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  • 12/09/12--11:42: Dance and music reviews
  • Colourful ragamalika

    Ragamalika, as the title implies, is a garland of ragas. Choice of the ragas are based on aesthetic considerations. Decorative patterns in their highly artistic forms are seen both in the 'dhatu' (musical setting) and 'maatu' (Sahitya) of 'ragamalikas'.

    Lyrics of 'ragamalika' are usually themed devotional , and sometimes, love or praise of a patron, which will be followed by an appropriate chitte swara, usually. From the standpoint of 'bhava' and 'rasa', there should be naturalness in the sequence of ragas and it should comprise minimum of four ragas. Raga mudra, vaggeyakara mudra, prabhanda mudra and raja mudra are incorporated, suitably. There are 'ragamalikas' belonging to 'Kalpita Sangita' and the sphere of 'Manodharma Sangita'.

    Vidushi Manasi Prasad elaborated on 'ragamalikas', at the music festival organised by the M A Narasimhachar Music Foundation. Vocal, musical discourse, instrumental trio - were held at the 11th annual music festival and violinist H K Venkatram was honoured with the title 'Gaana Varidhi' on the occasion.

    Manasi Prasad presented a number of 'ragamalikas' - from 'varna' to 'laalee' - which was proof of her hard work and repertoire.

    'Ranjanimala' of Tanjore Shankara Iyer is a familiar composition. 'Sri Viswanatham Bhajeham', the 'Chaturdasha ragamalike' of Dikshitar, is a well-knit, dignified composition. In contrast, 'Sananda Kamala Manohari' of Swathi Tirunal, in four ragas, is a rare at the concert.

    Manasi Prasad also sang a 'Dwiraga Pallavi' in 'amrithavarshini' and 'anandabhairavi', set to 'Khanda Mattya Thala'. In 'Virutham' and 'Ragamala', each line was in different ragas, and it was followed by a 'Thillana' of Dandayudha Pani. She concluded with an appropriate 'lalee' on Lord Sri Rama. She was very well supported by Nalina Mohan on violin, C Cheluvaraj on Mridanga and Sukanya Ramgopal on Ghata.

    Promising dancer

    Madhuri Nagesh, who presented Bharathanatya at the Indian Institute of World Culture last week, is the daughter of senior dancers Suma Nagesh and R Nagesh. After initial training from Suma Nagesh (Natya Shree), she is receiving training from Prof M R Krishnamurthy (Kalakshithi), and has passed the senior examination also.

    A first rank holder and gold medalist in MSc (Botany), Madhuri performed her 'Ranga Pravesha' in 2007. She has taken the lead roles in several dance dramas and has performed in a few Sabhas.

    The piece de resistant of her recital was the well known 'varna' of Papanasham Shivan "Swamy nee" in the raga 'Sriranjini'. With good 'thattu-mettu' and expression, she performed the "Virahoth Khanditha Nayika" in a pleasing manner.

    She also performed -Alaripu, Astapadi (Radhe Hari - Todi raga) and Jawadi (Kamach) with impactful 'abhinaya'. A well known devaranama (Venkatachala Nilayam) and Thillana (Hindola) and Mangala (on Srirama) - were the concluding items. A promising Madhuri Nagesh can improve her laya with further training.

    Raag rang
    The Bangalore Lalitha Kala Parishat presented a unique music programme, "Raag Rang Samay Yatra", on Friday. The musical event is based on the 'raag-time' concept of Hindustani music. The troupe explained the moods created by different notes in a raga - how, as the Sun traverses from dawn to dusk and back to dawn, ragas create different moods of the time of day.

    The event unfolded with a 'Shiva stuthi' in the 'drupad' style to suit the dawn in the raga 'bhairav'. It was followed by a 'khyal' to suit the first 'prahar', in the raga 'allaya bilawal', which was followed by 'gurjari todi' and 'komal rishab asaveri'. Later began 'Purvang Pradhan' and 'Bhim Palas' with a lovely lilt and the Bhajan 'Hari Ke Charan' and 'yaman kalyan', the king of ragas. 'Ada chowtal bandish' and 'gowda malhar' was sung with gay abandon. A few monsoon melodies also pleased the gathering. It concluded with the 'Payaliya Baaje' in 'bhairavi'.

    Eighteen ragas in chorus, duets and solo, highlighted the beauty of the 'raagdhari' system. Direction and commentary by musician Lalith J Rao were successful in showcasing the nuances and shades of a few ragas of Hindustani music. Nine vocalists, aged between 14 and 70, sang 'dhrupad', 'khayal', 'tarana', 'dadra' and 'kajri', set in different taals. It was melodious, interesting and informative. Of course, it was the result of Lalitha Rao's talent, experience and disciplined training. They were accompanied on Harmonium by Vyasamurthy Katti, on thabala by Gurumurthy Vaidya and Shashibhushan Gurjar.

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  • 12/16/12--12:09: Music Review
  • Pleasing vocal

    Nadajyothi Sri Tyagarajaswamy Bhajana Sabha celebrated Kartheeka Sangeetha Shubha Sandhya for five days at Sri Kannika Parameshwari Temple, Malleswaram. Sri Kanakadasa Jayanthi and Rajyotsava were also celebrated on the occasion, and held under the collaboration of Malleswaram Arya Vysya Sangha. Solo violin, Gotuvadya, Gamaka, apart from vocal were held and Dr Suthram Nagaraja Sastry was also felicitated on the eve of receiving the honorary doctorate from Sri Lanka International University, Colombo.

    Kalavathy Avadhooth who gave a vocal recital in the Kartheeka Sangeetha Utsav, hails from a well known musician's family. A gold medalist in the post graduation, Kalavathi has won several prizes including the one at All India Radio music competition and Gana Kalasiri from the Karnataka Ganakala Parishat.

    Kalawathy has been known for her consistency which was substantiated as she opened with 'Shankari Neeve' in the raga Bhegade. 'Bhuvaneswariya' of Dr Muthaiah Bhagawathar had lingering effect The majestic krithi 'Subramanyena Rakshito Ham' - also pleased the gathering. Raga Purvi Kalyani paved the way for a cozy feeling. But the Thodi put the concert in a solid mould. The stately composition 'Dasharathe' enlivened with some melodious sangathees. She was well supported by Nalina Mohan on violin and V Krishna on Mridanga.

    Confident singing

    V Vijayalakshmi who gave a vocal recital for the 'Every Friday Cultural Evening Programme' is a well educated visually-challenged vocalist. She has undergone training for long time and has also performed in few organisations.

    Vijayalakshmi, in the current programme presented a number of Keerthana and devotionals. 'Govardhana Gireesham' is a fine selection. Though she elaborated with nerval and swara, it was good in parts only. "Yenu Sukhavo Entha Sukhavo' was pleasing.

    A sloka was followed by 'Palise nee ennanu Gowri', again a sloka (Pujyaya Raghavendraya) was followed by 'Brindavanam athi mohanam.' Then two popular devotionals - 'Innu Daya Barade Dasana Mele' and 'Madhura Madhura Meenakshi', followed by a 'Govinda Leela' in vilamba kaala. 'Narayana ninna, Namada Smaraneya' and 'Brahma Okate' - both are favourites of listeners.

    Vijayalakshmi has good voice, repertoire is also good and sings with confidence. But her voice is shaky at times and was short in its resonance, marring the impression. Vijayalakshmi has good future by paying more attention towards sruti and nerval and swara prasthara. She was accompanied on violin by Nagendra Prasad, on Mrudanga by Narasimha Prasad and on Tabala by R Seshadri.

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  • 12/16/12--12:11: Art Review
  • Permeable dimensions

    However faraway her photography may have taken her, Clare Arni has also been documenting and evoking the realities of mostly working-class Bangalore still largely immersed in traditional paradigms and occupations, always attuned to and respectful of the effort, condition and spirit of its people.

    Such attentiveness to the immediate lets the aesthetic properties of the shots draw from the actual manifestations of its atmosphere. Her new exhibition "Street Space" at Gallery 545 (November 23 to December 21), in fact, emphasises, intuitively probes and blends both these strata of reality and of form as simultaneously literal and interpreted, raw and artistic. The merger of public and private dimensions with their diverse aspects in the look and behaviour of city roads is a familiar phenomenon that nonetheless asks for an ever new expression, while the artist has deepened it towards an inquiry into its roots and nature by focussing on the mechanisms of beautification of things common which as well bears on the character of art-making.

    This became perhaps spontaneously triggered and enabled by the recent landscape of municipally sponsored wall paintings which here turn into existential backdrops and surrounds. Between the matter-of-fact indifference-cum-acceptance at the bottom and the condemnation by those in the know, one should admire Arni for choosing better quality paintings and for locating, even within the amateurish and the crude, many a graceful, vivacious and aspiring side to humble living. Like before, she approaches the subject lovingly and sharply. Hence, her noticing roughness and absurdities brings warm, sporadically mischievous, humour rather than irony as she indulges in a direct, close and distanced, observing-embracing the humanity of her protagonists.

    One could assume a starting point and condensation of reality with perception layers as epitomised in the proximity shot from a Christian slum where irregular mud walls seem to be softly compressed into a loose palimpsest of frontal flatness and graded recess, of interiors innocuously spilling outside, the inhabitants and their possessions occupying all the dimensions at the same time. Their modest architecture virtually transforms into a brushed evenness, since the desire to make the place inspirational stimulated the people to cover its surfaces with naive but sincere religious imagery and sceneries, their borders running along with wall structures. On a very close level, that desire informs another shot that registers the abundance of plastic flowers and garlands being arranged for sale by a young man, the kitsch of their brightness eventually yielding poetry.

    Thanks to Arni picking out murals that blend schoolish academicism with the realistic skills of old hoardings painters their near-illusionist representation helps bring out essential traits of the people around from the sense of their physical and mood-full presence to their existential situation - the exuberance of subdued women, whether Hindu or Muslim, the lushness of ritual flowers offered for sale in front of a painted temple, the naughty, delighted tribal fancily dressed in the national flag or the cocky vendor of vegetables and hats in his filmy attire.

    With impish joy carefully combining her sights, Arni goads naïve art to reveal human moods - nostalgia in a young woman by sail boats, aggressiveness in the man-demon by a vendor of shiny crackers, pose similarities between a middle-aged man and a painted female, the more playful than surreal mannequin and skeleton greeting a ritual procession. On the other hand, a roadside dhaba, a bike under a peeling wall with posters or a nocturnally luminous, mobile shrine of Holy Mary on their own conjure visual lyricism and Mother Teresa's portrait does that when draped by eerily delicate festive lights, even religion-oriented objects with their hues, saturated in the kavachas and muted in the nuns' habits.

    Seed ideas

    "Salvaging Time," the interactive session of Jeetin Rangher and Katarina Rasic (Sumukha, November 28), was announced in a rather grand manner as a "continuation of the Green World Art Festival exploring man's tumultuous relationship with the universe."

    In the actual it turned out to be a presentation with two joint performances intending to involve the audience. The first performance had a very interesting idea behind it, even though it did not flesh it out enough. Both artists were looking into each other's eyes while drawing lines on the table in order to know the other and mutually respond. Potentially promising, it would have necessitated much more sensing-enabling acts than it did.

    The more complex piece about the changing urban moods and environs including mobile boxes-notions-buildings and poetry reading on a skyscraper ladder came through as a slightly self-indulgent token play, again without allowing a heightened experience.

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  • 12/23/12--10:51: Art reviews
  • Revealing contrariness

    The World Upside Down, the photographic exhibition by the French conceptual artist Philippe Ramette brought to Sumukha by the Alliance Francaise (December 8 to 20), conjured a quite immersive experience.

    The gallery regularly filled with large, uniform prints enveloped the viewer in sceneries that seemed at the same time normally pleasant or alluring and dizzy in their contrarian situations, pervaded as much by a mischievous or absurdist humour as by a serious kind of inquiring sensitivity.

    Only after a while one realised that it must have been the often bewildering look and character of reality itself which triggered in the artist the need for further, consciously adopted contradictory, even apparently illogical, ruses directed so as to enable its enhanced perception.

    Since Ramette, in the way of a sculptor using his own body and a performance artist photographing himself involved in the artwork process, figures in all the images, one gets insight into the fact that perceptiveness capable of discovery always necessitates some degree of altered, hence novel, vision.

    Actually, the amazing, contrary aspects inherent in natural landscape may ask for a suitable response, one print showing a country road with Ramette on it, its perpendicular rocky wall too having him inconspicuously walk at 90 degrees.

    The structure and power of natural spreads may be such that he is compelled to both overturn them and adjust his position to theirs, in a particular case the vertical sea and sky horizon making him imitate it above it. Many urban and natural vistas here place the observing, contemplating artist either in a normal pose against strangely reorganised views or display him defying the physics and gravity of ordinary surroundings walking on tree trunks and levitating over furniture and buildings.

    Otherwise in commonsense circumstances he engages in accepted activities and explorations that, however, happen under the sea. Here the employment of photography with its familiar commercial attractiveness that sometimes yields poetic moods lets one sense the extraordinary embedded in the ordinary reflecting also the role of Ramette's formal black suit whose awkwardness in an artist combines normalcy and the abnormal, fun and gravity, perhaps even the honest naivety that can reach revelation, the rational and the irrational as different sides of one phenomenon.

    The imperative of reverse perception finds a naughtily literal metaphor in the artist's adventures amid hilly sceneries which he probes and absorbs in seclusion aided by all sorts of viewing contraptions that largely allude to the helpful artifice of the camera obscura. His striving as a voyager and surveyor climbing steep outcrops becomes reciprocated by the mock-scientific boxes on his head.

    The refreshing contrariness of seeing pathways serves knowledge equally to just feeling things and to delighting in the experience of life's immediacy. So, Ramette presents himself savouring the atmosphere of sheer, calm laziness during levitation with a cigarette in his studio interior, while he allows us to intuit the quiet electricity between him and his lover.

    Elusive spaces

    The recent canvases by Manuchakravarthi K N (Venkatappa Art Gallery, December 6 to 10) were a surprise to someone used to his earlier work heavily influenced by high modernist abstraction. Like before, proving sound technical skills, the large acrylics struck as an evidently genuine effort towards a different grounding in the experience of both reality's immediacy and its relationship with intangible space.

    The authenticity of the desire to feel things intensely and individually could be recognised in the recurrence of the artist's self-portraits, the introductory one having his bare torso among fluffy clouds against a black void, his hand stretching out to touch both perhaps.

    The show's title "Mahayana" and the catalogue essay made the spectator look for a proof of the painter's belonging to a new aesthetic school founded in the Buddhist idea of a non-definable condition of flux and ever transient becoming. Since the works display certain formal elements characteristic to the oeuvre of K T Shiva Prasad, one tends to see the source of inspiration there.

    Unlike in Shiva Prasad where complex concepts can be pervasively intuited, the younger artist finds himself still obliged to describe and name things, hence often risks illustrativeness in the shape of somewhat too repetitively curling clouds, cosmically evocative spirals or a blank vastness behind rustic figures that accepts and stabilises them or makes them look uncomfortable in their suspension.

    That tendency to describe sometimes makes the viewer unnecessarily expect meaning in otherwise unassumingly direct representations, for instance the flocks of grazing animals.

    On the other hand, one really likes the rough-tender realism of his faces that seem to be quietly attuned within as well as without.

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  • 12/23/12--10:53: Music and dance reviews
  • Karnatic music in Harmonica

    On Friday, connoisseurs witnessed a different kind of concert at Dr H N Kalakshetra, Jayanagar. Of course, it was announced as 'Karnatic classical music'! But the instrument was of foreign origin! Harmonica or the mouth organ is not a new instrument for music connoisseurs! But classical music in mouth organ - and that too for 2 hours?! - is unusual!

    Sai Tejas Chandrasekar, who played the mouth organ, is an MCom graduate and a disciple of Vidushi Roopa Sridhar. He is a scholarship recipient from the Karnataka Sangeetha Nritya Academy and a practitioner of classical vocal, sugama sangeetha and tabla, too. He has won a few prizes and has worked as an RJ for Radio Shruthi, (Worldspace).

    Sai Tejas opened with 'Raghu Nayaka' (Hamsadhwani), which gave him a flying start, and was followed by few familiar compositions of Saint Tyagaraja.

    Raga 'Bindu Malini' at once attracts even a layman. Thus 'Entha Muddo Entha Sogaso' was evocative. It was followed by Andolika and Huseni. The 'Nalinakanthi raga' was elaborated for 'Manavyalara.'

    Touching the pivotal 'swaras,' Sai Tejas gave a colourful picture of the 'raga.' The percussionists - Ranjani Siddanti and B Bhagyalakshmi played 'Tani,' with understanding, though it was slightly overstretched!

    'Devaranama' (Jagadoddarana), Saama (Maanasa Sancharare) and western note - were rendered in the post-interval session. J K Sridhar gave good support throughout and especially his 'Nalina Kanthi' was sparkling.

    With some more training and stage experience, Sai Tejas Chandrasekhar can reach great heights.

    Colourful dance festival

    The Sai Arts International conducted the annual dance festival at the Seva Sadana. In the 5-day dance festival, dancers from different states performed Mohini Attam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathak and Sattriya Nritya, apart from Bharathanatya recital.

    On Wednesday, a Bharathanatya recital by young dancing couple - Chetan and Chandra Prabha - set in motion the event. The artists are being trained under Suparna Venkatesh and Manjula Paramesh. Pushpanjali and Ganesha Stuti ('Mahaganapathim Manasa Smarami') - gave them a fine start, followed by 'Shringapuradheeswari.'

    'Shankara Sri Girinatha,' the devine cosmo dance was quiet attractive and the Kannada Jawadi ('Sariye Ea Reethy'). The performances revealed a good grounding but they have to improve their 'abhinaya.'

    Atulya Rakesh, disciple of Vinutha Nedungadi, began her Mohini Attam with a Ganesha stuti and Shiva stuti. Her neck movements (peacock) were also attractive during the performance.

    Sahana Balasubramanyam, student of Saroja Vaidyanathan, chose verses from Adi Shankaracharya (Rag Megh), followed by a 'Ganga stotram' (Jaijai Gange).
    There was a flowing grace in her 'angikas,' sparkled in well knit Adavus and sleek expressiveness. There was one more Mohiniattam performance by M B Swarna, disciple of Gopika Varma. Opening with 'Ganapathi Stuti' (Aarabhi), she continued with 'Jathiswara.' 'Hari Hareswaran' on Ayyappa was rather theatrical.

    Madhulita Mohapatra, senior Odissi dancer, along with two members of the Nrityantar - Anjali Raj Urs and Madhura Sarcar, presented Pallavi in the 'Saveri raga' with grace and charm. The love affair of Radha and Krishna has become the talk of the town.
    People on the streets, bazaar of Braja, etc, are talking about the love between Radha and Krishna. This was presented in the 'Bajuchhi Sahi Bajare.' The curtains came down with 'Sakhi bo.' The 'Vasika Sajika Nayika' was well portrayed. The organisers must provide atleast 100 minutes to each dancer, if not they cannot do justice.

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  • 12/30/12--09:59: Ambiguous animation
  • It may not be a discovery that ordinary objects of importance and long-term handling drawn from around intimate as well as public spaces become somewhat invested with sensations, intuitions and emotions that people consciously associate only with the aims such objects serve.

    Throughout time, yet, this situation assumes somewhat new manifestations, and the current, increasingly technology-based circumstances inevitably bring in specific results.

    Between a rudimentary mechanism of utility and robots or computers imitating human behaviour, the boundary of the live or organic and the engineered tends to become hazy, while constant active use of animated gadgetry is bound to generate instinctive, even if unrealised, uncertainty as to how far the occurrences within one side influence those within the other.

    Pors & Rao, or the Bangalore-based, Danish-Indian artist couple of Soren Pors and Aparna Rao, in their exhibition at Galleryske (December 1 to January 12) are fine-tuned to it all like some seismograph come almost alive.

    As though reflecting the phenomenon, they always work and show together as a team while stressing, on the one hand, the process behind their technically having re-done the pieces and, on the other, their open-ended expectation from both the
    exhibits and the visitor to interact dynamically towards a never quite defined but mutual impact that can be individually picked up and interpreted.

    Thus, the title itself - 'Applied Fiction (Reworked)' - also adequately suggests an adjustable yet elusive relationship between the real and the fantasised, in particular between sentient human beings and mechanically or electrically driven objects that appear to act on their own and respond to people, their proximity generating never quite clear, verge states of animation and intention.

    A wonderful quality of the actual display is that all such complexities came through simultaneously simple and layered images whose immersion in normal life triggered basic recognitions as well as unconscious, unexpected responses and mostly aspirational emotions.

    On entering, one nearly stumbles on the "Sun Shadow" just above and on the floor opposite the glass door, its ray-tentacle body of an ink splash in low rubber relief looks flat like a drawing from the natural star and at the same time animalistic in its dormant plasticity with the softly jerky stir that seems to have its inner pulse and
    respond to the viewer's presence.

    This partly true and partly illusory condition of moving towards animated things to stimulate them and let them influence one's experience intensifies with a suitable sharpness and near-lucidity in the two part "Split Knife" emerging from and sinking into high-polished wooden pedestals. The Chaplin-like, three-dimensional cartoon figure trying to retain its balance upside down on a "Heavy Hat" entices one, rather than try to help it, to compare with or maybe test, its valiant vulnerability on oneself.

    "The Uncle Phone" was a shiny red apparatus, immensely elongated as though with painful gentleness, allowed the spectator to empathise with the ordinary wish to connect through distance.

    The playful humour there that reveals sensitivity has found a culmination in "Teddy Universe," its bear shape under the ceiling translating a child's cuddly comfort into the more adult feeling of secure awe on being enveloped by cosmic limitlessness, as the toy fur on close contact transforms into a night sky with tiny blinking stars.

    At some point the spectator might doubt the precise, cool and shiny elegance of the works against the rough and the raw of the broader environment here, to eventually accept the same considering its privileged urban origin and address.

    Alluring godliness

    One remembers Sachin Jaltare painting atmospheric figures of a subdued sensual charm, their softly stylised realism being complemented by smooth stretches of abstract brushing with textures and tonalities.

    His technical professionalism always served the need to please the eye. His new works from the series "Tales of Infinity" displayed at Kynkyny (December 21 to January 11) suggest that the artist has developed spiritual ambitions. While his stated intention is to capture the fusion of the human and the divine, the finite and the eternal, of duality and unity, the actual images depict mostly lover couples, indeed, equipped with sacred markings, however, rather devoid of anything other than indulgent cuteness.

    In fact, their rendering is more sugary now than before, as evident in the kiss-curly mouths and such. If the painter wishes to reveal spiritual aspects of carnal passion through merging figuration with strong abstract elements, this results in a greater reliance on decorative design while clear linear silhouettes interact with modulated, somewhat plastic brushing and fragmented, flattened motifs that act in the way of patterns.

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  • 12/30/12--10:03: Promising vocalist
  • The Malleswaram Sangeetha Sabha conducted the Annual Hanuman Jayanthi with vocal (both Karnatic and Hindustani) and instrumental music concerts at the Malleswaram Sri Rama Mandira, last week.

    Sriram Parthasarathy who gave the inaugural concert, has learnt with two great musicians - O S Tyagarajan and Neyveli Santhana Gopalan and has already performed in many Sabhas and Sammelanas.

    He is a graduate in Music and has practised Veena also. He is a 'A' grade artiste of Akashavani and has won prizes from Music Academy (Chennai) and few other organisations.

    In the current concert, Sriram presented a number of compositions on Hanuman which suited the occasion.

    For instance, 'Anjaneya Paramananda' from the traditional Bhajana Sampradaya, in which he sang till Thara Panchama, with ease and confidence. Another interesting kruthi 'Pavana Thanaya Palayamam' of Dr. Balamurali Krishna in the raga Rasikapriya was enjoyable with its ragabhava.

    It was clear from the beginning that the vocalist has a commendable grasp over the different facets of a concert and can deliver the goods. In the Suruti Keerthane 'Gitartthamu Sangitanandamu' Saint Tyagaraja says - "O Mind! To understand the significance of the Gita and the bliss of music here and now, you have only to delve deep into your and behold them in their supreme grandeur.

    Sri Anjaneya is an eternal witness of this truth ….. Anjaneya is well versed in the five creeds." This has been well narrated in the Suriti composition.

    But the percussionists were asked to play 'Tani' without bringing much tempo, which shows lack of experience. 'Mukhya Prana' of Purandara Dasaru, 'Khelathi Mama Hridaye,' 'Bhaktha Jana Vatsale' - one after the other devotional pleased the audience.

    Nalina Mohan on violin and B C Manjunath on mridanga gave sustained support throughout the concert and Narayana Murthy played on Ghata. With some more stage experience Sriram Parthasarathi can rise to great heights.

    Violin duet

    Hanuman Jayanthi was also celebrated by many cultural and religious organisations of the city. Like wise the 'Namagiri Nilaya' also celebrated with music concerts. There was a violin duet by T K Dwarakanath and Archana Marathe.

    Dwarakanath is a disciple of Vidwan H Bhimachar, senior violinist of yester years and has been guided by T S Krishnamurthy, also.

    Archana Marathe has learnt music under Rema Ramaiah and Balu Raghuram and has passed diploma and senior examinations in music and a recipient of scholarship from CCRT.

    Dwarakanath and Archana presented a number of popular compositions in their violin duet.

    'Sadhininchane' is a dignified 'Pancharathna Kruthi' and 'Venkatachala Nilayam' is a popular devotional. 'Bagayanayya' and 'Jagadoddharana' - both are all time favourites.

    Panthuvarali raga was brief but impressive. 'Sarasaksha' with brief Nerval and Swara was followed by the solo of percussion instruments (Mridanga: Vijaya Raghava Marathe and Khanjari: R. Karthik).
    Their careers are worth watching.

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  • 01/06/13--10:48: Music and dance reviews
  • Remarkable fluidity

    Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira conducted the annual Sankranthi music festival in which many duets - both male and female - were held for eight days. Lakshmi Rangarajan and Subhiksha Rangarajan, are rare mother and daughter duet and they hail from the T.M.T. (T M Tyagarajan) School. They have sung in both in and outside the country, with many prizes to their credit.

    The initial compositions in their current concert of Lakshmi and Subhiksha held out hopes of a delectable programme. With their good voice lent flavour to the 'Chitham Irangada'. It was a pleasure to listeners to listen to that divine composition 'Jambupathe'. 'Bhogindra Shayinam' - is a ever popular composition.

    They elaborated 'Etijanma', bringing out all the nuances of the evocative raga Varali. They crowned the concert with a Pallavi ('Hare Rama Govinda Murare') in the stately raga Kambodhi.

    In total the concert was notable for the remarkable fluidity and melodic content, which soared with ease, throughout the concert. Young H M Smitha gave splendid support on the violin, while seasoned percussionists - A Renuka Prasad and M Gururaj accompanied with good understanding.

    Rich tributes to Guru

    Prof U S Krishna Rao (31.12.1912-2005) served the dance field as a performer, teacher, choreographer and author. His birth centenary was celebrated in collaboration with 'Mahamaya,' Karnataka Nritya Kala Parishat and Karnataka Sangeetha Nritya Academy, for three days. His students paid tributes through performance and lectures and there was a photographic exhibition also and few senior artistes were felicitated on the occasion.

    Padmavibhushan Dr Sonal Man Singh, senior student of U S Krishna Rao, gave the inaugural dance of the 'Mahamaya,' festival. The Lady (Mary) comes to the door steps of Lord and instead of opening the doors, Lords says 'Paschatap' is 'Prayashchit'! The original Malayalee script is well translated into Hindi. But the interpretation as too simple.

    Instead, a composition taught by her Guru (U S K) would have suited the occasion better, as the festival was more like a tribute. Even the 'Aharya' was different. Instead of the customary Odissi saree and hair style, she danced with a red saree, which was not in the Odissi style. But the melodious vocal (recorded) background made good impact on the audience.

    Young Harish Raman, son of K M Raman (Sri Rajarajeswari Nritya Kala Mandira) chose a varna for his Bharathanatya recital. In the Thodi varna, Krishna Rao has substituted the lyrics 'yeranapai' with 'Seetha Rama,' the story of Sri Rama. He performed with ease and confidence and portrayal of Lord Rama was neat.

    Upcoming artiste Prateeksha Kashi, who has proved her mettle many a times, opened her Kuchupudi recital with 'Devathe Ranga Devathe,' pleasantly. It was followed by a Taranga 'Pahi Pahi Sri Krishna'. Standing on the brass plate, she performed with practiced ease which was pleasing too. Finally, there was a Kathak recital by the members of the Nadam.

    Nandini K Mehta and K Murali Mohan started with a Nataraja vandana, impressively. Four students of Nadam performed 'Basant' with gay abandon and concluded with the familiar 'Rushile Radha', which was proof of the talent and experience of Nandini and Murali Mohan.

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  • 01/06/13--10:50: Art reviews
  • Indulgent irony

    'Humour in Art,' the fair but not so ample exhibition that just concluded at Crimson (December 11 to January 5), seemed to have been an unassumingly sincere and holding together, if somewhat given to chance, attempt at gallery curation along rather familiar lines, which included also a preference for the safe medium of painting.

    Sure, one has to agree that against the prevailing contemporary ambition to conceptual complexity and visual riddle, humour underscored by sheer sensation can be a welcome relief without losing its capacity to reveal. On the other hand yet, one needs to repeat that all this happened within a modest parameter.

    In fact, the actual selection was cautious combining relevance with a lack of truly biting satire, the stronger or softer irony throughout being tempered by amusement and accepting warmth, even indulgency. Two of the four participants displayed a greater degree of witty criticism or clarity about the social reality to be counterbalanced by the other half attuned to relishing the sheer atmosphere around pleasantly presented imperfections.

    The most effective here was Chandranath Acharya with his emblematic elevation of the pampered and joyous self-importance of the man of power, his present-day machismo attired in the costume of a king. Grinning with shameless satiation, even dancing, he ravishes his ageing vitality and his crude yet somehow alluring physicality, the opulence of his jewellery almost acquiring its own animation.

    That he obliges the presence of humble dogs and insects blends affectionate moods with a possibility of beastliness. Acharya's excellence in realistic rendering found a complementary force in his long practice as a cartoonist as much as in the traditional south Indian art motifs, while he located its new equivalent of flat linearity and plasticity.
    In a more contemporary, but quite polite vein, Rohit Sharma offers sarcastic takes on the materialism that dominates the environment, his enlarged banknote images alluding to the successful commerce being the aim of filmdom and to the currently happening exchange of the protective state for the greed of global finance.

    The apparently documentary neutrality of the images is either obvious in their directness or map-like-schematic, its objectivity disclosing the ironic contradiction within when enhanced by or contrasted with the illusionistic precision of their realistically handled, often tree-dimensional parts, this being as effectual in the picture of a cow transformed into an urban milk van.

    The second pair of painters approach the world's follies with bemused gentleness and slowly savour its entirely self-centred mischievous play as well as its sensual infatuations. Ganapati Hedge constructs illustrated animal fables, as though an ancient story teller, to comments on the behaviour of people. Whether it be frolicking monkeys or a humanoid daydreaming frog, he enmeshes them in the sinuous intricacies of densely patterned foliage design and a staccato of bright colours, its decorativeness, though, reducing the critical potential of the content.

    A similar form-reliant pleasure came from the very different canvases of Gautam Mukherjii.
    His scenes of delicate, indirectly portrayed eroticism of a traditional but non-domestic kind strive to establish a modulated continuity from the time and style of Kalighat paintings and their bhadralog debauchery theme. The sweet carnal charge among the lover couples is focussed on the man, whereas the woman acts subservient perhaps although enjoys herself. The suitable to it and pronounced formal mannerism remains much too superficially nice to turn significant.

    To know others

    Rakesh Kallur G studied painting at Mysore's CAVA and then at Bangalore University embarked on 'an interactive social project' with the city to familiarise himself with the city's people.

    The "Cover-page" exhibition at 1Shanthiroad Studio/Gallery (December 29 to 31) presented its process relying primarily on the recording of his encounters with Bangaloreans to gather their basic data and know them as persons.

    One does appreciate Kallur's sincerity, even the innocent naivety that accompanies his directness in facing reality rather than its aesthetic or conceptual imagery, but the situation creates self limiting factors which arise from the means used - his documented interviews with ordinary citizens on streets or marketplaces which inevitably necessitated repeated and standard questions about the occupation, address, age, hobbies, favourite food, soap, etc, while the interlocutors are described as types - an auto driver or an old man.

    The displayed works included a video with interviews completed by rough, consciously native portraits and object drawings and such collaged posters whose character related well to the simplicity of the protagonists, still was too literal.

    The variants with only audio and video with audio without drawings did not add anything, though. The mirror cut outs of common things, effective if over-familiar, were expected to trigger the visitor's near-identification or questioning.

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  • 01/13/13--11:52: Music and dance reviews
  • Colourful Sambhrama

    The 'Sangeetha Sambhrama' conducted annual 'Nirantharam' Festival, last week. This year under the leadership of Vidushi P Rama, conducted music (vocal, veena, jugalbandi, percussion ensemble) dance, drama, concerts, and felicitations to senior artistes.

    Sutikshana Veeravalli (U.S.A.), who gave a Bharatanatya performance in the Niranthara Festival, has learnt dance from her mother Bhavani Kishore Kumar and has performed already in few places. The customary Pushpanjali gave a good account of Sutikshna's grounding.

    Her angikas were in place and a fluency of line in her movement became evident, something worthy of note, in a young dancer. The Valachi varna attributed to Subbudu was neat, the fast aridis disposed of with a flourish. Portrayal of Devayani's love, angry, anxiety with Subramanya, was enjoyable too.

    In the Kannada devaranama 'Jagadoddarana' dancer with her graceful abhinaya projected innocent charming child Krishna, beautifully. In the 'Vaaranam Ayiram' (Ragamalika) Andal's dream - her wedding with Lord Narayana - with all the traditional details, were presented in detail.

    Sutikshna don't have one leg and performs with an artificial (Jaipur) Leg! And she don't have a palm of her right hand also! But she performed like any other dancer, with gay abandon and expressive Abhinaya.
    While Vanitha Veeravalli's Natuvanga was inspiring, vocal of Bhavani Kishore Kumar was melodious. Balaji and Raghunandan supported on Mridanga and flute respectively.

    Mechanical rendering

    The dance was followed by a vocal concert by Sampagodu Vighnaraja, who is not a new artiste to Bangaloreans. Of course the Varna in 6 speeds gave Vignaraja a flying start. But after the third speed, it was only vibration without any aesthetic feeling, though it was proof of his hard practice and rhythmically correct. 'Siddi Vinayakam' and 'Akhilandeswari' - both are familiar compositions.

    'Paraloka Sadhana' a common kruthi of yester years was briefly elaborated and the Chitteswara of 'Samayamide' (Muthaiah Bhagawathar) was also attractive. He then plunged into the climax of the evening's programme in Thodi, with a infrequent kruthi of D.S. Suryanarayana Bhat. He has good voice, but he must get rid of an overall impression of mechanical rendering and efficiency.

    Scholarly vocal

    R A Ramamani, senior vocalist and scholar, sang in the 'Nirantharam' festival on Friday. She presented a string of fine compositions in the best classical tradition.

    Raga for the 'Paramathmudu' was brief but evocative. 'Sri Venkateshanatham' is a welcome addition to the regular repertoire of a concert. The celebrated kruthi 'Rathna Kanchuka Dharini' with raga nerval (Mandagamanassilini) and swara, was notable for the remarkable fluidity, scholarship and commanded the respect of the connoisseurs. Nalina Mohan on violin, C Cheluva Raj on Mridanga and Sukanya Ramgopal on Ghata - were in their elements.

    Promising dancers

    Students of Rasika Dance Ensemble gave a Bharatanatya recital, under the direction of Kiran Subramanya and Sandhya Kiran.

    They revealed good grounding in the Pushpanjali itself. Ranjanimala is a popular krithi in the music concerts also.

    'Anandanatanam' was a delightful composition and the Surdas lyrics provided ample scope for Abhinaya.
    The laya vinyasa was an interesting item. These young students have bright future with more attention to facial expression and foot work.

    From the wings Kiran Subramanya (Natuvanga), Nanda Kumar (vocal), Sri Hari (Mridanga), Madhusudhan (Violin) Mahesh (Flute) and Kartheek Dathar (Rhythm pad) supported the young dancers.

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  • 01/13/13--11:54: Art reviews
  • In tune with life's rhythms

    The title of Raghu Rai's latest exhibition at Tasveer (December 13 to 31) was "Divine Moments".

    On the obvious plane this could be associated with the not too numerous presence of godly images captured around ritualistic circumstances but immersed in the normalcy of life in the happening. On a subtler one it can be recognised as much in the references to the arts, artists and the cultural heritage as in the focus on an inner, animated connection between the naturally aesthetic appearance of concrete reality and the more or less conscious artistic qualities of the picture grasping it.

    The now senior lens-man speaks about his efforts enabled and energised by the higher power to capture the wondrous aura of things in meditative silence where the merger of relevant and irrelevant elements becomes revelatory. The viewer is bound to associate his photographs with the classic 'moment' offering an insight into the both raw and nuanced behaviour and moods of life while it is becoming, massive numbers and processes marking it together with relatively individual portrayals close-on.

    Noticed early in his career by Henri Cartier-Bresson, the creator of 'the moment' approach, Rai has been a classicist in his perceptive attuning to the rough yet potent manifestations of ordinary existence, in his patiently modest waiting for the world to, with immediacy and in black and white, display the form of its significance, in the balance between proximity to the subject and the distance that remains respectful of his/he privacy.

    Shaped at a time when the moulding of the new, universally addressed national image was paramount post-Independence and when Western, especially European, Modernist inspirations were strong and necessary, he reflects those aspects of the era as well. This may be observed in the frequency of political and cultural icons in his repertoire, on the one hand, and, on the other, in the more than sporadic artificiality of certain formalistic methods. The Tasveer show being a retrospective selection from sometimes famous prints that ranged from ones done in the beginning of the 1970s to quite recent ones, demonstrated the endurance of Rai's spirit as a contemporary Indian classic.

    Truly lasting values belong to the former and fortunately prevailing part of his oeuvre which is always visually attuned to the pulses of normal existence, while the viewer can sense the artist calmly, emphatically looking at and into human and organic entities as well as their accumulations slowly move and sometimes halt in front of his eyes, as though simultaneous panoramas and individualities. For instance, the shot from a Ganapati festival in Mumbai has partly separate and partly paralleling horizontal stripes of crowded people interspersed with clay idols and the sky.

    The rounded pulses amid the heads and the multiple divine hands and figures seem to recede into the endless horizon to meet the cumuli that also proceed within. A pensive atmosphere fills the images that compare the human predicament in different social strata or just relish the passing beauty of modest sights.
    Their restrained dynamism gains primacy in some excellently timed revelations of emphatic movement among collaborating labourers. Whereas Rai's stressing the intrinsic structure and patterns of real circumstances and their specific painterliness can be superb as well as his ability to grasp the precious in the figure of a great singer, he occasionally either plays on the art-like appearance of the actual or montages real shots in a somewhat forced manner.

    Irony and warmth

    One has appreciated the drawings of Mohankumar T for their ability to oscillate between and blend sheer evocativeness with narratives as well as critical sarcasm with accepting, even compassionate warmth.
    In those he very ably mediating an almost loud yet up to the point realistic directness, an expressive over-stress and an essentialist calming, conjures an array of human or hybrid, animal-human creatures that, approached in entangled, generalised masses as well as in individual proximity, add to a loose assembly of current social situations and emotive-intentional states seen from a young person's participative - angry, passionate and involved but also sensitive and distanced perspective.

    "The Road to Distinction", his show at Bar1 (December 29 to January 1), apart from a series of earlier drawings, based on two interactive installations whose different character brought out the two complementary strands inherent in the drawings. Playful, inclusive, connecting and freeing humour, enjoyment in fact, dominated the introductory piece with a mesh of colourful ribbons and paper cut outs. The much more complex, mature and effective within its understatement, was the installation with often broken electrical sockets and plugs on the wall and floor amid which drawn headless of hybrid figures seemed to be locating a path, uncertain identity or doomed evolution.

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  • 01/20/13--09:07: Criticism and enjoyment
  • The topical exhibition "Re:public" (Gallery Five Forty Five, January 13 to 26) curated by LinaVincent Smith marks and confronts associated issues.

    It triggers a focus on the individual as part of society needing to honestly and responsibly analyse, question and affirm one's nature, ethics and position versus manifestations of national ideals, political power equations and actual hierarchies, personal aspirations too seen through the prism of popular culture and art.

    One does appreciate the choice, its complementary contributions and cathartic potential, but it was assembled somewhat quickly, although the limitations of the space were largely unavoidable.

    Even if the curator had to choose mainly from familiar works of the five participating artists from the City, more attention should have been given to the display, not only to set off mutual interactions but especially to afford respect to the pieces of quality.

    Otherwise, with sufficient patience, the visitor can empathise with the balance of view angles and variety of perspectives with their different emotional and conceptual tonalities. Critical sarcasm expressed in a fairly literal way is found at one extreme.

    In fact, it introduces the exhibition in the shape of a life-size politician statue by Shivanand Basawanthappa, the kitschy gloss of the profuse decorations-metaphors on the naturalistic figure underscoring the prevalence of well-practiced and socially accepted oily hypocrisy.

    By comparison, the many drawings of cocks and bulls epitomising humans relishing their follies may be loud towards an easy effect.

    His satirical companion, Ravikumar Kashi comes up with an understated and distanced yet eventually biting indictment of the diverse self-serving distortions of Gandhi's idealism in an installation with washing lines of his caps.

    A counterbalancing couple of painters bring in a more exuberant blend of affirmation and irony in their portrayals of the young generation.

    Pradeep D M , through dense patterns and graceful stylistic allusions to folklore, mirrors the hybrid condition between traditional simplicity and newly enthusiastic urban consumerism.

    Anthony Roche adds here mischievous but loving visual elements of corporate, comic and art-historical globalisation.

    A very different gesture of regard, empathy for and identification with the ethos, feelings and creativity of the people at the base of society comes from Estee Oarsed who for his lithographic prints collaborated on an equal footing with small time film poster artists, the apparent naivety of their idiom containing authenticity and specific sophistication.

    Collaborative democracy

    The need for and phenomenon of collaboration between artists and non-artists is a comparatively new, nonetheless already quite acknowledged, aspect of art-making internationally, in particular in Europe, based not only on respect for and inspiration from life on all planes but primarily on discovering and offering equal footing of non-professional creativity.

    It probably has much to do with the young idealism behind the pluralistic acceptance of today's progressive or just empathetic, locally and globally oriented aspirations as well as with the humbling yet radicalising familiarity with the long-lasting recession.

    Thus, this democratic premise and method, in stead of doing something for the deprived and marginalised from a position of superior knowledge, aim at achievement by working together in constant mutual adjustment and discussion, the final product being as important, if not less important, than the actual experience during the collaborative process.

    This existential experience outside of the gallery, however, restricts the possibility of its full revelation to the external viewer. Here 'We were trying to make sense…', the exhibition curated by Magda Fabianczyk (1 Shanthiroad Studio/Gallery, January 5 to 15), was a significant introduction to and presentation of such collaborative efforts, significant especially considering the Indian tendency to take unacknowledged help from others, while true collaborative channels remain sporadic, Estee Oarsed probing parallels between the behaviour of art and life.

    Although the display included some finished works, its necessarily documentary character was rightly directed at enabling the visitor to intuit, even study the overall subject and its specific instances.

    The collected material, besides completed videos, included information about the way of making the works and the background of the people behind them, interviews with them sometimes carrying contrary ideas and expectations and was analytically gathered in a publication written by Fabianczyk with Sophie Hoyle.

    Its content does not shy of probing doubts and inherent limitations or contradictions indicating that such interactive engagements are targets and active approximations, not fixed objects of value.

    The independent participants fro- m the UK, Poland, Germany, Pakistan and India conjure a gamut of topical sources and formal options from folk music and theatre, to street posters, to directly working with homeless migrants and underprivileged locals, to threading email-sent, intimate videos or postal image contributions to provoking evocative situations from public concerts.

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  • 01/20/13--09:09: Mediocre concert
  • The 93rd birthday of Dr R K Srikantan, the nonagenarian vocalist, was celebrated with the Sankranthi festival last week. Veena, flute and vocal concerts were held and a few senior artistes and organizers were also felicitated on the occasion.

    Iishwarya Srinivas (nee Raghavan) is a chartered accountant and B (Mus) graduate. A recipient of Central Government scholarship, she has won a few prizes. But her concert could not testify to that merit.

    No doubt the Varna lent a good start for her and the 'Varasiddi Vinayakam' was rendered with brief swara. In between she selected a few good compositions like 'Evarani' and 'Ennaganu.' She chose Bilahari for elaboration but was no more convincing. The alapana was of some substance and the swara was not free from slips.

    But the krithi 'Dorakuna ituvanti' almost made up for the lapse. In the end she presented a sloka and the devaranama 'Narayana Ninna.' With continued higher lessons and home work she can reach great heights.

    But the instrumentalists - Nalina Mohan on the violin, J Vaidyanathan on the mridanga and Dayanand Mohithe on the Ghata - accompanied with aplomb.

    Traditional veena

    R K Raghavan who played Veena in the Sankranthi festival, hails from a reputed family of veena players.

    He opened his concert with the evergreen varna 'viriboni.' After the invocatory piece 'Gam Ganapathe,' the 'Ramaninne' was performed. While the chitteswara of 'Vageeswari' was attractive, the 'Ganamurthe' was soulful.

    'Nada Tanumanisham,' in the raga Chitharanjini was noted for its purity of style and the 'Brochevarevarura' was noted for its purity of style. Hindola reverberated with glowing cadences of the melody, which was attended to in greater detail.

    'Samajavaragamana' the familiar krithi was neatly presented, without overdoing anything.

    His veena was traditional and the rendering was simple sans gimmicks. Raghavan concluded with a Thillana of Veena Seshanna in the raga Behag. Young percussion duo - S Prashanth and G S Nagaraj supported on the mridanga and khanjari, respectively.

    Sparkling vocal

    Curtains came down on the 'Nirantharam' of the Sangeetha Sambhrama last Sunday with a vocal recital. Young Abhishek Raghuram is fast emerging as a popular musician and is getting invitations from all corners! He is also heir to a reputed musicians lineage. Abhishek spurred the interest with a soulful composition 'Suryamurthe.'

    The Dikshitar's composition in the raga Sourashtra suited the occasion as it was a Sunday. Bilahari bristled with an aesthetic touch. Swara for the 'Smara sada maanasa Balagopalam,' steered the concert to a sparkling course, which showed his prowess and competence.

    'Sarvam Brahma Mayam' was also pleasing. Charulatha Ramanujam (violin), Anand Ananthakrishnan (mridanga) and Guru Prasanna (Khanjari) - combined effectively to add to the enjoyment.

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  • 01/27/13--09:22: Homage to Purandara Dasa
  • The Bangalore Lalithakala Parishath paid homage to Purandara Dasa through music last week. Senior vocalist and musicologist T S Vasantha Madhavi sang a number of Kannada 'devaranamas' in attractive ragas. She opened the programme with 'Vandisuvudadiyali' customarily. Brief swara for the invocatory piece enhanced the impact and helped to set mood. With the Purvi Kalyani prelude, 'Aathana Paduve Anavaratha' was brief, but full of ragabhava. Highlight of the programme was delineation of 'Vyarthavallave Januma'.

    The alapana of Kaanada and swara prasthara enhanced the musical stature of Vasantha Madhavi, which was proof of her expertise and scholarship. Seasoned instrumentalists, B Raghuram on violin and N Vasudeva on mridanga, shared the honours with the artiste.
    Twenty students of Ragashree College of Music, led by Vidushi Vasantha Madhavi, sang 'Navarathna Malike', peans to Purandara Dasa. Starting from - 'Jaya Janakee Kantha' (Raga Naata), 'Aadidano Ranga' (Aarabhi), 'Kallusakkare Kolliro' (Kalyani), 'Odi Baraiah' (Bhairavi), 'Sakala Grahabala Neene' (Athana), 'Pogadiralo Ranga' (Shankarabharana), 'Na Ninna Dhyanadolu Iralu' (Kaanada), 'Krishna Mooruthy Kanna Munde' (Kambodhi), 'Bandanene Ranga' (Sri) and 'Indina Dinave' - were sung in unison.

    Legendary dancers

    In the spacious lawns of 'Tamarind Tree', Anjanapura, connoisseurs squatted leisurely on the green grass and chairs and some stood, to watch the performance on the stage that reminded them of the Band Stand of the Cubbon Park - round-shaped with small pillars, black and white pictures. A decked-up portrait of Saint Tyagaraja, the greatest composer of Carnatic music, was placed in the front.

    Five celebrities performed Kathak, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Mohiniyttam, besides Bharathanatya. Bharati Shivaji, the youngest of them launched the event with Mohiniyttam. She chose a popular lullaby of Malayalam with slow and soft movements and restrained expression, and to the background vocal and soft 'chande'. It was neat and evocative.

    Sonal Mansingh chose a Astapadi of Jayadeva for her Odissi recital. She performed ten incarnations of Vishnu, in quick succession. With fast movements, the Astapadi rose to its lyrical heights and was impressive.

    'Patralekha' from the traditional Kuchipudi repertoire, was the choice of Dr Yamini Krishnamurthy. Love, anger and other feelings of Satyabhama were rendered effortlessly. 'Krishna Shabda', with a little fast movements, dialogue with Madhavi and performance by Dr Yamini, enthralled the spectators.

    And came the much-awaited moment: Charismatic Pandit Birju Maharaj's performance. After a few tiny pieces, he chose one of his grandfather's lyrics for 'Kathak'. He wowed the audience with the beautiful 'Jhulath Radha'.

    Dr Vyjayanthimala Bali's 'Bharatanatya' was the fitting finale for the Nataraja Samman programme. She chose a Abhinaya-oriented lyrics, from the 'Krishna Karnamritha'. Her presentation of 'Baala Leela' of Lord Krishna enthralled the audience.

    Years of hard practice, training by great gurus, experience, erudition and dedication were seen in the unique flavour of dance forms presented by the five legendary dancers.
    Earlier, the Sadguru Sri Thyagabrahma Aradhana Kainkarya Trust conferred the 'Nataraja Samman' on Dr Vyjayanthimala Bali (Bharathanatya), Pandit Birju Maharaj (Kathak), Dr Yamini Krishnamurti (Kuchipudi), Dr Sonal Mansingh (Odissi) and Bharati Shivaji (Mohiniyttam).

    The programme in the evening featured performance by Bharathanatya artistes of the City - Satyanarayana Raju, Poornima Ashok, Soundarya Srivatsa and Subhashini Vasanth. They chose a popular keerthana of Saint Tyagaraja and presented 'Endaro Mahanubhavalu' well.

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    Against the classic spirit of photography that dominates Tasveer's exhibitions, 'Inner Space' by Italian artist Maimouna Guerresi (January 5 to 25) belonged to the rarer in its kind, where the final camera image is achieved by the contemporary visual artist as one of the diverse formal means and methods that influence one another on the verge of a merger while contributing to a layered effect.

    In fact, the very syncretistic complexity of the so-revealed artistic process reflects and enhances the multicultural strata in Guerresi's intimate vision of the universal and unifying spiritual aspiration of people among different religions. Whether one looks for spiritual ideals in religion or life, one becomes instantly drawn to her imagination.

    The certain overstress on striking formal qualities of the many Indian motifs initially introduces the sense of exuberance and exoticism limited to the surface, and the viewer may need some verbal guidance to locate all the intended evocation.

    Equipped with that, one is indeed able to empathise with the aim of the many references, accepting that the sheer element of staged drama is used by the artist consciously in tune with its place in religious representation and ritual, both conventional and heretic, on the one hand, and, on the other, with the expectations of the largely youthful globalising reality to some of whose ethos she responds. And thus, the prints seem to embrace the past and the present over an imagery, whose Islamic foundation reaches out for kinship and assimilates meeting points with Sikhism, Hinduism and, perhaps less evidently, with Christianity.

    The drama, symbolic and expressive of a lofty corporeal transformation, is shaped much like performance photography that has absorbed painting, sculpture, architecture and a tinge of installation with their tactile spaces as well as voids. While real people in the shots base the ethos in the actual, their simultaneous depersonalisation, partial abstraction and simultaneous metamorphosis turn them into suggestions of unworldly sublimation and metaphors.

    The most important are the several figures draped in long gowns, stoles and veils which elevate and elongate them quite like sacred statues of some new, elusive iconography.

    The flourish of the textiles patterns or the palpable painted wall textures hold the real, whereas an intangible, precious dimension can be intuited in the merely outlined symbolic swords that become musical instruments, the purity of the white clothes and the black hollowness of the backgrounds and of the arches opening or entering the bodies that sometimes appear to levitate. May be the finest, the Madonna-like wrapped figures are darker and muted, enlivened as well as crossed out by painted solar lines, as if reconciling life with death. If these draped posing figures act largely in the manner of sculptures, sometimes tall minaret-sculptures are worn on their heads to stand for towering aspiration.

    Both the fact that some faces are covered and that the meaning of some images does not entirely lend itself to explanation has to do with the notion of essential mystery behind existence and behind its transcendence.

    Such connotation pervades the spectacular, traditional but reinterpreted mudra pictures, the gestures having been emphasised and yet denied by the brushed on luminous contours. Transposed Indian quotations fill also the images where gesticulating palms add to patterns of cosmic embroidery and ones where red spinning circles with ethnic dancers turn into trajectories of planetary dynamism that exudes spiritual longing.

    Theoretical performance

    'Seeing Red,' the art event of Bernard Akoi-Jackson from Ghana, was conceived for its relevance in India, and rather ambitiously planned in the way of a participatory performance/lecture at 1 Shanthi Road Studio/Gallery (January 5).

    As revealed by the artist, it meant to base on the experiences around the phenomenon of colonially instilled bureaucracy common to both countries and highlight human frustration and anger at its rituals and hindrances, holding old structures along with their modernised versions, while attempts were made to channel the same towards gestures of reflection, subversion and reassertion. As much as one found the premise topical and well-structured, its actual manifestation came through only like a statement or mere seed for evocative fleshing out.

    All the necessary elements being included, the whole lacked convincing power and an expressive building of mood that could prepare and stimulate others to join in. Theoretical potentiality persisted from the initial performative walk of Jackson dressed as an African chief, quite spectacular from close on, but muted without sufficient light, to his regular talk and invitation to the audience to write criticism of government bodies in red implements.

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  • 02/03/13--11:23: Art reviews
  • Connecting ideas

    The dual exhibition "Post-Oil City: The History of the City's Future" and "Bangalore Gardens Reloaded" was a very interesting event which strove to interactively connect ideas about the metropolitan past and its environmentally relevant solutions for later as well as the often similarly anchored, innovative efforts and enquiry among architects or urban planners and scientists with those of visual artists.

    The event enabled by the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, Stuttgart in co-operation with ARCH+ and the Max Mueller Bhavan here was part of the German curator Elke Falat's project to be realised in different countries and continents. It had three parts that evidently and not so evidently added to one another and framed one another.

    The main element that remains the same in diverse locations belongs to the precise charts and drawings presenting innovative, ecology-friendly plans for city buildings, waste managements, transport and such. The several cases for study were brought to the Visvesvaraya Museum (January 18 to February 3) and shown in such a way together with the art works by Bangalore artists as to nearly mingle with the venue's own scientific display, thus underscoring the linkages of purpose and method behind all the participating agents.

    The artists were asked to "critically react to Post-Oil City in the local context, to develop utopias and question them" considering the recent boom growth of the city that has altered its garden-like character. One may suspect that there perhaps was not enough time for sustained work on the ambitious aim, since the new contributions addressing it directly were infrequent, most addressing the contemporary city phenomenon either in a broader manner relating to a diversity of angles or sourcing from already available work in an akin manner.

    Although the whole was rich and included a number of really good concepts and their visual expressions, the level was not exactly even. Another problem may have been one regarding the accessibility of intended meaning when presented in a public, educatory space. The main hall lined up by cases with urban plans seemed to be held together by its focus on the vast floor installation by Sunoj D, whose multi-seed balls with planting instructions evoked both unnatural farming conditions and a longing to overcome those.

    While Ayisha Abraham's video collage of old home movies conjured a sense of dynamic, vivacious history informing the present and Suresh Jayaram's quilt hanging paid an emotional homage to the once green city, many artists dealt with difficult issues of Bangalore metamorphosing beyond its capacity. If on a somewhat literal note, Bhavani G D offered a video documentation of lakes depleted of water and Raghu Kondur depicted the dangers of construction labour, Suresh Kumar G resorted to a personal gesture filling an enclosure for vermin-compost with plastic trash.

    Among the best contributions one found Dimple B Shah's noisy, hard and threatening cubicle of urban claustrophobia and Surekha's ragi crop growing from a field of discarded computer keyboards, besides the nostalgic lament for the absence of sparrows by Mangala Anebermath. Two exceptional works delved into subtler but significant changes in the occurring: one being the multi-media installation by Bharathesh G D attuning itself to the emergent connections between people and city grids, objects and materials, the other the text-based questioning of mutating relationships between contrasting notions by Prayas Abhinav. Thinking about the shape of the future, a calamitous outcome was foreseen by a gas-masked Madhu D in his performance photograph against felled trees.
    Nandesh Shanthi Prakash, nonetheless, chose an optimistic prospect of canvassing for alternative energy in his bicycle-born distribution of bright toy windmills.

    Rough yet pleasant

    The "Raw Energy" paintings of Prasanna Kumar presented at The Savanna Sinclairs, Whitefield (January 18 to 31) in collaboration with art writer Franc Barthelemy could be refreshing in a well-skilled, young artist who, rather than following new methods and trends with their conceptual or socially engaged options, remains faithful to certain rudimentary properties of art making, here abstraction.

    Although one does appreciate the unassuming sensitivity with which he approaches both the water colour technique and the residues of essential, but not named impressions from the experience of things around, still the way he goes about it brings a bit too much of a modernist and later déjà vu to be completely at ease. There is, indeed, a fine marking of raw nerves present in how we just are and how the world is, moves and coexists with its layered elements, hues, spaces, air, directions and textures. There is also some delicate, intangible tone too and one of permeability of impact. Despite the rawness a dose of the pleasant lessens the same a little, though.

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  • 02/03/13--11:25: Dance reviews
  • Kinkini Nrithyotsava

    Bharathanatya, Manipuri, Kuchipudi, Mohiniatta, Odissi dances were performed at the 29th Kinkini Nrithyotsava, last week. On Tuesday, four young dancers (two boys and two girls) gave a Bharatanatya recital, under the direction of Dr Suparna Venkatesh. With their graceful angikas they displayed their good training in the Shanmukhapriya varna (Devarmunivar - Shanmukhapriya raga - Lalgudi Jayaraman), and their nritta was invested with clean, crisp lines. The "Hari Hara" was also interesting and evocative. R Srinivasan, Somashekhar, Aparna Sastry and Swetha Venkatesh - performed with gay abandon. While Dr Suparna Venkatesh's Natuvanga was inspiring, vocal by D S Srivathsa was melodious and Gurumurthy, H S Venugopal and Madhusudhan supported on Mridanga, flute and violin, respectively.

    Dr Neena Prasad, who gave a Mohiniattam recital, has practiced both Bharathanatya and Mohiniattam. After deep study and research Neena Prasad has earned doctorate and has blossomed as an exponent of Mohiniattam.

    In the invocatory piece (Ganapathiye Gunanidhiye) itself she revealed that her grounding is deep rooted. The next composition 'Shankara Srigiri' (Hamsanandi raga - Swathi Tirunal) portrayed 'Trinethra' in a simple way. Amrapali, the well known story had its traditional flavour, its lyrical elements enhancing the visual appeal. Flowing graceful movements to the appealing music of Mohiniatta, was impactful and she concluded with a Thillana in the raga Behag. Madhavan Nambiyar's vocal was lively throughout and well supported by Ramesh Babu on mridanga, Subramanya on Edakka and Easwaran Ramakrishna on violin.

    Appealing performances

    The Venkatesha Natya Mandira is serving the dance field from last four decades under the direction of Radha Sridhar, senior Guru. From 1994 the Mandira has been organising "Rasa Sanje" festival, in which both senior and upcoming artistes perform. This year both dance (Bharathanatya and Kuchipudi) and music concerts were held during the eight-day festival.

    Prabal Gupta who gave a solo Kathakali recital is not a stranger to Bangalore dance lovers.

    He presented the Dakshayagna in the raga Mukhari. With attractive costumes and jewellery Gupta performed an episode from Bhagawatha. With good abhinaya and customary foot work Gupta impressed the audience.

    Radhika Setty chose the 'Dashavathara' episode of Madhwacharya. Though she performed all the ten incarnations of Vishnu, Parashurama's character was specially highlighted.

    Changing the roles in quick succession, she performed admirably. Instead of two Abhinaya pieces (Astapadi 'Yahi Madhava' and a devaranama "Intha Hennanu Nanellu Kaanenu"), she could have selected one Thillana and one Abhinaya number. Radhika Setty performed with confidence and visually appealing. Guru Sharada Manishekhar (Natuvanga), Balasubramanya Sharma (vocal), Harsha Samaga (mridanga) and Narasimha Murthy (flute) - supported from the wings.

    Shivaranjini, a student of Rasika Academy, opened her Bharathanatya recital with a composition on Nandi. But the piece de resistance was Ranjanimala. In this Tanjore Shankara Iyer's composition, different ragas belongs to the Ranjini family, were performed. It gave a good account of Shivaranjini's grounding. In the Abhinaya piece (Era Rara) her expression was pleasing and performed with assurance. Sumanesha Ranjini Thillana was also delightful.

    From the wings Guru Kiran Subramanya (Natuvanga), Balasubramanya Sharma (vocal), Lingaraju and Karteek Dathar (Rhythm pad) supported well.

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  • 02/10/13--11:07: After Cholamandal
  • The title of the current exhibition at Time & Space - "Vignettes. Passages. Parables The Madras Movement" - (February 3 to 17) allows one to expect a presentation around what is now a classic chapter in Tamil Nadu art history associated since the 1950s with Cholamandal and the idea of the modernist indigenous.

    The painters and sculptors, like K C S Paniker, Salim Ali and M Redappa Naidu, S Dhanapal and P V Janakiram, come to the mind along with their still presently successors from S G Vasudev to Dakshinamoorthy.

    The actual display appears to be trying to bridge the impact of the old school and the new times without, however, including clearly contemporary choices, two of its participants directly drawing on that lineage and the other two non-obviously and individualistically reconciling it with more recent methods and aesthetic vocabularies.

    The sculptures of S Nandagopal have all the ingredients of the Indology-based take on Hindu myths and icons, carrying echoes of traditional or folkloristic frontal views and line-encased but ornate volumes in a vivaciously playful and dynamic coexistence with High Modern, opened up plasticity and balanced asymmetry.

    Oscillating between a pleasant, smooth stylisation and its light roughing, the artist brings the hieratic statuary to the level of warm domesticity, blending the behaviour of idols and mortals or nature's creatures, mixing temple attributes and kitchen utensils, figures, motifs and a sense of landscape.

    The large paintings of K Muralidharan come from a similar background and wish to likewise reunite the poetic charm and fantasy of the ancient lore with the spirit of today.

    Although the painter speaks about a surreal layer here, what reaches the eye is a jolly, slightly mischievous celebration of childhood stories that animate the whole world and are retained with innocence in adult life, while young women still have the capacity to metamorphose into divinities.

    However much one may appreciate the cultured hold on and the free handing of the techniques in both cases, it would be difficult to miss the fairly formulaic approach and its decorative character.

    In theory, the spectator might try to connect Rm. Palaniappan's work to his predecessors through his abstract images that almost like symbolic designs strive to imbue our measuring precision on the immediate plane with an intuition of cosmic spaces and motions over limitless time.

    This, nonetheless, is done by him in a not obvious and not cluttered manner, the purely geometric forms and lucid lines suggesting simultaneously the coolness of scientific implements and universal trajectories that become, yet, reflected to a degree in the coarser, rugged markings of human hands, nerves and feelings further enhanced by the presence of philosophical jottings.

    If his inspirations have a few decades behind them, the unspecific contemporariness of C. Douglas is as understated as it is his own. His vast paintings always verge on drawing, whilst the stained and crumpled, as though vulnerable and still resistant paper spreads and absorbs a kind of twilight darkness whose hopeless gloom somehow turns effulgent.

    There prevails images of irrepressible sadness that indicates immersion in death but not without letting in the memory of a child's fascination preserved by the poet. This may be the most interesting part of the show, only the few of Douglas's relatively colourful and pattern-based composition disappointing despite their apparent allusiveness to the formal ways of Cholamandal.

    Playing with water

    The events at Jaaga on the 2nd and 3rd of this month saw quite absorbing experiments around the idea of water, its scarcity as well as its rooting on ancient traditions, to be experienced along the current sensitivities of urban youth accustomed to digital technology along with the fun and gaming it enables.

    It seems that the involvement of the artists with the enchanting but nowadays problematic element intuitively necessitated the need to attract the viewers into interaction.

    Even though some technical aspects of the pieces did not always work perfectly, one did appreciate the concepts having been mounted in real life experiences of today.
    The misty, slightly pixellated images of the sky in "Swiping Clouds" by Sean Blagsvedt with help from Kiran D were projected on an architecturally large synthetic water tank whose muted whiteness permeated the darkly translucent video, while its circular volume evoked Buddhist prayer wheels. One could feel the excitement of making the image respond to one's gestures as well as sink into the meditative calm of the slow moving video itself.

    "The Rain Game" by Gene Kogan, too, drew the visitor into the projection transposing him/her into a digital silhouette expected to fill with rain drops that kept coming on the screen. It may not have resulted in much serious questioning the water scarcity prospect, nonetheless led one's attention in the general direction.

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  • 02/10/13--11:17: Young talents excel
  • When children of five years' age started singing 'Pahi Pahi Gajanana' at the Seva Sadana, Malleswara, audience were surprised.

    The children continued with another devotional 'Parvathi Pathim.' Next, eight-year-old children sang 'Sri Gananatham Bhajare' and a batch of 10-year-old children presented 'Nagabharana Hey Nataraja' in the raga Mohana.

    It was part of the "Naada Namana" held under the aegis of the Karnataka College of Percussion (KCP). Internationally acclaimed KCP conducted workshop, quiz, lecture, demonstrations in the Naada Namana. Students were divided age wise and were trained in different groups.

    Ganesha stuthi, Shiva stuthi, Krishna stuthi, Saraswathi Vandane, Notu swara - were presented by different groups, neatly. 'Bhajare Gopalam' in Hindola is a popular composition and 'Narayana Emba' was in Bilahari. These young singers sang with confidence and that was proof of their good training.

    Instrumentalists accompanied young talents, with good understanding.

    Aradhana programmes

    Many Sabhas and schools of Bangalore conducted Purandara Dasa and Tyagaraja Aradhana with music and religious fervour. In many organisations the celebrations will continue for some more time. Sri Raghavendra Seva Samithi, Sudhindra Nagara, Malleswaram conducted the Purandara Dasa Aradhana with not only music concerts but also Harikatha, Bhajan, and discourses.

    Pattabhi Rama Pandith who presented a vocal concert on Thursday, is fast emerging as a prominent musician of Karnataka. He is known for his good repertoire and rendering with good 'Bhava.'

    In the current concert he presented completely Haridasa compositions which suited the occasion. "Jaya Janakee Kantha' gave Pattabhirama Pandith a bright start, followed by 'Yenu Dhanyalo Lakumi Entha Manyalo,' with nerval and brief swara.

    The 'Kaala Pramana' of 'Pogadiralo Ranga' was rather very slow than the composition suggests. But he rendered it with interesting swara prasthara. Nerval (Suramunigalu) and swara for the well known Pada 'Pogadirelo Ranga' had their desired aesthetic impact. But a detailed Ragalapana would have made it truly wholesome. 'Bhaja Bhaja Maanasa' was on Saint Raghavendra Swamy, 'Hari Ninna Mechisabhadu' was a meaningful devaranama.

    While Kande Dhanyanaade' at once reminded his guru (Late K V Narayanaswamy). So also 'Na Ninna Dhyanadolu iralu' - stood out for its emotional sensitivity. The lyrical appeal in the Padas accented its instant likeability and the vocalist impressed the gathering. Mathur Srinidhi on violin and H S Sudhindra on mridanga gave excellent support and accompanied with aplomb.

    Lively concert

    Sri Rama Lalithakala Mandira conducted the Vasantha Sangeethotsava (Spring Music Festival) last week successfully. Eight vocal concerts were held by both male and female vocalists and the public response was overwhelming. One of our popular musician Sanjay Subramanyan's vocal recital in the Vasanthotsava on Wednesday was refreshing.

    Especially his Kaanada was highly evocative. He gave a detailed airing of the soulful raga with brisk Thana. A well-knit pallavi in Khanda Triputa and a pleasant swara prasthara heightened the impact of the Pallavi. Earlier he also sang 'Ennaganu Rama' with meaningful Nerval.

    Raga Shankarabharana was also appealing and the Jawadi 'Modi Chesi' brought nostalgic memories. It was a lively concert, which created a fine musical atmosphere in the Gayana Samaja Auditorium. Young violinist Awaneswaram S R Vinu proved his talent and senior percussionist Mannargudi Easwaran's accompaniment was inspiring and S Venkataramanan played the Khanjari.

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  • 02/17/13--11:59: Art reviews
  • Attuned in evolving

    Even though one trusts the talent of Sakshi Gupta, her exhibitions do not fail to surprise with their amazingly novel qualities, in particular that focused on complex insights and concepts.

    It lets those be intuited, felt and recognised in the sheer sensation of the tactile visual presence of her works. In fact, desiring her sculptures to be sensed rather than verbally explained, the artist resists titling the individual pieces and extensively commenting on the whole.

    Remembering Gupta's earlier emphasis on the unnatural, yet overwhelmingly breathing matter of our world where organic substances become increasingly substituted by and blended with the metallic of the man-made. "Become the Wind", her third solo at Galleryske (January 24 to March 13), strikes thanks to its calmer and subtler character that allows the viewer to grasp contradictory conditions, moods and aspirations as reconciled, instead of uncomfortable and reaching one's mind's eye through its intangible poetic content inherent in the physicality of the images.

    More than the contrariness of the current changes in reality and in the individual, the concern remains with the processes of this transformation during which stability anchored in familiar environs or past forms have to negotiate the new present in a continuous state of evolution, admitting the openness of one's desires and of the future.

    In consequence, an aesthetically different feature here belongs to the much more whole and animated being-like appearance of the metal scrap substances of the sculptures whose origin sometimes can hardly be guessed. Eventually, the impact is of a loftier, lyrical striving, attuning to oneself as well as to the surroundings, especially those of landscape and of home while discovering parallels between someone's leaving behind the skin of previous notions, ideals or feelings during personal development and nature's altering and shedding its old shapes to grow new or just more plentiful ones.

    The metaphor being incorporated in the used and abandoned scrap material itself, when handled, now becomes subdued for the sake of nuanced and broader expressiveness to the extent that sometimes the multitudes of hard iron almost loose their rudimentary properties emphasising in-between or simultaneously opposite conditions.

    The dense iron rods that build the body of a smallish entity on the floor at the entrance seem to be nearly molten particles of a crust that may belong to some fleshy, dried leaf or a shell pregnant with seeds but may also be already becoming some sort of animal about to stir, as the spectator easily identifies with the circumstances on the wished for verge.

    The immense sculpture inside the gallery evokes the grandeur of the life cycle as it captures a virtual forest of scaly creepers yielding, literally shedding their substance to the meatier mound of an elephant mother who in turn offers herself in child-birth. If fragility and pain can be guessed under the overwhelming, empowering transformation of the she animal, another sculpture of a baby elephant empathises with its under-confidence and the efforts of relieving self-reassurance, the trunk wrapped tightly several times round its smooth-exposed body.

    The second enormous, towering piece with fan blades slowly moving round between the filigree foliaged branches of a columnar tree invites one's attention to the flora perceived and felt yet through the architecture of sheltering domesticity. Equally strong, but different in its statuesque look that blends massive stability with the inner throbbing of tectonic metamorphosis, is the aluminium and cast concrete sculpture with a chair and mountain range that probes an intimately atmospheric as well as palpable approximation towards vastness, solidity and height.

    Art and activism

    Among the interesting events that Jaaga has resumed was a presentation of the South Indian encounters of two young European artists Artur Van Balen and Tilly Feguson. Their multifarious field reaches out for practical connections between art and activism around conscientious socio-political and environmental concerns that involve them directly in normal preoccupations from an online collective to supporting activist court cases and farming.

    At the time when art increasingly wishes to enter actual life, its manifestation often happens during concrete actions by artists and non-artists. What others come to know is mostly documentation in its informative rather than artistic aspect. The "Special Thali of Resistance" video and the inflatable rubber type furniture on view (February 2 and 3) could be understood right only with some explaining.

    Even then the spectator only learned about the artists' familiarising themselves with local activism proper without its heightened experience. What with an unpretentious grace came close to the latter was the accompanying booklet where simple reportage mingled with drawings that keep shifting from the realistically or naively literal to the rough sensitivity of sketching and strengthening it with partial photography.

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