Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Collective Studio: Lecture by Indrapramit Roy

The Collective Studio will be presenting

The Light within: Paintings of Rabindranath

An illustrated lecture by Indrapramit Roy

on Saturday the 19th of March 2011 at 6 pm

Venue: Surendran Nair's Studio

C-1 Oasis- Behind Essar Petrol Pump – Sama Savli Road - Baroda

RSVP -98240 69767

Synopsis of the presentation

Amongst all the creative fields that Rabindranath ventured in

with his Midas- touch, painting was the last. It is common

knowledge that he got started while graphically playing

with the marks and scratches in his manuscript and gave

them decorative shapes. These ‘doodles’ were a case of making

virtue out of defect.

His first attempts at painting were tentative and

full of self-doubt but very soon he was making

much more ambitious works. They included abstract

shapes, portraits, human figures, figure-groups with

architectural elements, landscapes, flora and fauna both

observed and fantastic. Rabindranath’s maturation from a

‘timorous amateur’ to a confident and sophisticated explorer

of the realm of the visual happened in a surprisingly short span of time.

Despite being an early champion of Raja Ravi Varma

and subsequently the Bengal school in his own works

Tagore kept studiously away from the trappings of both

literary content and the nationalistic concerns of his peers. His technique,

theme and approach were fresh, unsentimental, unorthodox and modern.

The presentation will delve into the specifics of these with the help of


Indrapramit Roy is an artist who currently teaches at the painting department in the Faculty of Fine Arts M.S University of Baroda. He studied printmaking (BFA) at the Visva-Bharati University of Santiniketan and painting (MFA) at the Faculty of Fine Arts of M.S. University of Baroda, India. Subsequently he was awarded the Inlaks Scholarship to study MA Painting (1990-92) at the Royal College of Art, London, which also included a term each at Cite des Arts, Paris and Hochschule der Kunst, Berlin. He has shown extensively in Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Bangalore and Chennai. He has 15 solo exhibitions and over 70 group shows to his credit. He also designs books. His illustrations include ‘Antigone’, ‘King Oedipus’, ‘Bacchae’ and ‘Hippolytus’: four retellings of Greek tragedies produced by Tara publishing, Chennai and published by the Getty Museum, Los Angeles. ‘Antigone’ won the best book design award in New York book fair, 2002 and ‘Bacchae’ got the Association of American Museum Publishers’ Award in 2005. ‘Hungry Lion’ published by Annick press, Canada won the Alcuin Award in 1998.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Feminine Syntax : Personal Biographies - Curator's Statement

Feminine Syntax : Personal Biographies is an intimate space of reflection and consideration that desires to hold dear the personal and the fragile, within an art environment that has increasingly begun to impose the demands for grand and epic proclamations.

Like the weaving of a tapestry, the many different threads that knot and come together are what finally make for a complete picture; and as lives interweave too, these spaces of communion hold exquisite value. Feminine sensibility in art is often from those territories that engage with the politics of gender and which chart a history that is crucial to contextualizing self representations.

The six artists are acutely conscious of the collective histories that that they choose to belong to and which may be viewed as the legacies of feminist discourse. Nuanced and evocative, their works imbibe oral histories of a multicultural social milieu which become the stage of greater elaboration and interventions. Shared associations, conflicts, parallel histories and cultural investigations - all wrapped in the pursuit of a visual language, have distilled to articulate passages of contemporary existence for these six women.

Kim Kyoungae, Lee Hayan and Kim Seola are from South Korea, whilst Karishma D’souza and Sonatina Mendes are from Goa; and Malavika Rajnarayan is from Bangalore- all who now currently reside in Baroda. Coming from multiple locations, Baroda becomes a site of collective journeys converging.

Rekha Rodwittiya

Curator of the exhibition

Feminine Syntax : Personal Biographies - Sonatina Mendes

Echoes of a whisper

Dreams, for me are realities. Realities that unless given physical shape can become engulfing secrets. I believe that there are muffled mysteries waiting to be uncovered in seemingly insignificant and ordinary spaces of time.

Painting is a channel through which I can speak about areas of intimacy, of identity, of desire and of longing. Skins of colour often are like veils that though are added on in the painterly process, become for me like attempts at deciphering the truth. My intention is to suggest and not to impose an atmosphere that has the feeling of a faint, queer touch of the unattainable. ..Like the need for a warm blanket to a quivering, cold body…Like the assurance of the existence of fairies in a mound of sand to an innocent, unsuspecting child.

The brush of an artist has the ability to deliver so much of tenderness and emotion with a single, whispering stroke…Like the soft mumblings of love whispered into the ear of the shy beloved…Like silent mystical light that pours and floods into a room when a heavy curtain is drawn open…Like a prayer.

“If a chip of stone radiates itself, its breath, so long, how stubborn might be the soul. If sound waves carry on to infinity where are their screams now? I imagine them somewhere in the galaxy, moving forever towards the psalms.”

-Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces

The pleasure and delight of painting equally corresponds to the anxiety and unease that it can evoke. Maybe that is why the language of art has no given words and its ways of arrival at a particular destination are never pre-decided.

I feel intrigued by the immense possibilities of the translation of the infinite.

Sonatina Mendes


Feminine Syntax : Personal Biographies - Malavika Rajnarayan

Under one sky

I am told of an ancient proverb, which says that every time you make tea, even if you make it only once, you must make it like you would for the last time. The beauty of many such proverbs lies in their power to nudge our minds into thinking about how we define ourselves. Much of every day’s occurrences present me with questions and wonderment, urging me to find explanations or rationales that hold meaning. I am in a space of consideration when I paint; in a conversation with myself. What I perceive and how I assimilate meanings from the utterances of one day gets calibrated the very next day.

Each time I step out onto a street, my eyes observe and record incidental details that may initially not be of any consequence. Sometimes, I carry back with me sights that exude an intensity of experience, lingering in my mind for many days for better comprehension; and at other times, I may come across a visual that sets off an endless chain of associations and evocations. Walking through a crowded lane in a city, I am often confronted by the fact that ideas of home and an outer world, private and public, are all blurred into one. It seems to take only a fleeting moment, which can make the beginnings of a painting. What do I pick from all that I see under this vast sky?

An elaborate rack hangs in the garage of my parents’ home, with multiple slots, slits and holes of different sizes to suit a range of chisels, screwdrivers, pliers, files, hammers, and pincers, forming a curtain of sharpened instruments to assist one in achieving precision in engineering devices. Another room has beautifully hand-crafted musical instruments that allow one to enhance experiences by exploring the imaginative realm. Scientific rationale and the poetics of imagination hold equal fascination for me as I mediate with my reality. I juggle with both as I create apparent narratives in order to evoke an instance from myriad encounters.

The joy of being an artist lies in being able to redefine my philosophies and refine my communication with this world by constantly seeking out the magical from the ordinary. What began as a passion for drawing and painting is turning out to be a much larger sphere of discovery through the human spirit.

The story that I tell is not the story that you perceive, for it is only a murmur; the story that it tells you is one that is only yours and only everyone else’s who wish to make it theirs.

Malavika Rajnarayan


Feminine Syntax : Personal Biographies - Lee Hayan

Jottings from an invisible diary

In the middle of a fast passing day, standing and trying to catch the stories from here and there, becomes the fascination that feeds my imagination. School girls enjoying the end of school with ribbons hanging from their hair, a father and son going somewhere on a cycle, candies and roadside goodies hanging in laris on the street, people sipping an ardhi chai and sharing a cigarette between friends; all become subjects to be observed.

Without catching the spoken word or desiring to intentionally eavesdrop; the facial expressions, gestures and intonations suddenly place me into an orbit of belonging with them, engaging me to become a participant as an observer within their lives. Unrecognizable languages often become the barrier; yet it strangely does not become a factor of disconnect to the aspect of my belonging. Like solving a riddle; deciphering people’s expressions and observing minutely allows me to unintentionally fall into recollections and reminiscences. Memory meets with memory and moves further away from its initial moorings, making a space for alternative conjecture and new stories.

When I first arrived in India five years ago, I used to faithfully write a diary. I have however discontinued this practice for quite a while now. It is difficult to recall the memories of which there are no records; and though I promised myself on many occasions that I would return to this daily ritual, I finally relinquished the idea of reclaiming this methodology, realizing that it was the visual spaces of memory that conjured most vividly for me.

Between the passing of time and forgotten memories, and in an attempt to hold the reminiscences; I started these works. I wanted to keep the small and precious memories that have been buried in the course of my personal history alive. These works act as the catalyst of conveying; like a letter or a secret message to tell stories of another’s loved ones, or as threads of auto-biographical occurrences.

Like collecting sea-shells or drawing faces on the pebbles found in small streams, or my mother's music box melody; all these and other such incidental recollections are precious personal events that lie buried deep inside my psyche. These mentally archived images are retrieved, so that they then mingle with my present consciousness, to create significant new histories that alter and shift with the context of my own self-discoveries. Here there and everywhere lies a jigsaw puzzle world of fragments, memories, anecdotes and observations; and whether true or false, it ultimately delivers a world of reality for me.

Lee Hayan


Feminine Syntax : Personal Biographies - Kim Seola

When an image becomes a remembrance......

For me the desire to paint is what anchors me to art at all times, and which creates a connection to my existence and the world around me as I live today. Perhaps the act of painting (for me) suggests the potential ability to reclaim that essential factor of life where experience, perception and sensibility can converge to create a work in which the human spirit of life becomes the pivotal focus, and which records time by the interpretations we give to it.

In the contemporary context of an art practice today diversity is what I believe allows individuality and difference to exist. What engages me as an Asian artist are those elements that retain the primeval force and influence art within societies, and which in later times becomes a collective legacy to all. Awareness of the self and one’s surroundings filter such influences of impact for me, and are what holds my own desire to locate myself in India currently.

That the most trifling of occurrences or the most mundane of objects like dry leaves, or the discarded and forgotten, all become worthy as emblems that can hold memory and which reveal. It is this that feeds the imagery in my paintings, where the form gets transposed and meanings get altered through the designation of purpose that they become invested with.

Kim Seola


Feminine Syntax : Personal Biographies - Kim Kyoungae

Threading Waves

“The drop grows happy by losing itself in the river.

A pain when beyond human range becomes something else.”

When the sky clears, Ghalib (Translated by Robert Bly and Sunil Dutta)

Sound is a volume; trickling, dripping, wavering, piercing (or the many ways of defining sounds attached to tracing its origin). How do I trace a distant sound, its movement, intensity and definitiveness, to evolve the same as a space within me? Here I disclose a practice that I love to undertake – of choosing, extracting, and refining a sound that creates a sequential space within my mind. What follows may not explain my paintings as visual constructs, but unveil layers that define depth in my works.

I begin as an initial step, from the depth of darkness towards light- evolving intervening surfaces; from ignorance towards acknowledgement, or simply from a question of the pigment, as to what it can explain.

I like the practice of viewing; the ritual of opening books, maybe even upside down, to challenge what has become the set notion of “correctness”; like with the delicate drawings and prints of Ernst Heckle or with Barnett Newman’s paintings, as the existential need to question meaning through process-based works.

I often begin a day with looking out of the window of my sixth floor studio. What gets chosen to be viewed and what gets ignored by accident; what I return to view again, and what I eliminate, is all a part of the process of making a work of art for me. Colour tones ripen to allow a subtle exit or an entry into my paintings; paying heed that the edges conform to their own needs. Colours define architectural spaces; sunk in solitude. I knew the person who lived there, now there is no one; yet there is a tree bursting with life and energy under the blazing sun.

I could not ignore the empty window, sullen, yet traversing the monsoon like an insisting island, and as the monsoon passed it eloped from the mind. I come across what I had seen three years ago in the same town; its eroding quality encapsulating time and becoming one with the surroundings. I enter into nature, a cyclical experience of piercing time and healing itself, and again erupting from nothingness. I appreciate this very rhythm, this harmony that one lives with, within mundane surroundings.

An interpretation of Kim Kyoungae’s writings by Shubhalakshmi Shukla


Feminine Syntax : Personal Biographies - Karishma D'souza

Balancing Act

‘Sometimes when one is moving silently through such an utterly desolate landscape, an overwhelming hallucination can cause one to feel that oneself, as an individual human being, is slowly unravelling. The surrounding space is so vast that it becomes more and more difficult to keep a balanced grip on one’s own being.’

Haruki Murakami ‘The Wind-up bird Chronicle’

In certain circumstances or situations, one can travel beyond oneself to look at the familiar clinically, which finally allows one to be closer to the self. My art practice is often such a space for me, allowing me to revisit feelings that linger from a memory, while grappling with the elements that make up a painting- and how one creates a visual; being a space where I can pay homage to something; communicate with someone who has repeatedly given unconditionally; hold the dialogue.

The most precious thing in life is the sharing of the spirit, and that no one lives in isolation.

In my work I try to reach out with a tweezer and pick out these wispy, seemingly ephemeral and easily dissolvable, points of connection, sentences of conversation, that hover and float, morph and regroup to their original shape continuously in the stratosphere of memories of my lived experiences; and the experiences of others that leave imprints on one through a retelling; experiences that are relived as often as they are retold. I would see these paintings as a response for me being reached out to, for the light that is often shone for one while groping in the dark.

The quote regarding the possibility that through forgetting one is doomed to repeat the same mistakes, rings often for me. The imagery in these paintings are also reminders for myself – warnings of the follies of life, carried in Sufi poetry, in biblical quotes, in the poems of Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Yehuda Amichai, Edgar Allen Poe and T.S.Eliot, in the writings of Ben Okri and Haruki Murakami.

In some of these paintings the landscape or the ‘setting’ is the primary subject or focus, where the figure or details, assist the exact atmosphere one wants to communicate. In others the painting is built up to act as a ‘setting’ for the intention, which lies in the details. The paintings are pictorial diaristic notes, or documents, which speak about what I have been most impacted by in life’s encounters.

Karishma D’souza


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Exhibition at Lemongrasshopper, Ahmedabad

Feminine Syntax : Personal Biographies, an exhibition of six artists curated by Rekha Rodwittiya for Lemongrasshopper, Ahmedabad opened on the 27th February 2011.

Theen Tamasha and Friends- Kim Kyoungae, Malavika Rajnarayan, Sonatina Mendes, Karishma D'souza, Kim Seola and Lee Hayan are the six artists in this exhibition. The paintings by all these artists that are presented in this show can be viewed at Lemongrasshopper's website. You can also view photographs from the exhibition on