EXHIBITION Of paintings that demand notice and sustained contemplation
It is necessary to be able to see a vast and diverse array of what Indian art has to offer, and to be exposed to the different styles and different voices of our multifarious artists.
Here we have the aptly named ‘Quiet Conversations from the Courtyard', which reveals this range without pretension or self-consciousness.
Curated by Rekha Rodwittiya, the exhibition doesn't pander to conventional tastes — in fact, I imagine a significant portion of a group that visits the exhibition would perhaps come away from it empty handed. The works by Karishma D'Souza, Kim Kyoungae, Sonatina Mendes and Malavika Rajnarayan of the Collective Studio in Baroda come together in a deeply provocative way; their presence deviating sharply from the kind of aesthetic art that accommodates itself unobtrusively on your walls. Instead they demand notice, and profound, sustained contemplation.
Pacing the floors of Ashvita is a jarring journey — one that asks you to consider your stance towards art with every turn you take: why do you like art? What is good art? And are enough of us asking these questions?
It's natural to fall prey to the affective fallacy of basing an evaluative opinion of a work based simply on how much you like it and too often the question of fondness becomes the dominant criteria with regard to evaluative judgement. And so it's refreshing to walk into an exhibition that challenges that common barometer that is too often too unquestioningly kept in place.
The title ‘Quiet Conversations from the Courtyard' is most apt — these are quiet expressions, that, like placid surface of a stream, simply curtain the powerful currents that tug from beneath.
And in light of this, I will not write in length about the pieces themselves, but rather urge you to have a look, and listen to what they say to you. From Karishma D'Souza's surreal canvases in which vistas that stretch like dreams above the heads of figures, whose blank faces express neither happiness nor discontent to Sonatina Mendes' soft focus, pastel canvases that with their surreal, dreamlike quality, and Kim Kyoungae's brooding abstracts, and the repeated intricate feminine motifs that characterise Malavika Rajnarayan's series, all these works demand notice.
I had to visit Ashvita twice, as my first visit was overwhelmed by the depth and range of the art I was seeing. In a silent and unassuming way, the works in the exhibition command you to think about them — not because they are puzzles that need to interpreted or solved, but because there are several voices and forces at play that can only be heard with patience and time.
‘Quiet Conversations from the Courtyard' is on view at Ashvita, No. 11, Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore until March 5, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For details, call 98400-04412.