EXCAVATION / ERUPTION

Curated by Yashodhara Dalmia

Participating Artists: Jagannath Panda, Sumedh Rajendran, Hema Upadhyay, Anoli Perera, Babu Eshwar Prasad, Ravinder Reddy, Shakuntala Kulkarni, Mithu Sen, TV Santhosh, Suhasini Kejriwal, Waswo X Waswo, Varunika Saraf, Masooma Syed, Muktinath Mondal, Manjunath Kamath, Jitish Kallat

25 February - 25 March, 2015 | D-53, Defence Colony, New Delhi 110024

Installations Shots
 

In the excavations of the past there was an unearthing of discoveries which added to the existing knowledge of humanity and civilizations. In the great Mesopotamian arc or the Indus valley, the archaeologists of earlier times looked at the smallest terracotta figurine or the tiniest coin to discover vast tracts of life as it was lived and as it died. The cradle of civilization in Mesopotamia can now only be considered a never ending vortex of destruction in modern day Iraq. In the present an excavation usually reveals the recovery of a lost body or an explosive device which can cause further violence and death. The whole process of excavation has on the one hand led to knowledge and expansion, on the other to mass violence.
 
In the subterfuged reality of the present artists excavate their own memory and history and track this journey with markers. The broad parameters of day-to-day existence in the India of the present with its opulence and its seamier underside forms the edgy, subterranean theme of this exhibition where 16 artists use diverse methods from site specific works to digital assemblages and paintings to reveal the state of affairs.

In this show contemporary Indian artists scan with an ironical eye, the new glittering towers and glitzy malls conjuncted with the slums, cesspools and other detritus of existence. The extreme well being and cringing deprivations now largely provide the binaries of existence. From Ravinder Reddy's iconic head which is now carrying a load of bricks to Jagannath Panda's global cesspool, the works of artists in this show reveal the juggernaut of progress which has left the ordinary person in a state of dismal dessication. The Sri Lankan artist Anoli Perera assembles elevated utopias which gives life to all planes of existence, disrupted by games of power and wealth which release conflict, terrorism and war. While T.V. Santhosh places man under the radar where the constant surveillance evokes eerie undertones of violence.
 
About the curator: 
 
Yashodhara Dalmia is an art historian and an independent curator based in New Delhi. Her book Amrita Sher-Gil – A Life (Penguin/Viking, 2006), which is a comprehensive account of the life of one of India’s first modern artists, received widespread international acclaim, and was shortlisted for the 2007 Hutch Crossword Non-Fiction Award. Widely acknowledged, her book The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives (Oxford University Press, 2001), is regarded as the definitive account of a seminal phase of Indian art history. She is also the editor and the co-author along with Salima Hashmi of Memory, Metaphor, Mutations: Contemporary Art of India and Pakistan (Oxford University Press, 2007), a path-breaking comparative study of the modern art movement in the two countries. Her book Journeys: Four Generations of Indian Artists published by the Oxford University Press was released in January 2011. When the National Gallery of Modern Art opened in Mumbai in December 1996, Dalmia curated the inaugural exhibition titled The Moderns which featured 200 paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings by 12 greats of modern Indian art, including Franics Newton Souza, M.F.Husain and Tyeb Mehta. She has also curated the exhibition Souza in London at the British Council in New Delhi in 2004. Dalmia curated a large show of contemporary Indian artists titled Indian (Sub) Way at the Grosvenor Vadehra gallery in London in September 2010. In January 2011 she curated the show Tyeb Mehta: Triumph of Vision in Delhi which consisted of unseen paintings by the masterly artist, the late Tyeb Mehta, including his magnificent last work. She has curated the centenary show Amrita Sher-Gil: The Passionate Quest for the National Gallery of Modern Art which was exhibited in 2014 in New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.