Art

Good neighbours: Ayalkaar exhibition at Gallery White

From left to right: Sachin Karne, Kim Kyoungae, Ankush Safaya, Sonatina Mendes and N Divya

From left to right: Sachin Karne, Kim Kyoungae, Ankush Safaya, Sonatina Mendes and N Divya  

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Curated by Rekha Rodwittiya, Ayalkaar explores diversity through ideas of unity and the friendship of five artists

What do artists Ankush Safaya, Kim Kyoungae, N Divya, Sachin Karne and Sonatina Mendes have in common? Not their artworks, since Safaya is an abstract artist, Kyoungae works with figurative symbolism, Karne and Mendes use objects to explore culture, and Divya turns to garments to express herself as a Diaspora woman artist.

They are, in fact, connected through friendships and the city of Baroda (all of them studied there). And beyond the common ground of the exhibition, Ayalkaar (Malayalam for neighbours), curated by Rekha Rodwittiya, it is also a coming together facilitated by a homegrown love.

Rekha Rodwittiya

Rekha Rodwittiya   | Photo Credit: R Ravindran

The collective mind

Over the years, Rodwittiya has mentored younger artists and opened The Collective Studio to interactions and production. “My studio has been the hub where all these relationships have taken root, around a groaning dining table laden with food, over cups of endless chai and coffee, while watching films together and amid the clamour of passionate voices that hold the conviction of shared beliefs,” says the artist.

This practice — which was also an introduction to the world of art through Rodiwttiya’s network of acquaintances and friends — has its roots in the culture inherent to the Baroda art scene, given that the artist-curator studied at the Maharaja Sayajirao University’s Faculty of Fine Arts. As a theorist from MSU’s Art History department (and mentored by Rodwittiya), I wonder if Ayalkaar, with the underlying socio-political theme of the title and the works, takes a stand. “In today’s political climate, where diversity isn’t necessarily viewed as servicing a purpose within the prevailing majoritarian stake-hold, this simple act of compiling five seemingly disparate artists, yet fleshing the connections that hold them in harmony, becomes the focus,” she says. Simply put, diversity becomes the feature of unity among them — each of their works hinging on the idea of preciousness, of friendships — in stark contrast to the current political scenario.

Meet the artists

Ankush Safaya: With minimum tools, the former electronics engineer uses pencil indents upon various surfaces with precision to resonate stillness. The abstract nature of his work — which evokes the worn-out stones of a pavement, the cracks of a dilapidated building, or the scuffmarks of tools — allows for multiple interpretations.

Kim Kyoungae’s Menopause Diaries - Conversation at the threshold, with menstrual blood, tissue, acrylic colour, butter paper and thread

Kim Kyoungae’s Menopause Diaries - Conversation at the threshold, with menstrual blood, tissue, acrylic colour, butter paper and thread  

Kim Kyoungae: Born and raised in South Korea, she came to India many years ago because she believed it to be more conducive to who she knew herself to be. Her paintings explore her life through a poetic prism, where her personal realities act as membranes through which to distil meaning. She grapples with a world where belonging isn’t about self-identity.

N Divya’s Untitled - watercolour on paper

N Divya’s Untitled - watercolour on paper  

N Divya: Growing up in Oman, steeped in the sentiments of the Diaspora, she internalised her realities as a coping mechanism. Painting became a method of self-reflection. In this particular piece, she uses a dress — European in design but with an Indian pattern — to talk about the layered notion of identity.

Sonatina Mendes’ Untitled 1 - watercolour on paper

Sonatina Mendes’ Untitled 1 - watercolour on paper  

Sachin Karne and Sonatina Mendes: While Maharashtra-based Karne’s work is marked by gigantic landscapes of wastelands and intimately-painted territories of private reflections, Mendes, who hails from a Goan Catholic family, views the world as a place of objects. She positions objects with great detail — tableaus of life that she then becomes the caretaker of. “There are various ways of dreaming a particular dream, as there are various paths to a given destination,” she says, indicating how working at The Collective Studio was one of the paths.

Ayalkaar, at Gallery White, Baroda, is on view till January 16. Details: gallerywhite.co.in

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 11:57:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/good-neighbours-ayalkaar-exhibition-at-gallery-white/article30534083.ece

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