Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The following images are the recent works by Malavika Rajnarayan. Click on the images to view them larger.
More of the artist's works and information about the artist can be viewed on the introduction page of the blog and the website of Anant Art Gallery and of curator Jasmine Shah Varma.

"The Spoken"
Acrylic on canvas, 2008
5' X 2.5'

"The Heard"
Acrylic & Oil on canvas, 2008
5' X 2.5'

"The Seen"
Acrylic on canvas, 2008
5' X 2.5'

Oil on canvas
2' X 2' , 2008

Oil on canvas
1' X 1', 2008

Speak Space: Impact of a chanced encounter

Sonatina Mendes and I made a short trip to Bombay with our artist friend Karishma Dsouza, to see an exhibition of contemporary art from Africa at the Sakshi Gallery.

The migration of African people to India dates back to the 7th century C.E, when the first Siddis arrived on the port of Bharuch in Gujarat. Although they adopted the language and culture of the surroundings, they retained certain aspects of their African cultural heritage, that are seen even today in their dance and drumming performances.

The exhibition —"Chance Encounters" at Sakshi gallery can be seen as a continuation of the cultural dialogue that can be traced from centuries ago, between Africa and India. Curated by Bisi Silva, the director and founder of the Centre for Contemporary Art in Lagos, this exhibition brings together 7 artists from different parts of Africa, each using a medium that is entirely different from the others and presenting to the Indian audience a powerful expression of their cultural identity. Okhai Ojeikere, Miriam Mihindou and Uche Iroha use photography to present powerful and evocative images that inquire into African identity and socio-political issues via the performed and the real scenarios. El Anatsui and Nnenna Okore chose objects and materials from their everyday existence to create sculptural installations, which on the one hand speak of the impact of consumerism and on the other hand make references to their own cultural traditions like weaving. Safaa Erruas' monochromatic line drawings and installations exemplify a feminine sensibility and investigate complex feelings of pain and pleasure in a minimalistic language. Berry Bickle uses documentation and personal records as a starting point in her work, which question social history and colonization.

Although the works from this exhibition can be viewed on the gallery's website, I do believe that, like most exhibitions, this too demands a physical tour around the gallery!

Malavika Rajnarayan

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Speak Space: In-between the lines

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s first novel ‘Purple Hibiscus’  has impacted me by the tenderness with which it conveys a story about oppression. One can trace the preoccupations of this African writer, which revisit evocations of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, by her choosing to examine the personal histories of women and the political turmoil of her country - Nigeria.    

Set in the 1980s, the story unfolds the vulnerabilities of a teenage girl, Kambili, who is brought up under the dictates of her tyrannical father and how she discovers a completely new world of empowerment when she goes to spend a short vacation with her aunt who teaches at the university. Kambili’s voice seems to echo the voices of many young women around the world who seek emancipation from patriarchal strongholds. Her personal dreams and struggles become a metaphor for the larger socio-political dream that the author desires for her country; raking up issues of violence against women, lack of basic education and the denial of basic human rights like equality and freedom of speech. This book is about building strength and endurance; starting from within the confines of the family, percolating to the rest of the society. I found it particularly relevant to countries that are derailed by corrupt administration, where injustice is validated in the name of safe-guarding one’s religious principles or by imposing cultural/moral high-ground. 

Malavika Rajnarayan