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Updated: August 3, 2011 20:00 IST

Dialogues in brushstrokes

Harshini Vakkalanka
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WINDOW TO THE WORLD Acrylic on canvas by Surendran Nair
WINDOW TO THE WORLD Acrylic on canvas by Surendran Nair

Turn of the Tide, a show by 17 artists, addresses socio-economic concerns of our time through various mediums

As I entered the passage in the Taj West End that would take me to the corridor where the group show “Turn of the Tide” was displayed, I was greeted by a large portrait of an aqua-blue bottle of Bombay Sapphire Distilled London Dry Gin. The bottle was accompanied by a shadow, kind of a rippling-glowing shadow that accompanies a swimming pool in the night, creating a strangely pleasant look.

The painting was part of a group of paintings by a young Hyderabad-based artist Anjaneyulu.

It was flanked by three dwarf-sized, painted fibreglass figures of middle-aged, balding corporate men: one with a wireless mike under his mouth, one with a set of headphones and one with a pair of coolers, instantly reminding me that these men could be the 21st century versions of the Gandhian “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” fame.

Life-sized art

Such sculptures are the speciality of the Delhi-based artist Ved Gupta. One could spot quite a collection by a mix of senior artists like Surendran Nair, Rekha Rodwittiya, Gayatri Gamuz and young, talented artists like Farhad Hussain, George Martin and Reji Arackal.

Walking down the corridor filled with paintings by seventeen artists, young and old, in both age and experience, one is captivated by a particular piece by Surendran Nair.

The almost life-sized piece — the neck-down-to-mid-size acrylic of a Mahavir-like man, with his heart, navel and pelvis chakras filled with ornate spaces, was a sight to behold. Its vibrancy and innate divinity filled the intimate space. The painting is part of his “Cuckoonebulopolis” series. It is titled “Tonight I am Coming to Visit You in Your Dream and None Will See and Question Me; Be Sure to Leave Your Door Unlocked”.

“The group show does not have any common theme except that all the seventeen artists are of a particular time and address socio-economic concerns. Each artist has followed a particular culture,” says Natasha Baruah, who has written the catalogue essay for the show organized by Tangerine Art Space. In her essay, she has talked about understanding the context in which contemporary art has developed and the role of art and artists in the changing globalised world. She has also talked about the role that art has played in “creating a dialogue between everyday life and the society of identity”.

Farhad Hussain, for example, deals with issues of human relationships and their complexities, often subtly layered with irony and humour. Gayatri Gamuz is known to address environmental issues and the condition of human life in the 21{+s}{+t} century and Rekha Rodwittiya addresses issues of gender politics in her insightful paintings, all figures of women.

“My paintings are about connecting issues of the treatment of the soul and of womanhood within my existential reality. The stickers that I have used are insignia; they are evocative symbols to create meaning related to a woman's immediate predicament. I have used watercolours because they are a delicate, sensuous medium, at the same time they are sharp, edgy and form certain space of disquiet, very like women,” says Rekha talking about her work in the show.

The one that stands out most is the bust-shot of a woman balancing glasses on top of her head. She is surrounded by glittery “stickers” of stars and butterflies.

There are many more insightful paintings – George Martin's strikingly hazy untitled abstract oil on canvas, Pushpamala's photographical work in Paris, “The Underground City”, Rakhi Peswani's embroidery on the moth-silk fabric “Reflection”, Reji Arackal and Valsan Kolleri's dry pastel works, Veer Munshi's photographs and Prasul Das's sombre watercolour work, “Documentation”. These are a few among the many mature works that speak, ironically, from the walls of a hotel's corridor.

The exhibition-sale “Turn of the Tide” is on until August 7 at the Taj West End, Race Course Road.

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