. A half-dozen September shows are of artists who’ve represented their countries in the Venice Biennale. Many more have had museum retrospectives around the world. Indicative shows at Gagosian and Mnuchin of Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis are obvious ploys to capitalize on these excellent, deceased artists as progenitors for much of the look-alike crapstraction that now dominates the market. It doesn’t hurt that the prices for these artists suggest that there’s room for much growth.

Drilling down deeper into these 73 New York ads, however, reveals something far more disturbing. And familiar. (And it’s worse in other cities.) Only 11 of these 73 ads are for solo shows by women, about 15 percent. This isn’t an anomaly. In last September’s Artforum, only 13 percent of the 81 New York ads were for solo shows by women. Again, it’s important to remember that these full-page ads are not representative of the entire art world. A quick perusal of nearly 100 Lower East Side galleries reveals that more than 25 percent of the shows are solos by women. That’s not great, but it’s still twice as good as the image of the art-world Establishment we see in Artforum. The magazine is telling us that the top two-thirds of the art world are mired in self-perpetuating, self-replicating sexism: More art by men is shown and sold in large galleries because more art by men has been shown and sold in large galleries. And the result is not just about what gets shown, but what that teaches us about what is worth showing: the art world as seen in these ads is much more comfortable digesting strange, weird, surprising, and even insane work from men, but gets squeamish whenever women try to show at all. They’re not even allowed to fail in the boringly generic ways so many men are these days. Nearly a half-century on from feminism, simply being a woman artist is still a revolutionary act. And getting one’s work shown continues to be met by enormous inbuilt resistance. Like I said, this ritual is “semi-sick.”

Article courtesy: New York magazine

Friday, September 05, 2014

ARTICLE 1363 - New Aga Khan Musem

 Plenty of museums around the world collect Islamic art—from ornate Persian carpets to Mughal miniature paintings—but there's never been a museum in North America focused solely on exhibiting these pieces, until now.
On Sept. 18, Toronto's Aga Khan Museum will open in a 31,500 square-foot space designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki, giving visitors a permanent spot to see one of the top private collections of Islamic art anywhere.
Standing near an elevated highway in a middle-class neighborhood, the museum appears futuristic, its milky granite walls crenelated in a few places to make room for angled skylights. Inside, the galleries are airy but the lights are kept low to protect fragile textiles and works on paper. A huge garden surrounds the museum, speckled with reflecting pools and rows of serviceberry trees and sage.
Mr. Maki is known for designing skyscrapers like New York's 4 World Trade Center, and the museum fits into the Japanese architect's sleek style. But the main draw for art lovers will likely be what's on display inside.

Collectors and curators have long coveted the ancient astrolabes and Mongolian robes amassed by the museum's namesake, Prince Shah Karim Al Husseini. The 77-year-old British billionaire goes by the honorary title of Aga Khan because he serves as spiritual leader for least 12 million members of the second-largest branch of Shia Islam, the Nizari Ismaili sect. (His Turkish-Persian title means "lord and commander.")
Half a century before the sovereign families of the Arabian Peninsula started buying art, the Aga Khan's forebears were known for frequenting London auction houses in search of art from across the Islamic world, a civilization that during its Renaissance-era height swept from Spain to the western border of China. He and his family have since lent pieces to major museums, but they haven't displayed the full sweep of their holdings before.
The Aga Khan, in a telephone interview from his home in Chantilly, north of Paris, joined by his younger brother Prince Amyn, said the genesis of the family's collection starts with their grandfather and uncle, both of whom were voracious collectors. Growing up in Kenya and, later, Switzerland, the Aga Khan and his brother said they were surrounded by art at home. Not all of it was Islamic: Their father, Prince Aly Khan, also loved the French Impressionists. But the Aga Khan said Harvard art historian Stuart Cary Welch encouraged the family to focus on Islamic art during the 1950s and 1960s. Their uncle eventually filled his Geneva château, called Belle Rive, with Islamic ceramics. (The museum has imported some of Prince Sadruddin's red display cabinets and plans to recreate one of his Belle Rive rooms.)

All of this explains why the Aga Khan said he was "shocked" when he started college at Harvard in the mid-1950s and found out that his classmates didn't know much about Islamic art or culture. His peers could rattle off the names of a few European Old Masters and pinpoint ancient styles from China—but none of them recognized a single artist from the Muslim world, he said.
"The inspiration for art isn't all that different, frankly, across civilizations and time," he said. "The goal should be to understand the art and those civilizations better, not to criticize or ignore them."
He began slowly, buying a few artworks after his grandfather died in 1957 and named him the next spiritual leader, or imam, of his sect at the age of 20. His personal collection was eclectic and included Islamic ceramics as well as European sculptors Alberto Giacometti and Auguste Rodin. "Believe it or not, I collected Bruegel," he said, referring to Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the Dutch Old Master. "I liked his sense of humor."
But by the 1990s, he had narrowed his collecting focus to Islamic art, particularly Indian miniature paintings that highlighted the architecture and gardens of the Mughal era.
Plans took another turn in 2003 when his uncle died, and the Aga Khan and his relatives had to figure out what to do with his uncle's estate. They decided to pool the Aga Khan's Mughal collection with his uncle's broader holdings and create a museum "in a great Western city with no major Islamic collections," he said.

Those parameters ruled out Paris and London, which have encyclopedic museums containing prized Islamic collections. But why choose Toronto? Turns out, Canada played a key role in accepting thousands of Nizari Ismailis who were living in Uganda but applied for asylum in 1972 when President Idi Amin notoriously expelled Asian people. Today, the Aga Khan said Canada is home to 100,000 Ismailis, and his museum is meant to be an extension of his support for them. (He's also commissioned a community center and prayer hall for them next to the museum, bringing the total bill for the project to $300 million.)
Museum director Henry Kim, a Greek coin expert who formerly oversaw the reinstallation of Oxford's Ashmolean Museum, said curators are also arranging displays and planning shows to appeal to broader audiences as well. During its debut, around 300 objects will go on view, with nearly three times as many additional artworks waiting in storage.
The top floor of the museum will be anchored by a show of contemporary art from Pakistan, led by a new series of site-specific drawings by Imran Qureshi, who last year covered the roof of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in his red, abstract drawings.
Overall, the gem of the museum's permanent collection is its group of illustrated pages from the poem, "Shahtamasp Shah-Nameh." The poem is a King Arthur-like Persian tale of kings and heroes from the 10th century. The museum has 150 illustrated pages from the Shah-Nameh; one important painting in the set, "The Court of Keyomars," shows a scene of a king and his retinue dressed in turbans and animal-print robes sitting amid a golden-indigo paradise of flowers and trees.
"So much of the artistic output of Islamic art is wild fantasy, not religion," said Mr. Kim during a recent visit to the museum. "That's one of the misconceptions I'd love for the museum to explore."
A few weeks ago, he and the staff were still wearing hard hats. A mosaic Egyptian fountain was being assembled in the main gallery, but the row of nearby display cases remained empty. The action was happening downstairs in storage, where curators and registrars were busy unpacking some of the 85 crates that had recently arrived, each one brimming with art.
Nearby, sitting in a custom Styrofoam case, sat an elephant tusk whose entire surfaces had been carved with intricate floral patterns in the 12th century. Five hundred years after that, a silversmith added silver detailing and a resting stand in the form of a pheasant's foot so the horn could be given as a wedding present to an English nobleman's daughter.
The Aga Khan said his goal for the museum is to chart the far-flung journeys these objects take through time and various cultures and faiths. One of his favorite pieces, now being installed in one of the cases on the main floor, is a Spanish star-mapping instrument called an astrolabe. Its brass surface contains inscriptions in Latin, Arabic and Hebrew—a reminder of the instrument's pluralistic usefulness among 14th-century merchant traders. "I like art that contains symbols," he said, "but this object is a symbol. It says it all."

Kelly Crow for the Wall Street Journal

Thursday, September 04, 2014

ARTICLE 1362 - The crumbling glory of Sheikhupura Fort

The Sheikhupura Fort in Pakistan was built during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. Although, there is no conclusive evidence supporting this, theTuzuk-i-Jahangiri (Autobiography of Jahangir) mentions that the Emperor assigned the job of constructing the Fort to Sikandar Moeen on his hunting trip to Hiran Minar in 1607AD.

Politically, this fort emerged during the consolidation of Sikh Raj in Punjab. According to Ihsan H. Nadiem, a veteran archeologist and historian, before the Sikhs took over power, Sheikhupura Fort served as a hiding place for bandits looting the countryside.
The Durrani king Shah Zaman, during his invasion of Lahore in 1797, besieged the fort only to purge it of the robbers.

Soon after his departure, the fort was occupied by a dacoit named Inder Singh. Later, Lehna Singhan, an ally of Ranjit Singh invaded the fort and sentenced Inder Singh to death. After him, the fort passed on to the ownership of Bhai Singh.
However, after changing a few more hands, it was in the possession of Sahib Singh and Sahai Singh in 1808 when Ranjit Singh’s forces marched upon it and caused its surrender.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh granted this fort as “Jagir” to his wife Datar Kaur (died in1838) also known as Raj Kaur or Mai Nakkain, the mother of the crown prince Kharak Singh. She lived here up to her last day.
Datar Kaur of course had a considerable role in rehabilitation of this small, strategically less important and almost abandoned citadel. In it, she built a wonderful haveli adorned with classical fresco.
The distinctive Kangra style found in the parlour and in the two chambers on the first floor of this mansion is attributed to the good taste of Kaur.

In mid 19th century when power turned to the British, the fort of Sheikhupura was used for the 'house arrest' of Maharaja’s last queen, Rani Jindan the mother of Maharaja Duleep Singh.
In his letter, dated 9th August 1847, Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence, the Resident of British government in Punjab, had suggested to the Governor General that her highness be banished from Punjab.
On his recommendation the young Maharaja Duleep Singh was sent away to the Shalimar Garden from the palace in the Lahore Fort and the Maharani was imprisoned at Sheikhupura fort.

Soon after her arrival at the fort, the Maharani wrote the following letter to the Resident at Lahore for being so ruthlessly separated from her young son (Maharaja Duleep Singh) who was only nine at the time:
With the Grace of the Great Guru
From Bibi Sahib to Lawrence Sahib,
We have arrived safely at Sheikhupura; you should send our luggage with care, as I was sitting in the Samman (Burj-Palace in Lahore Fort) in the same way I am in Sheikhupura. Both the places are same to me; you have been very cruel to me.
You have snatched my son from me…In the name of the God you worship and in the name of the king whose salt you eat, restore my son to me. I cannot bear the pain of this separation…..I shall reside in Sheikhupura. I shall not go to Lahore. Send my son to me. I will come to you at Lahore only during the days when you hold darbar.
On that day I will send him. A great deal (of injustice) has been done to me. A great deal (of injustice) has been done to my son also. You have accepted what other people have said. Put an end to it now. Too much has been done.

The Maharani was removed from the fort on the afternoon of 15 May 1848, to spend rest of her life in exile in Nepal and in London thereafter. The kingdom of her husband and son had been taken by the British Empire during her ten-month 'house arrest' at the Sheikhupura Fort.
The strong impact of this fort on the political history of Punjab as well as over all India and even neighboring Afghanistan can be judged by the fact that the Sikh Empire played a considerable role in institutionalisation and defense on western border of India, which played decisive role in normalisation of affairs up to Delhi.
An established Sikh state, at its peak, had extended from Tibet in the east to the Khyber Pass in west to Kashmir in the north and to Sindh in the south. In late 40s of 19th century this state, however, collapsed to the arms of British rule, mainly due to its institutional failure and indiscipline in ranks.
During British rule, this fort was used as an administrative headquarters of Gujranwala district from 1849 to 1851. However, on transfer of the district headquarters to Gujranwala town it was left to serve for some time as a military outpost. After the split of administration in 1918 a new district was created in Sheikhupura. The fort then housed the police headquarters of newly created district.
After partition of India in 1947 it was briefly used by the immigrants from Indian Punjab and later by encroachers, from whom it came to the possession of the Department of Archaeology, Pakistan, in 1967.

No signs of Mughal-era architecture are now visible in this fort except the main entrance façade. To date the only such structure, although dilapidated, in this premises is a six-storey haveli of Datar Kaur, identical to the haveli of Naunihal Singh, situated inside Mori Gate Lahore.
The most vibrant aspect of this haveli is its fresco, now that the precious wooden doors, windows and roof from some parts have been whisked away, turning the historical haveli into a haunted house.

Amid the ruins and inside the rooms, now occupied by bats, we can still find signs of the great era of the past through colorful and thematic paintings and art work in Kangra style. Fresco art work of the haveli of Raj Kaur portrays almost all aspect of life from worship to human feelings.
Although the colors are still vivid, the haveli has now reached the edge of its physical life. Thanks to the Punjab Archeology Department, a few months ago I had the chance to visit Sheikhupura Fort again which is now closed to the public due to its endangered structural condition.

Sadly, the once great monument is now littered with graffiti and left vandalised by the ignorant trespassers. I again took the risk to visit haveli as I was drawn naturally to the fresco. In any case, there is nothing left to be to see over there anymore.
A US-sponsored preservation project could not materialise because of a tussle between the federal and provincial departments of archeology. But it was a shock to see more paintings spoiled than my previous visit.
  • Photos and text by Aown Ali for The Dawn

Friday, June 13, 2014

ARTICLE 1361 - Indian Inspired Olivia Fraser

Bedazzled travelers to India bring back iPhone albums full of Hindu temples and Moghul palaces—but savvy collectors are increasingly packing an Olivia Fraser painting or two in their luggage. "She’s brilliant, with a terrific graphic sense and fresh, vibrant pictures," says Glenn Lowry, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, who noticed Fraser’s work in a catalogue in 2012. A year later, during a panel discussion at the Jaipur Literature Festival—the subject was the traditional miniatures depicting Moghul courtly life, which, surprisingly, are one of Lowry’s specialties—another panelist, Pondicherry-based painter Desmond Lazaro, told him more about Fraser’s out-of-the-ordinary take on those intimate, small-scale works on paper. Lowry was intrigued, and not long afterward, at the Indian Art Fair in Delhi, he spotted a Fraser lithograph and couldn’t resist. Intensely colorful and strangely hypnotic, it depicts multiple, overlapping profiles of humpbacked Brahman cows in a Pop Art–infused image that takes age-old Indian techniques and iconography and then scrambles that DNA to make a startlingly contemporary statement.

The Scottish-born Fraser moved to Delhi from London in 1989 with her fiancé and now husband, historian William Dalrymple of White Mughals fame, and, she says, "started doing paintings from life and street scenes." Tenderly tinted impressionistic landscapes, expressive architectural portraits, and insightful character studies, those early works followed in the brushstrokes of the important watercolors of Indian life that were commissioned by two of Fraser’s expatriate ancestors back in the early 19th century and influenced her illustrations for Dalrymple’s 1994 travelogue City of Djinns. But, Fraser says, her emulations weren’t "intense enough, not jewel-like enough."
So in 2005, after more than a decade and a half in Delhi, Fraser decided to immerse herself in the Indian miniature tradition, especially the Nathdwara paintings of 17th- and 18th-century Rajasthan. Setting aside what she had been taught at Oxford University and Wimbledon Art College, she apprenticed with masters in Jaipur and learned from Lazaro as well: grinding pigments from natural materials such as malachite and lapis lazuli, mixing them with gum arabic and water, picking up brushes made of fine squirrel or mongoose hairs, sitting on the ground with handmade sheets of paper called wasli, and then learning through observation. "In India, if you want to learn miniature painting, you have to follow the process and the rules, which are very strict. Each workshop—or gurukul—may have a slightly varying style, but you learn those rules," says the artist of her reeducation. "There is only one way to draw a banana leaf, only one way, so there’s no need to even look at the real thing anymore. It’s a systemized approach with many layers and regulations, and so different from what I had learned in the West."
Some people would have been daunted by those creative restrictions or deflated by the fact that much of today’s Indian miniature painting consists of rote evocations of sloe-eyed houris for jet-lagged tourists. But Fraser, who is represented by London’s esteemed Grosvenor Gallery, insists, "I was thrilled." Still, rules are made to be broken, and the artist has done so with electrifying aplomb and increasing international réclame. (Mick Jagger bought a work several months ago.) In Becoming Krishna, a classical visage of the eighth incarnation of the god Vishnu is encircled by disembodied elements—eyes, lips, nose, cap, et cetera—that appear as if they were objects on an assembly line. Ropelike branches drip from the boughs inBanyan Tree, reaching the ground where they seem to give birth to hissing snakes. Lotus petals have enraptured Fraser of late, a minor floral motif plucked out of its miniature context and set adrift in radiant, meditative arrangements that recall pinwheels or starbursts (as in1000 Petals) or in parallel lines (as in Chakra II), where the points of the petals are set this way and that so the image seems to just barely pulsate.
As Lowry explains, "Olivia elaborates by simplifying—they are no longer details magnified but details transformed." Fraser, for her part, says that her lotus-petal works are "becoming more hallucinogenic" in their optical trickery. See them in full bloom in "Subtle Bodies," an exhibition that runs through June 21 at Art 18/21 in Norwich, England. Some recent works are also on view through June 18 in Grosvenor Gallery’s booth at the Art Antiques London fair in Kensington Gardens, and Fraser’s Krishna prints will be available at the Oberoi hotels in Delhi, Mumbai, Agra, and Kolkata starting in late summer. "I’m interested in yoga and meditation very much," the artist continues, "so I’m drawn to creating something static that seems active, that has the feeling of breathing."
This change of focus has been transformative, but Fraser "wasn’t comfortable enough showing this new stuff until 2012," she admits. "My first few paintings took six months to do. You’re not going to show that many if you work at that pace, but I was jolly well going to get it right." Not only has Fraser gotten it right, she’s developed a mesmerizingly idiosyncratic approach where reverence meets whimsy. It’s an artistic evolution that makes powerfully clear that this longtime resident of India has truly become a part of it.
To see more of the artist’s work, visit oliviafraser.com.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

ARTICLE 1360 - Google Graffiti

Photographs of eyes affixed to dwellings in Rio de Janeiro are part of Google’s Street Art Project database. CreditMoSA

Street art in Dallas by the duo known as Faile, captured by a group with Street View technology.CreditDallas Contemporary

PARIS — There’s a portrait of an anonymous Chinese man chiseled into a wall in Shanghai, a colorful mural in Atlanta and black-and-white photographs of eyes that the French artist JR affixed to the houses of a hillside favela in Rio de Janeiro. These are among the images of more than 4,000 works included in a vast new online gallery of street art that Google is unveiling here on Tuesday.
Called the Street Art Project, the database was created by the company’s Paris-based Google Cultural Institute. Using images provided by cultural organizations worldwide, some of which were captured with Google’s Street View camera technology, it includes street art from around the globe, including work that no longer exists, like the 5Pointz murals in Long Island City, Queens, or the walls of the Tour Paris 13 tower in France.
With the initiative, Google is the latest organization to wade into debates about how or whether to institutionalize, let alone commercialize, art that is ephemeral and often willfully created subversively. A private database of public art, it also poses questions about how to legally preserve what in some cases might be considered vandalism.
In a sense, Google is formalizing what street art fans around the world already do: take pictures of city walls and distribute them on social media. Yet for Google to do so could raise concerns, given the criticism of its aggressive surveillance tactics, especially in Europe, where its Street View satellite mapping is widely seen as a violation of privacy.
Google is taking pains to avoid offense by setting strict conditions. It will include only images provided by organizations that sign a contract attesting that they own the rights to them. It will not cull through Street View images but will provide the technology to organizations that want to use it to record street art legally. Some groups have provided exact locations of the artworks; others have not.
Aiming to steer clear of one of the most contentious debates in the street art world, Google says it will not include images from groups seeking to sell the art or images of it. Many street artists object to their public work being sold without their permission. For instance, Banksy, the anonymous British street artist, has objected to attempts to sell his artworks after they are stripped from public walls, saying the stencils belong to the community.
Google also said it would remove images if artists complained to the groups that contributed them to the database.
The company sees the platform as a way of making more art available to viewers. “I’m not treating street art as anything different from what I would do with the Impressionist collection I’m getting on Art Project,” said Amit Sood, director of the Google Cultural Institute, referring to a philanthropic initiative that has provided technical support to more than 460 museums to help put their collections online.
The institute, which was founded in 2011 and has a staff of around 30 engineers, has also helped create online archives for historic figures likeNelson Mandela and used Street View to provide multimedia renderings of Unesco World Heritage sites like Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Mr. Sood acknowledges that the street art program, like the Cultural Institute, is a way for Google to generate good will in privacy-conscious Europe. “It helps make people realize we are doing a lot of things that actually support the community,” he said.
The database is searchable by artist, city, genre and other categories, and even includes a special section on New York walls of the 1990s. Among the 30 institutions that have furnished images so far are the Museum of the City of New York; the Dallas Contemporary exhibition space in Texas; The City Speaks in Atlanta, which finances street art and disseminates it online; and the Museum of Street Art in France.
Working with the French organization Project Tour Paris 13, Google filmed the rooms of Tour 13 in Paris, which had been entirely covered in street art, before its owners destroyed the building. Google also used a powerful camera to capture works by the Portuguese graffiti artist Vhils, who uses an electric chisel to carve images into the sides of buildings. Viewers can zoom in on the chisel marks.
Shepard Fairey, who is best known for his image of President Obama, said he had “no problem” with being included in the database. “I’ve always used my street art to democratize art, so it would be philosophically inconsistent for me to protest art democratization through Google,” he said through a publicist. And the Belgian artist known as ROA said he would be pleased to be part of it, “as long as they credit the mural to me, and it’s not being used for commercial purposes or corporations.”
Some past attempts to institutionalize street art have not gone over so well. The police commissioner of Los Angeles criticized a 2011 exhibition called “Art in the Streets” at that city’s Museum of Contemporary Art, arguing that it encouraged vandalism.
Philippe Vergne, who took over as director of the Los Angeles museum in January, acknowledged, “Street art often comes with a bad reputation where people don’t know how to discriminate art from vandalism.” Lois Stavsky, who runs the nonprofit group Street Art NYC, said that most street artists liked the idea of enabling more people to see their work. She said she had sorted through thousands of photos taken by her group at 5Pointz over the years and painstakingly uploaded hundreds to the Google platform. The owners of the building painted over the art last fall and plan to demolish it to make way for luxury condos.
“The fact that 5Pointz was whitewashed, it was covered up with white paint, just proves how important it is to document this,” she said.
The Google Street Art platform is to be presented at a news conference at the Palais de Tokyo, a contemporary art space owned partly by the City of Paris, which is opening an exhibition on Saturday called “The Lasco Project,” a play on words referring to the prehistoric art painted in the caves of Lascaux. Street artists have been invited to create works on the museum’s basement walls.
On a recent afternoon, the New York street artist Futura was wearing yellow rubber gloves as he spray-painted black dots on a striped wall for the Paris exhibition.
The artist, 58, said he liked the idea of Google’s Street Art Project, given that he and other artists mostly learn about one another’s work online anyway. “Instagram accounts — most artists are there,” he said.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

ARTICLE 1359 - Nasreen Mohamedi at Tate Liverpool

Nasreen at her studio in Bombay at the Bhulabhai Desai Institute Dated 2 Nov 1960 
Photograph 4.2 x 6.2 in
Courtesy: Sikander and Hydari Collection

Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled c1970s
Ink on paper, 510 x 710mm
© courtesy Chatterjee & Lal

Nasreen Mohamedi Untitled Early to mid 1960s
© Courtesy Paul Aggarwal

Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled c1970s
Photographic print on paper, 280 x 343mm
© courtesy Chatterkee & Lal

Discover the intriguing work of Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi (1937–1990). Born in Karachi and raised in Mumbai, Mohamedi is now considered to be one of the most significant artists within the modernist tradition, with her work receiving great critical acclaim internationally in recent years. Nasreen Mohamedi is the largest solo show of her work in the UK to date, giving many visitors their first encounter with her varied practice which includes painting, drawing and photography.

Featuring more than 50 of her works, Nasreen Mohamedi runs in parallel withMondrian and his Studios, and charts the evolution of Mohamedi’s work, exploring how she, like Mondrian, moved away from a figurative style and developed her own unique approach to abstraction.

This exhibition highlights significant phases in the artist’s practice; from semi-abstract lyrical paintings of the 1960s, to her intricate engagement and subversion of the modernist grid throughout the 1970s, and detailed drawings of suspended diagonal lines, triangles and spheres in the 1980s. The latter recall the utopian designs of constructivist artists such as Kazimir Malevich, who she greatly admired. A further highlight will be Mohamedi’s personal photographic practice through which she maintained a visual record of her experiences, capturing images of desert landscapes, seascapes, modern structures, and the Islamic architecture of Fatehpur Sikri.

After studying art at Central Saint Martin’s in London (1954–7) Mohamedi worked in Europe before returning to India in the early 1970s, to become a teacher in the Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University, Baroda. It was here that she worked alongside many notable artists and began to develop her abstraction, producing small-scale, geometric drawings, painstakingly composed on an architects’ table using pencil and pen. Virtually alone amongst her peers, Mohamedi broke away from the mainstream practice of figurative painting in post-Independence India. Her emphasis on minimal linear gestures to create infinite imaginary landscapes and structures exemplifies her desire to, as she wrote in her diaries, obtain ‘the maximum of the minimum’.

Despite comparisons to American artists such as Agnes Martin and Carl Andre, Mohamedi’s work defies easy categorisation and was the product of her distinctive personality, process, and aesthetic values. Nasreen Mohamedi reveals the artist’s significant contribution to modernism that expands the boundaries of Western art history and offers an opportunity to reconsider the meaning of abstract art.

Tickets for Mondrian and his Studios include admission into Nasreen Mohamedi. This dual programme means that both established fans and visitors new to the field of abstract art can discover exciting links between these two influential artists.