On Site | Memory Keepers
3 - 9 March 2021
Bikaner House, New Delhi
On Site is a collaborative project presented jointly by Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai; Experimenter, Kolkata; Nature Morte and Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi. Situating distinct programs defined by the identities of each of these galleries, On Site brings together some of the most crucial practices in contemporary art in the region.
As part of On Site, an endeavor focused on presenting critical art practices by important South Asian contemporary artists as we embrace a physical return to celebrated cultural institutions such as Bikaner House in New Delhi, Vadehra Art Gallery is thrilled to present Memory Keepers, featuring oil paintings by Atul Dodiya, a comprehensive set of works by Pritzker prize-winning architect B.V. Doshi and a series of new paintings by Arpita Singh. As a joint presentation between Vadehra Art Gallery and Chemould Prescott Road, Shilpa Gupta intervenes minimally and thoughtfully with recently developed works, which delve into distance, mobility and confinement that surfaced through the last year.
Atul Dodiya’s recent body of oil and mixed media on laminates titled Evening Walk and Other Painting catalogues global history through the lenses of colonialism and capitalism, stressing on the anxieties of manufactured sensory experiences, which suggests that what survives in public memory and collective consciousness is as uncertain as the fate of individual protagonists – the decay of the rose concealed in its fragrance. Dodiya recognizes fear as a driver of both hope and anxiety, and invokes a diverse cast of survivor figures such as Shabari from the Ramayana, Krishna from the Mahabharata, the Roman Catholic martyr St. Sebastian and the Italian primitive painters as an evidentiary evaluation of who to invest our optimism in, and whether we should be optimistic at all. He counters the dehumanizing logic of colonialism by re-connecting episodic fragments in a moving gesture to re-visit history as acts of perception over vision, while exploring dialogues between knowledge and ignorance.
Shilpa Gupta’s 6,10.3,2 explores the over-intensification of individual emotions resultant from the unexpected and in some ways ongoing lockdown due to the global pandemic – where ‘6’ refers to the minimum social distance to be maintained in feet, ‘10.3’ refers to the same distance as measured by Gupta’s palm, and ‘2’ is its conversion into metres. Through a series of sensory objects, she explores the frenzy of immobility as well as the density of acquiescence both emerging from a circumstantially cultivated, heightened sensitivity. For Gupta, who is interested in the cognitive interventions and alterations that take place across spatial and conceptual boundaries, internal faculties are negotiated within the tension individuals experience in their situationships with the outside world. These mediations encompass broader feelings of emptiness as well as capture the intimacy of reflection.
In Arpita Singh’s latest body of watercolours on paper and oil paintings, her cartographical autobiographies assume new dimensions through an intensification of colour, accenting her imagined landscapes with the flourish of expressionist emotion. With compositions foregrounded in movement, Singh tends to emphasize the potential of individual agency operating within collective constraints, though her mapping doesn’t seem to prioritize any one aspect – whether the fictional, mythical, personal, public fact or dream. These almost ‘think-scapes’ capture constructs of space in abstraction, whose protagonists occupy their frames implicitly and navigate time, cultures and history through an assemblage of connection. By introducing observation points that are topographically flat, Singh personifies questions of beginning and belonging so pivotal to individual and collective journeys. The protagonists themselves emerge as part of the landscape, their internality in a state of flux as outlined by the world, however it is composed, at large.
Curated by Khushnu Panthaki Hoof, pioneering architect, urbanist, and academician B.V. Doshi’s current works start from recognizable impressions of his earlier miniature drawings and blur into planes of colours and fragmented forms. Their dream-like composition is drawn from innermost experiences over the years, especially his childhood. These paintings are a repository of travels over time, an unfolding of multiple narratives that create the melancholy implicit at dusk. These works invoke a gamut of moods, seasons and spatial movements through the means of volumes, texture, colour, proportion, and suggestive mythical situations. The process of creating these works is in itself like a journey layered with remnants of memories. His artworks edge towards biographical and paradoxical underpinnings, looking inward and outward in the same moment; an artistic memoir of his life.
The collaborative enterprise On Site also features The Drawing Salon, which celebrates the ‘line’ as the able-bodied, foundational element that it is, hinged on tenets of choreography and composition that guide conceptual expression and formal experiments. Included in our presentation here, are drawings by artists Atul Dodiya, Arpita Singh, Shilpa Gupta, Sudhir Patwardhan and Benodebehari Mukherjee.