Art

Find your seat, with Gallery Espace’s 10 Chairs

Karl Antao and Gurjit Matharoo’s experiential installation

Karl Antao and Gurjit Matharoo’s experiential installation  

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Through mixed media and installations, nine pairs of artists and designers interpret the humble chair at Gallery Espace’s newest exhibition, 10 Chairs

Chairs are like pop songs, said French designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. They’d just released their 2012 book, Works, which tracked the brothers’ work and the 11 chairs they’d designed in a career spanning over 20 years. According to Ronan, the humble form-meets-function designs can “sweeten your day, remain in the background or insinuate itself into your subconscious… [to] become a classic”.

And, just like pop songs, there’s always a new, and interesting, iteration of it. The latest to join this ever-expanding catalogue is the 10 Chairs x Stir initiative by Sonali Purewal. The Kasauli-based designer, along with co-curator Pramiti Madhavji, has brought together nine pairs of well-known artists, architects and designers to interpret the ubiquitous chair. “I got the idea from a rustic sit-down dinner, when I began to think ‘who are these friends’, ‘what are their different personalities’? Each of these collectors’ pieces tell a story,” says Purewal.

The works are a mix of digital, mixed media and interactive, such as a diptych by Anita Dube with architect Madhav Raman, and an optical illusion by Karl Antao and architect Gurjit Matharoo. “The results have been very interesting,” says Madhavji. “For instance, we paired Bose Krishnamachari, whose paintings are usually bold and colourful, with artist-designer Alex Davis, who has a product design background.” The result: a chair described in Braille on canvas. Other exhibits include interpretations by Puneet Kaushik and designer Ayush Kasliwal, Shakuntala Kulkarni and architect Sanjay Puri, and Valay Gada and Mandeep Nagi (of Shades of India).

Here are four to look out for:

The Umbilical Chair, comprising wood, glass and stainless steel

The Umbilical Chair, comprising wood, glass and stainless steel  

GR Iranna x Klove Studio

Two months of brainstorming and sketching coalesced into this installation of a wooden chair, with hand-blown glass birds bursting from it. The Umbilical Chair “is a reference to both maternal love on a spiritual scale, and a liberation from power (chairs are often seen as symbols of status) on a more material level,” says the New Delhi-based artist. Lighting experts Prateek Jain and Gautam Seth provided their experience in its execution. “This piece uses wood, glass and stainless steel, and in a structure like this, which hangs from the ceiling by a single metal chain, it is important to balance everything perfectly,” says Jain, adding that the chair is especially relevant today when “people around the world are fighting for different variations of freedom — all related to the simple concept of human rights”.

A 24-piece installation made from brick dust and brass

A 24-piece installation made from brick dust and brass  

Martand Khosla x Gunjan Gupta

Gunjan Gupta has always been fascinated by chairs. Who can forget the Aloo Bori (jute sacks filled with potatoes) at the 2016 Kochi-Muziris Biennale or the Muda Walla Bicycle Throne (bamboo stools, steel and bicycle parts) exhibited at Paris’ Musee des Arts Decoratifs last year. To her, they deserve a closer look, “especially in the Indian context. Traditionally, Indians sat on chowkis or on the floor. The idea of elevated seating arrived with the Europeans and is, in some way, symbolic of authority and power,” she says, adding that the duo wanted to explore the idea of seating beyond the functional. The 24-piece installation is made from brick dust (a medium that artist-architect Khosla uses extensively in his work) and brass. “People sit in many ways, on the floor, a bed, on steps, thrones — and seating can reference authority, power, caste,” explains Khosla. “We wanted to keep it playful too, so each piece has quirky names, like Sofa-ltu or Ek do teen chair.”

The Forest Chair, comprising fiberglass, brass and lacquer work

The Forest Chair, comprising fiberglass, brass and lacquer work  

Marcantonio Raimondi Malerba x Scarlet Splendour

The Italian designer’s work often explores the connection between man and nature. As he has repeatedly explained in his interviews, “If there is no reference to nature, in the shapes and colour of my work… then there’s no reason for me to design.” His newest experiment, the Forest Chair, is a quirky take on trees and was executed by Scarlet Splendour’s team of in-house craftsmen, using fiberglass, brass and lacquer work. “It is a tribute to the welfare of animals, since that’s what the fundraiser is also about,” says Ashish Bajoria, founder of the Kolkata-based luxury brand.

The Braille installation explores inclusiveness and minimalism

The Braille installation explores inclusiveness and minimalism  

Bose Krishnamachari x Alex Davis

The duo’s Braille on canvas installation is inspired by American artist Joseph Kosuth’s conceptual 1965 installation, One and Three Chairs (a folding chair, a life-size photograph of it, and an enlarged definition of the word ‘chair’). “It is a translation of the definition in Braille,” explains Davis. “We kept to the exact size of Kosuth’s piece, experimented with paper and textile before settling on canvas.” Both of them wanted to explore inclusiveness and minimalism, too, with their design. “It can only be experienced with the sixth sense of the viewer,” adds Krishnamachari.

From today till December 2, at Gallery Espace, New Delhi. All proceeds will go to the Good Karma Shelter, to create medical units for animals and initiate green waste disposal systems at micro village levels.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 5:51:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/find-your-seat-with-gallery-espaces-10-chairs/article30115592.ece

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