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'Urgent Conversations': fusing art with social realities

New Delhi, Sep 4 Art is spilling over to the streets from the realms of rarified aesthetics to address gut issues. And that's what a new show here, 'Urgent Conversations', is all about.

Thursday, September 04, 2008 | 2:28:44 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
 0 Comments | 453 Views | Copyright: IANS

New Delhi, Sep 4 (IANS) Art is spilling over to the streets from the realms of rarified aesthetics to address gut issues. And that's what a new show here, 'Urgent Conversations', is all about.

It makes an artistic inquiry into festering modern-day angst through a rather bohemian gamut of genres - cinema, celluloid art, installations, video art, stills and conventional paintings - arranged on a homogenous canvas to tell a reality tale.

Featuring artists like Riyas Komu, Jagannath Panda, Golak Khandual, Valsan Kolleri and Manu Parekh, the show opened at the Visual Arts Gallery in India Habitat Centre here Wednesday.

It has been anchored by the Delhi-based Art Alive Gallery.

Curated by Gurgoan-based impresario and art writer Ina Puri, the exhibition took off from Kolkata-based filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta's award-winning movies, 'Uttara' and 'Bagh Bahadur' to highlight dying livelihoods, moral decay, breakdown of the filial mosaic, communal discord and the rapidly depleting green cover.

The exhibition allows the artists to speak in their own voices, in dialogues or in soliloquy or interviews and through their mediums of art and mother tongues.

The voices of the artists and the filmmaker can be heard on plasma screens either in intimate one-on-one or through footages of Dasgupta's films. The screens are placed at vantage spots - punctuating the rows of still photographs and canvases.

'There were several things I was looking at for this show - all different things in a way that was not conventional. My sources of inspiration for this show have been art, books, cinema and travel - which are my passion,' Ina Puri told IANS.

'I saw 'Uttara' a few years ago. The frames were like individual pieces of art. They spoke; narrated incidents and the images stayed with me.

'Since we live in today's world, we cannot isolate ourselves from the incidents around us. And our lives and circumstances are bound to influence our thinking. 'Uttara' was a symbol of our times and I had to share my thoughts with all,' Puri said.

She handed a video-tape of 'Uttara' to artists Riyaz Komu, Jagannath Panda and Golak Khandual at their studios and told them to translate their reaction to the movie through their art.

Komu met filmmaker Dasgupta and a string of urgent conversations ensued culminating in an installation, 'The Other Village' - a stark slap-on-your-face concrete concept art depicting a scenario akin to the Australian missionary Graham Staines' murder in Orissa in 1999.

'Uttara', based on a story by Bengali writer Samaresh Bose, italicises the circle of moral decay of an environment that unleashes the animal instincts of man.

'The CD of the film was given to me and I used clippings from the film to depict what was happening then for the show. I also used footage from the film and that's what makes my work elementary - very much what I do normally. The film is the story of my art,' Komu told IANS.

Puri's interaction with contemporary artist Panda at his studio in Gurgaon brought his debut video art and two water colours portraying violence and decay in the urban milieu - 'The Urban Hooligan' series - in the loop of 'Urgent Conversations'.

'This is all about contemporary realities and a coming together of artists of different genres and generations - like Riyaz, Valson, Golak, Manu, Dasgupta, who is such a veteran filmmaker, and I - to discourse on a common theme. People trying to work in different ways give you a lot of energy,' Panda said.

His conversations with Puri led them to architect-turned-makeup man-turned lensman and artist Golak Khandual from Orissa, who had shot stills of the traditional Tiger Dancers from the state 10 years ago.

The colourful frames of the 'Bagh' (tiger) dancers from Orissa, resplendent in their striped tiger skin make-up and opulent head dresses make a statement about environment - vis-a-vis conservation of tigers and forests; and the neglected arts of Orissa.

'I have never shown my photographs. But the subject, a kind of conversation, between the Bagh Dancers and 20 avatars of Prakiti - forest deities - about the vanishing tigers and environment fitted into the mould of the show and Dasgupta's film, 'Bagh Bahadur,' the artist told IANS.

The movie, 'Bagh Bahadur', narrates the story of an amateur Bagh dancer.

Vetran artist Parekh's canvases 'Heaven-1' and 'Flowers from Heaven-II' speak about religious dogma and freedom, while Kolleri frames 'Kankaa' and 'Skyspace' delve into contemporary social undercurrents with powerful images.

'Urgent Conversations' prove that diverse art has learnt to live together. 'Cinema, photography, modernism and post-modernism can co-exist and run parallel,' Rajeev Lochan, director of the National Gallery of Modern Arts, told IANS at the show.

The exhibition closes Sep 20.


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