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  • 09/23/12--11:40: Music and dance reviews
  • Speed mars the melody

    Both music and dance programmes were held at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, as part of Soorya Festival which is being held across the country.

    Last week there was a vocal duet by a couple - Krishnamurthy and Binny Krishnamurthy. Krishnamurthy, a postgraduate in music, has won several prizes, including one from All India Radio. Binny has earned a doctoral degree and is a recipient of the best singer award.

    The "Balagopala… Muralee Gaana" lent a rollicking start to them. This varna of Dr Balamurali Krishna is composed in the evocative raga 'Amrithavarshini'.

    "Rakshamam Sharanagatham" of Meenakshisutha in the raga 'Naata', was again in 'Drutha Kaala'. It appeared that the couple were tempted by the middle and fast tempo. The "Mahashaya Hridaya" of Uthakadu Venkata Kavi - was also a fine selection. At this stage, they sprang a surprise by choosing a lesser known raga. 'Raga Rohini' was tuned by Dr M Balamurali Krishna during a lunar eclipse and it is 'Panchama Varjya' with two madhyamas and they sang it with good feeling.

    They took another attractive raga 'Varali' for elaboration, sharing by turns in both alapana and swara, tried to make it wholesome. 'Nerval' (Sundara Jitha Madanam Mukundam, Madhusudhanam) was also pleasing.

    Traversing in both middle and upper octave with ease, with their resonant and rich voice, their professional approach was discernible in their willingness to entertain their listeners. But due to speed the sahitya and swara often appeared garbled by heavy vibration.

    At that juncture 'Thani' by the percussion duo - H S Sudhindra and S N Narayana Murthy, combined effectively to add to the enjoyment. An 'asthapadi', 'devaranama' (Yadava nee ba), 'abhang' (Pandari cha) and 'Thillana' - were presented in the second half of the concert.

    Charulatha Ramanujan on violin responded well throughout the concert.

    Result of good training

    Six young dancers of Chidambaram Dance Company performed on Thursday in Soorya Festival, under the direction of Padmashri Chithra Visweswaran.

    In the opening 'Anubhuthi' (Ragamalike), they offered salutation to Thrimurthies, through the composition of Late R Visweswaran. An atmosphere of Vedic ritual enhanced by the raga 'Hindola' prevailed during the Ardhanareeswaran episode for 'Samaganalole' of G N B.

    The dancers depicted the different aspects with crisp movements and expression. The highlight certainly was the varna of Lalgudi Jayaraman in Ragamalike depicting 'navarasa' through different episodes.

    Footwork, synchronised movements, stances and the negotiation of the rhythm, especially in the multi-cycled Theermanas - were all executed with elan.

    In 'devaranama' "Chikkavane Ivanu", each charana was represented by different dancers, dramatising the 'Baala Leela' of child Krishna, in an attractive manner. N Srikanth, Aswathi Nair, Lakshmi Parthasarathi Atreya, Uma Nambudaripad Satyanarayana, Arupa Lahiry, Jai Quehae N Y Reddy's precision, pleasing in both aesthetics and technique , but expression occasionally seemed to fluctuate. They concluded with a 'Thillana' of R Visweswaran, in the raga Rasikapriya, which was also delightful.

    The dancers performed neatly with ease and confidence, which was the result of good training by Chithra Visweswaran.

    Melodious vocal by B Umashankar enhanced the dance. Natuvanga by Sukanya Ravindran, mridanga by Venkata Subramanyam and flute by Atul Kumar - were also pleasing.

    Enthralling mandolin

    U Srinivas has become another name for the 'Mandolin', and from his younger days, he is known as the 'boy wonder'!

    In the current concert for Sri Venugopala Krishnaswamy Temple, Malleswaram, Srinivas once again attracted a large gathering. It was refreshing to hear raga 'Simhavahini', which we do not hear a detailed delimineation normally. He handled this raga and the Tyagaraja kruthi "Nenarunchira Napai" enchantingly.

    When he played 'Jananee Ninuvina' connoisseurs felt as if the instrument is singing! After "Telisi Rama" in jet speed, yet another detailed aalapana of Shanmukhapriya was delineated, a rhapsody of flowing melody and "Marivere Dikkevaru" was played with much aplomb. Ragas were beautifully portrayed and his impeccable mastery and virtuosity in maintaining shruthi and laya made good impact on the listeners.

    H K Venkatram maintained his musical composure and played with alacrity and tonal sobriety on the violin, while Madri Mangalam Swaminathan on mridanga was enjoyable and Ullur Giridhar Udupa played on 'ghata' spiritedly.

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  • 10/07/12--10:05: Music review
  • Tribute to a teacher

    Sundara Prakashana' of Gowri Sundar published their 200th book "Swara Sadhakaru", last week. After releasing the book, R K Padmanabha, senior vocalist gave a vocal recital, accompanied by M S Govindaswamy on violin, C Cheluvaraj on Mridanga and Vishwanath Nakod on Thabala. He sang a song composed by himself as a tribute to Prof G Venkatasubbaiah, on the eve of his 100th year birthday. The lyric "Namisona banni Shathayu Sri Venkatasubbaiah Gurugalige" was prefaced with the alapana of Kalyani.

    Earlier, he opened the concert with an infrequent stanza on Saraswathi, by Kumaravyasa, which was a welcome change from the routine invocatory pieces. Then a meaningful composition of Tyagarja "Mokshamugalada" in the raga Saramthi.
    "Samaganapriya" - was another fine selection.

    While the composition "Enthaveduko" had a vintage flavour, the "Bhavalayada kadava therasi" was in the raga Sindhubhairavi. He also sang a Ugabhoga "Ninna padi pogaluva" of Saint Vadiraja, with good feeling. With his rich concert experience and good voice R K Padmanabha, captivated the audience.

    3 different vocal recitals

    Shankar Shanbog is a popular singer, composer and teacher. In his concert for the Garden Youth Friends' Association, Malleswaram, on Saturday, he presented 'devaranama' and folk songs, apart from Bhavageethe, accompanied by Vasanth Kumar Kumble on keyboard, Ramesh Kumar on Thabala and Arun on Rhythm pad. The shloka "Ajam nirvikalpam nirakara" of Shankaracharya gave Shankar's concert a pleasant start.

    The invocatory piece "Gajamukhane siddidayakane" of Vyasarayaru was followed by a lyric of Kuvempu "Thanuvu ninnadu manavu ninnadu". After "Ilidu baa thaaye", popular song of D R Bendre, "Shravana banthu ksadige" pleased the gathering. "Pillangoviya chelva Krishnana" is a good devotional and "Kodagana koli nungitha" of Shishunala Sharief is another well-known song.

    Shankar's singing technique, involvement and voice modulation brought out the mood of each song, without indulging in musical gimmicks. "Indu na hadidaru andinanthe kullitu" (Dr G S Shivarudrappa) in "Vilamba Kaala" was sung with good feeling and "Lokada kannige raadheyu kuda" (Dr H S Venkatesha Murthy), "Ninna nati …… Manju" (Dr G P Rajaratnam), "Deepava ninnade" (Dr K S Narasimha Swamy) - were also enjoyable while the 'Kurigalu Sir Kurigalu", attracted with its satirical tone.

    Folk music

    The Ranga Samstana conducted a unique programme in the City last week. Selected folk songs were taught to young aspirants and concerts were conducted in different parts of Bangalore for five days.

    In the current 'Rutugana Sangeetha Utsava' young, upcoming artistes also joined the seniors to perform. In the opening programme at the Hombegowda Pre-University College, Dr Banandur Kempaiah opened his vocal recital with "Hogaiah nanna thavarurige".

    With his rich voice and lively presentation, he also sang "Bidiru nanyarigadavalu". The "Jaya Bharatha jananiya tanujathe" was the choice of Bangalore Youth Choir.

    They also sang neatly a composition of Dr K V Srinivas, "Kannada endare bari nudi alla", under the direction of Dr Kaveri Sridhar. The session concluded with the presentation of a few folk songs by the Ranga Samsthana members. "So enniro Shobane enniro" is usually sung by the relatives of bridegroom to tease bride and his kin.

    Under the leadership of Bandlahalli Vijayakumar, they also sang "Mahadeswara" in unison.

    Vasant Kumar Kumble on keyboard and Raghavendra Joshi and Shashidhar on percussion instruments supported the vocalists.

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  • 10/07/12--10:12: Art review
  • It rained ideas

    The ample series of performances by mostly young local artists at Gallery Rasa on September 27 was another contribution from the well-guided enthusiasm and organisational skills of Smitha Cariappa, who has by now virtually institutionalised her efforts under the title of Live Art Lab being a part of BAR1 activities.

    One has to congratulate her not just for practising performance since a time when it had only a slight presence in the country and none in the city, but also for encouraging and involving others, especially art students and young artists. At the moment as things are still beginning to take shape, one is bound to appreciate the fact that several people from within the circle, even many who otherwise engage with different media, are fascinated by the manifold potential of performance, while understanding that a degree of chaos, chance and mistakes belongs to the process, although some words of caution may not be out of place.

    Although it did not start the event, Cariappa's piece veritably introduced it in a gracefully simple and poetic manner, encapsulating her role as a creative but neutral and open-ended stimulant towards new ideas of the participants by using the metaphor of archaic rain-induction magic.

    One could see the work of Deepak D L as complementary here with its humorous-serious combination of objectivity and randomness that admitted uncertainty whether performance has to mean something. Allowed so the freedom of individual interpretation, the present writer would like to stress the spectator's primary need for sensation pointing to associations that becomes enhanced by its being incorporated in the live person of the performing artist. For this to happen during an actual contact of the viewer with the performer, the artist's looks, gestures and behaviour along with the significant accessories and background have to be quickly recognisable at least in general terms, even if complexities of thought are to be considered carefully later. Without that, arbitrary or arcane symbolism risks turning into intellectual puzzles which tends to distract the audience from the mood as well as to confuse the reading of intended content. The varied sequence of performances had examples of both extreme options and in-between stages.

    Perhaps the best one, anchoring in sheer sensation but thoughtful, which also formed another overture for the day, was by Aishwarya Sultana. Ingeniously using the large window outside and inside the hall, she cleaned it, wrote on it with water, erased it and tried looking within, indeed letting one viscerally yet subtly intuit the perceptual aspirations behind art-making and witnessing art.

    Suresh Kumar G was equally inventive and topical in his use of the window in the interior and the noisy traffic on the road considering two, not entirely opposite sides of the observer and observation along with the two sides of screening oneself off and being exposed. The pieces by Dimple Shah, Mangala and Justine Williams dealing with rather diverse issues of anonymity versus fame, identity and truthfulness oscillated between authenticity of concerns or engagement with spectacular visuals and a confusing metaphorical language which troubled in particular with Shah's effort being partly excellent.

    The most layered in his not quite recognisable symbolism was Prakash L. At the other spectrum of message - simplicity and visual or aural primacy - were Anjana Kothamachu, Vasudev and Raghu Wodayar. They knotted fabric of dream by the first kind of illustrating a poem, the second somewhat formalistically tracing link lines between the body, dance and art, the last in a plain yet evocative way, conjuring a noisy crowd of self-centred mobile phone addicts.

    Yearly gamut

    The ninth annual show with 45 Indian artists 2012 at Galerie Sara Arakkal (August 25 to September 15) was a display very similar to what comes up there as a sort of yearly review of the institution's steady repertoire while accommodating some slight changes.

    The general profile continued with its emphasis on the traditional genres of painting and a few sculptures and a sporadic presence of once innovative photography-based and other complex media. It continued the preference for pleasant and often predictable styles as well, even though on the whole the level improved, thanks to a lesser number of very old-fashioned and amateurish idioms whereas comparatively progressive and ambitious artists could be noticed more often. With some all-India seniors from the always admirable K G Subramanian to Lalitha Lajmi and Achuthan Kudallur, to Yusuf Arakkal and S G Vasudev locally, the gamut included several middling styles together with some interesting contributions by mid-career artists (Rm Palaniappan, C F John) and especially younger ones from around here, like Ravikumar Kashi, Udaya Vir Singh, Manush C J, Gopinath S and Alok Johri.

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  • 10/14/12--12:05: Art review
  • Negotiating urban dynamics

    One has become almost used to the still relatively fresh and still enthusiastically practised phenomenon of artists' initiatives in Bangalore.

    Considered against an old-fashioned, mediocre educational background and accompanied by scarce, sporadic institutional support, contemporary artists of different generations, of their own effort, have been consistently developing a multi-focal and open-ended environment of self-triggered learning that, while exploring a loose gamut of avant-garde methods, engages with actual life issues, materials and objects often veritably involving elements of raw reality which predominantly concern the immediacy of the urban space with its ever changing physical and human situations.

    As much as the process and its circumstances generate creative stimuli especially for young artists and students, the fact that all this is happening without the participation of an audience except for one of other artists, may bring the danger of self-indulgency and obscurity besides revealing the gap between the largely conceptual premises of artists interacting with the reality of normal people in the city and that reality itself which either remains unaware or connects merely on the curiosity level.

    Apprehensions included with the current societal disconnect, one has to admire the perseverance of the community in shaping the base for a hopefully more penetrating future.

    Two recent events in particular revolved round the city in a state of constant transforming and migration.

    The Bar1 salon with a couple of INLAKS scholars on a month-long residency (October 7 to 8) was as interesting in its subject-matter and its conceptual orientation characteristic to the place as it was, at least in a vast part, successful in evoking intense moods and elementary but subtle sensations.

    Sujit Mallik conjured, observed, responded to and participated in a dynamic condition that paralleled and embodied the "performance" of life in the forming. Having re-arranged a hatching nest with grain and baskets for a hen with her eggs in a tiny room, then an expansive installation of an urban chicken coop with a rough effulgence of abstract, gestural murals and hangings that seemed to flow like wings, Mallik, in an apparently simple and unpretentious yet many-layered and involving manner, offered to the viewer a directness of recognising his own involved experience that, non-judgementally and acceptingly, looked at the city's transitional status through its similarity to diverse organic growth and animal birthing.

    The contribution of his co-exhibitor Neha Thakar emphasised, even anchored in the actions, mechanics and duration of processes which aimed at touching on and sensing the tenuous region between the aesthetic gesture of drawing and the behaviour of life in specific situations that again suggested broad trajectories. Her work, though mediating reality straight on, relied more on ideas, hence needed some explaining as to its intentions yet eventually yielded a beautiful and pervasive feeling.

    Somewhat less convincing were the photographic sequences documenting Thakar's interactive, or potentially interactive, ventures which resulted in a vast hopscotch of flower garlands on the floor of a dry Lalbagh lake and a chalk powder one done for schoolchildren.

    The wall drawing in lines of old tape traces, areas of peeled plaster and coffee stains gently let one intuit the artist's trying to map the unfamiliar place and tentative human movements.

    Both the curator - D L Deepak and the four participants of the exhibition 'Vortex, it's not just art' (1Shanthiroad Studio/Gallery, October 7 to 14) are advanced students of the CKP college, and their efforts, with their sincerity and some achievements as well as with their drawbacks, should be treated as an educational experience, all the more valuable in its kind that it is normally unavailable in the official curriculum.

    One appreciated the topical idea to see the art aspirants hailing from different places but striving to collaborate while familiarising themselves and commenting on the new environment of Bangalore as reflecting nature of the transforming city.

    The way the references to socio-political, gender and history or art history issues came through in the works, though, sometimes hovered from the illustrative to the obfuscated, while the frequently considerable skills needed tempering of stylisation and design-tendency.

    The participants connected, if not obviously, in their preoccupation with mediating the city through the public telephone and feminine perspective (Balaji Marugonda), with the topography of natural yet restrictive gender roles (Tirupati Anvesh), with assimilating the indigenous by an empathic foreigner (Megumi Sakakida) and with the western-inspired but locally focused graffiti gesture of freedom (Ritwik Bothsa).

    The most mature here and effortless, Bothsa's paintings lent their tone to the joint canvas. One could risk perhaps advising Deepak to simplify writing before the language is mastered which surely will happen.

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  • 10/14/12--12:07: Music and dance reviews
  • Promising dancer

    B Bhanumathi, reputed dancer, is well known in the field not only as a senior danseuse, but also as a choreographer and teacher. She has trained hundreds of students through her school, Nrityakala Mandira, during last 25 years and has choreographed a number of dance dramas.

    With her troupe Bharatanjali, she has travelled all over the country and even abroad including the US, UK, Singapore and Malaysia. Naturally she has received a number of awards and titles. To name a few here, Akademi has conferred the title 'Karnataka Kalashree' and Rajyotsava award. Coming in the same lineage, Sheela Chandrasekhar is training young aspirants at the Nritykala Mandira for over 20 years.

    One of their bright student, Sneha Harish, gave a Bharatanatya recital for the Every Friday Cultural Evening Programme at Yavanika Auditorium. A commerce graduate, she has won prizes in few competitions and has already performed both in and outside Bangalore. She is also learning music and has exhibited yoga, on different platforms.

    The 'Gajavadana Karuna Sadana,' the popular invocatory piece gave Sneha a pleasant start. Sneha's Bharathanatya recital made a better impact than many of the youngsters who figure in that series and it was sleek and compact.

    In the Kamach varna ('Bhuvana Sundarana Karethare'), she negotiated the jathies with ease and confidence and revealed a good grounding. She chose two compositions for Abhinaya. 'Madhura nagari lo' is a legendary song. The well known composition of Kanakadasaru 'Bagilanu Teredu seveyanu kodo hariye' enabled Sneha to depict episodes from the epics.

    Endowed with such a lithesome, graceful figure, she performed the devaranama with ease and assurance, though the 'Dyutha-Akshaya Vasana' episode was over stretched. With some more higher training and stage experience Sneha can bring out the deeper stance impactfully.

    The Thillana (Valachi - Dwaraki Krishnaswamy) seemed routine. With all that no doubt, Sneha Harish has a bright future in the years to come. She received a good support from the wings, consisting of Sheela Chandrasekhar (Natuvanga), Kartheek Hebbar (vocal), V Narayana Swamy (Mridanga) and Kartheek Sathavalli (Flute).

    Homage to Gandhi

    Gandhi Jayanthi was celebrated in a unique way at the Indian Institute of World Culture, on Tuesday.

    It was observed as a 'World Melody Day' through a 'Veena Mahotsava' under the aegis of the Bharath Veenalaya, New Delhi. Padmabhushana Justice Dr M N Venkatachalaiah, former chief justice, inaugurated the festival by lighting the traditional lamp.

    The Mohana Varna in different speeds gave Suma Sudhindra a bright start and it was followed by 'Mahaganapathim Manasa.' She chose the evocative raga Varali as the main item of her concert and chose another fine composition 'Mamava Meenakshi.' But thana and swara Prasthara - both were very brief, due to short of time.

    She was supported on violin by Nalina Mohan, on Mridanga by B C Manjunath and on Ghata by S N Narayana Murthy. V G Subramaniam is a retired professor and an experienced artiste. But his Veena recital could not testify to that seniority. His selection of Paridana and few others were fine.

    His Dasha Raga Malika varna set the tone for a steady pace and few compositions (Manavyala, Niravadi Sukhada) in 'Drutha Kaala' - were also presented in between, on his Veena, but he belied expectations.

    Prashanth Iyengar, who hails from a musicians' family is trying to evolve his own style.
    He started his Veena recital with a self composed varna in the raga Gamanashrama, which gave his recital a delightful start. 'Swaminatha Paripalaya' brought nostalgic memories among the old timers.

    Bindumalini Raga revealed ample flashes of his talent, though the sound was loud at times.

    He concluded with a thillana (Dhanashree) and he showed his prowess aznd competence. Prashanth and Dayanand Mohithe accompanied on Mridanga and Ghata, respectively.

    D Balakrishna, Prof P K Srivatsa, Revathi Sadashivam and Anuradha Madhusudhan also played Veena on the occasion.

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  • 10/21/12--12:25: Art reviews
  • Architectural staging of atmosphere

    Although Tasveer has been accommodating different kinds of accomplished photography from old maharaja portraits to modern classics and clearly contemporary sensitivities, Derry Moore's "Evening Ragas" exhibition (October 13 to September 30) with all the Indian focus appears to come as a another world of its own, one that consciously chooses to not only restrict its attention to the environment of colonial-time aristocratic palaces and mansions, but also to either omit any present day realities or filter only dainty fragments of it through the admiring nostalgia for the sophistication of the past grandeur.

    This approach should not surprise, since Moor, a senior and much acknowledged lens-man who comes from English aristocracy, has been portraying European royals and their residencies. It also frequently evinces indulgent delight at the mood-full beauty and specific animation of his images brought about by his attuned contact with the surroundings he shoots and fleshed out in technically supported aesthetic nuances.

    On the other hand, the spectator may not be able to escape the impact of an alluring yet somewhat sanitised vision that arises even through the scenes of dilapidation and remoteness in solitude, a vision whose sympathy for, even perhaps glorification of, the effervescence of the feudal world, whether consciously or intuitively, does not notice the many less appealing of its sides from craftiness to cruelty, as a result gracefully and powerfully reinforcing certain entrenched stereotypes about the opulent and exotic India that derive from the same period as the colonial endeavour.

    What is not just truly enchanting but revelatory, are Moore's images of rich interiors where masses of mostly 19th century European salon sculptures enter into a highly charged, hybrid and flowery, responsive nonetheless, relationship with the indigenous love of ornamental excess. Wonderful then, in particular in the takes from Kolkata's Marble Palace, is the feel of refined, gently sensuous stirring of figures amid curlicue carvings on the walls and furniture.

    The artist finely mediates and mutually engages the play of sharp to dissipating illumination with graded shadows that enhance and sometimes layer the carnal smoothness of the human and volumetric figures of stone to be contrasted as well as picked up by the shiny marble floor designs.

    One intuits an actively interconnected inner life of the statuary and décor here. It subtlety, sort of pushed to the edge, carries a potential of kitsch, elements of the latter adding an indulgent humour in the prints from Mewar, where the simultaneously grand and comical cut-out figures of royals echo the merger of grave sophistication and cloying kitsch in the manner the halls present themselves.

    Actually, a superb aspect of Moore's art is his ability to capture and strengthen the gesture of staging inherent to the palaces and their owners which is evident in the dynamic encounters of the décor and statuary, while the photographers add to it by positioning his luxuriously attired grandees at the architectural centre and axis as the possessors and movers of everything. He excels too in emphasising the intricate flatness of some traditional, mainly Rajasthani, building concepts.

    One becomes equally fascinated by his landscapes with architecture, for instance the ephemeral nook of the Protestant cemetery in Kolkata, that poetically absorb colonial-time romantic perceptions onto what is in front of him now.

    The shots from reality limit themselves to archaic, awkwardly charming and naively sincere shops with old-timers, as other age retainers and sceneries with vast water reflections and dry hunting ground stretches. The close-up portraits of mainly regal ladies and their current business tycoon counterparts are posed with a delicate, rarefied artifice that may be deliberately hark back to the moods of more than a half-century ago. Partly delightful, they sporadically turn slightly conventional, best when strengthened from the character of the person, like Anita Desai.

    Designing ethnicity

    Virndavan Solanki"s new paintings at Time & Space (October 10 to 25) continue, with light and formalistic changes, his long-practiced formula where ethnic Gujarati rusticity is comfortably located in the attractive shapes and embellishments of clothing furthered by the assumed tenderness of simple couples of wedded lovers and friends.

    The usual blank faces are meant to convey the non-personal broadness of view and the hazy spreads of hues are expected to suggest spirituality. Both ruses, yet, act in the way of the other pleasing formal devices. The new tendency presently is a partial departure from the graphic quality of the black and white canvases that relied on granular textures and linear hatching towards a more indulgent play with smoother, more plaint colours that, nonetheless, retain some of the linear properties of the former kind of paintings.

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  • 10/21/12--12:28: Music and dance reviews
  • A different experience

    Connoisseurs of music had a different kind of experience at the Bangalore Lalithakala Parishat on Friday. A popular instrument of the eastern country - Anklung, was performed by a Bangalorean. That too Karnatic music was performed on that foreign instrument like a 'Kacheri' of Karnatic music.

    It was presented by

    Dr Anasuya Kulakarni, a graduate of the University of Mysore who has earned a doctorate in music from the Annamalai University. She is also a recipient of several awards including the Karnataka Sangeetha Nritya Academy award.

    'Anghklung' is a bamboo rattle instrument of Indonesia, played by a group of people, each holding a note or two and rattled on the direction of a conductor.

    Anasuya has adopted this instrument by making a few innovations in the playing technique to a "solo" Indian music playing and named it as 'Ankrang.' She has performed on this instrument in a number of international conferences, both in and outside India and her name was entered into the Limca Book of Records of 2008 edition.

    In the current concert, Dr. Anasuya Kulakarni's 'Ankrang' was supported by four instruments - like any other instrumental concert of Karnatic music. Violin (Jyotsna Manjunath) and three percussion instruments - Mridanga (B N Ramesh), Khanjari (A V Kashinath) and Morching (Amrit Kumar). Anasuya opened her concert with a varna in the raga 'Nainakanthi,' followed by 'Vathapi' with brief swara. 'Bantureethi' and 'Sharashara Samare' had a popular appeal.

    'Sudhamayee' was elaborated, with lilting melody. 'Bo shambo' was followed by the 'Thani' of percussion instruments. But in such a brief concert, the 'thani' appeared over stretched.

    Anasuya presented a Bhavageethe, Devaranama and a folk song also.
    A thillana (Brindavani) and Madhyamavathi - came in the last part of the concert. Dr Anasuya produced metallic chime-like sounds on 'Anklung' and selected mostly 'Madhyama Kaala krithies,' which suited the instrument.

    Her mastery over the instrument, hard practice and talent was evident throughout the concert.

    Falls short in overall appeal

    Kathak and Bharathanatya were presented by the students of Natya Taranga, which was led by their teacher Shubha Dhananjay. Shubha, a graduate in dance, is known in the field as a performer, teacher and choreographer. In the current recital, the composition on Ganapathi gave them a good start. Shubha performed 'Omkar' neatly and raised the fare to its rhythmic heights. Mudra Dhananjay attracted in 'Perini' (Sakala Kalavani) accounting for instant popular appeal. Students performed 'Chaturang' though the recorded music (CD) was troubling frequently.

    After 'Mahadeva Shiva Shambho' the students chose jugalbandi - six students each on Bharathanatya and Kathak. They performed with ease and assurance though their facials came alive only in parts and their depiction fell short in its overall appeal. But Shubha Dhananjay, the senior dancer lifted the programme through her delightful performance.

    Lingering impression

    Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira presented the Indian National orchestra, the extravaganza under the leadership of Jayanthi Kumaresh, reputed Veena player. One of the earliest orchestra of India was formed in Mysore Palace during the rule of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, in the early part of 20th Century.

    In fact, there were two ensembles - Karnatic Band and English (Western) Band - and musicians from Trinity College of Music, London, were invited to direct these bands. We are happy that in this respect Jayanthi Kumaresh started this Orchestra (I.N.O.) last year with talented musicians and they have performed in few places already.

    The Indian National Orchestra performed in Bangalore for the first time. A composition in the raga Gambheera naata 'Sri Vignarajam Bhaje' (Uthakadu Venkatasubba Iyer) gave them a bright start, which ended briskly with percussion - especially with Konakol.

    Opening with the mellow sound of Morching and Khanjari for the dancing peacock in the raga Reetigowla, the instruments shifted from Chatushra to Thissra with delightful effect. They chose rag Gangeswari to show the flow of river Ganga, which was based on the verses of Adi Shankaracharya. The climax came in the form of 'Binnalalith' (Haricharan). Behag rag was chosen for the folk and concluded with the Sindhubhairavi.

    Veena, violin, flute, sitar, harmonium along with percussion instruments (Mridanga, Khanjari, Ghata, Morching, Tabla, Konakol) - were played in unison, with sufficient opportunities for each musician, to register their talent and experience. 16 artistes - all of them highly talented with command over their respective instruments. It is not an easy task and kudos to Jayanthi Kumaresh, who has created and left a lingering and haunting impression through the "Vadya Vrinda".

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  • 10/28/12--12:01: Art reviews
  • Between sincerity and randomness

    Even though one has got used by now to the phenomenon of artists' run initiatives in Bangalore, its sheer and often enthusiastic persistence against all, especially financial, odds is still able to trigger much appreciation, on the one hand, while on the other revealing certain self-inherent limitations.

    The mostly young people follow their interests and instincts sincerely engaging with personal experiences as well as socially relevant areas, as they refer to and directly involve images, issues and materials from the immediate, frequently modest-level reality.
    However, because in the same situation they hardly face an audience other than of insiders, they do not have a stimulus to test the accessibility of their aesthetic language and tend to rely on fairly arbitrary metaphors.

    In different degrees and aspects this condition could be noticed in a number of recent events. The most ambitious among them was the performance with a multimedia installation by Suresh Kumar G, at Bar1 (October 13).

    Titled "cobbler, cobbler, mend my feet…", it aimed at conjuring an immersive environment whose simultaneously everyday and, as Suresh Kumar called it, ritualistic character would enable the spectators to sense and matter-of-fact intimately absorb the meaning
    The smallish space with rows of repaired shoes displayed in pairs on wall racks became a small-time workshop where the artist sat on a floor mat quietly knitting a baby pink sock on his leg, while an angled video projection in a corner with hanging brass pots proudly showed humble sandals on turn tables. On one's own, the spectator could intuit the general notion of life as a constant process of at the same time wearing out and being patched up, the soft wool perhaps tenderly soothing the pain and the figure of the cobbler epitomising the process as felt by and inherent in oneself and everyone else.

    Nonetheless, to understand the bearded and bespectacled artist as a Good Shepherd his verbal explanation was needed.

    Caution should be expressed maybe also about the kind of visual statement way which prevents enhanced sensation, whereas attention should have been paid to evocatively embodying suggestions of significance in the person of the performer. Insufficient thought was given too to the contradictory nature of the garish hue of the wool that came from the actual on the plane of popular taste but was jarred when employed without adaptation for an art purpose.

    The exhibition "Multi-cubes" by Gururaj H S (Bar1, October 20 to 22) may have appeared more cogent in its visual language but, despite its genuine provenance and intentions, besides offering a rather convincing aesthetic side, it ended up somewhat enigmatic, even confusing, as to its content or message. At first glance, the viewer was attracted to the free, personal graphic qualities of his wall-size transformations from what looked like notebook pages of graph paper.

    Over the regularity of the square divisions and the still smaller graph patterns, the entanglements of snakes and ladders, steps and numbers, otherwise of single letters and different images from rural and urban backgrounds let one think of befuddling contrasts, diverse sources and uncertainties in contemporary reality.

    The randomness of the metaphors, yet, prevented getting and accepting the specific intentions, even after a verbal clarification, for instance, the elementary textbook-like alphabets and emblems took away the potential of the graph to signify the un-definable behaviour of things seemingly lucid. An absorbing, charmingly, if roughly, exuberant addition was the drawing about the thrilling high of intoxication done together with seven artist friends.

    One does not know how the "Curtains" of the Sri Lankan Theertha project were displayed in their first incarnation. The commentary to their presence at 1Shanthiroad Studio/Gallery (October 12 to 18) mentioned the role of curtains in defining and constructing areas, in demarcating inclusion and exclusion, the public and the private, the exterior and interior of an art space.

    What one saw did contain a potential towards such suggestiveness, as the many large fabric hangings bore aesthetically simple and appealing floral designs that could be associated with home décor in the middle of which were negative, white-empty silhouettes of utilitarian domestic objects from scissors and forks to soft drink bottles and stilettos.

    The vast size as well as the finely sombre black and white let one expect the drapes to connect with architecture in its inside and outside aspects, the permeable negativity of the images triggering that. The expectation, nonetheless, was stopped from materialising by the manner in which the fabrics were just hanging from the walls inside and outside the gallery without being really able to enter into a relationship with the structure and boundaries of the building.

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  • 10/28/12--12:03: Music and dance reviews
  • Navarathri celebration

    Navarathri was celebrated in the City by temples, religious institutions and also by cultural and social organisations with fervour. Special decorations, religious and cultural activities and dolls exhibition were organised in all parts of the City.

    The Sosale Vyasaraja Mutt conducted the Sharannavarathri at its premises at the Benne Govindappa Road, with bhajan, discourses and music concerts. Inspired by the divine atmosphere in front of the sanctum sanctorum of Prasanna Varada Srinivasa, S Shankar, senior vocalist, gave a fine vocal concert here last week.

    A recipient of 'Sangeetha Vidyanidhi' title from the JSS Sangeetha Sabha, Shankar is also a well known teacher. In the current concert, his selection and presentation - both impressed the audience. For instance "Indu Enage Govinda," the only available composition of Raghavendra Swamiji, was rendered with good feeling. Bhairavi alapana was brief but sparkling. 'Durga Devi' was a familiar keerthane in the old Mysore, few decades back. 'Ninna nodi Dhanyanadeno' added further validity to Shankar's musical acumen, by the meaningful Nerval (Kanthu Janaka Kelo Enna Antarangadaseyanna) and lively swara. With his rich voice he sang few more compositions like - Ambavani, Manave Mantralaya, Krishna Nee begane baro, Maarajanaka Chaturanana and a thillana of Veena Seshanna neatly. He concluded his fine concert with a mangala of Vidya Prasanna Teertha Swamiji. He was accompanied on violin by S Yashasvi, on mridanga by V Krishna and on ghata by R Satya Kumar and by K S Giridhar (co-singer).


    'Keshavakalpa,' the other institution, celebrated the Navarathri through cultural programmes and provided opportunities for budding artistes in both music (classical and sugam sangeeth) and dance (Bharathanatya and group dance).

    Sumedini, who gave a Bharathanatya recital, is the daughter and the disciple of A N Sudhir Kumar, senior dancer. A class five student, she opened her programme with the Pushpanjali (raga Naata), followed by a jathiswara in Saveri. She performed two devaranamas (Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma and Alli Nodalu Rama) with ease and good expression. Sumedini concluded with a thillana in Dhanasri and can reach great heights with higher training.

    Confident singer

    The dance was followed by a vocal recital by Dhanya Dinesh Rudrapattana, who has been groomed by Shantha Narasimhan and Geetha Vasanth.

    Besides distinctions in examinations, Dhanya has several prizes to her credit. The opening varna 'Mathe' (Muthaiah Bhagavathar) held out hopes of a delectable programme. She saluted to the invocatory God through "Gajavadana Beduve."

    She elaborated the "Kamakshee Kamakoti" evocatively and also included the popular devotional "Yadavaraya Brindavanadolu" also. She sings effortlessly. Arjun Kumar and Sampath Kumar Sharma were in charge of violin and mridanga, respectively.

    Dasara performances

    The Shanthala Arts Trust, Yeshwanthpur, presented Bharathanatya, Kuchipudi and folk dances, during the Dasara festival. Thousands of dolls exhibited by K R Padmaje, attracted a large gathering, every day.

    Students of Saptaswara Arts and Creations presented Bharatanatya and folk dances under the direction of Manjula Paramesh. Their 'Thattu-Mettu' is equally steady as evidenced in the "Shringa Puradheeswari". "Chellidaru Malligeya" was presented with popular appeal. Though they performed with ease their facials had their limitations.

    Harmonium solo

    A 15-day long religious and cultural festival is organised at the "Sri Avani Sringeri Jagadguru Shankaracharya Maha Samsthana Sharada Peeta", Mahalakshmipura, which will conclude on Tuesday (October 30). Apart from senior musicians, music concerts by young artistes is also arranged, under the direction of Sri Abhinava Vidyashakara Bharathi Maha Swami. Veteran artistes were also felicitated on the occasion.

    C Ramadas who gave a solo harmonium recital on Friday, is a 'A grade' musician of All India Radio and a seasoned artiste.

    He was well supported by H M Smitha on violin, M T Rajakesari on mridanga and Phanindra Bhaskara on ghata. "Sudhamayee" was more reposeful to give a head start. 'Entha Muddo' was another evocative composition with lilting melody. But it was 'Nagumomu' with alapana, nerval and fluent swara, which pleased the gathering. It was lively and his control over the instrument was evident throughout. Tail enders -Jagadoddarana and Bhagyada Lakshmi - were also enjoyable.

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  • 11/04/12--10:30: Music reviews
  • Successful conference

    Concerts by both seasoned musicians and upcoming artistes, and academic sessions were held as part of the 44th music conference, organised by the Bangalore Gayana Samaja, last week.

    Dr T S Satyavathi, who sang here on Wednesday, is reputed in the field as a senior vocalist, an able teacher and an acclaimed scholar.

    With decades of experience, in this concert, Satyavathi brought to her rendering several familiar compositions and a few infrequently heard ragas with commendable control on laya and fidelity to convention that commanded respect, from all sections.

    To suit a Sabha 'Kacheri' (that too in the 'Sangeet Sammelan'), she naturally crowned the concert with a fine raga, thana and pallavi.

    The very selection of the raga (Amruthavarshini) for pallavi aroused curiosity among the connoisseurs.

    A 'Krama Audava' raga Amritavarshini is a pleasing raga, which is also known as a raga which can bring rains!

    The alapana received appealing airing and the well-knit thana was yet another instance of her mastery over the medium. Also the swara laya vinyasa was rendered impressively with good raga bhava.

    Earlier, Satyavathi presented a less known raga called 'Kalgada'. It is 'Ma, Varjya' 'Audava Shadava' raga and both Tyagaraja (Samayamu e marake) and Syama Sastri have composed compositions in this raga.

    She chose 'Parvati Ninnu', which was again welcomed by the listeners. So also 'Vihara Maanasa Rame Sachidananda' of Swathi Tirunal in the raga 'Hindustani Kaapi' was a welcome change and notable for 'ragabhava'.

    As Satyavathi sang with several aesthetic passages to lend a rich flavour to the dignified melody, the audience heard her concert with great respect. She presented two devotionals, 'Palisenna Gopala Krishna' of Jagannatha Dasaru and 'Chintayave Sadgurum' of Narahari Teertha - which was also pleasing.

    Charulatha Ramanujan on violin, H S Sudhindra on mridanga and S N Narayana Murthy on ghata and Shilpa Shashidhar (vocal support) - gave excellent support.

    Hindustani vocal

    Pandit Venkatesh Kumar, the lone Hindustani vocalist of the 44th music conference organised by the Bangalore Gayana Samaja, is a recipient of the annual award from the Sangeeth Natak Akademi this year.

    'Purya' gave him an impressive start. Bright phrases in both vilambith and druth added a lively lilt to his singing.

    Touching the pivotal swaras with attractive phraseology lent a dignified presence to Hameer. Comparatively, Kaushik Kaanada was brief but lively.

    Durga was embellished with brisk Tarana. Venkatesh concluded with two devotionals - 'Toredu Jeevisabahude' and 'Kaayada Kathaleya', the lyrical feel in the compositions heightening its emotional fervour.

    Viswanath Nakod (Thabala), Vyasamurthy Katti (Harmonium) and Ramesh Kumar (co-singer) accompanied with good understanding.

    Dazzling display

    The Rabindranath Tagore Nagar Cultural Association conducted the 22nd annual music festival last week in collaboration with Taralabalu Kendra.

    After the inauguration, 'Ganga Kaveri', the music ensemble directed by Anoor Ananthakrishna Sharma, was held. M K Pranesh (flute) and Praveen Godkhindi (bansuri) were accompanied by six percussion instruments (Karnatic, Hindustani and foreign).

    'Evariboda', the familiar varna gave them a flying start.
    The 'Kadana Kuthuhala' piece (Anoor Ananthakrishna Sharma) was small but evocative, and then they moved to the piece de resistance of the day. Alapana of 'Keeravani' was developed in stages by both flautists.

    Thana to the background of percussion instruments was vibrant and lively.
    'Thani' of the percussion instruments was quiet attractive and each instrument had its own role to play. Mridanga (Anoor Ananthakrishna Sharma), Khanjari (Guru Prasanna), Latin Percussion (Pramath Kiran), Drums (Arun Kumar), Thabala (Jagadeesh and Madhusudhan) - were first played individually and established their individual personality.

    The percussionists followed up with a sizzling solo with exciting exchanges, providing thrills.

    With a Kannada devaranama, the ensemble concluded the concert with exhilarating effect.

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  • 11/04/12--10:34: Art reviews
  • Natural and the denatured

    Borders and Boundaries', the just concluded painting exhibition of S Sham Sunder (Sumukha, October 13 to November 3), came after a long gap, the artist having been preoccupied with teaching and heading the Department of Fine Art at S N School, University of Hyderabad.

    At first glance, the large canvases with vast sceneries peacefully spreading along pronounced horizons quite immediately draw the spectator into their atmosphere that is saturated with a brooding, aspirational beauty.

    Soon enough, however, they trigger an uncertain discomfort around indications towards unnatural, ominous divisions, dimensions and occurrences. For those who remember Sham Sunder's early career, especially as a figural sculptor, the desolate landscapes simultaneously differ from and connect with that phase in their tender, tactile sensitivity permeated by an undercurrent of turmoil and pain.

    The contradictory character of the images suggests the impossibility of direct and normal contact with the visible in an increasingly complex and hybrid world. It lets one think of related conclusions by other painters who use the realistic means of probing: Sudhir Patwardhan's compressed multiplicity of suburban perspectives and K T Shiva Prasad's coexistence of alien realities and times carrying diverse ways of perception.

    Sham Sunder remains torn between reposing his trust in the qualities of free expanse, abundant generation and nourishment or calm pleasure associated with pristine nature and his despairing about the aberrant and often violent human incursions into it which may augur annihilation, his mood then oscillating from delight to gloom.

    And so, among the stretches of shadowy green ground and clouded blue of the sky frequently mingled with dark sunset hues, the continuous horizon may be an expected emphasis, but the nearly filigree golden gate rising in the middle of nowhere and extending its fence far into the depth gains sinister tones allowing only dry leaves around it.

    The motionless emptiness is half-relieved by flocks of birds defying the gate which secures ownership while oozing a hint of crimson. The apparent serenity of another panoramic sight, already undermined by the presence of leafless trees and a deep pit in the earth, becomes denied by the other part of the diptych which reveals its own remote fragment in close-up as red-stained, barren soil further wounded by excavation whose man-made precision holds cruelty.

    The artist identifies his hope and empathy with the birds that turn into a metaphor for nature, sadly observing its own condition impacted by people.

    The enormous eye of the crescent moon amid obscure cumuli and flying birds looks down on the unending, flat and hostile ground into which the iron barrier has immersed itself permanently, while elsewhere a compact globe echo above is reflected in a bleeding circle below or holes in the ground wait to entrap the birds of freedom.

    As a sharp-carved river of blood cuts through a misty cluster of green trees, the variety of face on views and relatively acceptable perspectives are counterbalanced by integral yet precipice-like inverted flights of scenery.

    If the understated softness of the canvases does not disclose the drastic content instantly or entirely, the few smaller water colours and drawings compensate that with images of a man welcoming birds, nearly becomes one of them, of another equipped with bullets and a devil's mask and of a firm fist holding a grenade.

    To note the less convincing side of the oeuvre, whereas the strongly executed graphic works tend to be slightly literal, the large oils and acrylics focus on dark yet enchanting and somewhat vaguely rendered moods contradicting those through a not sufficiently powerful stress on harsh aspects of the whole.

    Three kinds of design

    Three otherwise rather different idioms connected by their preference for a basis in designing were noticed in the paintings of three artists who exhibited at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath last month. Dipesh Majumdar's "Psychedelia" need for a pattern could be perhaps understood as natural for an impassioned amateur who tried to capture and enhance a diversity of complex, intensely emotional states by fragmenting and abstracting heads or figures and their surroundings into compressed yet somewhat dissipating accumulations of bright and contrasting colours.

    In the other two cases, the professionalism of their techniques became employed to comfortably offer variations within well-established and fairly old-fashioned aesthetic ways. For K K Makali, it meant an ornate sort of rustic ethnicity that relishes a highly, if sweetly, stylised, linear description with abundant jewellery and colours.

    Ramesh Chavan, differently, indulged in apparently free, spontaneous abstraction with broad gestural accents and line squiggles, those being treated though like predictable patterns even when combined with elements of sketchy or mannered figuration.

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  • 11/11/12--10:31: Art reviews....
  • The coming together of Luigi

    An installation by Prabhavathi MeppayilAnastasio and Prabhavathi Meppayil in the Galleryske exhibition "everything/nothing" (October 5 to November 24) may seem strange at first, to nevertheless soon reveal gradually evident or declared links and reverse-complementary reflections that come from both artists' foundation in certain rudimentary aspects of Indian culture and their reconciling of the physicality of the real with its subtle echoes, mediational focus and minimalist direction, while references to architectural space, wall surface and fresco painting find a fine visualisation in the way the gallery rooms are used to enhance qualities intrinsic to the form and content of the works.

    Meppayil's work has evolved exquisitely. The larger gesso panels nuance the sensuous tactility of traditional southern painting ground towards an abstracted intuition of both the fresco wall and the spatial wrap of architecture, its immediacy merging closeness and expansiveness. Her drawing with rows and tiny emergences of stretched and partly embedded, copper wires indeed is a minimal gesture that contains it all, conjuring a sense of contemplation in the midst of constant labour whose rhythm picks up the sound, even music of living during a gently compressed relationship with air, light, colour and white colourlessness as well as hardly noticeable but vital shadows.

    In the two amazing installations, this process loosens up and intensifies to reveal a vast scale that perhaps underlies everything along with the bases of aesthetic form mutually interacting. One with gesso panels placed in a diagonal dynamism on and slightly away from the wall hints at the plasticity potential of flatness, while probing the delicate interdependency of blocks and surfaces, shiny metal hues and drawing-like lines, also properties the surrounding illumination and tenuous cast shadows. The other relying on a finely varied horizontal-vertical grid blends small, hard yet use-softened volumes of jewellery dies with the airy, pulsating painterliness of its impact when involving the even wall.

    Ever oscillating between and reconciling the object substance and its immaterial effect and associations, craftsmanship and contemporary art, intuition and awareness, the images offer a rarely immersive, almost self-dissolving experience whose sheer sensation slowly points towards and opens up thoughts, their trajectories always remaining ingrained in physical recognitions. The titular everything and nothing which can be felt throughout Meppayil's images, although derived from the general caption for Anastasio's works, let one recognise the former in his case, whereas the latter has to be believed on his explanation.

    Deeper at the gallery one comes face to face with two large pieces carefully and spectacularly collaged of smallish individual paintings on cardboard. Their muted brightness and abraded, palpable pigment textures seem to simultaneously evoke Renaissance frescos, as also stated through the reproduction of a self-portrait of Lorenzo Lotto, and archaic, religious Indian motifs somewhere on the border of symbolism, organic grounding, the artist's private gesture and abstraction, cosmic and microscopic views, ancient lore and the current day, bottle caps transforming into aesthetic foci, while an occasional paint squeeze translates spiritual signage into artistic marking.

    The assemblages, one alluding to the square of comparative stability and another drawing the eye into its circular motion, let one think of kaleidoscopic, shifting multitudes of the visible and its fluid potentiality that persists on the verge of clarity and uncertainty. Whilst they play well with the walls, the viewer believes the artist that they are mirrors of the mind. It may be more difficult to read from them the intended Buddhist shunyata along with the equivalence of form and emptiness. Although the technical handling of the work is excellent, one cannot escape the impression of having seen similar forms before.

    Attuned experiencing

    Yet another event at Bar1 (October 27 to November 3) brought temporary installations by a budding artist of a contemporary sensitivity. "Time Passed" by Anil Chandran P, a recent alumnus of KAVA in Mysore, may have been somewhat hard to understand on one's own in its references. Nonetheless, this character precisely could be forgiven, since for a young adept the focus on authentically received personal experiences is necessary to build a firm foundation, even if the accessibility of its intended meaning is ignored for the time being. His wall pieces revolved round recollections of moments in the childhood village and chance drawings caused by bus jerks, their form proving quite effective. If the image of passer-by words sticking to him appeared naïve, the mediation on drawing with the passage of hours created a pervasive atmosphere. The best was the interactive work that explored the varying moods of friends video-documented while handling bending wires, its projection mingling with a heap of black wires.

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  • 11/11/12--10:33: Music and dance reviews
  • Nritya Bharath fest

    The Natyantharanga Dance School celebrated its Silver Jubilee with 'Nritya Bharath'. In the 5-day programme Odissi, Kathak, Kathakali, Kalaripattu, apart from Bharathanatya were performed. Music concerts, lecture, demonstrations - enhanced the usefulness of the festival. The school conducts classes in dance, music (vocal and instrumental) and yoga - throughout the year, under the direction of Shubha Dhananjay, senior dancer.

    On Tuesday, the festival opened with the performance of the prize winners. Dr Karuna Vijayendra, noted scholar, gave a lecture demonstration on the Margi-Desi dances of Karnataka. Prateeksha Kashi (Shambhavi School of Dance) is one artiste who evokes instant pleasure, every time. The 'Taranga' is a tested piece in Kuchipudi. Standing on the brass plate she danced with ease and assurance, though it was very brief. With her graceful movements and expressive eyes Bhairavi (Ragamalika) was also appealing. No doubt she has a bright future.

    Falling short of conviction

    It was followed by a duet - husband and wife from Mysore, Badari Divya Bushan and Anjana Bhushan's Bharatanatya. They opened their programme with a invocatory piece 'Gajavadana Karuna Sadana' in the raga Sriranjini followed by 'Brochevarevarura', the popular keerthane. But their rigid 'angikas' robbed of its visual richness, falling short in conviction.

    With some more higher training, their performance may become impactful. Anupama Mohan's (Cochin) Troupe chose the famous 'Sri Krishna Parijatha,' the legendary Kuchupudi dance drama.

    Rukmini, Satyabhama, Sri Krishna and Narada performed with abandon, interesting lyrics and of course less dance and more drama. The music was melodious but loud at times. If Satyabhama can reduce her weight, the role may look more attractive and she will be able to perform easily also.

    The concept of 'Nritya Bharath' is good and welcome. But the organisers must rise the duration of each programme (party) by reducing the number of programmes, every day.

    Sangeetha Sabha

    Poorvi is the new addition to the long list of the Sangeetha Sabhas of the city. It is aiming to conduct music concerts, workshops at the BP Indian School, Malleswaram, once in 3 months, under the leadership of Dr B R Padmanabha Rao (President) and Hiremagalur Pradeep (Managing Trustee) and Umapathi Raju P (Chairman).

    M S Sheela, senior vocalist, gave the inaugural concert, accompanied by Nalina Mohan on violin, C Cheluvaraj on mridanga and T N Ramesh on ghata. Dropping the off repeated varnas, Sheela opened her programme with a varna in the raga Nalinakanthi. A divine composition of Saint Thyagaraja 'Tulaseedala' was embellished with nerval and swara.

    After 'Sri Ramya Chithalankara' with swara, she chose Purvi Kalyani. With her melodious voice, she moulded it into an essay of aesthetic finesse. An infrequent krithi 'Marachi Thive mo nennu' with unhustled grace, enriched the delineation. A ugabhoga (Ninnane Nambide Krishna) and a devotional revealed its devotional and lyrical grandeur.

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  • 11/18/12--11:05: Art review
  • The spectator as actor

    S G Vasudev's newest exhibition at Galerie De'Arts (MG Road, Barton Court, 11th Floor, October 27 to November 24) brings a familiar theme of the "Theatre of Life" while taking a panoramic angle and yet an inclusive one.

    This becomes evident with the selection of mostly smallish paintings spanning around fifteen years, against which the single 2012 canvas, with a stylised portrait of Shakespeare as the artist's alter ego, appears like an observer from within. At last one can realise that Vasudev is looking at behaviour of life and the nature and the story of his painting.

    This perspective, apart from its much expressed universal validity is especially applicable where people still have to enact socially prescribed roles. And where the limited scope of an individual's emotions finds its vent in traditional rituals, performances and the present-day cinema.

    Such conduct of human existence looking and acting at once becomes complemented by the role of the artist as a participating observer. Thus, the smallish oils with frame motif that oscillates from suggesting a draped proscenium to a plain film or TV screen and a painting mount, tend to be ambivalent whether the spectators are outside or inside the stage. This in the end also involves active elements of reality, myth and fantasy together with landscapes and the organic world.

    Watching life happen on its inner stage and revealing through a progression on the flat, Vasudev is considering alongside the fluctuating constancy of his own art subjects, as frolicking animals, the tree of fertility and death, lover couples, pensive mask-heads and vibrant sceneries both surround and enter his theatre. The aesthetic language remains the same, belonging to the quintessential modernist immersed in the empathic knowledge of the indigenous past. As always, he combines smooth and heavily textured pigmentation with design accents and a desire to embed thick brushing in a personal gesture.

    His abstract wrapping coincides with illustrative presentation of figures that simultaneously are on the verge of the symbolic and just marked, the rough, innocent and pleasantly awkward penetrated by the fascinated but also cutely mannered.

    For reconciliation

    It has been some years since #1 Shanthi Road started the Sethu Samudram project allowing interaction between local artists and their Sri Lankan counterparts from Theertha. In the face of earlier and grave recent history linking both countries as well as effecting in conflict, it has been dominated by geographic, socio-political and cultural issues, their pronouncement being as important as seeking a common ground and reconciliation.

    Although sadly, art still does not reach anyone beyond the Art circles proper, such ventures remain vital. Previous efforts of the artists who often participate continuously and of Suresh Jayaram, the moving spirit behind it all, have contributed then to their fleshing out during the recent joint residency, whose character was led by his curatorial guidance or perhaps only stimulus.

    The resulting exhibition (November 1 to 9) had two young participants from both lands led by the desire for overcoming the three decades of a complex and destructive war by reference, evocation and by drawing the onlooker into the mainly interactive installations.
    The Bangalore artists seemed to approach the task in a compassionate and encompassing way.

    With much immediacy in visual and emotive terms, Dimple Shah, using the act of erasure of suffering images and by gifting sea salt, engaged the opponent aggressiveness, victims and perpetrators of violence on all the sides, her own gesture and the visitor's active response through an appeal for mercy and at the same time for forgiveness.

    The work of Prakash L was sincere too, perturbed and empathic, whereas the metaphorical content partly came through, as the blood running through the tubes forming a soldier's boot, menacing over crematorium shots spoke of rebirth and renewal. Yet it partly remained unclear and unconvincing.

    One would have wished for an equally loaded and forgiveness-seeking position from the Sri Lankans who, however, preferred a cooler, statement-like, approach.

    "A Story of Dhal and Onion" by Prasanna Ranabahu and Lalith Manage was an accordion book with words and photographic prints alluding to the 1983 war with its ideological, commercial and psychological aspects whose realities, though, needed elucidation here.

    Manage's T-shirts for sale calling for contact through the use of Sinhala, Tamil, Kannada and English scripts along with rangoli dotted lines was a nice but somewhat over-used idea.

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  • 11/18/12--11:14: Music and dance reviews
  • Homage to Parvatikar

    Swami D R Parvatikar (1916-1990) was a Haridasa, great Rudra Veena player and a composer.

    He had created 'Dathatreya Veena' and has published a number of compositions in Hindustani style and spent his last days at the Sri Raghavendra Swamy Mutt, Indiranagar. In his memory Shri Raghavendra Swamy Mission had organised a special concert, on its own premises, last week.

    Dr Jayanth Kumar Das, who played on Sitar and Rudra Veena was initiated to music by his father Sripathi Charan Das and received advanced training from Ustad Vilayat Khan and Ustad Imrat Khan. He is working as a staff artist with the All India Radio, Bangalore and has performed both in and outside India. Young Adarsh Shenoy, who accompanied Das on Tabala, is a disciple of Nagaraj Rao Gaekwad, Rajgopal Kallurkar and Yogesh Shamsi.

    Dr Jayanth Kumar Das played both Rudra Veena and Sitar, one after the other, which was well suited for the occasion. Das opened his concert on Rudra Veena, with Purya Kalyan and followed it with rag Chandrakauns in Jhap tal, sustaining a lingering impact.

    Rag Jog gave Dr Das a good start on sitar and moulded into an essay of aesthetic finesse. Some attractive phraseology in the Madhya lay, Ek tal gath Jhala, vouching for fertile imagination and concluded with a dhun (Thilak Kamod), with lilting melody. The whole concert was heard by a sizeable audience with more respect than excitement.

    Seshadri shines

    It was the turn of Dr Seshadri Iyengar to perform in the Horizan series of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, last Saturday.

    A student of Padmini Ravi, he has had training in bollywood dance and works with the Srishti Dance Creations, London and features in 'Quick', which won the 'THE PLACE' prize.
    A Homeopathic physician and a dance-yoga instructor, Dr Seshadri has performed in some of the prestigious venues. The "Narthana Ganapathim", the invocatory piece in the raga Naata gave Seshadri a good start. An intelligent adoption of Lalgudi Jayaraman's varna (Charukeshi raga) vouched for his choreographic skill.

    His Nritta in the celebrated varna raised the fare to its rhythmic heights. One felt that he can bring more depth, though his portrayal was absorbing. He chose 3 pieces for Abhinaya - Chinna Chinna Kiliye (Vatsalya), Mere to Giridhar Gopala (Bhakti) and Shyam Ko (Shringara) - which was pleasing and concluded with a Bhajan of Meenakshi Subramanyam. Probably live music instead of CD, could have brought better inspiration for the dancer.

    Classical vocal

    Seasoned artiste O S Tyagarajan gave a soulful music concert for the Vagadheeswari Kala Kendra, last week. He was well supported by S Yashasvi on violin, H S Sudhindra on mridanga and Ullur Giridhar Udupa on Ghata.

    Tyagarajan chose a popular composition of Saint Tyagaraja as the piece de resistance of
    the concert. In this Keerthana Tyagaraja pleads - "I do not seek any boon from you. This is the most opportune time to relieve me of my distress. You know fully well that I never approach any other God. Will I aspire for anything beyond I deserve and be disappointed"! Tyagarajan brought out the entreating mood of both the raga and the lyrics.

    But the alapana, nerval and swara prasthara - all were rather brief, than the required proportion! Earlier "Rama Raghukula Jalanidhi Soma' was equally impressive and 'Nee Padamula gathi' with chitteswara was evocative. The devaranama "Sada Enna Hridayadalli" brought nostalgic memories in the old timers. The accompanists rose to the occasion.

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  • 11/25/12--11:00: Art reviews
  • Tender harshness

    Akbar Padamsee's exhibition at Time & Space (November 9 to 15) was a rare opportunity to see a significant body of his work.

    In particular, that the quite recent images were a continuation of his primary search interrupted only by periodic departures into contrast, they let one immerse oneself in experiencing them as part of ever subtly varying yet ever constant waves of creativity attuning itself to as well as probing the rudimentary human condition.

    That recurrent flow where an immediate, calmly pitched sensation cannot be separated from the distance of conscious and complex reflection made the spectator intuit in it the core feel and dynamism of life in its is becoming, sustaining and dissolving to become again.

    The gravity and scale of its reference, within its empathic modesty, also helped one understand Padamsee's position as a modern classic who nonetheless remains independent and, unlike the senior Progressives avoids specific or illustrative address preferring to anchor himself in feeling others as sentient beings.

    Such an all-inclusive but admiringly humble aim necessitates limiting of the enquiry's area for the sake of maximum depth, on the one hand, and on the other admitting the importance of complementary opposites that always permeate things, both these strands needing frequent revisiting on another plane of the past knowledge, techniques and skills, occurrences and premonitions.

    Thus, the viewer was comfortable as well as slightly surprised with the ample series of heads whose beginning in Padamsee's oeuvre goes back at least five decades.

    Their minimalist ethos in black and white, whose non-evident character relates to the Chinese painting tradition, holds endless aspects around the state of being human on the verge of the specific and universal, as if the individual potentiality in all of us, among which one can recognise the artist as a compassionate, co-feeling presence within and an agency of evocation and analysis, while the sheer multiplicity of the compelling phenomenon invites the simultaneous act of denial and erasure.

    What the spectator senses with an unobtrusive intensity is the inextricably whole blend of muted, accepted and naturally endured sadness, even pain and of quietly relished joy in just being alive and feeling it.

    Like always and slightly unlike before, Padamsee's faces appear to be lowered in an internal attentiveness and withdrawal whereas at the same time allowing outside sensations to enter them; otherwise they rise a little, as though exposing themselves to and absorbing the external, yet only to also lock in and nearly diffuse over an inner focus.

    The impact arises from the dual employment of realistic accents in clear strokes, tactile, skin-alluding textures and warm tonalities that conjure plasticity along with their instant contradiction by high abstracting, hazy dilution or violent stabbing and crossing out that flatten, almost dissolve shapes and volumes to depersonalise-refine further associations and intuitions and admit the final inscrutability of everything.

    The artist's tenderness is such that it reaches the suffering of people as well as hurts him.

    Hence, soothing stains contain harshness whilst defining strokes become mere markings of unnamed and accommodated violence and protest and graded hue tones or uncovered paper white oscillate between illumination, radiance and X-raying solidity.

    The embracing permeability of qualities inevitably includes the media used, especially that the vast majority of the works are lithographic prints. When confronted with the few drawings and watercolours, they reveal the force of the contradictions that mutually enhance and contribute, since these graphics reinterpret the strokes, tonalities and textures of drawing and of painting, connected as much by the frequent use of the brush in both as by the wash-like element there.

    Scenic enthusiasm

    'Dust on Butterfly's Wings,' Milind Nayak's current display (Genesis Art Gallery, November 12 to 26), brings yet another chapter in his celebration of nature's beauties. Having used pastels before along with oils and watercolours, the artist attributes their partially new look to his being inspired by the American painter Wolf Kahn.

    Not knowing his style, one may guess its presence under the somewhat more realistic sceneries with perspective, accentuated shadows and repeated directional strokes, as plenty of burning reds and yellows perhaps come from temperate climate autumns.
    While delighting in the lushness and saturated, bright colours of landscape throughout, the works seem to opt for different angles - some more literal and some highly abstracted in their vast, textured pigment spreads.

    Both, however, tend towards designing, which eventually results in a third and more interesting, aesthetic variant with large stretches of contrasting, even hues and abstracted forms resembling angular, digital patterns.

    On the whole, though, the always sincere joy cannot fully compensate for the somewhat easy pleasantness of the idiom.

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  • 11/25/12--11:02: Music reviews
  • Flights of fantasy

    Instrumental music, discourse and dance programmes were held as part of this year's "Flights of Fantasy" festival of Ganjam.

    Vishaka Hari, who gave a discourse here on Saturday, is well versed both in music and discourse and is a crowd puller wherever she performs. As she chose the story of Lord Hanuman for the day's programme, devotion filled compositions flowed throughout. The story was developed by presenting songs in different languages, including Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Sanskrit and of course, Kannada.

    Instead of narrating the story step by step, she highlighted the salient features through well known compositions. Though it was a Harikatha, all the elements of a regular 'Sangeetha Kacheri' was incorporated - Raga, Thaana, Krithi, Nerval and Swara Prasthara - were there in a suitable proportion. Especially, rendering of Thaana, during the jumping of the sea by Hanuman was appropriate and attractive.

    Though Vishaka Hari chose from Valmiki Sloka, Ugabhoga of Gopala Dasa, Meera Bhajan, compositions of Saint Tyagaraja were mainly elaborated. Audience also enjoyed the well woven Pallavi (Seethajanaka Sutham), Nerval and Swara Prasthara. A Bhajan (Tulasidas) and the sacred 'Mamava Pattabhirama' brought the curtain down on the well received Harikatha. Charulatha Ramanujan on violin, H S Sudhindra on Mridanga and Sukanya Ramgopal on Ghata - suited the needs of the occasion.

    Kala Nadam

    The Nadam conducted the annual 'Kala Nadam,' in association with the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. In the two-day classical music festival, Karnatic vocal, Hindustani vocal, percussion ensemble were also held.

    Manorama Mehta, was a known figure in the music circle of Bangalore, few decades back. A post graduate (Music) from the first batch of the Dance, Drama and Music Department of Bangalore University, Manorama was also known for her good repertoire.

    After a gap of several years, she performed at the Kala Nadam, of course this time with her daughter Chandrika K Mehta. She presented several compositions that were in practice few decades back, to bring back nostalgic memories of a bygone era.

    Her methodical approach to the raga (Bhairavi) with an aesthetic touch brought a composite picture of the melody.

    The 'Balagopala' stood out for its improvisatory nerval and Swara Prastara. Though her voice occasionally reminding her age, she deployed her concert craft convincingly. Co-singer Chandrika, also a post graduate in music, revealed ample flashes of her talent.

    But she must gain confidence to sing and perform independently. 'Yochana', Hari Kunida, Jinjoti Thillana, Meera Bhajan - were the other important compositions - they presented. Charumathi Ramanujan (violin), V S Rajagopal (Mridanga) and T N Ramesh (Ghata) - supported the vocalists.

    Memorial programme

    L Raja Rao Memorial Foundation presented 'Veena Raja Rao National Award' to Dr Kadri Gopalnath, renowned saxophone player, on Friday. It was followed by a Veena recital by Dr Suma Sudhindra, a popular Veena player. She was supported by M M Ganesh on violin, C Cheluvaraj on Mridanga and on Ghata by S N Narayana Murthy. It was a bright start, with the Kalyani varna in five speeds.

    There was good clarity even in high speed. The invocatory piece in the raga Bouli, was a composition of L Raja Rao. Her alap for Shanmukhapriya was a treat, meandering over the pivotal swara's alluringly. Thana was brisk and dignified.

    The popular keerthane 'Marivere' with crisp swara was delineated with aplomb. With melodious 'Naada' and impressive presentation, Suma concluded her recital with a thillana and devarnama (Bha gyada Lakshmi Baramma). Earlier, Vidushi Veena Kinhal, paid tributes to her father and guru through a Veena recital. She played few selected compositions of L Raja Rao in a befitting manner.

    Pleasing sans sparkles

    There was a Hindustani vocal recital also in the 'Kala Nadam' festival. Pandith Amarendra Dhaneswar, Mumbai, a disciple of Smt Neela Bhagawat, who belongs to the Gwalior Gharana sang, in a simple way. He has produced few music related programmes for television and All India Radio and written a number of articles.

    Pandith Amarendra Dhaneshwar opened his vocal recital with rag Behag. His alap was absorbing. Gradually developing the raga, touching the pivotal swaras, he gave a detailed picture of the raga, which was pleasing sans sparks.

    He also presented Jaijaivanti (Madhya Lay), a thumri and a Bhajan, though short of emotion.

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  • 12/02/12--10:45: Dance and music reviews
  • Promising young dancers

    The Nritya Nandana Performing Arts Centre conducted a dance festival at the spacious Jnanajyothi Institution, Yelahanka, last week. The centre is conducting the dance class at the suburban - Yelahanka New Town and Sanjaynagar under the direction of Seema Jawahar and training young aspirants.

    Young dancers opened the programme with a Malhari (Naata) customarily. Kudos for selecting the lyrics of Harihara, in which tiny tots performed like, peacock, parrot etc. beautifully. In the 'Govinda Salahu Sada Enna' ten incarnations of Vishnu, were performed, students changing their roles in quick succession performed with ease and assurance. 'Madhuranagarilo' is a legendary devotional and the Meera Bhajan 'Jubath Radhe' is also quiet popular.

    They concluded with a Thillana in the raga Pharz. With higher training and some more stage experience they can reach great heights. Bharathi Venugopal (vocal), Spurthi Aravind (Natuvanga), Janardhan (Mridanga) and Mathura (Flute) - supported from the wings.

    Lacking impact

    Aishwarya Warrier who also performed in the 'Mohini Nrithyathi' is also known to the connoisseurs and has performed in many prestigious organisations. She chose a well known story Shakunthala of Kalidasa. She has adopted the world famous story of Shakunthala to Mohiniattam with good music. With some more editing and graceful Abhinaya, the performance may become more impactful.

    Mohini Nrithyathi

    The Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi is celebrating the "Mohini Nrithyathi" (Mohiniyattam Mahotsavam Silpasala) in different parts of India. The Festival was conducted in Bangalore in association with the Mudra and East Cultural Association.
    Dr Sunanda Nair, has completed the PhD and has performed on several platforms, both in and outside India. This experience was evident throughout her recital. Opening with a Ganesha Stuthi, she chose a popular composition of Swati Tirunal "Bhavayami Raghuramam" as mainstay. Seetha Swayamvara, Jatayu, Shurpanakha episodes, Seethapaharana - were performed with graceful Abhinaya. But the portrayal tended to be overly dramatic, occasionally. Background music - especially vocal (though recorded) was complementary to the dance, which was another plus point.

    Impeccable mastery

    Curtains came down on the music festival of the Academy of Music (Chowdiah Memorial Hall) held on the occasion of its golden jubilee. Mysore Nagaraj, Mysore Manjunath and T K Murthy, recipients of Chowdiah Awards, enthralled the audience through their instrumental concert.

    Mysore Nagaraj and Mysore Manjunath, real child prodigies who have scaled great heights in the field of violin are known both as soloists and accompanists. Abhogi glowed with resplendent glory with a variety of sangathies. The ragalapana in all the three sthayees, developing alternatively, was attractive and wholesome.

    The composition 'Sabhapathikku' was brightened with swara. 'Bagayanayya' was brief but pleasing. Bindumalini was short but soulful. The only popular keerthana in this raga 'Enta muddo enta sogaso' (Tyagaraja) touched the hearts of the connoisseurs.
    Kalyani raga and the familiar Krithi 'Ethavunara' was given detailed treatment.

    With their impeccable mastery over the violin, and precise sruthi and laya, their Kalyani delighted. Their phrases in the lower register using the bass strings to effect and the 'Shruthi bheda' captivated the listeners and made them not mind the absence of Raga, Tana and Pallavi. On the whole the concert was proof of Mysore Nagaraj and Mysore Manjunah's concert craft and their methodical approach with an aesthetic touch. Nonagenarian T K Murthy supported on mridanga, in his characteristic manner. Young B C Manjunath and Ullur Giridhar Udupa also accompanied with good understanding on mridanga and Ghata.

    Soulful compositions

    Sree Madwadiraja Aradhana Trust conducted the Muthuswamy Dikshithar's Day at the Vasudeva Gana Mandira, Akshayanagar, Bannerghatta Road, last Sunday. Hundreds of musicians and music students sang together few selected compositions of Muthuswamy Dikshitar under the direction of R K Padmanabha.

    'Ekadantam Bhajeham' in Bilhari - gave the ensemble a bright start. It was followed by Parwatha Rajakumari (Sriranjini) and Kamakshee Kamakoti (Sumadyuti). 'Sri Viswanatham Bhajeham' - a Chaturdasha ragamalike (14 ragas) was the right choice to conclude.

    They sang in unison in the serene atmosphere of the Vadiraja Kala Bhavana. Earlier Prof. Mallapuram G. Venkatesha, Vice-Chancellor of Karnataka Samskrita University, unveiled a portrait of Veena Seshanna.

    Mysore VSubramanya

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  • 12/02/12--10:47: Art reviews....
  • Immersive probing

    "Project Cinema City" at the NGMA (November 2 to December 2) was an extraordinarily spectacular, if also rough and layered, display adequately in tune with the world it addressed.

    Curated by Madhusree Dutta in connection with the centenary of Indian film-making, it reached under the skin of the mutually reflective relationship between the realities and ethos of Bombay/Mumbai and the cinema it has produced.

    Considering the manifold immensity of the subject with its present and its history, it was indeed right to approach it as an intensely exuberant but also ambiguous and changing process, which took shape during an interweaving of research and documentation with evocation, interpretation and comment, while collective effort contrasted with as well as was complemented by individual works.

    Rather than focus on glamour and superstars, the project aimed at bringing to the surface indications of the less evident yet revelatory aspects of the phenomenon - existentially and sociologically as well as in terms of the imagination, emotions, ways of perception and values.

    The event in which a vast number of artists participated, many of them important names and very talented younger ones, was conceived by Dutta as simultaneously separated and eventually intertwining dual strands of short films and artworks, space letting one consider here only the latter part co-curated by Archana Hande.

    Referring constantly to the process of questioning filmdom fantasy within the modest urban environment, the exhibition with differing accents oscillated between offering a broader perspective on ample, collected and scrutinised documentary material with commentaries and allowing for a stronger personal expression in close-up towards specific areas within the topic.

    Thus, the spectator experienced it in shifts from the immediacy of visual-emotive immersion to the distance of information and awareness.

    Overall and close sights permeated throughout the very expansive display which, on the one hand, conjured effects and sensations of the street with its humble objects, mapping too, and, on the other, of elusive and alluring cinematic images.

    The dynamism and the large scale of the optical and the viewer's actual progression could be felt together with the intuited as well as verbalised presence of narratives regarding cinema as such, its history and the human spirit along with both ordinary lives behind the industry including its sweatshops, workmen travelling and viewer-ship as well as stardom tales or character and pathways of iconisation of images on the verge of the cinematic and real. This was pronounced in the multi-angle works done collaboratively by several artists as much as in the individual contributions.

    Well balanced on the whole was the pervasive but transient coexistence of enchanting, often ambiguous and intangible effects and feelings with the rawness of its low-end production base, the frequent use of popular culture motifs and styles from various periods reflecting it in its coarseness capable of emotional saturation and specific beauty, its naivety holding poetry too.

    Varied movement, sometimes speed playing a role there, the exhibition finely mediated visual clarity and suggestive darkness, while sometimes there prevailed tactility or sound. An essential thread belonged to acted out as well as inherently adopted erotic attractiveness and make-believe.

    Among the collective installations, even environments 'Table of Miscellany,' 'Cinema City Lived' and 'The Calendar Project' drew particular attention. Those were completed by significant individual works by Pushpamala N, Atul Dodiya, Anant Joshi, Shreyas Karle and Paromita Vohra, one by Archana Hande bringing the spectator into the work.

    Hybrid symbiosis

    "Have space will grow," Urmila V G's exhibition at Gallery 545 (November 3 to 20), had a fair collection of large woodcuts which proved the artist's usual technical solidity blending effortless grace able to suggest playful lyricism with sufficient roughness to evoke a bit of real sensations.

    Urmila does not take grand gestures or concepts, instead in a modestly authentic manner looking for natural complexities in the surroundings today, this time on the hybrid edge between the inanimate objects of urban domesticity and plant-life.

    With acceptance, perhaps admiration, and warm humour, she pushes both sides to a surprising but charming co-existence, organic beings finding new ways to survive among potentially suitable situations, foliage and flowers erupting from the pressure and moisture of a gas stove or an iron, meandering dynamically in tune with shoes, blossoming trumpet-like from a transistor radio and winding around the firm but open support of a sewing machine.

    At this, the printmaker effectively oscillates between design and animation stressing the liveliness of floral patterns on fabrics or wall papers versus the ornamental aspects of live plants.

    The clear graphic qualities of her woodcuts too mediate the partial painting-like impact, while she finely induces translucency and reflective properties.

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  • 12/09/12--10:40: Art reviews
  • Expressive staging

    The 'Pondicherry' photographs by Sebastian Cortes at Tasveer (November 10 to 30) offered a charmingly classic and sensitive insight into the unique character and atmosphere of the place.

    It was perhaps inevitable for a Western photographer living now largely in the country to be drawn to Pondicherry's often comfortably and acceptingly loose symbiosis of different cultures and layers of time with a specific undercurrent of bygone France.

    But the outcome, more than expected, endears with the kind of warmth and perceptiveness that thoroughly blend probing distance with the intimate immediacy of an insider.

    Whether aided or not by his association with the theatricality of fashion photography presentation, the artist is attuned to as well as enhances the element of self-revelatory staging that remains intrinsic to how architecture and human surroundings are consciously as well as intuitively shaped in order to mediate mundane practicality with imposing display.

    The image of an empty old cinema interior with rows of seats focussed on the large, luminous screen appears to capture that mutuality between the receptive observer and the evocative space where Cortes locates himself.

    That position within the process of discovering and experiencing the mood in and together with the behaviour of architecture bearing traces of the human presence can be sensed, especially, in the many shots of colonial time building interiors. With a tinge of inner drama, he looks at things frontal and symmetric along with depth, and waits long until they slowly yield more of their nature or he seeks such disclosures during somewhat quicker, more dynamic encounters with angled, far-receding flights.

    The spectator then becomes almost a participant in the unfolding of the display-recognition. Frequently devoid of inhabitants, the spacious elegance of the massive columns and soft arches under plentiful, dainty candelabra, amid the intricately carved wood of furniture, its browns and greys bleached by age as well as intruded into by useless fragments of rejected domesticity, suggests the beautiful yet rough sadness of the grand era that has passed away but having imprinted itself on the present and survives as memory of relic as well as in hybrid coexistence with new and diverse forms of life.

    As European structures and architectural details finely mediate the indigenous inner courtyard, whose illumination seems simultaneously dramatic and private, they enter into relationships with more visible but ignored or unassumingly welcome seams or rifts when in westernised environs, combining graceful antiques with plain new plastic, otherwise muted down under the predominance of traditional Indian structures, dense Hindu icons and equally profuse human business and decor.

    With a similarly evident merger and separateness, Cortes empathically probes and assimilates the verge between houses and tropical nature, also between aesthetic qualities and kitsch, drawing from the latter both a literal and poetic surround that speaks of human life behind - naïve, even crude as well as delicate or exuberant and loving. Dark, forlorn, archaic sights contrast yet connect with images of the cherished past in the carefully polished surfaces of furniture, otherwise with airy, illuminated, translucent ones from the spiritual environs of Auroville. If concentrating on people, the artist approaches them quite like architecture - stressing the obediently spreading regularity of RSS trainees, recalling the rows of medicinal bottles elsewhere or the quiet liveliness of idlers along a beach front, otherwise emphasising the dynamic engagement between a person and his/her possessions, workplace with its objects and other people, as the dissipating viewpoints and image blurring add to the state of responsive linkage. Among the best are the scenes of a naturally surreal stage where the grandeur and artificiality of plant-life, wild yet tamed in the city, cohabits with religious idols, ritual-mundane priesthood and traces of daily life.

    'Tortoise Venus Nautilus', Anuradha Nalapat's exhibition at Galerie Sara Arakkal (November 17 to December 8), was an ambitious exploration of universal connectedness on the micro and macro planes, alluding to mathematical and scientific ratios behind its spontaneous rhythms and recurring forms that govern mundane human life along with its organic and mystical or philosophical aspects. Since the concepts were verbally explained and poetically evoked in the catalogue text, the large canvases and drawings may have looked somewhat like illustrations to it, especially that they tended to oscillate between the obviously depicted or symbolised, the pleasantly patterned and the abstracted for expressiveness. The frequent snail shapes and spiralling shell forms amid graph-like motifs and dotted trajectories, cosmic as well as minute, interspersed with schematic human and tree silhouettes and sinking into amorphous, textured spaces, in particular when accompanied by gently sweet hues, verged on pleasant design. Better were the black and white images that calmly tried to merge representative residues with gesture-laden abstraction.
    Marta Jakimowicz

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