After COVID-19 forced them to down their shutters for the better part of 2020, galleries and museums are reopening, minus the cocktails and cheese, of course. On January 14, in Mumbai alone, nearly 22 galleries unveiled new shows to coincide with the ninth Mumbai Gallery Weekend 2021, one of the biggest cultural events in the city. Other art hubs are following suit. Here are some online and offline exhibitions worth making time for.
1. PROXIMATE PATHS
Bhupen Khakhar & Jogen Chowdhury
AKARA ART, MUMBAI
(Until Feb. 28)
“I liked Bhupen’s sense of humour, satire and individuality,” says Jogen Chowdhury, 81. Though exhibiting together, they don’t have much in common except their shared preoccupation with human theatre. Khakhar reimagined Bombay’s daily life as a candy-coloured fantasy. Much has been said about his sexuality and quirks, which found vivid expression in his art. Based in West Bengal, Chowdhury’s figures are less flashy but equally whimsical, as seen in the unusual ‘Representative from Hell’, on view in Proximate Paths.
2. SOME THINGS ARE ALWAYS BURNING
CHEMOULD PRESCOTT ROAD, MUMBAI
Coral Fever’ by Aditi Singh
(Until March end)
A horizon line, mountains and fragments of petals, Aditi Singh’s series of inks abound in nature motifs. Singh says she sees herself as a “meditative walker” fond of collecting rocks and shredded corals. She even has an “open eye of a Halibut” from her treks. Walking and exploring the world through acts of adventure has brought the Mumbai artist closer to her art. “The glistening reds of an oleander tree, a nursery of dark firs gathered quiet by a cliff’s white elbow. We take life from it, and it lives through us,” she says, waxing poetic.
3. THE (IN)VISIBLE AND THE (UN)REVEALED
Kartick Chandra Pyne
EMAMI ART, KOLKATA
Artwork by Kartick Chandra Pyne
(March 20-June 19)
In the Bengali-speaking world, Ganesh Pyne is a star but his lesser-known sibling Kartick Chandra Pyne is believed to have a more devoted following. He, however, has not found recognition beyond Bengal. Eager to change that perception, this show will exhibit a wide array of his paintings and show why their “complex connections to the world, erotic desires and fantasy make it uniquely modern”, says Richa Agarwal, CEO, Emami Art.
4. WAYS OF SEEING
A group show
DAG, NEW DELHI
‘Arrival’ by M.F. Husain
(Feb. 5 – March 7)
Women are often turned into objects in art, but do women paint differently than men? DAG’s Ways of Seeing presents female and male artists paralleling the modern art movement in India. The 180 works include those by M.V. Dhurandhar, Nandalal Bose, M.F. Husain, Amrita Sher-Gil, Madhvi Parekh and others. Curator Kishore Singh says, “Discussions about the differences in the way men and women create and experience art have now entered our discourse, making the exhibit interesting and historic.”
5. MY LIFE AS AN ARTIST
MUSEUM OF ART & PHOTOGRAPHY (MAP), BENGALURU
Artwork by Bhuri Bai
(Until Feb. 28)
Designed to allow the pioneering indigenous artist Bhuri Bai to tell her inspiring story in her own voice, this four-part virtual show takes you through her artistic journey, from her poor childhood in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh, to a life-altering meeting with J. Swaminathan. The first woman from the adivasi Bhil community to work with paper and canvas, Bai’s paintings exude a joy rarely seen in urban art worlds.
OTHER ROOMS, OTHER WONDERS
THE NEW ARABESQUE
Nature Morte, New Delhi
(Until Feb. 14)
Iranian abstract artist Kamrooz Aram’s first foray in India blurs the boundaries between East and West
(Until March 31)
Mentor Meera Mukherjee
showcases her hand-embroidered works alongside protégé Adip Dutta’s
BIRTH OF A NEW WORLD
(Until Feb. 27)
Rithika Merchant’s skillful watercolours and collages draw attention to her
affinities with nature and infinity