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'Ideas and images' at NGMA

The NGMA annual magazine show, titled 'Ideas and images', is now a major event on Indian art calendar. The sixth edition of this show, presented by Dr. Saryu Doshi at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai, attracts curious art lovers in large numbers.

Curator of the show, Dr. Doshi, puts together this massive showcase of the work of famous Indian artists, photographers and art students. These works include some exceptional pieces that reflect the ever-changing art scene in Mumbai city. Aside from a range of works by modern painters and other artists, photography as the medium of expression has also been explored in the annual show.

Last year, the exhibits included an installation exploring the innate ability of Mumbai's hawkers and stall owners to create eye-catching displays on the pavement and how this innate creative process differs from an informed process when artists try to respond to their work in creations of their own.

In fact, 'Ideas and Images' show aims at highlighting Mumbai's art heritage and growing community of artists and art lovers, cataloging the past and anticipating future trends. Collectively, the exhibit is a showcase of Mumbai's unique artistic traditions.

This year Mumbai's women artists get together for a unique art project to reflect the feminine power. Many senior and young women artists were invited to contribute in this unique project. The women artists held a four-day workshop at the NGMA last month. It was an interesting mix of artists like Anju Dodiya and Reena Saini Kallat working with Lalitha Lajmi and Meera Devi Dayal.

The result is a colorful, urban take on the quilt. They have worked together on an installation and a handcrafted canvas quilt to represent and reflect the city's feminine voice. Artists such as Meera Devidayal, Sheetal Gattani, Anju Dodiya, and Papri Bose made blocks for the installation.

The group of artists was also given canvas squares to work on, which were then stitched together to make a quilt. The canvases have been arranged as an installation of cubes along with the quilts giving many sides of the picture.

Brinda Chudasama Miller has supervised the project, which is a highlight of this year's 'Ideas & Images' exhibition. According to her, the project is symbolic of how women in India have been engaging in a group activity. The artists, who participated in the making of the quilt, felt that the task of piecing together the final composition was like putting together a jigsaw drawing.

The motive of the workshop was to bring in ideas of gender identity as well, given its altered context in postmodern times. The curator and the participating artists wanted to reinvent the traditional modes of women working together, decorating the walls of their homes. Their coming together reflects the on the idea of community work as practiced historically, now positioned within the urban context. Here, the collective work does not submerge the individual voice but becomes a metaphor for the plurality of simultaneous voices.

'Diary of an Art-work' at the Dome Gallery features artists who have created works for the NGMA. To document the four crucial steps of their journey, their photographs and notes are on display too. Yusuf Aarakal presents a slide-talk about the making of his award winning painting 'Guernica Revisited' whereas Krishnamachari Bose gives a live demonstration at the site during the show.

Collector's Choice is another popular segment of the magazine show in which art patrons - critics and artists - are invited to display art works, which they think have a special significance. In 2002, the annual show paid tribute to two of India's late eminent artists - B Vithal and B Prabha. These two artists, husband and wife, were known for their extremely distinctive styles. A year prior to that, this particular segment of the show was a retrospective of the Mumbai-based artist Shiavax Chavda. The artist whose retrospective has been coordinated this year is KK Hebber.

Throughout his career, he never ceased to experiment, and was enriched in his perspective by visiting the ancient caves at Karla, in Maharashtra. One of his resultant sketches got him a gold medal from the Bombay Art Society. Combined with forceful strokes, his style is both impressionistic and expressionistic.

The sixth Ideas and Images show continues at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) till November 28.

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