Urban blues on canvas

By Madhusree Chatterjee,IANS,

New Delhi : The sense of being trapped in the concrete and lifeless urban jungles of big cities draws viewers to Mumbai-based senior artist Jaideep Mehrotra’s works.

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An exhibition of Mehrotra’s works, “Growing Panes in Solitude” at the Visual Arts Gallery at the India Habitat Centre here, are mostly abstract frames of dimly-lit rooms with glass windows, windswept chandeliers, dangling wires, shadowy furniture, lives and snapshots of big cities, which are somehow forlorn and mechanical.

The artist says he tries to blend snapshots of urban life with elements from the village.

“I live in Mumbai and have this preoccupation with city life. But in 2004-05, I tried to connect the village to the city by bringing in elements from both the places into my urban landscapes and occupational spaces. Or else, after a point of time, space becomes a kind of cocoon and confinement,” Mehrotra told IANS.

The artist is back in Delhi after 18 years.

The frames in acrylic colours and mixed media techniques on canvas incorporate life on the streets in the villages, the huts and shanties with the high-rises and the traffic of the city with the room through which it can be seen in the distance.

“Subsequently Bygone” conveys a sense of decadence with the abstract contours of a broken chandelier in a dilapidated room with glass windows.

The show will close April 20.


Quality by default

“Rang Baisakhi” – a show at the Open Palm Court Gallery at the India Habitat Centre – plays with the colours of spring. Featuring eight artists, the exhibition has an USP. “The prices of the works of art have been kept very reasonable considering the name of the artist, in this time of economic meltdown,” reads a message posted at the show.

“This is the best time to buy because art is now affordable with the market turning realistic because of the downturn. But somehow, people are still wary,” Renuka Bajaj of Taara, the Indian Art Consortium, who hosts a show every Baisakhi, told IANS.

The exhibition stands out for the striking quality of art on display for prices ranging from Rs.10,000 to Rs.250,000.

A series of six Vishnu and Hanuman paintings in the Kalamkari tradition from Andhra Pradesh by Ramesh Gurjala is unusual because of its dense drawings on canvas, the colours, figures and the stories of Ramayana that they depict.

Another series by West Bengal-based artist Shyamal Mukherjee – Baba-Bibi drawings of an Indian couple – are in the genre of caricatures. It is intelligent and humorous because of the rustic statements that it makes. For instance, the colourful baba and the bibi in one frame urge people to use lanterns instead of electricity.

Artist Promod Ganpate’s women on canvases are regal, almost like those painted by early contemporary masters; while H.R. Dass from Santiniketan paints stylised bulls in bright red and black, which are mischievous.

The five-day show was inaugurated April 14.


Creativity in camps

Zip Files, an exhibition of 24 contemporary artists at the Religare Arts-I in the capital from April 21, is a compilation of a body of work by artists who have been inspired by their exposure to new cultures and distant lands in art camps.

In recent years, there has been a spurt in the phenomenon of organised art camps – which are mostly journeys by art lovers and promoters to distant lands and sometimes to distant cultures. They hope that together they can find the elixir of inspiration, not just for themselves but for each other. And in the end for us.

Harsha Bhatkal, of the Mumbai based publishing house, Popular Prakashan, is one such art lover who chose to embark on this idea of cultural tours with artists back in 2005.

Since then, more than 200 artists have taken part in his art camps. The exhibition, curated by Ranjit Hoskote, will showcase works by some of those artists whose works have been influenced by these art camps.