From the Everyday to the Imagined

An exhibition of 8 Indian Artists

The definition of the ‘everyday’ begs to be  re-examined, considering that the exhibition title wishes to superficially cover too broad a consideration for the range of works presented by the 8 artists. The range is indeed eclectic – from Gouache and Oil painted on the reverse of large, framed acrylic sheets (K.G. Subramanyan),  a  story about chairs, super flat paintings of smiling families (Farhad Hussain), profile paintings (Lalu Prasad Shaw), Soft renderings of water lilies that will contest Claude Monet’s (A. Ramachandran), lock stock 1.9m tall papier mache business men sculptures (Chintala Jagdish), and so on.

Title aside, the selection of works may yield a couple of surprises for the local audience, questioning the over commercialised-complexity modus operandi of contemporary painting, simplicity in figures and shapes weaved with rich mythology, seen in A. Ramachandran’s “Birth of Palash Tree” (1992).  Another gem of the show are the unassuming papier mache sculptures that suggests the artist’s interpretation of contemporary caricatures, like over-sized wooden dolls, and structural and sensitive use of papier mache, a material often used in children’s art.  What’s startling would be the variety of skin tones rendered in angular shapes, on each doll’s face. Perhaps, it hints at a cosmopolitan appeal of urban life, or the melting pot effect of immigrants of different ethnicities. This perhaps contrasts with Lalu Prasad Shaw’s simple profile portrait paintings on a flat yellow background, where the ethnicity is undoubtfully Indian.

The works do relate to a certain serenity, quite detached from the feeling we may get from imagining India, or walking through little India (Serangoon road, Singapore)on Sunday evening. It is this detachment that is uncomfortably unreal, and un-imagined. While the individual styles of the artists do show up quite differently and strongly,  it serves as a tough comparison with the more compelling pieces, in scale and subject matter, in the BIG PICTURE SHOW, found in the Museum’s other gallery.

(It would be nice if some of the public programmes were better promoted, or the videos made available as part of the exhibition)

5.0 of 10 stars

From the Everyday to the Imagined
Guest curated by Jean Wee

November 17, 2007 – January 16, 2008
Singapore Art Museum

February 14, 2008 – April 25, 2008
Museum of Art, Seoul National University

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