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An unconventional show 'Frame/Grid/Room/Cell' for artists to use

A curious show of works titled Frame/Grid/Room/Cell at Bodhi art gallery, Mumbai presents thematic works by artists Anita Dube, Nalini Malani, Sunil Gawde, Riyas Komu, Jagannath Panda, and Shilpa Gupta.

As the title suggests the gallery is structured to constitute spaces/cells which may also be conceived of as a frame or grid. Each of these rooms is autonomous or interconnected; the movement through the rooms however is not predetermined. The artist is invited to use the room/cell as the site of the art work.

Each of the participating artists has a unique style. Sunil Gawde's working methods share as much with craft as with the fine arts. When applying paint, he uses the trowels and scrapers. These implements give his pigments a layered depth; paints are piled and cut, creating dynamically textured surfaces.

The visual imagery of Jagannath Panda is deceptively simple. It comprises of linear drawing & a rendered form or two, which seem to float on the surface. His drawings are very realistic, yet he does not offer the viewer a reference to the subject's existence, or rather he does not recreate a sense of panorama in his paintings.

Nalini Malani's practice encompasses drawing and painting, as well as the extension of those forms into projected animation, video and film. Committed to the role of the artist as social activist, Malani often bases her work on the stories of those that have been ignored, forgotten or marginalized by history. Shilpa Gupta, one of the talented women painters of the younger generation from India, employs technology to engage the viewer through the provocative and interrogative dimensions of conceptual art. While asking the audience to participate in her works, she often questions the whole theoretical framework of an art object.

On other hand, artist Anita Dube has evolved an aesthetic language which incorporates everyday objects derived from commercial, craft and vernacular sources. She employs ubiquitous materials, images, and objects in such a way that their meanings resonate far beyond local and prosaic associations. Riyas Komu focuses on burning socio-political issues that disturb him not only as a painter but also as an individual. These acquire a universal connotation, as the concerns are common across the globe. So, viewers tend to identify with his work.

As a curatorial objective of the show that continues till third week of November, comprising the above mentioned artists, the room is a psychic space, one that occupies the ground between an objective and a subjective reality. In that the structure mimics architectural city spaces, like urban corridors or a chawl, the artist has complete control over his own room/cell, but does not intervene in the neighboring spaces. Rahul Mehrotra's design suggests a structure within a larger structure, thus initiating the idea of both release and containment.

An accompanying note by Gayatri Sinha mentions: "The idea of the room/cell has had multiple variants in art and literature, as has the presentation of the object of intimate and everyday use in the art gallery. The cell as determined in the writing of Jean Genet or as an art site in Louise Bourgeois has already been inscribed in public memory. In inviting this exhibition, the idea of public and private spaces, of appropriation and belonging as well as the act of the viewer/voyeur comes to be urgently fore-grounded."

Effectively the space may be utopian or an anti-utopia. Each room/cell constitutes the possibility of creating a cube, or even the profanation of the cube, within the white cube of the gallery space. The room/cell affords multiple forms of interpretation, as a site for inscribing the self, although its manifestations, as a living room, studio, or exhibitory space is open to the interpretation of the artist.

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