Sheetal Mallar Braided

Braided
Sheetal Mallar
April 2024

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Art Musings previews their next exhibition ‘Braided’, with on Thursday, 11 April ’24, showcasing works in mixed media by contemporary photographer Sheetal Mallar. The exhibition will also see the release of her self-published photobook, and explores intergenerational intimacies. While experimenting with analogue on expired film, Sheetal takes you back into a world of fading memories and childhood stories. Sheetal began this body of work as an attempt to reconnect back to the women in her family. Going back to her core relationships, the artist looks at loss and how memories function. The work is about revealing these layers, using photography, drawings and text.
Says Sheetal about this project, “I had been away from home for a long time. I wanted to look at the bonds we share with our maternal lineage. I believe it is a circle that’s just as vulnerable, as it is strong. It’s been cathartic for me, looking at relationships that have been at my core. In some ways, this work has been an attempt to reconnect back with them and find my way back home and to parts of myself that I had lost. I wanted to look at memory, loss, and ageing as a woman

IAF 2024

India Art Fair
Various Artist
01 Feb – 04 Feb 2024

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Art Musings is participating in the upcoming edition of the India Art Fair, held in Delhi, 01 – 04 February 2024, showcasing works by 7 leading artists. The line-up includes Sakti Burman, Anjolie Ela Menon, Maïté Delteil, Nilofer Suleman, Maya Burman, and Sheetal Mallar, along with an immersive space displaying works by Shilo Shiv Suleman.

 The stellar lineup is headed by Indian masters Sakti Burman and Anjolie Ela Menon. While Sakti’s paintings seem to exist outside the measurable flow of time in a world of reverie and fantasia populated by mythic beings and personae, Anjolie’s series of portraits and heads draw inspiration from her daily encounters with people whom she meets, as well as her extensive travels that have crept into her work from her stays in India and Europe.

 The mother-daughter duo of Maïté Delteil and Maya Burman showcase their dreamlike works in their trademark style. In the space of Maïté’s universe, her oil on canvas work ‘Happiness’ plays with scale, as she dwells on fruits, flowers, and birds with a miniaturist’s love of jewel-like detail. Maïté’s palette is scrumptious; glowing reds, pollen-bright yellows, candied pinks, lambent blues and succulent greens. Maya Burman is presenting an immersive multi-layered experiential dreamscape scroll work ‘Lotus Pond’, set in a background of a lotus pond, peopled by pneumatic figures, depicted in moments of play and festivity expressive of an abundant joie de vivre.

 Master storyteller Nilofer Suleman fills her large canvas ‘Unani Dawakhana’ with kaleidoscopic imagery, nesting one episode inside another, arranging them within framed narratives and larger, circulating cycles of tales. Suleman, who devoted herself to cartography for many years, now maps terrains that are shaped by memory, fabular narrative, embroidered travellers’ tales and sensory excitements. Her paintings embody the spirit of collage through which the artists of the Mughal, Rajput, Pahari and Adilshahi ateliers bore witness to their experience of a complex and multi-dimensional world nourished by diverse sources of cultural inspiration. The movie poster, the signboard, street graffiti, studio portraiture, the devotional oleograph – all these demotic forms of expression inform her work, as do the more restrained painterly idioms of the temple, the court and the marketplace. In Suleman’s realm of exquisite illusions, both windows and carpets open onto vistas, and the elements of her architecture are liable to grow wings.

 Through the immersive space which holds the body of work ‘God is a Woman in Love’, multi-media artist Shilo Shiv Suleman tosses and turns like the samudhra manthan, chooses consort, unfolds into eight Ashtanayikas, makes an altar of most intimate. Indian mythology offers more lovelore to us than any other cosmology. Here love sovereign presides eternal and yet our loves remain mortal, trying, fickle, confused, abandoned, incomplete, like ghosts. The Ashtanayikas in the Natya Shastra are archetypal romantic heroines that repeat themselves across sculpture, classical dance and painting. Comprising large paintings alongside sculptures made in semi-precious stones embedded in brass, the solo space creates a Venusian kingdom of overgrown orchids and comes to the conclusion that the most divine and resplendent form of god is a woman herself.

Sheetal Mallar debuts her photo work at the art fair. Mallar is interested in the delicate, unspoken relationships that bind people to places. Her ongoing projects engage with the Interpersonal relationships and culture. On display at the fair are works from her project ‘Braided’. The fair will also see the release of the photobook, which features photographs and sketches of her grandmother, and explores intergenerational intimacies.

Says Sheetal about this project, which has been 12 years in the making, “I had been away from home for a long time. I wanted to look at the bonds we share with our maternal lineage and the roles they end up playing in shaping our lives. I believe it is a circle that’s just as vulnerable, as it is strong. In some ways, this work has been an attempt to reconnect back with them and find my way back home and to parts of myself that I had lost. I wanted to look at memory, loss, and ageing as a woman

Anjolie Ela Menon,The Red Charpoi, oil on masonite board, 36'' x 48'', 2023

Anjolie The Wanton Fabulist
Anjolie Ela Menon
Jan – Apr 2024

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Art Musings presents a rare treat for art lovers in the city of Mumbai with ‘Anjolie The Wanton Fabulist’, a solo exhibition that brings together recent works of renowned artist Anjolie Ela Menon. The exhibition coincides with the 2024 edition of the Mumbai Gallery Weekend, a robust art event in the city, which opens on 11 January ’24.

Menon’s art has incorporated the resonances of diverse cultures. It was the Romanesque church imagery and the brilliance of a Byzantine palette that caught her imagination and continues to impact her work to this day. Menon’s work is well known for the translucent textures which she creates by using thin glazes on Masonite. Beneath the overlaying of an unmistakable patina her invisible brushstrokes glimmer with a rare radiance. In this body of works, through the mastery of her technique, Menon creates images that come alive but continue to exist in an existential time-warp. 

Menon’s protagonists are mythological figures as well as the ordinary people whom she portrays in her unique style, with great sensitivity. Her paintings, through their texture and stunning coloration, convey the wonder of breath-taking transmutations. Also on display are Menon’s Divine Mothers, which capture all the nuances and magic of motherhood. She takes the viewer on a visual journey drawing from mythology; Yashoda and Krishna, Mariam and the infant Jesus, Parvati and Ganesh. However the divine women are often modelled after the women near her studio in Nizamuddin Basti, lovingly nurturing their young

Sakti Burman, Musicians Dancing, oil on canvas, 81 x 66 cms, 2023

Reverie & Fantasia
Group Exhibition
29th November 2023

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Art Musings presents a rare treat for art lovers in the city of Mumbai, with their next exhibition ‘Reverie & Fantasia’, a group exhibition featuring the family of Indian master Sakti Burman, his illustrious wife Maïté Delteil and their daughter Maya Burman.

At the core of each of their practices is the confluence among cultures, mythologies, periods, and places. As they shuttle between societies and cultures, articulating in their work all the legacies they have inherited, the artists give themselves the freedom to select materials from the archive of global culture. Various Indian and European pasts inhabit their art, drawing from mythology, the Mughal miniature ateliers, from Kalighat as well as West European art history and Bengali popular culture.

Art historian and cultural theorist Ranjit Hoskote has written extensively about the works of all three artists. To quote from some of his texts from various books and catalogues with Art Musings,

“To enter Sakti Burman’s landscapes and tableaux, is to submit to the measures of a dance that takes us deeper, not only into the recesses of a possibly shared mythic consciousness, but also into the complexity of the artist’s particular life – in the space of excitement, exhilaration, anxiety and epiphany between two cultures. Burman’s art is resonant with the metaphor of the actor, the theatre, the masque. We are in the landscape of lila, where everyone plays a significant part and no detail is irrelevant. Burman the storyteller reinvigorates our imagination by reminding us we are not simply made of muscle, nerve and bone. We are also made up of the words and images, the poems and stories we inherit from countless previous generations.

When we stand in the presence of Maïté Delteil’s art, we recognise instantly that, at its core, there lie the regenerative powers of the garden, the orchard, the meadow, the pasture, and the forest. No matter what the scale of her paintings, each frame breathes the life force of an earth that has been tilled and harrowed, tended and nurtured, or protected from intervention. In her vibrant images, we encounter earth as it has been cultivated or left to its own ebullient devices; we hear the voices of the natural world here, with the wind blowing through branches and the choric intimations of birdsong. Delteil’s attentiveness to detail is a form of devotion: her paintings  are songs of praise,  in which she  exalts  the beauty  of things  even  as  they pass into decay  and  dissolution,  as creatures of time.

Maya Burman’s watercolour and pen and-ink works are peopled by pneumatic figures, usually depicted in moments of play, festivity or ceremonial, expressive of an abundant joie de vivre or what, in the Indic tradition, would be celebrated as lila, the cosmic spirit of play and creativity. Drawing on diverse genealogies, among them Degas’ ballerinas and folk and classical dancers of eastern India. Maya portrays her protagonists in postures of heightened play: leisure as a form of gracefully slowed down athleticism, expressing itself through a finesse of gesture in a pictorial space that appears to have been shaped as textile, as tapestry. The artist’s immersion in the European and Indic civilisations manifests itself, as does her lifelong exposure to the history of art, through the details of her work.”

Satish Gujral, Untitled, acrylic on canvas, 60'' x 60'', 2016

MELT
Various Artist
November 2023

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Art Musings presents a group show ‘MELT’ featuring acclaimed artists SH Raza, KG Subramanyan, Satish Gujral, Ganesh Haloi, GR Iranna, Laxma Goud, Gopikrishna, Suneel Mamadapur, Raghava KK, Shilo Shiv Suleman, Jayasri Burman, Smriti Dixit, which opens on November 23.

Art is defined in many ways, but essentially it captures the essence of a subject that the artist chooses to deliberate upon. MELT, which features cross-generational artists, draws our attention to how artists have used nature as an inspiration or as a motif. Beyond capturing its tangible beauty, observation of the natural world has lent itself to examining a broad spectrum of subjects that concern metaphysics, spirituality, the personal, the behavioural, or the societal.

The iconography the artists hone is indicative of what aspects of nature have inspired their thought processes. SH Raza’s Bindu paintings are contemplations on the beginnings of life, the cycle of life and death and the concept of time and space. Ganesh Haloi paints abstract landscapes that articulate the experiences of the human mind. The physical terrain is a trope to depict a psychological space. The melodies in nature, in poetry and manmade music inform Satish Gujral’s works. His art answers the question of what it is like to hear with your eyes.

The motif that recurs in KG Subramanyan’s art is still life with a flower vase inside a lived space. This contrasts with a work from an earlier period, which depicts a cluster of windswept trees under the open sky in a forest. Could they represent opposite psychological states of the mind – perhaps calm and troubled, safe and insecure? Laxma Goud also uses trees as motifs alongside animal and human figures. His etchings bristle with raw sexuality, a natural condition of living beings. GR Iranna uses the motif of trees in full bloom to address issues that are social and political, moral and spiritual.

The depiction of flora is recurrently used to tackle the ideas of germination and femininity, as can be seen in the stylised visual languages of Jayasri Burman and Shilo Shiv Suleman. Smriti Dixit tackles these concepts in an abstract language with artworks that are made of woven fabric and emphasise tactile textures.

We see a dissimilarity in the visuals and the idioms used by contemporary artists such as Gopikrishna and Suneel Mamadapur, even though the references to nature are visible. Their zoo-anthropomorphic iconography is fabulist and absurd, which addresses the issues of the human condition. Treading on the sci-fi genre, Raghava KK’s other-worldly, futuristic portrayals are an examination of the conflicts between the natural world, science, technology and human nature.

QUARTO ’23
VARIOUS ARTIST
SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER 2023

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Art Musings presents its 2023 edition of ‘Quarto’, which features works by four artists, whose works cover different genres but come together in alchemic harmony.  This edition features works by Baiju Parthan, Prabhakar Kolte, Samir Mondal and Smriti Dixit.

The paintings on display by Baiju Parthan reflect the artist’s long standing interest in ethnobotany, and plants that generate psychoytopic substances the poppy flower with its perception shifting potential is used as a metaphor marking a threshold, and an entry point into domain of the metaphysical.

With colour, line and the occasional vestige of form as his basic vocabulary, Prabhakar Kolte has elaborated a lifelong music of allusion, half-glimpsed order and an elusive beauty. Kolte has long worshipped at the altar of abstraction, abjuring recognisable objects and the parameters of retinal reality in favour of the purity of colour and brushstroke. On display is a large canvas work along with a suite of smaller works.

Samir Mondal’s bold striking watercolors are radiant in their rendering. Mondal has incorporated the inherent quality, richness and substance of the medium of oil, and has developed textures and structural features into his watercolor works giving them vitality and depth. Mondal presents a series of monochromatic works featuring floral motifs. 

Smriti Dixit delights in multiple media, working with textile, thread, mass-produced plastic objects and pigment. Her works often riff on recycling processes, and assume a variety of avatars that are by turns painterly, sculptural and performative. the cosmic drama of birth, dying and regeneration are performed through her artistic activity and its outcomes, and the space that it occupies and extends even as it extends itself.

CE Image

Visages
Various Artist
01 June – 25 July 2023

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Art Musings presents a group show ‘Visages’ featuring acclaimed artists KG Subramanyan, Sakti Burman, Jogen Chowdhury, Jayasri Burman, Maïté Delteil, T Vaikuntam, Suhas Roy, Laxma Goud,Suhas Bahulkar, Neeraj Goswami, Lalu Prasad Shaw which opens on 1 June 23. The exhibition features paintings in oils, acrylic & watercolor as well as etchings and sculptures in their trademark style.

Visages’ engages with various aspects of humanity with the stylized representation of the human form. Femininity, grace and sensuality are tackled in the characteristic visual languages of artists Jogen Chowdhury, Suhas Roy, Suhas Bahulkar and Neeraj Goswami. In Lalu Prasad Shaw’s serene profile portraits, we get a glimpse of elegance in Bengali women draped in saris, holding a mirror or flower. Alluding to mythology, Thota Vaikuntam and Sakti Burman portray playfulness in their characters who could be musicians or deities. The former uses a colourful, primary colour palette in a village setting. The latter’s contour drawings are more Western in manner. A gamut of subjects is addressed by Laxma Goud through his works – from the representation of deities, village scenes and, sexual intimacy in couples. The essence of cohabitation between animals and humans is seen in the works of Goud as well as in the suite of pen and ink drawings by Jayasri Burman. In the finest details, Maïté Delteil renders in graphite on paper surrealistic dreams. KG Subramanyan too portrays the state of the mind with activity in homely interior spaces.

Baiju Parthan, Wheel of Fortune -Rabbit Hole, animated 3D lenticular print, 36'' x 36'' 2019

Point Clouds
Baiju Parthan
06 March to 31 March ’23

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Art Musings opened ‘Point Clouds’, a solo exhibition of Baiju Parthan on 6 March 2023, showcasing lenticular works. Point clouds (the technical term for location data map representing objects in three dimensions) are generally produced using 3D scanners and photogrammetry software, which measure many points on the external surfaces and objects to chart them as a cloud of location data points. Point clouds form the foundation for recreating landmarks and real-world locations in virtual reality.

Jayasri Burman, Srishti, acrylic on canvas, 96'' x 96'', 2022

Dhārā
Jayasri Burman
12 Jan – 28 Feb 2023

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Art Musings presents Dhārā, an exhibition that brings together recent works of renowned artist Jayasri Burman. One sees the influence of the rich cultural heritage of Bengal that is predominant in Jayasri Burman’s work. Fables and folk tales from her childhood creep into the narrative, which is full of myth and magic, rituals and festivals.  Jayasri Burman has evolved, over a period of time, an iconography that is saturated in the aura of Nature’s nurturing, sustaining, maternal capacities. She invests these capacities in the archetypal figure of the Great Mother, manifested as the Devi, the guardian of waters both still and flowing, attended by animals symbolically associated with fertility and plenitude. Her paintings have an altar-like quality, and depict Nature as divinity. This exhibition features a set of ideas that has absorbed Jayasri over the last several years: Birth, Nature, The Sacred Feminine. As the artist delves deeper into these concepts, there emerges a body of work, delicately nuanced and loaded with fine imagery.

Jayasri says about this body of works, “Birth is the beginning of life. The origin of a journey, from a mysterious somewhere. The Feminine creates the power to transform the present into the future. She knows she is the beginning and the end. Her mystery is ever-changing and beyond comprehension. There is nothing beyond her. She is the nurturer of the cradle of birth, this Earth. The Feminine is what carries away the suffering of the world, and weaves into it an enigmatic cleansing to return it to the world as life – the force of continuity. The earth carries in her soul the power of regeneration, ensuring the return of spring every year, the return of sleep, of rest, of peace. The world breathes out of her cornucopia of strength. That is what is essentially feminine.”

As part of this exhibition, Art Musings has published a monograph authored by poet and cultural theorist Ranjit Hoskote, featuring an essay along with some of the author’s poems, specially written in response to this body of works by Burman.

In the art of Jayasri Burman, nature is treated as a generative Feminine, a principle of creativity, a source of strength that can absorb all shock and trauma while yet expressing itself through a plenitude of organic expressions: an abundance of water, an efflorescence of plant forms, a diversity of animal life. In personifying these powers of primal regeneration, Jayasri reaches for the archetypes of the Devi in her various aspects, as Bhoomi or earth, Prakriti or nature, Srishti or the environment, Bija or seed. We have gathered all these aspects together, in this exhibition of new works, under the sign of Dhārā, which means flow, currency, fluency; a word that enjoys a pleasing and playful linguistic relationship with Dhara, the stable one who sustains all, another name for the Earth in the abundant Sanskrit repertoire.

Jayasri’s Dhārā summons us to an awareness of the vulnerability of a planet that has always given more than it has taken; a planet whose powers of self-regeneration we have taken cruelly for granted. In her evocations of nature as the Feminine, we may discern such mythic exemplars as the yakshi, the shala-bhanjika and the matrika, nature spirits who protect water sources, groves and the magic of language; we sense, in these compelling figures, the presence of the Devi. Through Jayasri’s forms of re-enchantment, we begin to make our way back to a more equitable and sustainable form of living with nature, living in nature, living as nature.”

(Excerpt from the monograph by Ranjit Hoskote)

IAF, Installation View - Shilo Shiv Suleman

India Art Fair
Various Artist
09 Feb – 12 Feb 2023

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Art Musings participated in the 2023 edition of the India Art Fair, Booth, showcasing works by 6 leading artists. The line-up included Sakti Burman, Baiju Parthan, Maya Burman, Gopikrishna & Shilo Shiv Suleman, along with a solo space displaying works by French artist Maïté Delteil.

Works by Indian master artist Sakti Burman featured a suite of small canvas paintings that seem to exist in a world of reverie and fantasia populated by mythic beings. Multi-media artist Baiju Parthan presented an immersive triptych, ‘A Rose is a Rose is a Rose’The artist used the quote as a springboard to make a philosophical reflection on three distinct spaces of world-views that are mutually exclusive, but overlap in our present everyday experience. France based artist Maya Burman’s watercolour panels, peopled by pneumatic figures, depicted in moments of play and festivity expressive of an abundant joie de vivre. Maya’s characters live in a dreamlike fairyland, rife with mythology and metaphor. A consummate storyteller, Gopikrishna peoples his surrealist universe with myriad creatures and characters, each conveying their own subtle wisdom. Gopikrishna’s vocabulary draws on a multitude of sources – on the occult manuscript, the folktale, the Tamil theatre backdrop, and the Kerala temple painting tradition. In a series of paintings and sculptures inspired by her time living in Balinese forests, artist Shilo Shiv Suleman reclaimed Eden as existing here on earth, in all its imperfections. Laced with medicinal plants, it reminds us of the alchemy of the earth. The archetypal images of Eden are immutable and everywhere- serpent, tree, fig leaf, fall.

Art Musings also presented a solo exhibit of Maïté Delteil, accompanied by a new book ‘As the Seasons Turn and Return, The Sky’, authored by Ranjit Hoskote. Maïté’s oil on canvas works play with scale, as she dwells on fruits, flowers, and birds with a miniaturist’s love of jewel-like detail. Maïté’s palette is scrumptious; glowing reds, pollen-bright yellows, candied pinks, lambent blues and succulent greens. These paintings emerge at the cusp between landscape and still life, between nature and nature morte. The book invites the reader into survey of Delteil’s practice, which now extends across seven decades, and celebrates the artist in her ninetieth year. Hoskote situates Delteil’s work in the contexts of the classical genres and their transformation, European modernism, and the transcultural experience of living and working both in France and India.