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Noah's Ark, a new theme show

Noah's Ark, a new theme show, incorporates works by artists who have used animals as a motif. The Concept 'Noah's Ark' explores the use of animals, birds and other non-human forms by contemporary artists as part of their painterly language. The show traces, by featuring a cross-section of Post-Independence artists belonging to different generations, how painters and sculptors are creating a new symbolism or reinventing established symbols in the contemporary context. KG Subramanyam's cat, M F Husain's horses, Deepak Shinde's monkey-human creatures, Laxma Goud's goats, Jyoti Bhatt's phoenix and Babu Xavier's outlandish creatures, beckon us to probe what their paintings are expressing.

Works by several renowned artists form part of the show. The participants include artists such as Abhay Gaekwad, Arunanshu Chowdhury, Arzan Khambata, Babu Xavier, Baiju Parthan, Chittrovanu Mazumdar, Deepak Shinde, Gurcharan Singh, Haren Vakil, Jehangir Jani, Jyoti Bhatt, K G Subramanyam, C N Karunakaran, Laxma Goud, Lalitha Lajmi, M F Husain, Paritosh Sen, Rini Dhumal, Satish Gujral, Shruti Nelson and Vasudevan Akkitham.

As an introductory not mentions: 'There is an increasing awareness about art and interest in acquiring artworks in India. A curated show such as 'Noah's Ark' aims to draw attention to the works of art in order to enjoy their specific aspects. It is a platform that shows art in a certain context in order to heighten the visual experience and understanding.'

The exhibition, featuring 21 artists from across the country, has been curated by Jasmine Shah Varma. It has taken her about a year to put up her show. The conceptualization involved discussing the concept with each individual artist to find out as how each of them perceived the world of animals. Most of them have created works especially for this exhibit after having been invited to work on the theme.

The curator's aim in bringing together the works is to explore a subject of animals, birds or non-human figures, and to show how contemporary Indian artists employ them in their works. In that sense, the exhibition, Noah's Ark, is noteworthy. The myths and fables revolving around animals form part of folklore. A white dove on a flag signifies peace whereas . The serpent in the Biblical context is the author of temptation and fall of man. The exhibition endeavors to raise questions like why certain forms are used regularly by artists in their oeuvre and what they signify, in order to set the viewer on a more thoughtful approach to enjoying artworks.

The broader motive is to make a viewer 'to appreciate art in a certain context.' The idea led the curator to interact with several artists, and an enthusiastic response on their part encouraged her to conceive an exhibition that highlights how non-human forms ' real or fictional ' have been used from childhood to adult life as metaphors to convey notions and teachings in every culture, ancient to present.

Every artist has worked on the theme, using animals as a motif. So, one gets to see a cat depicted by K.G. Subramanyan, M. F. Husain's horses, and Laxma Goud's goats, perceived as a symbol of sexuality. Ashok Gaekwad's 53 pairs of terracotta animals and Arzan Khambatta's Giraffe hold your attention. Babu Xavier and Shruti Nelson show outlandish and fantastic figures. Lalitha Lajmi's works are narrative of her personal experiences.

Each of the works offers an insight into an individual artist's style of depicting figures. The works when viewed in totality give a glimpse of the diverse artistic representation of a theme, i.e. animals. Indeed, one gets to see a curious mix of works revolving around this rather unusual theme. As the curator puts it: 'The exhibition does not have studies of animals. I was looking for artists who use such figures in a personal expression.'

'Noah's Ark', an exhibition featuring animals as a motif, continues at Gallery Art and Soul, Mumbai, till February 15, 2006.

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