After a long gap of 17 years, the National Exhibition of Art comes to Chennai, presenting the works of young artists from across the country at Lalit Kala Akademi

For only the second time in its 53-year-old history, the prestigious National Exhibition of Art has come to Chennai. The exhibition, held annually by the Lalit Kala Akademi, returns to the city after a gap of 17 long years, and gives art lovers a chance to experience the work of some of the most exceptional young artists nationwide.

“This is a very important exhibition, giving up-and-coming artists a chance to establish themselves on a national platform,” says Rm. Palaniappan, regional secretary, Lalit Kala Akademi.

“The 116 works on display have been selected from more than 4,000 submissions from across the country, and out of these, 10 have been selected for the National Award.”

Two floors of exhibits

The exhibition, spread across two floors at the Lalit Kala Akademi, Greams Road, is remarkable for the sheer imagination on display, and the variety of materials and media employed in creating these works.

The installations and sculptures are particularly experimental, often eccentric and downright wonky in the creative vision they represent. You have, for instance, Rajesh Kumar Ranjan's ‘Virgin Preservation – I', with metal balls put together to create a reef-like effect, ensconced within fluid-filled glass jars. You have the tiny bells of ghungroos cascading down strands of copper wire in Chandra Prakash's ‘Spiritual Resonance – II', and bronze bells embedded within a steel model of a steel loudspeaker in Krishnamurthy Char K.N.'s untitled sculpture. Bamdeb Mondal's quirky ‘Bag Bite' has a bubblegum pink school bag bearing its teeth, and Sandeep Kumar's ‘Alexander' features a life-size model of a strutting rooster sporting a tiara. Sanjib Kumar Kalsi's ‘A flow within' is a towering installation created entirely out of tangled threads in shades of blue, aqua, indigo and black, while Rupa Rani's untitled watercolour portrait is done on the underside of a charpoy.

The paintings are no less eclectic in form and conception. They range from the eccentric to the conventional — from Hrusikesh Biswal's fragmented figurative abstract ‘Saw – 1' to Tanveer Farooqui's traditionally beautiful ‘Lucknow – 2', which plays with light and perspective. Some are striking such as Deepak John Mathew's ‘Lost and Found III', while others are quiet and introspective such as Gurmeet Singh Marwah's woodcut work ‘Relaxxx'. Jitendrakumar D. Oghani's ‘Urbanization – 24' takes on the dark and disturbing theme of suffocation in our cities, while works such as Shovin Bhattacharjee's ‘Society' are more whimsical in their approach to capturing the urban experience on canvas. Here too, there is plenty of experimentation with media. For instance, Vibhuti Sharma's award-winning ‘Cherry Blossom' uses woodcut and chincolle, Sucheta Madhavrao Ghadge's ‘Untitled – II' uses kneewood on paper, and Abhineet Kumar's rustic ‘Satya-Shunya' blends chincolle and wood intaglio.

“It's important for Chennai to have such a major show so that local artists get to see the work artists in the rest of the country are doing,” remarks Palaniappan.

The exhibition is on till September 15.

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012