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Curator of the Month by

Lina Vincent

Curator Speaks: “The representation of the body has been central to art’”

About the Curator

Lina Vincent, an independent art historian and curator with two decades of experience in arts management, will take us through a journey of art through her perspective for the coming two months. She is committed to socially engaged practices that reflect in the multi-disciplinary projects she has developed and participated in. The focus areas of her research include arts education, printmaking history and practice, the documentation of living traditions, and environmental consciousness in the arts. She recently worked on an Archival Museum Fellowship from the India Foundation for the Arts and runs the Goa Familia archival photography project with the Serendipity Arts Foundation. She initiated and headed the Piramal Residency Artist Incubator Programme 2019-20. Lina has curated numerous exhibitions with galleries across India and contributes to publications on art history and contemporary cultural practices. Lina has a bachelor's degree in printmaking and a master's in Art History from Bangalore University (2001).

Curator Note

Today, we are looking at our bodies differently – the nearness of sickness and mortality, the significant shifts in our social interactions, and the formal masking that we have to sheathe ourselves with, has changed perceptions of the body – singularly and collectively. In this altered state, expressions, gestures, and non-verbal communications of all sort have come to symbolise deeper meanings. Another aspect of this time is the compression of all images into screens of different sizes – this virtual reality has become an alternate world, one that simulates and stands proxy to the tangible, terrestrial world that we long for.

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Historically, the representation of the body has been central to art. It has transitioned widely over the ages, and through varied socio-cultural eras; from the depiction of divinity in human form, to greater realism in capturing the essence of flesh-and-blood beings, and still later, a gradual articulation of expressive, emotional and psychological factors that continue in the realm of conceptual and performative practices.

In a bid to engage with a group of artists using figuration as a thematic exploration within their practices, this compilation of paintings, drawings, printmaking, sculpture and mixed media work puts the Body, as a site of communication and expression, at the forefront. The exhibition traces the artists’ varied motivations and choices, both formal and conceptual, when it comes to the presentation of a human form or its parts. The body becomes a conduit for talking about the self or other; private or community experience. Some artists employ the body as a tool to address issues of gender, class and race; others treat it as a metaphor for matters of more philosophical or abstract understanding.

THE SELF: Using the Self as a central protagonist, Kanika Shah explores her existence as a woman, the lone figure often placed in a contemplative stance. Employing both printmaking and painting, she produces evocative compositions that juxtapose intimate spaces and imaginary ones. In a similar vein, Jigna Gaudana creates essences of her innermost thoughts, digging into memory and personal experience in her depictions of self. Her paintings articulate a wide range of emotions, desires, and concerns. Exploring the journey of the human mind, body, and soul, Sonali Laha uses herself as an intermediary in her distinctive visual language. Working organically in layers, the notions of revelation and concealment become her devices in narration. Suvendu Bhandari’s art practice revolves around an experiential investigation of his own anxieties and uncertainties in life. His sensitive water colour imagery becomes symbolic of deeply personal stories. In her stoneware ceramic sculptures, Anju Paliwal reflects on the body as a sacred vessel, and articulates the necessity of a conversation with the self in order to churn out negativity.

SOCIAL COMMENTARY: Baisakhi Mehatori studies and translates human behaviour within her paintings that are executed in a characteristic monochromatic palette. The personifications, and disembodied arms and legs become signifiers of greater social narratives. Constructing intense spaces of light and dark in the etching medium, Durga Das gives vision to suffering and anxiety in society, caused by natural and other causes. Tarun Sharma injects his art with an element of social responsibility – he observes and documents instances of distress and discrimination among the lesser privileged, often following it up with positive action. In a connected sphere of understanding, Tribhuvan Kumar creates imagery that significantly focuses on the persona of the everyday labourer who exists within the multiple layers of any city or town. Keerti Pooja’s intricate depictions of workers and vendors in the market grow out her interest in the human condition. She is interested in concepts of labour, migration and farming practices that underlie a city’s life. Creating intrinsically stylised characters, Dhanu Prasad documents people like fortune tellers, pandits, fakirs, yogis and others regularly found at places of pilgrimage. Using charcoal black against vivid flat backgrounds, he creates interesting contrasts. Vasavi Medisetty is deeply interested in public life and human appearances; she has done a series on the life of Muslim women and the varied nuances of their attire and presence.

INTERDEPENDENCE: In Veena Singh’s stoneware and porcelain works, slender forms inhabit aesthetically created tableaus, each element or form in a perfectly balanced relationship with the other. The medium clay for her has limitless potential. Sachin Nimbalkar articulates society’s discomfort with the idea of nudity and erotic subject matter; his mixed media print-based works often contain stylistic representations of physical love and exaggerated notions of the sensuous body. Sculptor Rohan Pawar consciously identifies with the interrelationships formed between humans, nature and objects. He is inspired by his environment, and everything he comes across in producing his dynamic and finely constructed artwork. For Shahnawaz Siddiqui, an internal questioning process and dissent against conventional norms injects his collage work with unusual juxtapositions and hybrid forms. These visual soliloquies symbolise his personal search for truth.

HUMOUR AND SATIRE: Shivkumar Soni translates the playfulness and innocence of childhood memories into brightly coloured representations. His paintings are light-hearted, inducing a viewer to experience gentle humour set in fantasy. Jimmy Khatri’s fluid dry-point prints reflect his deep commitment to linear energies. A distinctive combination of humour and pathos, and absurdity, comes through within the imagery, as do other contradictions of human life. Animesh Mahata infuses his observations of the world, and elements of his personal experiences, with a doze of humour; these then are translated into sculptural forms in different media. Art for him is life. Vitesh Naik explores his inner and outer world through the process of drawing and painting. Elements of irony and satire are devices that characterise the way he looks at human situations, frequently drawn from autobiographical experiences.

THE EXPRESSIVE BEING: Studying the face, and bodily posture as an indicator of emotion and innermost experience, Charudatt Pande traces mundane lives in society, those often left unnoticed and uncherished in an imbalanced world. Expressionism suits Ramesh Garawad’s sensibilities, and he believes that every raw element of joy and pain can be experienced through his art. With exaggerated features and expressions, the faces float across abstract picture-planes. Abhijit Nigade also articulates his varied reactions to people and situations around him, as well as an intensely personal self-discovery. His drawings and sculptures tend towards portraiture, capturing extreme moments of feeling. Portraying elements of life’s challenges as well as human struggle and perseverance, Ritesh Rajput creates dramatic sculptural tableaus that generate a spontaneous connection with a viewer. Rashmita Kanojia investigates the feelings of loneliness, trust, love and endurance through her work. Particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic, the expression of isolation, distance, and support are paramount experiences that she depicts.

In these altered times, the idea of visceral connections and physical touch, terrestrial flesh-and-blood forms, and the notion of unfettered togetherness and the warmth of humanity beckons us. The compilation invites viewers to enter into the many worlds these artists bring to being, and to contemplate the myriad meanings that visuals of the body can engender. It is a body of hope, and open to interpretation.

Lina Vincent
Artist and Curator.