Friday, January 22, 2010

Welcome to the Kutch Camp Works (FALCAT 2)

Kutch Camp was a super success. Why, you may ask.

We spent six days and six nights in camping and working, and another two days in sight seeing.

Twenty four works were produced in the camp. How, you may ask.

When the artists are in their studios they are relaxed, especially when they are not disturbed by deadlines. They may take several days to finish a five by four canvas.

Here too they were super relaxed. Where, you may ask.

It has always been my pleasure to work with younger artists. Tracing and registering their visibility and success is another thing of happiness.

FALCAT 2, a series of camps conceptualized by myself (the first and second of the series are done for Art Home, Baroda) was meant for the young artists. To pep them up I had invited some already established youngsters too.

Pramod Kumar, Pratap Modi, T.P.Premjee, Sujith KS, Pramesh Surti, Alok Bal, Amarnath Sharma, Phaneendranath Chaturvedi, Dilip Chobisa, Hindol Brahmabhatt, Sukesan Kanka, Mathai Tom, Atmanand Chauhan, Shiv Varma, Sovan Kumar, Apurba Nandi, Malavika Rajnarayan, Jignasa Ojha and Puja Puri were the camp members.

Camp director: Somu Desai. Coordination: Shweta, Assistants: Ketan Bhai and Gopal.

Now back to the questions: Why, How, Where.

Shaam-e-Sarhad, a village resort at the Hodka Village, built and run by the villagers themselves was the camping centre.

Sparse mobile connectivity. No internet facilities. No television. No Alcohol. No non-vegetarian food.

Before the beginning of the camp some artists told me that they wouldn’t survive this camp.

I told them to give it a try.

Abundantly available things were: deep silence, starry sky, pleasantly cold nights, beautifully warm days, tent accommodation that reminds one of Arabian Nights, Bungas for a five star village life.

Plus- typical Katiawadi food. Smiling stewards in their traditional shervanis, an LCD projector for audio-visual presentations and discussions, bonfire and folk music and dance.

Artists were charged up with this unique experience.

And following are the works finished in the camp:

Born to Tamil parents, Malavika Rajnarayan was brought up in Bangalore. She took a post graduation in painting from Baroda and now has a studio in the same city. From autobiographical references to the biographies of individual women- Malavika’s paintings travel between these referential points. Previously, her works were more about herself. Now, she says that she has learnt to emblematize the women’s issues using iconic women imageries. In Kutch, Malavika makes a very sophisticated young woman sitting at threshold bench with her legs crossing the balustrade. Out there, the barren landscape of Kutch is exquisitely painted. And she carries the history in the form of an architectural jumble inscribed on the bench. It is a moment of contemplation, of revealing, of coming out, of crossing borders, Malavika says.

Jignasha Ojha has a post graduation in painting from the Fine Arts Faculty, MSU Baroda. She has a friendly demeanor. Jignasha’s joviality brings smiles to every one. She has done a residency in Paris, which she says, has helped her to formulate her ideas and materials. She likes to work in soft canvases. In Kutch she works on a five by four and creates a decorated surface with floral motifs. She hand paints each floral motifs, which eventually looks as if done by a block. The floral surface turns out to be the inside wall of a bunga and through a window we see other bungas with beach benches. It is an ironic juxtaposition as Kutch is a place, which does not have a sea shore. Jignasha suggests the contradiction between the touristic approach and the real life of the people there.

Apurba Nandi now belongs to Baroda. He has a post graduation in Sculpture from the Fine Arts Faculty, MSU Baroda. His sculptures are about the human predicament. He uses the images of the simple machines and converts them into sculptural forms. Drawing is his other forte. His drawings are intricately made with repetitive simple imageries. ‘Birds’ is his pet theme. In Kutch, as a part of our bird watching expedition, Apurba observed the flights of cranes and flamingoes and their instinctual aerodynamics. He captures the same in one of the canvases using acrylic and dry pastel. In the second work, Apurba once again uses the birds imagery against the image of a high fence in order to connote the freedom of birds and also the limitation of human beings. Birds are not limited by the geo-political boundaries, Apurba seems to say.

Shiv Verma comes from Bastar. He has a post graduation in Sculpture from Fine Arts Faculty, MSU Baroda. Already an acknowledged artist, Shiv carries the simplicity of a village boy and the sophistication of master artist, which could ‘control’ the demands of the gallerists. Shiv is a recipient of the IHC-Art India Emerging Artists Awards for 2007. When Shiv left Bastar he had taken a vow. He would never become a migrant craftsman in a big city. He did not. However, his becomes the linkages between a traditional technique (Dogra casting) and the contemporary sculpture making in metal. Shiv makes drawings and paintings too. In Kutch, which is agriculturally zero thanks to the saline terrain, Shiv had already decided to make a painting with edible grains. The image is a laboratory, which is all made with the grains on aeraldite fixer. Kutch has chemical companies working, which also contributes to the depletion of fertile soil. Shiv raises a critique on this through his work.

Mathai Tom did his national diploma from the Thripponithura Fine Arts College, Kerala. Calm and composed, could be the phrase to qualify Mathai’s presence. A soft-spoken Mathai has been working on the issue of soil erosion and depletion of water bodies in and around his village in Kerala. From a micro level he connects to the macro politics of environmental depletion. A pure painter as he is, Mathai works like a muralist, detailing each and every point of the pictorial surface. The cool greens and blues dominate his palate. The fierce red that we see in her works shows the scars of the earth. Mathai resonates with the religious belief of his village and the mundane incidents of the place assume mythological status in his works. In Kutch, Mathai identified with the landscape and he found the border people as the cross carrying human beings. He wants to fill his works with hope.

M.Sovan Kumar is from Orissa. He has his degrees in Sculpture from Orissa, Delhi and Japan. This widely traveled artist works in different mediums including painting, sculpture and ceramics. Sovan is famous for his ‘truck paintings’. He makes the images of trucks and incorporates the elements of contemporary culture and industry. Here in Kutch, he made a horizontal painting with a truck carrying a whole industrial unit on it. It travels through a slippery land and in the sky you find the migratory birds that come to Kutch from the colder terrains during the winter. Trucks are the lifeline of cities and it connotes a sort of permanent migration, Sovan Kumar says. In his second work he created a salt land with suggestive barbed wires in order to emphasize the border situation.

Sukesan Kanka holds a degree in painting from Trissur Fine Arts College. He is a proficient sculptor, goldsmith and a painter. Though he has an amazing capacity in drawing, his paintings are done without drawings. He builds up the surface the way he uses clay to build the form of a sculpture. Charged with his readings in Art History and Criticism, Sukesan is a powerhouse. He brought an already finished work in the camp. And in Kutch he worked on a five by four canvas. His images are surrealistic in nature. However, this particular work in Kutch carries the images that he conjured up in the barren landscape. It is difficult to stop Sukesan from working. At some juncture, I even threatened him of handcuffing if he did not take rest. Sukesan became a darling of the camp members in no time and it was a pleasure to see him working.

Rambali Chauhan hails from Delhi. He did his post graduation in Sculpture from Delh College of Art, New Delhi. During his formative years, Rambali was interested in carving stones and making bronze sculptures. The training that he received in the traditional sculpture making has helped him to understand the underlying structures thoroughly, which later helped him to do public sculptures and interactive works in public. The recent works of Rambali Chauhan explore the hidden structures of human beings and they society that they live in. They often take the material form of improvised skeletons. In Kutch, Rambali did two canvases both having the images of the improvised skeletons. The images are seen against the barren salt fields, which almost represent the predicament of the people in this region.

Sujith KS has a post-graduation in painting from Trivandrum Fine Arts College. However, he pursues a post graduation in Art History from Kalabhavana, Santiniketan. He had already brought a small acrylic on canvas work along with him. In the camp he started working on huge red cloud descending on a lamb, which is pulled towards sacrificial altar suggested by an inverted church hanging from the cloud. This work inspired by the visit in Kutch and surroundings implies how the human beings become the proverbial sacrificial lambs at the hands of the authorities. There is a surreal atmosphere pervading in Sujith’s works.

Phaneendranath Chaturvedi is a post graduate in painting from the Lucknow Fine Arts College. Currently based in Delhi, Phaneendranath comes from a background of a rich literature. He highlights the predicament of human beings in all his works. Strongly graphical in form, Phaneendranath transforms contemporary human images, like the models, actors, macho men etc, into robotic forms, which at once attract and repels the viewer. Here in the camp, Phaneedranath created two works; one of a human face, which is between decaying and reconstruction. The other one is a comment on the border issues, which leave the ordinary citizens of two nations look like scarecrows with price tags.

T.P.Premjee is a graduate from the Trissur Fine Arts College in Kerala. Premjee’s solo exhibition at Kashi in 2008 was noticed by many. In Kashi solo he had used the images familiar to a Kerala landscapes, especially the host of ducks in bronze. He is a trained sculptor though he invests his energies in doing paintings also. In the camp, he started building up a surface using several patches of acrylic colors on a five by four canvas. At one stage it almost looked like an abstract painting. But soon it evolved into a set of farm pigs jam packed within the frame. The workmanship and skill of Premjee is excellent. Why pigs? The question came during his slide presentation. “I want to detach from the images that I am used to already,” he replied.

Amarnath Sharma has a post graduation in painting from the Fine Arts Faculty, MSU Baroda. A chirpy personality, he keeps everyone around him in good humor. He has his own takes on everything including marriage, market and art. Amarnath works fast on his canvases. He creates grids in his canvases and using a super realist style he juxtaposes the images of human beings and machineries. Here, he brings in a pair of eyes, an emblematic of the spy work at the national border areas and counterbalances it with a jumble of machine part. In the second work, Amarnath depicts a nuclear structure, perhaps a genome structure, which is in the process of collapse. He shows the fragility of human constructions using the image of a white wrist watch.

Hailing from Jharkhand, Atmanand Chauhan is a post graduate in painting from the Fine Arts Faculty, MSU Baroda. His personality is akin to that of a black rapper. His gait and hand movements show a sort of easiness. Early mornings, he makes the sounds of bird chirping. Then he plays all the Bollywood numbers in his laptop- from devotional to the hip gyrating, in that order. We call his tent in Kutch as the ‘theatre’. Atmanand builds his picture layer by layer. Hand gloves are his pet image. Each time, the work looks different. He gives continues color wash to the canvas till the images look like reliefs. Atmanand uses a simple photo transfer technique to incorporate elements from the Hodka village on to the second canvas, which is a minimal work in yellow with lot of depth and visual effect.

Pratap Modi did his masters in Print Making in Fine Arts Faculty, MSU, Baroda. Pratap has stylish looks and he knows it. In his goggles he looks like a star. In his studio he makes huge woodcut prints which are presented mostly as installations. In the camp he did a self portrait in the traditional shervani dress of the Katiawadis. The self-image is created out of stamping a seal carefully on the paper. He masks the edges to give a balanced feel to the image. In his second image he uses the same seal to create the portrait of a Katiawadi woman. The surface is created by pigments and graphite power.

Pramesh Surti is a young diploma holder in painting from the BA Mehta Fine Arts College in Amalsad. Pramesh’s works constantly deal with the relationship between the animals and the waste materials produced by human beings. Plastic bags and cows are his predominant images, whether it be paintings or digital works. In Kutch camp, Pramesh incorporates three landscapes into one, the mythical greenery on the other bank, the salt fields in the middle ground and the black hills in the foregrounds. The peak of the hill has a plastic bag flying as if it were a flag. The national identities are suggestively brought in as the whole painting looks like a ‘national’ flag. Using palate knife, Pramesh builds his pictorial surface.

Pramod Kumar did his education at the Fine Arts Faculty, MS University, Baroda. He hides behind his large sunglasses. But amongst friends he is a little imp playing pranks with them. His works are minimal in nature but they have the finish of photorealistic works. In Kutch he chose to paint the white desert in a linguistic code. He wrote RUN on the canvas and then he created the waves of sand around it using a rainbow of colors. If you have visited the white desert of Kutch and then the Kala Dungri, you would know what Pramod Kumar’s work try to capture.

Somu Desai holds a degree in painting from the BA Mehta College, Amalsad. Known as problem solver with art materials, Somu has a many qualities. He makes public sculptures, murals and paintings. Also he has involved in digital and video art. In Kutch, Somu is not in artist’s role. He is the camp director. But he decides to convert the bathroom’s mud wall inside one of the tents into a mural. Somu had already noticed crows in Kutch. And he had already painted crows in several of his works. Looking at the military post, Somu says, Crows are the same everywhere. He implies the border situation. The forked pillar like structures on which the crows are perched constitute the central architectural support to the traditional architecture, which is called Bunga in Kutch. This mural will be demolished as the tents are taken down during the summer months. Till then, the other visitors who stay in this tent could enjoy their bathroom moments with this mural.

(Dilip Chobisa, Alok Bal and Hindol Brahmabhatt had to leave the camp early thanks to their prior commitments elsewhere. They would be sending in their works soon)


ajith said...

d vilage kutch found converted fastly with towers , trams and more ; but with the thoughts truely d villagian!! very great the concept and congrads to all behind the kutchian nights !! and done it Mr jhony..!! regards

SHINOD AP said...

I hope it was a wonderful camp!!!!
No internet facilities. No television. No Alcohol. No non-vegetarian food. How can you is come out very well all works are very interesting especially Apurba Nandi works convey a very different feeling to me. ...

Jhony Sab

love...Shinod Ap

JohnyML said...

hi shinod,
thanks man for those kind words