When a friend of mine heard Gallery Maskara was shutting down, he asked me, “Which one’s Gallery Maskara and which is Warehouse at 3rd Pasta?” He was not amused when I said, while the two are technically not the same, they are effectively the same. He didn’t ask me to explain and virtually hung up on me with one sentence: “You art types.” Which for some is just using three words for one: “Bengali”. Except I wasn’t being arty-farty but simply stating a fact.
Gallery Maskara is an outfit that has a “clear and compelling mission” to promote and sell what Abhay Maskara describes as “ART OF THE PRESENT” (the caps are his, not mine. See the website). What you’re supposed to understand from the capital letters is that a) Maskara is passionate about what he does, b) the art in question is unconventional and determined to be contemporary rather than classic, and c) the caps lock button on the keyboard might be dodgy. This, ladies and gents, is NOT shutting down.
What will be closing is the Warehouse at 3rd Pasta, the exhibition space that Abhay Maskara opened a little more than two years ago. Gallery Maskara will go on promoting art that deserves caps lock and will probably organise exhibitions by these artists in the future but they’ll be held at spaces that Gallery Maskara will tie-up with or rent for specific shows. I don’t know what’s going to happen to the Warehouse. The idea of that outer wall with the adorable graffiti girl, who hangs upside down while demurely holding her skirt (because she’s a good, well brought up girl even if she does have manga eyes and blue hair), being painted over to announce a, say, furniture shop is a horrible one. But we don’t know that this will happen. While I’m told Abhay Maskara does want it to remain an art space, this much is for certain: Narendra Yadav’s “Memory Minus Me” is the last show that Gallery Maskara is going to have at the Warehouse. He’s kept the space running for two years. It’s allowed him to showcase artists like Shine Shivan and T. Venkanna in some superbly-displayed shows. Now that his kitty of artists have been established to a certain degree and Gallery Maskara has something of a brand identity, there’s really no need to suffer the sizeable costs (imagine the Warehouses’s airconditioning bills, for example) of putting up a show. Especially when the number of visitors is, apparently, depressingly low.
Despite being an “arty type”, I confess I haven’t understood every show at the Warehouse but I have seen every single one of them. Whether I like it or not — and I didn’t on a number of occasions — Gallery Maskara’s shows are generally interesting. The enormous space of the Warehouse was awkward for most artists to negotiate. It’s got a wonderful height but the entry to the rectangular Warehouse was through a door on one of the shorter sides. This made the viewer’s eye go straight to the end of the faraway room, rather than taking in what’s on the sides that stretched like a corridor. When the door’s on one of the longer sides, like it is in Chatterjee and Lal or Volte for example, it’s the width of the gallery that faces you rather than the length and so you don’t focus on one thing. The height also makes it difficult to change the shape of the gallery because it’s not really feasible to make temporary walls to partition the long space.
I was thinking of which shows I thought really used the Warehouse well while walking around Memory Minus Me, and when I came back, I rifled through this blog and my notebook to see what I’d scribbled down about the shows I’d remembered. Turns out I’ve used the “Art” tag a touch indiscriminately here and if notebooks can be used as fortunetelling devices, then I’m an Agatha Christie in the making. However, in case I don’t end up coming up with some fictional detectives out of the swirlpool of posts and notes, I figured it might be a plan to put the art stuff in one place. They’re all informal jottings about the shows I’ve seen but this way, they don’t get jumbled with my anon-ing over here. Of course, the idea that anything of mine might be unjumbled and organised is snicker-inducing, at the very least, but hey, it’s worth a shot.
For the handful of you who come here to read the Art stuff, let me know if you’d like me to “announce” each time I’ve put anything up over there. Use the comment button here or drop me an email, which shouldn’t be a problem since, according to someone I met a few weeks back “everyone” knows who I am. In a country of more than a billion plus, the word “everyone” should really be used more judiciously but it’s ok, the young lady in question said she loves my writing. Actually, I’m feeling much fondness for these twenty-somethings. Another one of their tribe called me a “stalwart” the other day. This is probably more of an indicator of how old she thinks I am more than my writing skills but what the heck.