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An Arty January

January 31, 2010

Your first stop on the Desi art pilgrimage this month should be the Guggenheim. Anish Kapoor’s Memory is now on view till the 28th of March 2010. This large COR-ten steel ovoid is wedged into a pristine white space. To view it, one part at a time, you have to come at it from three different galleries! Walking around the sculpture entails walking around the museum itself. I was enchanted by its rusting massiveness, and the dense black void inside. The spell was soon broken though, by a boy complaining to his mother loudly in Gujarati, “But I don’t understand it at all, Ma!”. As the poor mother struggled to convince her son that Anish Kapoor was worth the Guggenheim’s entry fee, I made a hasty exit.

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Whatever your opinion may be about Anish Kapoor, you would do well to visit MoMA’s PS1, where artist of Indian origin Chitra Ganesh has a large scale wall installationThe Silhouette Returns, on view till the 5th of April, 2010. Chitra’s work has always been provocative, deploying a large arsenal of symbols to talk about feminism, sexuality, queer identities and violence, among other things. Even if you don’t understand it, you are sure to have an opinion about it. My opinion is that I like it.

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If photography is more to your taste, then your next stop should definitely be Aicon Gallery, where a new exhibition The Home and the World is on view till the 27th of February 2010. The exhibition is inspired by the eponymous novel by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, and the film by Satyajit Ray. Leading photographers from South Asia take an outsider’s look at their home, and try to capture its relationship with the World. Some of it is lyrical, some of it is trite. Cows on the roof of a building in progress may not impress you, but the show is still worth a viewing.

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If you are not in New York, then you have a chance to find a little bit of the City in the Des. On view at Mumbai’s Art Musings gallery is the work of Brooklyn-based Artist, K. K. Raghava. Titled Brooklyn Bound R Train, the show is an internalisation of the artist’s new life in New York. In his words, “I can’t think of a more harsh reality than the crude, cattle-like, modular, transient existence in New York city. You live and die every three months. You emerge stronger, more beautiful, and more real. My work cannot remain the same after I have moved here. The subway, the crowds, the temporality, the non-spaces, the graffiti, the coffee shops, the parks, the parking-meters, all have become a strong part of my reality. My Indian-ness now is turned inside out, and I’m viewing myself from the perspective of New York City. New York has a natural way of filtering out the weak.”

How absolutely true!

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