Gallery Espace promises a blockbuster show on its 20th anniversary.

Explaining her latest offering, gallerist Renu Modi harps on the magical and the unpredictable. Around these two revolves ‘Lo Real Maravilloso: Marvelous Reality' — the grand show celebrating 20 years of existence of Modi's Gallery Espace in the Capital.

An event of this stature and nature is befitting for the gallery which is known for showcasing and promoting cutting-edge work and innovativeness. Remember ‘ Kitsch Kitsch Hota Hai' in 2001 and Video Wednesdays wherein the gallery showcased one video every month until August this year.

The 150 art works to be mounted at Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA) encompassing varied media and art practices would endeavour to create a magical world. “The whole show would be full of surprises. An artist who is known for doing a particular kind of work has done absolutely different work for this show. For example Ranbir Kaleka known for his video installations has done a sculpture,” says Modi. The sculpture in fibreglass and flashlight is that of a horse rider rooted in the the ancient Ouroboros symbol of the Serpent swallowing its own tail.

While what was introduced by the famous German art critic Franz Roh was devoid of fantastical elements, Magical Realism — which forms the basic premise of the show — is more in line with latter-day developments in the art world, drawing mainly on wonder and surrealism. “After a point surrealism becomes more dark, but magic realism has humour and wit in it. Magical realism crosses surrealism and goes deeper into the creative mind,” explains Modi. Wit and humour are present in the show in abundance for sure.

The Bangalore-based photo-performance artist Pushpamala N. has given three photographs — ‘The Pond', ‘Flight', ‘The Cloud battle' — under her newest ‘Apaharan' series. The photographs depict the story of a demon abducting a princess on a cloud. “It's actually borne out of a short story I wrote 20 years ago when I was a sculptor. I had started shooting it but left it but when the gallery approached me, I thought it was just perfect as it is kind of a fairytale but a feminist one at that. I think abduction has been very crucial to our epics, legends, especially the Greek myths, and how everything changes after that. The series is part of a larger work I am doing,” says Pushpamala who, as always, is herself the subject in the photographs, adorned in the costumes of the early Kannada Company theatre.

Global palette

The show is a mix of Indian and international artists. Among the other Indian ones, there are three works by Amit Ambalal — gouache on paper inspired by his recent trips to Bali taking on the ‘pan' eaters and how some people always grab the opportunity before others, Gigi Scaria's video ‘Political Realism', Chintan Upadhyay's tree sculptures, Shilpa Gupta's interactive video projection incorporating the viewers' simulated shadow.

From the international circuit, Modi has brought Iranian artist Parvaneh Etemadi who has made a collage of photographs of Manjit Bawa's work, Milan-based Anila Rubiku, Louise Gardiner from Bristol besides others. “It's a celebration of the art practices that I believed in through these 20 years. The two decades have been art madness, ever since Husain introduced me to the art world,” says Modi.

(The show will be on view at Lalit Kala Akademi from December 9 – 18)