Thursday, October 21, 2010

Solo showcase of ceramics and paintings by Adil Writer

Textured with feeling The Hindu October 20, 2010 SRAVASTI DATTA
Renowned artist Adil Writer uses sand and clay to render a tactile element to his paintings
Meet Adil Writer. He is a renowned Auroville-based artist with an important mission: to bridge the gap between paintings and high temperature ceramics. He knows his stuff and is quick to correct any misconception you might have about art: […]
Sitting on a potter's wheel and throwing clay on it is both a creative and a spiritual experience for Adil. He is loath to categorise art into watertight compartments. “There is no differentiation between art and craft. It's all kalaa. In schools, art and craft are taught separately. We should sensitise young artists that no such distinctions exist,” says Adil.
Adil has had a number of successful exhibitions of his works nationally and internationally.
This month, Bangaloreans can look forward to his solo exhibition “Treasures” which will have on display ceramic works and paintings. An interesting part of the exhibition is that it will feature miniature treasure boxes made of a variety of clays that are “small, intimate objects that want to be held, you can discover hidden secrets within”. You can also “cradle them, turn them around and explore”. His paintings of acrylic on canvas will also be on display. Some of these paintings are categorised as “painted media” that essentially started out as “bad' pixelated pictures on phone cameras, then got edited, later printed on canvas, stretched on wooden frames, and finally painted upon, almost to a point where the original photographic images are past-life memories.
On October 23, a workshop “Fun with clay” will be held. “You don't have to be a potter or an artist to participate. Besides, it's going to be seriously fun,” Adil says with a smile. Prior registration is required. There will be a charge of Rs. 2,200. All material for the workshop will be provided.
“Treasures” will be on display at Gallery Time and Space, 55, Lavelle Road from October 21 to 30 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Call: 22124117.
Treasures, a solo showcase of ceramics and paintings by Auroville-based artist, Adil Writer will be on display at Gallery Time & Space.

Friday, September 24, 2010

How language came into being from the nervous system of the human body

THEORY NOW by (Mark Cameron Boyd)
Thank you, Ms. Lipinski, for the invitation to attend the exhibition of Mr. Boyd's work and help panel a discussion related to the show. I would be honored to accept. I am not sure, however, if I would be a voice that would celebrate the kind of approach that this show intends. I look forward to seeing the work myself before I draw any conclusions. In general, though I feel I should admit my own bias: especially when it comes to the topic of Divinity, I find art that is used as a tool of philosophy ends up as limited art and limited philosophy. This begs many questions, I know, like are art and philosophy mutually exclusive, etc. and we could discuss this, but God and art are matters of the heart, for me, and not of the head, and so other faculties of knowing than the intellect are engaged in a primary way. You may know from Nora that I am a sculptor as well as a PhD candidate in Religion and Culture and my work deals in issues of devotion to God, so I feel I could contribute to this discussion from both an academic and artistic perspective. My academic work is based on the thought and legacy of Sri Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950), an Indian who was a revolutionary, poet, thinker, yogi and teacher.
Knowing all this (and I am sorry to be so disorganized in my thoughts), if you still would like to have me on your panel, I would be delighted to contribute. Thanks again for the email and give my very best to Nora. Patrick 
 Dear Mark,
I too am teaching these days, all day on Wednesdays. So, I am glad to get your response and have a chance to reply. It has me thinking more of the connections I see between Derrida, et al. and different understandings of the silence as experienced and addressed in mystical traditions. To deconstruct language is to expose it to that silence that is broken up by words and sounds--by noise. I have more experience in Christian, Sufi and Hindu worldviews of mysticism so I would approach it from these angles. That "there is nothing but the text" is not the experience of those in these traditions, but there is some overlap I think.
The Hindu-based thinker I am writing my dissertation on is Sri Aurobindo Ghose (d. 1950), who has an interesting view of language. He knew Vedic and classical Sanskrit (among about ten other languages, both Western and Eastern) and saw an evolution of how language came into being from the nervous system of the human body such that the meaning and the word used for it were organically connected, where it was not arbitrary but a natural linkage, I suppose totally onomatopoetic. I have been studying Sanskrit myself and one can see there the way it preserves this kind of consciousness in its root words, which can actually feel like they sound and feel like they mean.
Gradually (and this has been the case for most of recorded history in his view) language came to be abstracted such that ideas/meanings had nothing whatsoever to do with the word used and they were linked conventionally. I will leave our conversation for November but I liked very much how you made clear the connection between Heidegger and Derrida. That was not so conscious before for me. I wish you the best of success as you continue to build your show. Cheers, Patrick
A Modern Meditation on The Five Proofs of God: The Art of Mark Cameron Boyd; An exhibition at Salve Regina Gallery, Catholic University of America, November 11-December 17, 2010. POSTED BY MARK CAMERON BOYD AT 4:17 PM

Monday, June 07, 2010

Timeless Deities: An Invocation to the Spirit of the Ancient Mother

To Shri Tusar N Mohapatra, President, Savitri Era Party & Director,
Savitri Era Learning Forum
Dear Mr Mohapatra,
I am writing this to share a small project titled Timeless Deities: An Invocation to the Spirit of the Ancient Mother- these are paintings albeit symbolical ones that talk about the evolving consciousness in nature and about the cosmic love and the resurrection of it.  The series is, of course, inspired by Sri Aurobindo and Divine Mother,  it has one central image which is An Invocation to the Spirit that can be checked at:
The rest includes a. River-Ant b. Zen-Poet c.Grace-Eagle d. Snow-Cow
e. Time-Hen f. Wild-Horse g. Sky-Rat. and can be checked here:
I thought I should share this with you, hope you like it. Regards

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pastoral idyll are repeatedly painted or photographed by him

‘The Making of a Modern Indian Artist-Craftsman – Devi Prasad’: Naman Ahuja from Kafila This is a guest post by Naman Ahuja. Naman Ahuja teaches in the School of Art and Aesthetics, JNU 

As we move toward concretising a national policy on culture for a liberalised India, we can look upon the period from the 30s to the 60s with historical hindsight. Gandhian, and Tagorean definitions of cultural practice, even in the latter’s cosmopolitanism, was avowedly located in philosophical bases at the grassroots, with roots that stretched via Coomaraswamy and others to the context of the Arts and Crafts Movement.  The resulting ideology for artisanship and design was founded in a structure of educational pedagogy which certainly stands buried today, even if its mandate has not been achieved. […]

In her monumental 2005 exhibition at LACMA, Wendy Kaplan argues for a telling of Arts and Crafts history that shows the inexorable link between ‘Design and National Identity’ that arose from the philosophies of ‘Art and Industry’ and ‘Art and Life’.[1] As that exhibition’s catalogue demonstrates, in all countries involved, the idea of ‘the land’ was a potent force; one to be reclaimed as industry and urbanisation were destroying time honoured social modes and relations of production, and destroying also a pastoral (if, as some argue, a ‘medieval’) idyll, and equally, the currency of the Movement gained as the emerging ideas of ‘nationhood’ depended on holding on to some essential place considered the heart of the nation. Tagore and Gandhi both tried to locate that essential ‘place’ in their ideologies and in each of their ashrams – Santiniketan and Sevagram – places with which Devi Prasad was intimately connected. [Art, the basis of education (Creative learning series)]

Monday, March 08, 2010

Abanindranath's art was a hermeneutic negotiation between modernity and community

Friday, Feb 12, 2010
Debashish Banerji seeks to set the record straight about Abanindranath Tagore.

Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951), was the founder of a ‘national' school of Indian painting, popularly known as the Bengal School of Art. His admirers term him as the first modern Indian artist to have successfully inculcated among his illustrious students a sense of belonging and allegiance to the rich tradition of India's culture. But then, his legacy of artistic nation building is often debated.
Professor Debashish Banerji, the great-grandson of Abanindranath who teaches at the Pasadena City College and at the Department of Asian and Comparative Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, has attempted to provide a revisionary critique of the art of pioneering artist in his latest book, “The Alternate Nation of Abanindranath Tagore”. Published by Sage, this well researched book, illustrated with many of Abanindranath's creations, has created a debate in the art and history circles. Excerpts from an interview with the author:
Why a book on Abanindranath after such a long gap?
I have been working on it for over five years. I felt that the accusations on Abanindranath that he was precursor of an anti-colonial political revolution and being an elite artist, neglected the underclass or ‘subaltern' cultures, needs to be sorted out now.
How did you do that?
I have argued that the art of Abanindranath which developed as part of what has been called the Bengal Renaissance in the 19th to 20th centuries, was not merely a normalisation of nationalist or Orientalist principles. Instead, it was a hermeneutic negotiation between modernity and community. It worked towards the fashioning of an alternate nation which resisted the stereotyping of identity formation of the nation-state. I have established through his various plates that his art which was embedded in communitarian practices like kirtan, alpona, pet-naming, syncretism and storytelling through oral allegories, sought a social identity through dialogues within the inter-subjective contexts of locality, regionality, nationality and trans-nationality.
Are his works in suitable condition still? We don't get to see them anywhere.
That's the saddest part. I had very difficult time in picking his works. There is a private organisation run by a lawyer in Kolkata. It has shut his important works in a trunk in a dingy room which is never opened. These works hence don't get displayed and they have all got damaged inside.
I have also learnt that they extort money from those who come to see these works or take photographs. It is in a state of utter neglect. Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan, has some wooden toys he made towards the end of his life which are again inaccessible to commoners. Albert Museum in London has some of his letters that I could see.
Was he overshadowed by Rabindranath Tagore and his charismatic legacy?
I would say that he was well recognised within the country and especially Calcutta (then) but not in the school that developed around him which was marginalised. His making was sophisticated and he was immensely impressed by the style of Rabindranath, who introduced him to Y.B Yeats. What he felt about him is very clear in a ‘theatrical' portrait in which he gags his eyes and ears in 1929. He respected him but the portrait suggests he certainly felt the pinch. RANA SIDDIQUI ZAMAN

Monday, February 08, 2010

Debashish Banerji, great-grandson of the protean genius, Abanindranath Tagore

Shoe ad on Ram's slippers Calcutta Telegraph - Sunday , January 31 , 2010
The man who wrote Buro Angla and Kshirer Putul, and was an artist, also produced a jatra. It was a retelling of the Ramayana.
Abanindranath Tagore had called his take on our oldest epic Khuddur Jatra. The text, written between 1934 and 1942, draws on a multitude of images from the time, particularly from advertising, cinema and politics. What makes the manuscript special is the way he has added layers to the story by doodling and sketching on subjects as varied as fashion and natural history, and pasting whatever he fancied — emblems, labels, wrappers or advertisements.
The manuscript lay all this while with Abanindranath’s grandson Sumitendranath Tagore and then his wife Shyamashree. It has now surfaced in print courtesy Priyabrata Deb of Pratikshan.
The printed facsimile preserves the feel of the manuscript, including a folded flap. The pictures pasted on the sidelines provide commentary on the text and vice versa. “We can see the period through his work and his criticism of it,” said poet Sankha Ghosh at the launch.
Next to Ravana declaring war is a picture of Hitler. When Bharat carries his brother Ram’s wooden slippers on his head, he has an advertisement of Radu shoes for company. The shoe ads recur where Manthara, the scheming maid, exults over Ram’s expulsion. At the beginning of Lankakando is a picture of a chilli. Beside a page describing Ravana’s room are bathing beauties in a still from the 1926 film A Roman Scandal. Hanuman searches for Sita in Lanka next to a newspaper cutting with the heading “Information wanted”.
As art historian R. Siva Kumar said: “Everything about Abanindranath is happening late not because of weakness but because of the strength of his work. We are trying to match up to his concepts 70 years later.”
But one needs to sample how he has played with the language, giving it a lightness of touch and a flippancy of tone that underlines his irreverence. In one chapter, Sushen, the physician, enquires on the state of soldiers wounded in war and is told by Jamboban how all are cringing at the arrows like caterpillars. Says Jamboban: “Ar khobor, baney baney sobai gutishuti gutipokar baba shuopokar borabor…
“There is scope for research on the interrelation between picture and text or even what the pictures stand for,” feels Samik Bandyopadhyay, who has provided an English commentary and a shortened translation. There is also a transcript of the hand-written text.
Man who wrote pictures
The school of art that Abanindranath Tagore founded had too many facets to be just labelled “Bengal School”. Debashish Banerji, great-grandson of the protean genius, who described himself as the “man who wrote pictures”, argues in his book, The Alternate Nation of Abanindranath Tagore, that “the art of Abanindranath, developed during the Bengal Renaissance in the 19th-20th centuries, was not merely a normalisation of national or oriental principle, but conducted a critical engagement with post-Enlightenment modernity and post-colonialism,” to quote the press release.
The book, brought out by Sage Publications, was released on Thursday evening at the Oxford Bookstore by Tapati Guha Thakurta, a professor at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Calcutta.
Guha Thakurta said with the recent publication of several new books on him in English, Abanindranath was enjoying a wider audience today, and he was being “relocated” beyond the nationalist framework.
The later Abanindranath of the 1930-51 was a complex figure who was outside the public domain, although the Jorasanko household itself was like a small township. Banerji, who is a professor of Indian Studies and the educational coordinator of the University of Philosophical Research, Los Angeles, read out a section of the book in which he analysed Abanindranath’s painting of Sindbad. SUDESHNA BANERJEE

Georgina Maddox  IE »  Story: Thursday , Feb 04, 2010

Of the three prolific Tagore siblings Rabindranath, Gaganindranath and Abanindranath, the latter’s work is perhaps the least applauded. In fact, art historians like Ananda Coomarayswamy who wrote in the ‘50s and ‘60s slotted Abanindranath’s Bengal Renaissance as quaintly Revivalist. Now a new book titled The Alternate Nation of Abanindranath Tagore, authored by Debashish Banerji, also his grandson and published by Sage at Rs 995, explores his work again.
“The Colonialist reading of art done in the Pre-Swadeshi period thrust upon us a certain preference for the masculine brand of nationalism: something that was not sentimental about the past,” says Banerji. It is perhaps ironic we are discussing this at Delhi’s Imperial Hotel that celebrates the Raj through its wonderfully nostalgic interiors.
“The style fostered by Abanindranath was marginalised and given a very narrow reading,” says the 53-year-old art professor who teaches in Pasadena City College in Los Angeles. The book is not for the layperson and does not fall in the coffee table category either. It’s for those interested in either history or art. However given that there are fewer books that attempt to reclaim our histories, it is an essential piece of scholarship.
To put it very simply, the book attempts to reclaim Abanindranath’s space on the stage of those who contributed to an emerging Independent India. “Abanindranath may have been sidelined for his miniatures on the Arabian Nights since it reinforced the one nation theory of India and Pakistan,” contemplates Banerji. “His painting Bharat Mata was first known as Bongo Mata of the Sakti cult. Abanindranath was a Neo Vendantist and a Sufi, not orthodox and believed in the fluidity of religion,” says Banerji.
While Banerji met Manindranath, Tagore’s youngest son and his uncle, and gleaned details of his grandfather’s personality, he also had to keep a distance as a scholar while approaching the artist’s work critically. “Abanindranath was very introverted but he was also observant and took in details of the world around him,” says Banerji.
We wind up with a final glimpse at Tagore’s painting Last Days of Shah Jehan a painting that has often been described as romantic but is layered with a comment on India’s pluralism. “Let us not forget that Shah Jehan had a Mughal father and a Rajput mother,” concludes Banerji.

Spirit of love and family bonding Calcutta Telegraph - BOOK READING
January 28 at Oxford Bookstore, Park Street; 6.30 pm: Oxford Bookstore and Sage Publications host a book-reading session on The Alternate Nation of Abanindranath Tagore by Dr Debashish Banerji, to be followed by a panel discussion with Prof. Tapati Guha Thakurta.
Fashion for a cause Calcutta Telegraph - Jan 29, 2010
January 30 at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, 8 Shakespeare Sarani; 6.15 pm: Dr Debashish Banerjee will speak on Sri Aurobindo’s Record of Yoga: Shakti Chatusthaya and The Mother

Thursday, January 28, 2010

As passive spectators we risk consumerist oppression

Jacques Rancière (Author), Gregory Elliot (Translator)
Following up on his acclaimed work The Future of the Image, Rancière explores the meaning of critical art and suggests how we may overcome the potential trap of being a spectator. As passive spectators, he argues, we risk consumerist oppression and an upheaval of social relations. Suggesting a more active part in the process of observation, Rancière reveals how we may affirm the status of spectatorship and build upon it. In our contemporary age of mass visual media, Rancière’s lucid perspective stands alone in a sea of trivializing critiques of spectacle.