It’s the last Monday of 2013 and I’ve decided to buck this year’s trend and not go into work today. Resist the capitalist machine! (For a day.) (By working from home.)
I’m not really much of a revolutionary, as you might be able to tell.
If I had to christen 2013, then it would be The Year of Abandoned Plans. From blogging to writing, exercising, reading, travelling and even Secret Santa I’ve been gung-ho about a million projects for about five seconds, only to give it all up and write a rubbish piece for work purposes.
By the way, I haven’t abandoned Secret Santa. That will be sent. Soon.
It got to the point where I didn’t even end up writing the art posts that I really wanted to, which is a new low as far as I’m concerned. I have voluntarily and shamelessly written about almost every disastrous excuse for filmmaking that Bollywood has produced, but haven’t written about any of the shows I saw and liked (or disliked) this year. Appalling behaviour.
So, to make myself feel marginally better and somewhat culturally, on the occasion of this being the last Monday of 2013 and the 97th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s Portrait of An Artist As a Young Man, I’m going to ferret through my notebooks and make a list of the art shows I saw this year. Maybe I’ll even end up writing little posts on them.
It’s true. Hope does indeed spring eternal.
Crap. I’ve lost at least one notebook (the one with January and February notes.) And I’ve got to cook a leg of ham and a duck. What the… .
This is going to be a disaster of a day.
Listen, if you can’t have a stream of consciousness blog post on a day that’s got Joycean connections, I don’t know when you can. No, don’t say never.
Right. So. A quick round-up of the art exhibitions seen in 2013.
Glimpse of Thirst, by Shine Shivan (Gallery Maskara)
Mangled bodies, crazy fabric work and a video in which the artist masturbates frenetically. Ridonkulous.
Eye etc, by Anita Dube (Lakeeren)
Creepy, beautiful works. These were all wall pieces made of artificial eyes. It’s really not the kind of work that I’d feel comfortable seeing in the corner of a room in my home, but it’s powerful stuff.
Offering, by Anita Dube (Lakeeren)
More plastic eyes, but this time in photographs. Again, very creepy but also powerful. The two shows together formed a little retrospective of Dube’s stellar work.
Ali Kazim, by Ali Kazim (Jhaveri Contemporary)
Delicate, layered paintings. There was such quiet, intense melancholy in Kazim’s work. Very modern and yet, strangely nostalgic for the good old times of technically-accomplished painting and linework.
Breath, by Shirazeh Houshiary (Jhaveri Contemporary)
This show had a video and sound installation that was intense and magical. What you heard were Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish and Christian prayers being chanted. What you saw was a visualisation of the breathing patterns of the chanters.
Metropolyptical, by Risham Sayed (Project 88)
Fabulous little show of teeny, extraordinarily realistic paintings and an installation. One of the times this year that I’ve wished I had crazy amounts of cash was when I saw Sayed’s painting of a pink house.
We All Live Under the Same Sky, by Shilpa Gupta (Carter Road Bandstand)
Such striking public art. The title written in three different languages, lit up against the Technicolor sunset sky — unforgettable.
Cobweb/Crossings, by Reena Kallat (Bhau Daji Lad Museum)
A massive spider’s web made of outsized rubber stamps, stretching across a heritage building. What’s not to like?
While Everyone Is Away, by Nityan Unnikrishnan (Chatterjee & Lal)
Nice little show. Lots of intricate little details in his drawings and sculptures.
Parsis, by Sooni Taraporevala (Chemould Prescott Road)
Beautiful black and white photographs of, you guessed it, of Parsis.
A Photograph Is Not An Opinion, curated by Sunil Gupta with Veerangana Solanki (Jehangir Art Gallery)
Some great photos and some that were meh. Most memorable: the photos installed on the first floor balcony of Jehangir Art Gallery, so you have the city all around you while you see the exhibition.
Poems I used to know, by William Kentridge (Volte)
This was a spectacular show. Video, animation, sculpture, drawings, a tapestry — there was definitely too much packed into one show, but given we don’t get Kentridge shows in India every other day, no complaints.
Besser Scheitern (Fail Better), by various artists (Hamburg Kunsthalle)
Fabulous video art show. I’m usually quite suspicious of video art, but this was absolutely awesome.
The Playing Fields, by Alberto Giacometti (Hamburg Kunsthalle)
Nice show of his work, but nothing madly memorable. Maybe that’s because I’m not so enamoured of tall, skinny forms.
Transformed Visions, Energy and Process, both by various artists (Tate Modern)
Exhibitions curated from the Tate Modern’s collection. Some interesting stuff.
Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum (British Museum)
This one was a head rush for ruins buffs, like me. The British Museum basically recreated an entire house and had everything from vessels, stuff found in drains to entire wall frescoes.
Man Ray Portraits, by Man Ray (National Portrait Gallery)
A gorgeous, gorgeous selection. The trickery and beauty of his photography; the crazy ones that were his contemporaries — stunning stuff.
David Bowie is (Victoria and Albert Museum)
A bit disappointing because it was basically like a drool fest. But it did have some of Bowie’s crazy outfits, which were very cool to see.
Homelands, curated by Latika Gupta (Bhau Daji Lad)
Interesting show created out of works in the British Council art collection. Just for the Mona Hatoum pieces, the show was worth a dekko, but there was a whole lot more in the show and it was cleverly put together.
Message to Zero, by Amitabh Kumar (The Guild)
Graffiti tends to look better in site specific locations in the city than on the pristine walls of a white cube gallery.
Pancha Mahabhuta, by T. Venkanna (Gallery Maskara)
I honestly can’t remember much of this show, even though I do have a few photos I took of the drawings. It all looks like a massive, messy scribble.
Eternal Recurrence, by Parul Thacker (Galerie Mirchandani + Steinreucke)
Some ethereal, delicate sculptures. Nice show.
Forerunner, by Sahej Rahal (Chatterjee & Lal)
This show — documentation/photographs of a performance piece, sculptures and video — had everyone fawning over it. I wasn’t quite as emphatically moved.
Meenakshi Sengupta, by Meenakshi Sengupta (Gallery Maskara)
Great fun, this show. There were paintings, light installations as well as a couple of videos. I particularly liked the paintings, which were a delightfully irreverent take on Indian miniature painting.
Touched, by various artists (Project 88)
A little poncy, but a few of these videos were actually very moving if you gave them a little time and attention. The one I remember most vividly is Kaia Hugin’s video, in which body parts dangled like meat in a butcher’s shop.
The Strife of Love In A Dream, by Camille Henrot (Jhaveri Contemporary)
This was actually a little film and it was potent stuff. Henrot managed to weave together pills for anxiety disorder with religious ritual, Kaa (from The Jungle Book cartoon) and all sorts of other bits and bobs.
Miss Butterfly, by Shadi Ghadhirian (Lakeeren)
A gorgeous set of black and white photographs by the Iranian photographer on femininity.
Aesthetic Bind: Subject of Death, curated by Geeta Kapur (Chemould Prescott Road)
For an exhibition commemorating 50 years of a gallery, this was a pretty morbid topic and it felt even more morbid when Khorshed Gandhy passed away soon after the opening. This show felt a little forced to me, though individually the works were good.
Aesthetic Bind: Citizen Artist, Forms of Address, curated by Geeta Kapur (Chemould Prescott Road)
The second part of the 50-year celebration was an outstanding show. This was superb stuff, both individually and altogether.
Drama of the Analyzer and the Analyzed, by Arun KS (Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke)
Make a painting, paste pages of a book (in this case, The Holy Bible) over it, and then scrape the living daylights out of it so that a strange shadowy work is created in which there are multiple images shimmering in one canvas. This was a debut show and it’ll be interesting to see what the artist goes on to do.
Iceboat and Skyfold, by Neha Choksi (Project 88)
A beautiful little show of just a few works and lots of ideas. I loved the Skyfold series, which showed a piece of blue paper folded many times over and then opened up to show the creases. The video was interesting too, with beautiful imagery. It showed Choksi in a boat made of ice, rowing on a lake while the boat melted.
Mrinalini Mukherjee, by Mrinalini Mukherjee (Jhaveri Contemporary, Nature Morte)
Bronze had never seemed like a delicate metal to me until I saw Mukherjee’s sculptures. These are gorgeous, fantastical imaginings of crazy natural forms. Beautiful stuff.
So now it’s technically Tuesday, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s still Monday and I’ve managed to cook the damn pig and duck, and finish this post. I feel supremely triumphant.