Friday, June 13, 2014
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."
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
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
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 New York ; The City Speaks in Texas , which finances street art and
disseminates it online; and the Atlanta in Museum of Street Art . France
Working with the French organization Project Tour Paris 13, Google filmed the rooms of Tour 13 in
, 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. Paris
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
, arguing that it encouraged
vandalism. Museum of Contemporary Art
Philippe Vergne, who took over as director of the
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. Los Angeles
“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
, 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 Paris 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 exhibition. Paris
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
Nasreen at her studio in
at the Bhulabhai Desai
Institute Dated Bombay 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
© 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
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 Karachi to date, giving many visitors their first encounter with
her varied practice which includes painting, drawing and photography. UK
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 (1954–7) Mohamedi
worked in London Europe before returning to in the early 1970s, to
become a teacher in the Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University, India . 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 Baroda . 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’. India
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.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
London: A ring belonging to Mysore's legendary ruler Tipu Sultan's has been sold at an auction for Rs. 1.5 crore on Friday in London. Auction house Christie's said the 41.2 gram ring was sold to an undisclosed bidder for almost 10 times its price.
Tipu Sultan had died at the hands of the British in 1799. The ring is notable because it was inscribed with the name of Lord Rama. The ring is thought to have been taken from him by a British general as he lay dead at his palace in Srirangapatna, which was his capital.
It is inscribed with the name of Rama in raised Devanagari script. Some say this shows that the Muslim king was more sympathetic to Hindus. But, others argue, Tipu was a despot and a fanatic Muslim ruler who forcibly converted millions of Hindus to Islam. He was known as the Tiger of Mysore for his aggression towards the British rulers.
The admirers of the Mysore sultan in Karnataka wanted the state government to buy the ring and keep it at state museum or at the Tipu Palace in Bangalore. They had even met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who too hails from Mysore, regarding the matter.
Professor S Settar, a renowned historian from Karnataka had warned that the ring might be hidden from public view if it was sold to a private bidder. He had urged the Indian government to "make use of all available avenues, legal and diplomatic, to recover the ring".
Heritage conservation groups from across the world also criticised the auction.
According to the BBC, the ring was previously listed for sale by Christie's in 2012 but was then withdrawn from sale.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Sunday, March 30, 2014
K. Chinnappa, who has painted cutouts of
politicians and almost every actor over the course of his career, at his
on Friday. Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.
K. Chinnappa brings to an end an illustrious career of hand-painted posters
Hand-painted life-size images of film actors and famous personalities will be a thing of the past soon, with Rajkamal Arts, the only surviving company that paints posters and gigantic cut-outs of artistes and personalities in Bangalore, all set to shut shop.
A life size image of Nandamuri Balakrishna in Legend, an upcoming Telugu film, is perhaps the last painted work of 77-year-old artist K. Chinnappa, the man behind Rajkamal Arts. A 46-foot cutout of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate pick Narendra Modi is his last work of a well-known political personality. Interestingly, Mr. Chinnappa had breathed life to huge cutouts of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi in the 1960s and ’70s.
On Thursday, when The Hindu went to meet the artist, his son Gopalakrishna, who is also a painter, was busy packing some rare works of Mr. Chinnappa at his workshop in Gayathri Nagar to transport them to
Mr. Chinnappa has painted nearly every major star in all four southern languages and Hindi in his career, numbering over 4,300. He has painted images ranging from MGR, NTR, Rajkumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Prem Nazir and even that of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.
Mr. Chinnappa feels his works are not relevant in the age of digital printing. “There was a time when I used to work 18-hours a day to meet the needs of the film industry. Now the demand for hand-painted posters is almost gone. It has become difficult to pay salaries to workers, pay rent and electricity bills,” he says.
No one would want to ‘waste money’ when everything is digitised and prints could be got in a few hours, Mr. Chinnappa said.
Those working with Mr. Chinnappa have already found other jobs. Some are colouring
paintings murals. Since when he started training under his guru Sri Sheenu at
the age of nine, Mr. Chinappa has spent most of his life with colours and
canvas. He began as an assistant, working on the iconic Mother India poster. temple Gopuras
There is no missing the pride in Mr. Chinnappa’s tone as he talks of his work. “Keep a digital print next to a hand-painted poster and you will find a rich texture of myriad colours that is lacking in digital prints. There is no substitute to hand painting,” he says.
He is a recipient of the Indira Priyadarshini Award. The Discovery Channel has expressed interests in making a documentary film on him.
MURALIDHARA KHAJANE for the Hindu
Thursday, March 27, 2014
The newly discovered mound number nine situated to the west of the Harappan site of Rakhigarhi in Hisar district, Haryana. Photo: Vasant Shinde
The discovery of two more mounds in January at the Harappan site of Rakhigarhi in Hisar district, Haryana, has led to archaeologists establishing it as the biggest Harappan civilisation site. Until now, specialists in the Harappan civilisation had argued that
in Mohenjo-daro was the largest
among the 2,000 Harappan sites known to exist in Pakistan , India and Pakistan . The archaeological
remains at Afghanistan extend around 300
hectares. Mohenjo-daro , Mohenjo-daro Harappa and Ganweriwala
(all in ) and Rakhigarhi and
Dholavira (both in Pakistan ) are ranked as the
first to the fifth biggest Harappan sites. India
“With the discovery of two additional mounds, the total area of the Rakhigarhi site will be 350 hectares,” asserted Professor Vasant Shinde, Vice-Chancellor/Director,
Post-Graduate & Research Institute, a deemed-to-be university in Pune. The
two mounds are in addition to the seven mounds already discovered at
Rakhigarhi, about 160 km from . The eighth and
ninth mounds, spread over 25 hectares each, are situated to the east and west
of the main site. Villagers have destroyed much of these two mounds for
cultivation. A team of archaeology teachers and students of the New Delhi discovered them
when they surveyed the site in January. Deccan College
Dr. Shinde, a specialist in Harappan civilisation and Director of the current excavation at Rakhigarhi, called it “an important discovery.” He said: “Our discovery makes Rakhigarhi the biggest Harappan site, bigger than
. The two new mounds
show that the Rakhigarhi site was quite extensive. They have the same material
as the main site. So they are part of the main site. On the surface of mound
nine, we noticed some burnt clay clots and circular furnaces, indicating this
was the industrial area of the Harappan site of Rakhigarhi.” Mohenjo-daro
Dr. Shinde had earlier led the excavations done by the
at the Harappan
sites of Farmana, Girawad and Mitathal, all in Haryana. Deccan College
On the surface of mound eight were found terracotta bangles, cakes, and pottery pieces, typical of the Harappan civilisation, said Nilesh P. Jadhav, Research Assistant, Department of Archaeology,
. Deccan College
From January 10, the
team has excavated
five trenches on the slope of the mound four and another trench in the burial
mound numbered seven. The excavation in mound four has yielded a cornucopia of
artefacts, including a seal and a potsherd, both inscribed with the Harappan
script; potsherds painted with concentric circles, fish-net designs, wavy
patterns, floral designs and geometric designs; terracotta animal figurines,
cakes, hopscotches and shell bangles, all belonging to the Mature Harappan
phase of the civilisation. The five trenches have revealed residential rooms, a
bathroom with a soak jar, drainages, a hearth, a platform etc … The residential
rooms were built with mud bricks. The complex revealed different structural
phases, said Kanti Pawar, assistant professor, Department of Archaeology, Deccan College . Deccan College
Much of the Harappan site at Rakhigarhi lies buried under the present-day village, with several hundreds of houses built on the archaeological remains. The villagers’ main occupation is cultivation of wheat and mustard, and rearing of buffaloes.
Making cow dung cakes is a flourishing industry. There is rampant encroachment on all the mounds despite the Archaeological Survey of India fencing them. Amarendra Nath of the ASI had excavated the Rakhigarhi site from 1997 to 2000.
An important problem about the Harappan civilisation is the origin of its culture, Dr. Shinde said. The Harappan civilisation had three phases: the early Harappan from circa 3,500 BCE to circa 2,600 BCE, the mature Harappan which lasted from circa 2,600 BCE to circa 2000 BCE, and the late Harappan from circa 2000 BCE to 1,600 BCE.
Dr. Shinde said: “It was earlier thought that the origin of the early Harappan phase took place in
Sind, in present-day , because many sites
had not been discovered then. In the last ten years, we have discovered many
sites in this part [Haryana] and there are at least five Harappan sites such as
Kunal, Bhirrana, Farmana, Girawad and Mitathal, which are producing early dates
and where the early Harappan phase could go back to 5000 BCE. We want to
confirm it. Rakhigarhi is an ideal candidate to believe that the beginning of
the Harappan civilisation took place in the Ghaggar basin in Haryana and it
gradually grew from here. If we get the confirmation, it will be interesting
because the origin would have taken place in the Ghaggar basin in Pakistan and slowly moved to
the India Indus valley. That is one of the important aims
of our current excavation at Rakhigarhi.”
T. S. Subramanian for the Hindu
Friday, March 14, 2014
Children with parents, young men, couples, elderly visitors and entire families crowded the center and spilled into its brick courtyard in Dhanmondi, a neighborhood known as
Dhaka’s thriving arts hub. Art lovers
posed for photos next to an expansive painting featuring a jumble of geometric,
blue-skinned men playing cards, blowing a flute and napping in the lee of a
Boats and rivers are ubiquitous in
, a river delta country between Bangladesh and India , and were common motifs in Mr.
Nabi’s paintings. So were lively street scenes, such as a family of three on a
A contemporary arts scene began to grow in
20 years after a bloody war of
independence separated the country from Bangladesh in 1971. Since the 1990s, more
artists have graduated from the country’s arts academies and universities, and
new art venues have sprouted up. Now art openings happen weekly in Pakistan Dhaka’s galleries, clustered mostly in
Dhanmondi — though getting to them is a challenge in a city of seven million
that is choked with traffic.
In spite of the momentum, artists and patrons are still trying to push contemporary art beyond the country’s traditional notions. Some also strive to create an identity apart from grim scenes too easily associated with
: cyclones, violent political
protests, and bleak factories exemplified by the deadly collapse last year of
the Bangladesh building. Rana Plaza
Founded in 1986, the Bengal Foundation was one of the first private arts institutions in
Dhaka. Today it hosts exhibitions,
concerts and other cultural events at the Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts in
Dhanmondi, as well as the sleek new Bengal Art Lounge in Gulshan, the
The business magnate Abul Khair Litu started the foundation out of personal interest in the arts, and “the vision of projecting a culturally rich
, rising above clichéd portraiture of
a country steeped in flood and famine,” as he wrote in a 2011 book by the
Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam. Bangladesh
Mr. Alam founded Drik, a photography agency and archive, in 1989 to use photography as a tool for social justice and to show
in a different light. Bangladesh
“I wanted to ensure that the only identity of
would not be an icon of poverty,” he
said. “It’s not a P.R. campaign, but the world has a very narrow understanding
of this country.” Bangladesh
Mr. Alam’s photographs have appeared in the
in Museum of Modern Art , the New York in Pompidou Center and other museums around the world.
After earning a doctorate in chemistry from the Paris — a useful degree for mixing
darkroom chemicals, he noted — Mr. Alam stumbled into photography while
hitchhiking in the University of London with a borrowed Nikon. He was hooked
and returned to United States in 1984. Eventually he founded Drik
in his parents’ home in Dhanmondi. Today, Drik’s three-story building houses
the agency, archives, a book publisher, and multimedia initiatives, along with
on the map for photography, as did
Pathshala, the photography school nearby that Mr. Alam founded in 1998.
Pathshala has trained hundreds of Bangladeshi photographers, including
award-winning photojournalists. Bangladesh
Since 2000, Drik has hosted Chobi Mela, the largest festival of contemporary photography in
Asia to be held every other year. In
2013, 130 international photographers converged in Dhaka for a week of talks and exhibitions.
Some displays even took to the streets on bicycle carts. “Art has been confined
to experts for far too long,” Mr. Alam said. “Social engagement is part of what
In spite of Drik’s prominence, Mr. Alam said that art in
was associated primarily with
painting. The Asian Art Biennale has been held at the Bangladesh in Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Dhaka for 30 years, yet photographs are
still not accepted into the art fair.
Others agree that acceptance of contemporary art must be broadened and internationalized. The art collectors Rajeeb and Nadia Samdani started the annual Dhaka Art Summit in 2012 to showcase contemporary art by Bangladeshi and international artists with a more avant-garde bent. The second summit, this past February, attracted 250 artists from
international curators for three days of exhibits, talks and experimental
The Samdanis, both in their 30s, hope the event becomes a platform for the region and brings Bangladeshi contemporary art onto the global stage. They started collecting art in 2008 and their ultramodern home in Gulshan looks part-gallery, part-nightclub, with striking contemporary art displayed throughout the house.
In the lobby, a life-size sculpture of a corpse by the Pakistani artist Huma Mulji lies on the floor grotesquely clutching at the air. Ms. Mulji modeled the sculpture on bodies of the “disappeared” found dumped in rivers in
. Upstairs, an outsize rack displays
dozens of shiny metallic bras made of razor blades by the Bangladeshi arztist
Tayeba Begum Lipi. Ms. Lipi’s work of a bed frame constructed of razor blades
was recently acquired by the Pakistan in Guggenheim Museum . New York
Ms. Lipi is part of the Britto Arts Trust, a group in
Dhaka founded by Bangladeshi artists in 2002 as an incubator for
experimental work like video and installation art that remains largely alien to
the city’s traditional venues. “When we started, galleries didn’t give us
space,” recalled Mahbubur Rahman, one of Britto’s six founders.
Britto has gained ground since then. It hosts workshops every two years for local and international artists, and has a new arts space near Dhanmondi where Britto’s 11 members work and exhibit.
In 2009, Britto also helped stage 1mile2, a display of films, public art and installations focusing on ecology over one square mile of Old Dhaka, the capital’s chaotic historic district. For one day, works by 40 artists spotlighted the environmental and urban degradation so prevalent in Old Dhaka. Works included a life-size replica of a traditional wooden boat made of empty plastic bottles that carried passengers onto the black, fetid waters of the
, and a photo installation depicting Buriganga River Dhaka’s wild urban monkeys.
Mr. Rahman said that 15,000 people had viewed the show in a single day, including laborers who work and live in Old Dhaka. “They didn’t understand what was going on, but they are very much curious and enjoying,” he said.
Although pockets of contemporary art are thriving in
Dhaka, challenges remain. ’s fine arts academies and
universities tend to neglect teaching the subject, and there is still more
respect for older, traditional artists. “No one wants young people to get
recognition,” lamented Mr. Samdani of Dhaka Art Summit. Bangladesh
Art patrons spoke of the divided, fragmented arts community in a country known for cutthroat politics. “It’s a pity,” said Giorgio Guglielmino, the Italian ambassador to
and an avid collector who lectures
on contemporary art. “If you want the country’s art to emerge, they should put
together forces.” Bangladesh
Those who attend art exhibitions in
Dhaka seem oblivious to this infighting.
Back at Mr. Nabi’s exhibition at , a 35-year-old banker named Sazzad
Islam admired the paintings. Mr. Islam studied accounting at university. His
fondness for art has grown by visiting Dhaka Art Center Dhaka’s galleries.
“When I get any time I try to go there,” Mr. Islam said. “Day by day, I myself feel devotion.”
AMY YEE for The NY Times