In a unique out-of-the-box initiative, a delightful portfolio of prints by veterans like Lalitha Lajmi, AA Raiba and a tribute to Krishna Reddy’s path-breaking work in printmaking is being exhibited in Mumbai to show the popularity of this medium.

Curated by Sumesh Sharma and Zasha Colah, the exhibition is a collection of portfolios from the association between ‘Clark House’ and the ‘Printmaking Studio of the JJ School of Art’. Sumesh says, “We began last year with a portfolio made as a tribute to Jehangir Sabavala. Eight portfolios have since been published. From the first portfolio itself, Clark House curated a series of workshops by alumni and visiting international artists within the department so that they get an early exposure to international techniques and styles.  The portfolios we’re exhibiting are a result of collaborations between the students and the invited artists. They had a unique experience in collaborating with veteran artists who explained the subtle nuances of their works, which in itself was a great learning experience. Funds from sales, after deducting the costs, are being used towards scholarships for students pursuing Masters in printmaking.”

So what can viewers expect to see? Sumesh replies, “Lalitha Lajmi’s portfolio includes zinc plates from the 1960s and new works from 2012, which encompass major themes that re-occur in her work: dichotomies of the self hidden behind masks; the trope of social performers, like the clown; metaphorical windows and psychological interiority; erotic works of intimacy; and arresting portraits.

“The second individual portfolio is by Abdul Aziz Raiba who, over the last six decades, has maintained detailed sketch books dealing with specific subjects such as architecture from India’s western coastline, miniature painting, and folk motifs. Raiba had pasted hundreds of his drawings, jottings and cuttings into school exercise books and this was his world of references. Fifteen sketches from these notebooks act as a visual manual to deconstruct his large compositions on jute.

“The third is a unique endeavour called ‘awaiting Reddy’, a collection of prints created by 24 artists in anticipation of veteran printmaker Krishna Reddy’s imminent visit to the JJ School after two long decades! Krishna Reddy, a sculptor by training, invented a remarkable technique of viscosity printing that added a new spontaneity to multi-colour printmaking and opened up newer possibilities for the medium. Thus in the coming year, to celebrate the 60th year of the printmaking studio at the JJ, Prof. Anant Nikam has planned a retrospective exhibition of Krishna Reddy. As a prelude of sorts, the third portfolio ‘awaiting Reddy’ is a collection of prints that the participants have created to express their joy and eagerness at the return of this trailblazer. It has 24 etchings by members of the JJ Printmaking Studio.”

Sumesh explains why he thought such an exhibition was necessary. “For long, prints have not received the kind of popular adulation that other mediums have. This genre is accessible and can be reproduced in multiples. Prints have not received their due in India; their potential has not been explored. Our endeavour is to do just that.”

Bottomline: An effort to democratise printmaking.

Graphic Matter: 3 Portfolios

Where: Clark House, Mumbai

When: Till January 20, 2013