The Monsoon Chapter

Several artists have come together to present the myriad views of the monsoon, from those inspired by the classical romantic ideas of the season to the ones shaped by the nitty-gritty of having to deal with the havoc that it brings in our contemporary cities.

From romance filled stirrings and metaphysical churnings to pragmatic, cynical views of the monsoon it's all there in the show, titled The Monsoon Chapter. Curated by Himanshu Verma, it features works of various prominent artists, including Abhimanue VG, Anjana Mehra, Anu Agarwal, Bandeep Singh, Buwa Shete, Deepak Tandon, Dharmendra Rathore, Eleena Banik, Gogi Saroj Pal, Jaideep Mehrotra, Jane Bhandari and Jatin Das.

Other artists whose works form part of the show include Jyoti Bhatt, Kanchan Chander, Leena Kejriwal, Lekha Bhagat, Madhur Sen, Nayanaa Kanodia, Ramananda Bandhopadhyaya, S. Harshavardhana, Sanjay Bhattacharya, Sanjeev Sonpimpare, Shamshad Hussain, Shibu Arakkal, Subrata Kundu, Tanuja Rane, amd Ved Nayar.

The show, exploring various hues of the rainy season, had a thematic opening, complete with all the monsoon trappings. Conceived as part of the festival Monsoon at Alliance Francaise de Delhi, the art event in Mumbai takes forward the monsoon story to another level. Contemporary narratives further enhance the grandiose classical majesty of the monsoon, in a unique attempt to celebrate a season by different artists.

A curatorial note states: 'The Monsoon Chapter is actually a tome, with its plentitude of narratives that foreground the multi-hued awakenings and experiences of the Indian Monsoon. The monsoon offers a range of complex sensual, visual and aesthetic experiences, some of which find voice in this show.'

Ved Nayar heralds the arrival of the season, after alluding to the pre-monsoon clime. The stretched out hand seeks the gift of rain and mercy. Shibu Arakkal's contribution is a subtle Derridean poetry; a desert sand dune with scanty, arid growth. Artist Jyoti Bhatt expresses the intense sentiments of the parched areas towards the monsoon. Artists Kanchan Chander and Eleena Banik explore femininity and fertility. The lotus, which is in full bloom in the monsoon and a symbol for procreation and illumination, emerges as a leitmotif here.

On other hand, Jatin Das, Bandeep Singh and Anu Agarwal paint wet bodies. Bandeep Singh's nude is a body alert to the rain. The artist portrays the classical female protagonist with a contemporary sensibility. Anu Agarwal's 'Lightning Girl' is a self-portrait. The artist's personification of lightning reminds us of parallels of classical mythology and iconography.

Jaideep Mehrotra's protagonist in 'Pouring Out' is flushed in monsoon showers and shows oneness with the rain. Nayanna Kanodia's typical depiction of the season's moods (Monsoon showers) is done in her inimitable and street-kitsch-na've style. Senior artist Godi Saroj Paul tenderly introduces us to a boy with an umbrella whereas Dharmendra Rathore mixes the playful and serene in his work with human child frogs leaping against green bubbles of rain.

The anti-thesis of the narrative comes with works that explore the relationship of the monsoon with the urban life. Here the tune and the mood changes a bit. Sanjeev Sonpimpre uses the catastrophe unleashed by the rains to utter corrosive satire on city planners. Mumbai based artist Anjana Mehra offers us cross-spatial views of the rainy season, and scans the differences of attitudes of the rural and the urban towards the season and nature.

In her untitled work, the image of a computer junkie is juxtaposed with that of a towering god like figure, the voice of the modern mind; and the latter a divine reverent god like figure, whose reverence of course, is fading in contemporary contexts.

The show, titled The Monsoon Chapter, continues at Gallery Art & Soul, Mumbai, till September 18, 2006.

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