Sunday, March 7, 2010

Eye-catchers with Mithu Sen & Latitude 28 !

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The art season is roaring back to life with everyone keen to show after a year of being in the economic doldrums and the calendar for art lovers is growing more hectic. Two shows that have opened in Mumbai and New Delhi grabbed my eye for being distinctive and unique.

Mithu Sen, arguably, one of India’s most talented artists, is having a solo show at Gallery Chemould in Mumbai. She has always been more active in key exhibits internationally including the last one in Vienna but now gallery-goers have a chance to see her at home. I have always regretted the fact that the Indian public have missed out on what Mithu has to offer as her best shows and works are always out of India but now that’s about to change.

In fact, Mithu has presented her most dramatic show ever — called ‘Black Candy’ — which opened a few days ago. The unique thing about the show is that most of the works have three dimensions to them. There’s the drawing which has text on it. That’s accompanied by sound which lends an exceptionally different feel to viewing the art. Also one thing to note about Mithu’s art — it is straight from the heart and controversial.

In this series she is trying to understand the vulnerability that men have and she peers into the desires, pain, sorrow and agony they go through. So the works are sexually very explicit and she engages the viewer in a dialogue with the work. She doesn’t impose any views on you — you relate to the work according to your own responses. Her style is one that I’ve never seen before — the art is powerful and will always stir reaction as it’s created with a lot of passion.

Wrestler by Mithu Sen

Now on also is a show entitled ‘Size matters or.....Does it?’ staged by Bhavna Kakar at her newly opened gallery Latitude 28 ( Latitude 28 is the latitude Delhi is located on!). Kakar is a well-known personality in the art world as the Editor of Art & Deal and has also launched her new Art magazine called Take on Art. As she trained to be an artist, she has a keen curatorial eye and her show is quite interesting. She has had every participating artist work in a large work format and a small work format. This tests the execution skills of the artist and appeals to collector as it allows much more choices.

Now in discussing the theme ‘Size’, we’ve all been taught that bigger is usually better. But for those of us who are on the fence about whether one should work on a small-scale or take that giant leap forward towards a bigger canvas and digging deeper into one’s pocket, here’s some thoughts about whether size matters.

In the speculation-led art market, everything boils down to commerce. Sadly art today has a tendency to be valued not by its quality or subject matter but in square inches and square feet! Kakar seeks to dispel with that notion in her own way with creative works in both formats. So she has a 5-ft x 4-ft canvas by Manjunath Kamath and also a set of twelve 4.5-in x 3.5-in works called True Lies. It’s quite refreshing to see large and small works by all artists in the show. I was also impressed by the visual appeal of a 17-ft work depicting Qawali singers by G.R. Iranna.

Manjunath Kamath’s Lie in Between Question & Answer; (above) Ointment by Baiju Parthan

Baiju Parthan has two works called Ointment in both formats and I was impressed with both works that are about the ideas people have about the world and the lengths to which we go to protect, defend, and propagate them. The very fact there are many views explaining the universe differently suggest that these are all products of engagement. The visual representation of both the works is just stunning.

So here are my picks so if you’re in Delhi or in Mumbai, you have some interesting art shows to visit and engage with both visually and intellectually!

Kapil Chopra is Senior Vice President of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts.He writes a blog on collecting and investing in Indian Contemporary Art at also writes for The Telegraph newspaper in the Sunday magazine " Graphiti" every fortnight. In Delhi, he writes for "The Mail Today " newspaper and "First City" magazine. Comments and views are welcome at

1 comment:

Sunil Jumani said...

Mithu Sen, a rising star on the Indian art scene who lives and works in New Delhi. As such, Sen’s display was a gigantic metaphor for self-exploration and, as in her earlier shows.

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