Culture

Inside the India Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2019

Art patron Tarana Sawhney gives us a tour

It’s been eight years since India last participated at Venice Biennale. But now, a show titled Our Time for a Future Caring—put together by Roobina Karode, director and chief curator of the India Pavilion’s principal partner, Kiran Nadar Museum Of Art, New Delhi—celebrates 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi, and features the works of artists who have had a deep engagement with his beliefs and life through their works.

Made possible by the joint efforts of the Ministry Of Culture, Confederation Of Indian Industry (CII), and National Gallery Of Modern Art, this never-before-seen collaboration and collection will be on display till November 24, 2019. Here, Tarana Sawhney, chairperson for the CII task force for art and culture, walks us through the exhibit:

Haripura Panels (1938) by Nandalal Bose

low res Haripura Panels 1938 by Nandalal Bose

A collection of tempera-painted posters depicting India’s rural populations, commissioned by Gandhi in 1938 

“I love these posters for their earthiness, and how they represent our nation at a time contemporary to Gandhi. A bit rustic at first sight, they are delicate in their strokes and reflect Bose’s genius.”

Naavu (We Together) (2010) by GR Iranna

low res panic garden SWN6113

An installation of light and wooden footwear

“This is a unique sculptural work, and I connect it with the global impact that Gandhi had through his philosophies—it shows how one can be effective through teaching and non-violence.”

Broken branches (2002) by Atul Dodiya

Broken branches 2002 by Atul Dodiya

An installation comprised of nine glass-fronted wooden cabinets, filled with objects including hand-coloured framed photographs, used artificial limbs, tools, found objects and billboard paintings

“Atul Dodiya’s family can trace its origins back to Porbander, the birthplace of Gandhi. And this work is a distillation of the artist’s Gandhian upbringing. The project began as an homage to memory, history, and time, but through the use of broken limbs and prosthetics, Dodiya has given us a way to think about the themes of repair, restoration and resurrection—all necessary when thinking about a nation and its complex fabric.”

Fragments (1993) by Rummana Hussain

Fragments 1993 by Rummana Hussain

Installation of five works of terracotta, wood, brick and mirror

“This is a work with such materiality. The use of a common Indian medium like terracotta, which was used extensively during Gandhi’s time, is evocative of the simplicity with which he lived. At the same time it also shows the concept of earth taking shape as a nation, one bound by the values that Gandhi upheld while building it.”

Covering Letter (2012) by Jitish Kallat

Covering Letter 2012 by Jitish Kallat

A video installation featuring a fog-screen projection of a letter written by Gandhi to Hitler

“An absolutely incredible work, and one of the reasons why Jitish Kallat’s art is so dear to me. It is a letter that Gandhi wrote to Hitler before the onset of World War II, projected through a fog screen. I love it for its intangibility, because you have to engage with the work actively to feel its power. It is extremely impactful when one reflects on the difference between the two leaders and their engagement with people.” 

Untitled (2011-12) by Shakuntala Kulkarni

Untitled 2011 12 by Shakuntala Kulkarni

The work comprises of two cane sculptures, seven photographs and accessories from the project Of Bodies, cages and armours (2010-2012)

“Shakuntala Kulkarni learnt the techniques associated with bamboo-making from craftsmen. I love this work because of its use of bamboo, a material used extensively to construct panels for the conferences Gandhi spoke at when he travelled the nation. Shakuntala has used this material to show its strength and its ability to be armour for women. It makes the sculpture both powerful and beautiful for me at the same time.”

Untitled (2019) by Ashim Purkayastha

low res ASHIM PURKAYASTHA Farmers 2003 Acrylic on Postage Stamps

Acrylic on canvas painting (192 x 72 in.) with a stone sculpture (8x12ft)

“Ashim’s works are associated with the use of stone, and how it can be used for protection and solidarity as well as for destruction and violence. It takes me back to the point where Gandhi influenced his leadership through peace and love, while others used violence and aggression.”

The India Pavilion is co-organised by Ministry of Culture, Government of India, with the Confederation of Indian Industry. It is curated by the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, the principal partner and commissioned by the National Gallery of Modern Art

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