INDIAN ARTISTS COMMENT ON A BOOMING ECONOMY WHILE HELPING TO FUEL IT
MUMBAI - In a humble suburb, past storefronts splashed with soap-powder ads and banners splashed with the faces of local politicians, sits a narrow row of tenement flats, in whose courtyard sits a woman, sari hitched up to her knees, washing that morning's pots and pans. With a nod of her head she directs you two doors down, to where some of India's most critically acclaimed contemporary art is being made.
A large white door opens into the studio of Atul Dodiya, whose large, biting commentaries on what vexes his country embrace all that can be found on these streets and more. His canvases swallow everything, from the garish everyday India to high art from all over.
Around the bend, splish-splash through a puddle that rises to the ankles after barely an hour's rain, is the corner studio of his wife, Anju, whose quiet, sometimes whimsical play on the self-portrait seems to eschew the noise of the city. (The city cannot always be kept out of her studio: the monsoon floods, thanks to an overflowing courtyard drain, have forced her to postpone temporarily some paintings on mattresses, her latest canvas.)
TREADING A NEW PATH ON CANVAS: JITISH KALLAT'S PAINTINGS ON DISPLAY AT BODHI ART GALLERY MARK A SHIFT FROM HIS EARLIER WORKS.
A cow in the city. A subject so banal that you unthinkingly dodge it in your moving car, until a vivid recollection transfixes the cow into a sculpture or painting that spins out from the studios of the photorealist school of artists that have dominated art production in India over the past three years. In a sense, the Bombay Boys syndrome of fixing the city as subject and celebrant, one that conveys the sour spice of the Bombay sandwich, the stench of collective 5 p.m. sweat in the moving train and the still reeking memorial of fear to the Bombay blast have become a distinct body of work within the larger phenomenon of contemporary Indian painting. The discursive engagements for such work ally strongly with the global emphasis on the city as location/site/map, of the structures of urbanism that carry within them an openness. As Derrida writes in The City of Asylum, "walking through cities one finds that the city is indeed an open, non-totalizable set of idioms, singularities, styles: a place to welcome the other within the self, a place open to what is coming, the very coming of what is to come, open to imminence." In this sense, the city as subject is fraught with uncertainty: the subject can never be whole or just, and in this, tends to create paintings like snapshots of individual sensory experience.