Gallery Espace is pleased to announce Rooted, the first in a new series called 'Curators Pick' being instituted to mark its 30th year. 'Curator's Pick', which will be held once every two years, will invite senior artists to curate works by upcoming artists, with the objective of encouraging fresh talent and introducing art enthusiasts and collectors to new age art. This first edition will have two curators—senior art practitioners and academicians, Kristine Michael and Paula Sengupta—presenting five young artists. The works of the senior artists will also feature alongside.
I have known Khokan Giri and Harendra Kushwahaas students at Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, where I teach.
Khokan hails from the coastal region of Digha in Bengal, growing up amongst a community of boatmen and fisher folk. Objects such as boats, fishing traps, nets and other implements, that are the means of livelihood of this coastal community, constitute his visual vocabulary. He developed a unique vision of these mundane objects, viewing them as magnificent architectonic constructions, rather than as humble fisherman's tools. Breaking through their interwoven skeletons, he creates ephemeral optical illusions that converge and diverge like the ebb and flow of the tide itself. Building his etching plate like a sculptural metascape, Khokan uses dense aquatints towards controlled chiaroscuros. The resultant effect in the print is high ridges on the paper created by the deep embosses in the plate, offset further by the dark, dissolving aquatints.
Harendra Kushwaha constructs from paper, and sometimes from cloth. He hails from an agricultural family in the Terai in Nepal. The temperate climate of these fertile Himalayan foothills is home to terrace cultivation that largely characterizes the landscape of this region when viewed from an elevation. Using the homegrown Nepali paper and other papers, Harendra sculpts the Terai with a yearning that is almost heartbreaking in its fragility. Once again resorting to means and materials that are intrinsic to his roots, Harendra weaves and sews and shreds in order to construct, according architectural proportions to lightweight paper, operating between two-dimensional constructions and relief sculpture.
The conversation between the works of these two artists, and my response to them, exists in their rootedness and affinity to the local, in the importance that they accord to material and medium as signifiers in themselves, in the immersive making that is so intrinsic to their practice, and in the resultant architectural proportions of their work.
Where do we dwell?—both metaphorically and physically. The carapace extending over our soft and vulnerable interiors is both for protection and image-building. In this overcrowded planet, our urban spaces are no longer the romanticized natural landscape of our agrarian forefathers, or the picturesque beauty of heritage monuments. The turmoil and chaos of living cheek by jowl in small spaces feeds our creativity. These assemblages in ceramics and painting offer an insight into the workings of young contemporary artists and refer to common concerns. The artists have manipulated the material in different ways with technique and patina from opposing ends of the artistic spectrum, creating an offering that is both challenging and innovative.
These ongoing considerations find expression in the diverse works of Mudita Bhandari, Neha Grewal and Japneet Keith while connecting on a visceral level to my earlier fascination with unfolding sea forms and current assemblages of the dying city.
Press release courtesy Gallery Espace.