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Does this have meaning?

`Bad Taste?', put together by the Apparao Galleries, was a bold step in combining aesthetics and function. ALKA PANDE reviews the results.

"Victoria", Anita Dube and Anupam Poddar ... when artist and designer teamed up.

CROSSOVERS are trendy ... the mixing of media and the blurring of boundaries is becoming more fashionable by the day. But good old fashioned art events are losing their lustre thanks to thoughtlessness or a tendency towards pedagogy.

The new kid on the block is the hybrid, the cross-fertilised and the new. Recently, when the Apparao Galleries put together "Bad Taste?" with a big question mark, the first thought that came to one's mind was, what is taste? Who are the markers and who are the signifiers? Does bad taste have meaning? What are its connotations?

Beauty and taste have long been topics for a heated debate. What is beauty? How is it perceived? What is taste? Can taste be objective? Is taste determined by time, directed and moulded by canons? Is taste a signifier of a social environment and does it have historical continuity. Are rites of passage crossed in defining taste? Or is it an end product of society at some point in time? Is taste trendy or is it timeless. Who are the "tastemakers"? Who is responsible for the production of art and taste?

The term "taste" is figurative and not very accurate, and is, therefore, liable to uncertainty and confusion. Edmund Burke defined "taste" as "those faculties of mind, which are affected with, or form a judgment of, the works of imagination and the elegant arts". Hume described it as a peculiar kind of "emotionally inspired discrimination". Whatever be the definition, there can be no doubt that just as there are myriad interpretations to every glance, or inferences to a sentence so there are judgments on taste and beauty. Some have achieved a sort of universality — the cave paintings of Ajanta, or the Sistine Chapel ceiling to name a few — but others continue to challenge and interrogate us, forcing us to question and re-look at what is considered tasteful.

Apparao has taken yet another bold step forward by combining designers and artists on a single platform. The effort was conscious and deliberate with each artist paired with a designer.

Vibhor Sogani ... style in a non-confrontational manner.

The aim? To produce objects that combined aesthetics and function, works of utility and works of art. The show featured the designers Anupam Poddar, Nirmala Rudra, Rajiv Saini, Vibhor Sogani, Puja Nayyar and Priti Paul and artists Sudarshan Shetty, Anita Dube, Bharti Kher, A. Balasubramaniam and Subodh Gupta.

The exhibition was something of a mixed bag. It was either a Vibhor Sogani and Puja Nayyar with nothing earth shattering to share. (Theirs was a refinement and development; a fashion designer and designer from NID, who put their energies together evolving their style in a non-confrontational manner) or a Bharti Kher and Priti Paul table, which was nothing short of fantastic.

A. Balasubramaniam and Nirmala Rudra combined their austere approach to fashion superb minimalist objects that explored the idea of spaces within spaces. The red seat, minimal in its production, was interesting, but it was the table with mirrors and lights that has a phantasmagorical quality to it. The prize for sheer creativity went to the chair; in all its delightful pink sensuality, the result of the collaborative efforts of Anupam Poddar and Subodh Gupta who enjoyed producing new and original work that related to life and anatomy, whilst simultaneously articulating the synthesis between the sculptor and designer.

About the show, Sharan Apparao insisted that it was only the beginning and that more elements and strands would be added as the enterprise develops. "Bad Taste?" was their first experiment and they are delighted with the sharing of energies that had resulted.

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