Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Melting Pot - The Travelling Show

When art and culture meet, blending from different regions finding a common voice/language to interpret shared perspectives of identity, nationalism, femininity, cultural dynamism, displacement and belonging, they achieve a universality that appeals and relates to each and every 'community'. 'Melting Pot' is one such initiative that birthed in the minds of artists' Barbara Ash and Katarina Rasic in collaboration with Gayatri Gamuz and Pritam Bhatty.

"Melting Pot – a place where many people and ideas exist together, often mixing and producing something new." (Cambridge Dictionary definition)

The Artists

"Melting Pot” is the handle for a show of paintings by four women artists of different nationalities all working in India. Barbara Ash is an English artist who has been working on projects and shows in India since 2007. She has had a solo show in Kashi Art Cafe in 2009 and had participated in a collateral event "Interstices" at Hallegua Hall during the first Kochi Biennale. Last year a Serbian artist friend of Barbara's, Katarina Rasic, and herself, had an idea to form a working artist collective and use their "international links" by connecting shows in India, where they worked, with their home countries, creating a travelling show of paintings under the subject "Melting Pot".  They wanted artists operating from a strong female perspective. They both loved the work of Gayatri Gamuz, a Spanish artist, who has been living in India for 20 years, and happens to have had exhibited in Kashi Art Cafe as well and they were happy that she became the third artist to join the group. Then a mutual artist friend, Moutushi Chakraborthy - Kolkata-based print-maker and curator, connected them to Pritam Bhatty, a native Indian with an eclectic heritage, with descendants from the British Raj, the Netherlands & Sri Lanka. They loved her work as well as they had a common ground there and were happy to include her as the fourth artist.

Barbara Ash and her work 'Foreigners' HuesnShades

Barbara Ash and her work 'Foreigners'

Foreigners (after Marlene Dumas), 2016
Watercolour, acrylic, canvas, 32 inches x 40

Katarina Rasic and her work 'Heart of the City' HuesnShades

 Katarina Rasic and her work 'Heart of the City'

Heart of the city (City in the heart), 2016
Acrylic and oil on canvas, 36x24 inch

Gayatri Gamuz and her work 'Girls posing for a painting in my studio in 2015' HuesnShades

Gayatri Gamuz and her work 'Girls posing for a painting in my studio in 2015'

‘girls posing for a painting in my studio in 2015’, 2016, Oil on canvas, 8x6 inches,
 ‘my family posing for a family portrait for my brother’s wedding in 2011’, 2016, digital print on canvas ,8x6 inches

Pritam Bhatty and her work 'Grandma' HuesnShades

Pritam Bhatty and her work 'Grandma'

Grandma, 2016
 Watercolour, gouache, canvas 20"x 24"

The Theme and the Binding Factor

The project provides a platform to look at the particular language of women artists working in a contemporary representative painting tradition. Barbara and Katarina haven't actually seen all the finished works yet as they were still in progress at the time of writing, so it will be an exciting experience to see them all together, and also they had never met two of the artists. The contact has been through the internet, so it will be an interesting experience to meet the artist behind the art on the day of the show. It's the strength of personality & the originality in their work, and the fact that they have a lot of professional experience & seemed very talented and accomplished artists that brought them together. "Looking back it was a leap in the dark and a lot of faith for all of us on some levels," says Barbara Ash. 

The artists all worked independently to their own individual interpretation of the theme of  "Melting Pot" with their own histories and approaches and subsequently the exhibition explores a multitude of issues including female identity, cultural dynamics, ideas of belonging and home. They had similar concerns and ideas and worked on subjects of childhood, and explorations through family photos. Coincidentally there are two strands of concern in the artworks that follow issues currently prevalent in the media, there is a lot of debate and controversy around the area of national identity; "what it means to be an Indian", and the recent groundswell of energy around women's rights/female empowerment. Then as a secondary issue Barbara realized that they were all foreigners in India. "So that was an interesting prospect - would that be a significant factor or not? Interesting to gauge." There was already work coming from a strong female perspective so that was the prime motivating factor for Barbara and her artist friends, but then the cultural fusion became an angle too.

The Travelling Show

As Gayatri and Barbara both have histories of exhibiting in Kashi; there is already a strong connection there. According to Barbara it's a great venue where many renowned artists have exhibited. "With the advent of KMB - Kochi Muziris Biennale, Kerala has fast become a vibrant Art center to be reckoned with, so it seemed a perfect choice to launch the 'Melting Pot' tour in Kochi." They are excited to have six dates already confirmed, starting from Kashi Art Gallery.

In Barbara's words, "With the "Melting Pot" enterprise it is significant in that there is no curator, organisation or funder "pulling the strings" and setting-steering the agenda. It exists independently as an artist's "brainchild" and is propelled by mere energy and determination. This is the first initiative of this kind and on this scale that Katarina Rasic and I have managed and we are very lucky to work with some wonderful artists and to have some great galleries/organisations hosting us and are keen to have new collaborations further down the line in new venues and different countries following the "Melting Pot" dynamic..

I have been doing shows in India for a few years & had been wanting to do artist exchange projects for a while & had been involved with a few projects that didn't, for various reasons, come to fruition. Katarina worked on a few projects in India , more in the performance art field (Art Adda- a project supported by IFA), and she was looking for a project which would connect her home country with India, so things fell into place with Melting pot. Working with Katarina made things easier, she's very dynamic & forward-thinking & we were both keen to connect up artists working in India with venues in our home countries & get an international tour going. Once we got the first venue secured it became easier & then I think the other artists realized we were serious!!!"

The dates and shows:

KASHI ART GALLERY, Kerala, South India, April 2016
SUBLIME GALLERIA, Bangalore, South India, May 2016
KOMBANK ART HALL, Belgrade, Serbia, July 2016.
NEHRU CENTRE, the cultural wing of the Indian High Commission, London, U.K, July 2016
SERBIAN EMBASSY, London, July 2016

Wishing the 'Melting Pot' team the very Best for their upcoming travelling show. The inaugural one is to begin in Kashi Art Gallery, Fort Kochi on April 2nd.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Thank You Note!

'Eye of the Soul' concluded well and I would love to extend our thanks to each and every family member, relatives, friends, friends of friends, blogger friends, our X-Victorians and visitors for not only visiting us but also for blessing us, encouraging and supporting us, cheering for us and make us feel 'Awesome'. The press found it appealing and supported us with some great reviews too- Thank you! Thank you Raju N Kutty and Anuradha for being our first buyers from this show.

We were four artists who expressed in four different mediums. Kumar P Mookuthala's illustrations, Anil Kumar's scrapography, Satheesh Vellinezhi's watercolours and a synthesis of my mixed media paintings and my poetry.

Gallery E of Durbar Hall Art Gallery HnS
 Gallery E of Durbar Hall Art Gallery

Artist T Kaladharan (my guru), inaugurating our show HnS
 Artist T Kaladharan (my guru), inaugurating our show

Kerala Lalithakala Akademi Secretary, Vaikom M K Shibu, lighting the lamp HnS
Kerala Lalithakala Akademi Secretary, Vaikom M K Shibu, lighting the lamp

It was then the turn of the artists' to light the lamp:

Deepa Gopal Sunil HnS
That's me...

Satheesh Vellinezhi HnS
 Satheesh Vellinezhi

Anil Kumar and Kumar P Mookuthala HnS
 Anil Kumar and Kumar P Mookuthala

Satheesh Vellinezhi, Kaladharan Sir, Deepa Gopal, Anil Kumar, Kumar P Mookuthala HnS
Satheesh Vellinezhi, Kaladharan Sir, Deepa Gopal, Anil Kumar, Kumar P Mookuthala

Since I am posting this for my blogger friends, I would especially like to name Rajeev Moothedath who visited with his co-brother, Tennyson Thomas and Anu from Zafaran Art...among a whole load of my friends. I was extremely thrilled to see them in person as I was meeting them for the first time, had known them for quite a few years though:

Rajeev Moothedath  HnS
 Rajeev Moothedath (right) with his Co-brother.

Tennyson Thomas HnS
 Tennyson Thomas

Anu (Zafaran Art) HnS
Anu (Zafaran Art)

Here's the clippings of some wonderful reviews we received, not very clear here. In case you wish to read, please click on the link below each clipping:

 The New Indian Express 12-03-2016 HnS

Mathrubhumi 15-03-2016 HnS

The New Indian Express 15-03-2016 HnS

The Hindu Metroplus 17-03-2016 HnS
The Hindu Metroplus 17-03-2016

It was wonderful to have you all...
Thanks a Ton!!!

Thank You HnS
Image from Google

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Eye of the Soul - Art Exhibition

Four passionate artists in four different mediums are joining our hands together to interpret our ‘eye of the soul’. The four artists’ being Anil Kumar, Kumar P Mookkuthala Satheesh Vellinezhi and myself. It’s happening in Durbar Hall Art Gallery, Kochi from 13 March to 19 March from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. The event is going to be inaugurated by one of the Living Legends and my beloved Guru, Artist T Kaladharan, tomorrow at 11:30 am. Kaladharan Sir, himself, is a great visionary in the field of arts. His name and contribution is indispensable and synonymous with arts in the current scenario particularly in Kerala, as is revered and recognized by everyone.

‘Eye of the Soul’ expresses the vision of four artists in four different mediums. 
“The soul has been given its own ears to hear things the mind does not understand” 
– says Rumi 
And we, the artists', totally agree with this saying. It is with this intention that we have stirred and explored our souls and revealed our visions while becoming a medium ourselves. 

My series is called the 'Eye of the Soul' - the title was then adapted to the whole show which in gist means imagination. My space is a mix of art and poetry that I wrote between 2013 and 2016. Art, for me, is a personal exploration particularly at the present phase of life. While being subjective I have tried to be objective...paradoxical? Not much if you go through my concept note...I welcome each and everyone in the city and else where if you happen to be in Kochi, do visit our concludes on Mar 19th.

Hope to see you during the coming week. 
Happy Day friends.

Edit: PS:
My first co-ordinated/curated show where I took the initiative to bring all of us, artists from Palakkad, together. All of them were extremely helpful to make this vision a reality. It was a huge success and it helped me to inch forward with a new-found confidence.
Thank you Anil etta, Kumar etta and Satheesh. Thanks to everyone who supported me in fulfilling my dream.