‘Behind The Seen’ at 1, Shantiroad (on till September 1st), digs into visuality and the very idea of ‘a show’. It has successfully attempted to turn the canvas to face the wall and coax the viewers to see what is hidden behind that beautifully painted picture. This is the display of the productions of four individuals who work as technicians, doing numerous odd jobs at four dynamic art spaces in the city.
Curated by city based artist Surekha, ‘Behind the Seen’ is in honour of the quiet ones who work behind the scenes making many of the major shows in the city possible. The joy and satisfaction on the faces of each of these four artists proves that this show has served to appreciate their constant services better than mere words would have.
Prabhakar D R (Goethe Institute, Max Mueller Bhavan) has been exposed to art and artists for the past 40 years. His sculptures, made of scrap machinery parts, display a skill and commitment that far exceeds those of some trained artists. The symmetry and balance of his sculptures are striking in their imitation of traditional Indian lamps.
Mohana, caretaker of art studio 1, Shantiroad for the past decade, looks like an excited little girl as she animatedly describes her artwork to viewers. Her sculptures, made of fabric, plastic bottles and old saree material, look like puppets that are about to do a performance. Mohana inspires life into these dolls through her dynamic expressions and gestures. These dolls are the representation of coolies and vegetable vendors who are her friends.
Subbaiah, who has been assisting Samuha (a year-old artist collective), is also a vegetable vendor and mason from Iglur. He says once he began assisting the artists, he was lured to make art which resulted in photographs. He portrays his world of flowers, cows and rabbits…his experiences that the consumer world is missing.
Shivaraju has been managing 1, Shantiroad for a while now. He is from a farming community and is a policeman by profession. Due to the inevitable circumstances of his life, he could not pursue a formal education in art. But this has not deterred him from expressing himself through the medium of photography. ‘Physical Labour’ is the thematic concern that runs through his pictures.
Samuha, located at ADA Rangamandira on JC Road, is currently (show ends on August 31st) hosting a show by eight women artists – Y Jayama, Devaki, K S Bharati, Sumitra Y Putti, V Vijayalakshmi Sundaresh, Nanda R Putty, M A Umalaxmi and Bharati G – who have no formal training in art. Their productions are childlike spontaneous expressions that are untainted by academic education. Their visual language and style is raw. They are emotionally charged with the enthusiasm of a child.
Charita, the curator, was inspired by the artworks produced by her aunt who is part of the show. Impressed by the passion of her aunt, she decided to have a solo show of her work which gradually developed into a group show including seven other women like her. The ambience at Samuha is charged with life, as screens displaying documentaries of the artists’ work keep viewers engrossed.
Even the arrangement of the artworks is raw and informal which seems to be deliberate to assist in emphasizing the overall essence of the work. Nanda Putty’s ‘Mysore Palace Entrance’ uses water colours in different methods throughout the picture. The convenience of expression is what determines the strokes rather than the technically correct way of using them. Vijayalakshmi’s portrait is not based on rules of anatomy but purely on observation, as is evident in the strokes.
Bharati’s work is one that reminds the viewers of their own childhood or some drawing by their children, done with great vigor and placed in front of their faces for appreciation. The fantasy image of bold strokes on notebook paper reveals some part of the woman that remains untouched by the discipline of demands of her environment.
Charita, through this show was keen to bring to light the intense artistic expressions of these mature women who are ignored in the mainstream art industry. Her passion to not allow this art to die in oblivion is what inspired the art event.