'Crossing generations'

Crossing generations: Diverge, an exhibition celebrating 40 years of Gallery Chemould is to be held at the NGMA, Mumbai from December 2 to 14, 2003.

It's a grand art event spanning at least three generations of Indian artists, from the sublime painted abstraction of an older generation, to artists committed to material/allegorical representation, to parodic photo/ video installations by young contemporaries.

The show is curated by Geeta Kapur and Chaitanya Sambrani. The curators' nucleus for ideating has really been the interactions of the Gallery Chemould with various artists across time. However, the range of the exhibition is truly wider. The paradigm involves even those artists who have not necessarily had a direct affiliation with the gallery. Rather, what is being set-up is a curatorial presentation appropriate to the emergence of a diverse range of artistic possibilities in the contemporary scene that it has played a part in nurturing.

The gallery since its formal inauguration in 1963 has successfully recognized and presented the first solo shows of artists such as Tyeb Mehta, S.H. Raza, Bhupen Khakkar, Nalini Malani, Atul Dodiya and Jitish Kallat. The fact that these artists have gone on to become significant figures in the vibrant global art scene is testimony to its consistent and dynamic contribution to the art of the sub-continent. It experimented with and has achieved a strong academic dimension by releasing monographs on artists such as S.H. Raza and books on stalwarts like Bhupen Khakkar. These were invaluable publications coming at a time when printed information on contemporary Indian artists was seldom produced. Gallery Chemould has also helped curate and facilitate major international exhibitions and exchange programmes such as the Johannesburg Biennale and the Fire & Life project in Australia thus participating in the international arena.

Diverge is premised on the polyphony articulated by contemporary artists in India. Rather than zooming in to chart a convergent discourse, the exhibit pans over a diverse spectrum of subjectivities and politics, methods and materials, taking in at the peripheries the more eccentric views of visual culture in metropolitan India.

The curatorial note by Geeta Kapur and Chaitanya Sambrani states: "Appreciating modes of practice in the contemporary moment in this country cannot remain a matter of self-referential legitimation by association with inherited norms. In retrospect, the history of Indian modernism can be seen to be preoccupied with just such a classicist/ historicist method of charting trajectories of the new. Notations of radical breaks are few and far between. To take on the anarchy of the contemporary yet preserve it against the cynicism of easy exchange and mere seduction require a series of deviations and detours that deliberately scuttle the formation of any single mainstream. Such fresh expositions are energizing for art practice and art history alike.

"Diverge presents an adventure of crossings, and sign-posts them to point in both, and in many, directions at once. It presents smooth and awkward crossovers on unevenly charted routes. We hope to configure artworks to explore what these new meanings might (and might-not, after all) be in what is undoubtedly a most volatile moment of the Indian contemporary art."

The list of particpating artists includes S.H.Raza; Tyeb Mehta; V. S. Gaitonde; Bhupen Khakhar Arpita Singh; Gulammohammed Sheikh; Jogen Chowdhury; Gieve Patel; Sudhir Patwardhan; Nasreen Mohamedi; Nilima Sheikh; Vivan Sundaram; Nalini Malani; V. Viswanadhan; Prabhakar Barwe; Rummana Hussain; Ranbir Kaleka; Pushpamala N; Jayashree Chakravarty; Atul Dodiya; Sudarshan Shetty; Kausik Mukhopadhyay; Shibu Natesan; Dayanita Singh; Ravi Agarwal; Navjot Altaf; Vasudha Thozhur; Gargi Raina; Ketaki Sheth; Anju Dodiya; Jitish Kallat; Reena Saini Kallat; N. S. Harsha; T. V. Santosh; Riyas Komu; Subodh Gupta; Shilpa Gupta; Sharmila Samant; Bharti Kher; Priti Paul; L. N. Tallur; Shantanu Lodh; Manmeet; Tushar Joag; Hema Upadhyay; Gigi Scaria; Shakuntala Kulkarni; Mehlli Gobhai; Surekha; Sonia Khurana and Amar Kanwar.

The Perfect Frame, a book by Karin Zitzewitz, a doctoral candidate from the Dept. of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York, that documents Kekoo Gandhy's crossing of generations and his intense participation in the modern Indian art scene from 1943, is also to be released on the eve of the show. It brings to us historic moments from the Indian art scene of which Kekoo Gandhy was part, directly or otherwise. These include the rise of the Progressive Artists' Group, the formation of the Lalit Kala Akademi and the initial promotion of modern Indian art on the international stage. In addition, the volume is handsomely illustrated with photographs from the family collection, many hitherto unpublished.

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