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Five at the fair

Kishore Singh  |  New Delhi 

Overwhelmed at Kishore Singh picks five works from Indian galleries that have a refreshing take from a large number of thoughtful works

Juggernaut II
Cowdung, bronze etc

Gallery Chemould Prescott
Road, Rs 25 lakh
My favourite for the Skoda Prize walked off with the honours on Friday night, but already before that his sculpture was drawing attention at the Juggernaut, the work, is a play on Jagannath, whose wooden chariot at the annual yatra in Puri has in previous years led to stampedes, the giant wheels of Vishnu crushing devotees who unfortunately get in the way. This large, anchor-like object pays homage as well as looks at the subject of devotion ironically, the spiked ends crowned with Vishnu’s iconic presence. Thought-provoking.

They Saw Us Through Puffs of Smoke
Alcohol bottle caps with copper wire
Sakshi Gallery ,$800,000
Hugely important and popular on the international circuit, El Anatsui’s work has political overtones with respect to, especially, colonisation and the subjugation of cultures and peoples. The British crushed parts of Nigeria and Ghanaq through creating a dependence on alcohol (the way opium in China and indigo in India were similarly used). The installation uses used alcohol bottle caps and is a scathing comment by an artist who’s a favourite around the world. That it looks so brilliant is an advantage.

The Sanctum, A Corner for Four Sisters
Oil on canvas, 17 canvases (8’x4’ each)
Threshold Gallery, Rs 3.5 crore
The artist whose works in the figurative space have their unique dynamism paints this ode almost like a prayer, surrounding the visitor till he is overwhelmed (and hemmed) in by nature’s sageness. Almost at the centre of the installation is a grove of trees that is dense, its depth and realism acquired through 17 layers. That’s not just hard work but also a level of control that manages to render the canvas as a narrative in which the viewer becomes part of a devotional journey.

Pema’s Story or the Doll Museum
Serigraphy on acrylic boxes and dressed mannequins
Gallery Espace, Rs 6.5 lakh
Paula Sengupta’s dioramas are amusing at first, till you realise the comment they make on a Tibetan way of life increasingly under threat of Sinicisation. It recreates Pema Dhargyal’s flight from Tibet to India and a life in exile as a refugee, where the Tibetan way is in danger of being memorialised — hence the museum-like diorama of dolls in indigenous costumes. That Sengupta, who is a printmaker, is also able to bring serigraphy into this set of four dioramas makes it the more unique.

Annapurna (Mother of Life)
Wood, acrylic, ceramic, powder colour
Art Alive Gallery, Rs 40 lakh
This votive sculpture in the apparently traditional space is nevertheless a surprise, coming from the stable of an artist celebrated for his landscape paintings of Banaras. That spiritual space is celebrated in this work, but it is in the found objects with which it has been created – and which links rural objects that are slowly disappearing from even small towns and villages — that he builds a shrine to memories, that makes it so appealing.

First Published: Sun, February 03 2013. 00:23 IST