‘Ithaca', is a tribute by 11 artists to the sights and sounds of Greece
Last summer, owner of Prakrit Arts Meena Dadha travelled to Greece with 11 artists. “I fell in love with Greece when I visited Athens in 1969,” says Dadha, “and I've wanted to go back ever since, but for some reason or the other I was always unable to — until last summer.”
Accompanied by artists Amitava Das, Avijit Dutta, Bala R, Mona Rai, Nayanna Kanodia, Rini Dhumal, Sanjay Bhattacharya, Seema Kohli, Shipra Bhattacharya, Shuvaprasanna and Solanki V, Dadha's informal ‘art camp' travelled to Greece to visit its historical sites, museums and galleries. “I wanted to take the artists to all the places I loved so much,” explains Dadha, “I was hoping they would be inspired by the culture and beauty of this amazing ancient civilisation. When they came back they created a work that was somehow related to the trip, and this is why the exhibition is called ‘Ithaca' – it's a tribute to that summer”.
Walking into the gallery, however, I can't say that I'm immediately struck by a sense of, for want of a better word, ‘Greekness'. One of the first paintings I notice is of a sari-clad woman fanning herself, seated beside a Dalmatian. I peer into the painting to find something that reminds me of Greece — there is a vase of flowers, an umbrella, a radio, a bowl of fruit…not items that shout “Greece”. But then as I walk around, the simplicity and ignorance of my assumptions dawn on me — I was expecting art to conform to a rigid formula of expression; if an exhibition was inspired by Greece, then every painting ought to look Greek. How wrong I was. The title of the show perhaps states its thematic cohesion most aptly — Homer's Ithaca represents a place the mythical hero Odysseus longs to return to — but it his yearning for him that takes him on his long and wondrous journey. Similarly, the artists' trip to Greece appears to serve as a similar force — one that works in reverse, providing a memory that fuels and inspires a creative and artistic journey.
There are the more visibly Greece pre-occupied works, such as Solanki's ‘Mykonos' which depicts a narrow cobbled street lined with clusters of sloping houses – its faded sepia palette tingeing it with a sense of nostalgia, while Dutta's dark, mysterious work is more rooted in the mythical — the figure of a man is shrouded in white and a wing hovers near his shoulder framed by an orb, the symbol of an errant Icarus too close to the sun. However, works such as Amitava Das' ‘Mythical Figure' are more elusive, a tangle of black stains the centre of his canvas, from which dotted lines and slim shapes stick out, a little like the pincer's of an insect. In fact, from a distance, his work resembles a Rorschach inkblot. The mythical figure is whatever you want to see; it's mythical, after all. And similarly, the exhibition is a manifestation of many varied impressions and reflections. Some of these paintings might not even be directly about Greece — but that doesn't mean it hasn't had it's impact.
The exhibition is on till January 31 at Prakrit Arts further details, contact 04442188989.