Beth Citron

  • diary December 19, 2016

    Apt Pupil

    “YES, IT IS A MONDAY” noted the sly public invitation to the third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. “That just means it’ll be a great start to the week.” But in the days prior to the December 12 opening, the extended family of India’s art world had already begun to gather in Mumbai for Subodh Gupta’s blockbuster-scale exhibition—his first in the city in nearly a decade, hosted by Delhi’s Nature Morte—and an excellent show of Dayanita Singh’s photography and portable museums in books, boxes, and suitcases at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum.

    By Sunday the Mumbai–Kochi air route had become a fashionable

  • passages September 07, 2016

    S. H. Raza (1922–2016)

    WHEN THE PAINTER Sayed Haider Raza passed away on July 23, 2016, he was ninety-four years old and the last surviving founding member of the Progressive Artists’ Group and the exceptional community that it animated in Mumbai (then Bombay) in the immediate postwar, postindependence period. This included the patronage of European émigrés in India Walter Langhammer, Emanuel Schlesinger, and Rudolf von Leyden, and the visionaries Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy, close friends of Raza’s who founded Gallery Chemould, the city’s first commercial art space.

    Born in a small village in India’s heartland of Madhya

  • M. F. Husain’s Through the Eyes of a Painter

    IN A RADICAL AND SHORT-LIVED initiative in the 1960s, India’s national Films Division (established as a documentary unit just after independence in 1947) invited artists and filmmakers to develop their own experimental projects. Under the direction of visionary chief advisor Jean Bhownagary, this was a major undertaking for a country with a fledgling infrastructure to support even conventional art forms; ironically, it led to experimental cinema in India emerging with the government’s funding and at its insistence rather than in opposition to it. In 1967, this gave prominent painter Maqbool Fida

  • “Zarina: Paper Like Skin”

    Since the early 1960s, Indian-born American artist Zarina Hashmi has developed a minimal artistic language that balances materiality with themes of home, displacement, and memory.

    Since the early 1960s, Indian-born American artist Zarina Hashmi has developed a minimal artistic language that balances materiality with themes of home, displacement, and memory. Her first retrospective—long overdue—features approximately sixty pieces from the past five decades and includes prints, paper-pulp casts, and sculptures. While the influence of Zarina’s studies of mathematics and architecture are evident across her oeuvre, rarely seen early relief prints such as In the Woods I, 1971, manifest the importance and impression of nature in her practice,

  • “HomeSpun”

    Though conceived to survey notions of domestic space, “HomeSpun” features some of South Asia’s leading globe-trotters, including Subodh Gupta, Rashid Rana, and Sudarshan Shetty, among more than two dozen others.

    Though conceived to survey notions of domestic space, “HomeSpun” features some of South Asia’s leading globe-trotters, including Subodh Gupta, Rashid Rana, and Sudarshan Shetty, among more than two dozen others. Drawn from the Lekha and Anupam Poddar Collection, the show’s works are divided into three sections. The first explores the double edge of security and anxiety that today marks the physical and emotional dimensions of “home.” The second—billed as an “apartment on acid”—riffs on the quirky banalities of daily life. And the last situates art in a succession of

  • picks September 22, 2010

    Sandeep Mukherjee

    Six stories above the noisy bustle of Chinatown, Sandeep Mukherjee’s first solo exhibition in New York (and the inaugural show of Brennan & Griffin) offers a quiet and beautiful respite. Manipulating various combinations of acrylic and embossed drawing on Duralene, the Los Angeles–based artist presents a suite of fine abstractions that evoke organic landscapes and natural phenomena. But beyond the likeness to dense forests and impressive mountain ranges, or any other suggestive symbolism, Mukherjee’s works are a serious exploration of pure form. They also evince a rigorous and laborious technical

  • picks May 27, 2010

    Liz Magic Laser

    In her exhibition “chase,” Liz Magic Laser renders a contemporary, layered interpretation of Bertolt Brecht’s 1926 play Man Equals Man––a harsh, if comedic, parable about the perils of capitalist greed. Laser’s show features a full-length film shot in various ATM vestibules, an installation of costumes and other paraphernalia used in the production, and a quasi-theatrical set, which served as the stage for “The Elephant Calf,” a live performance that occurred halfway through the exhibition’s opening night. Brecht wrote “Elephant Calf” as a satirical intermission for Man Equals Man in which the

  • picks May 02, 2010

    Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

    The larger-than-life portraits comprising the London-born Ghanaian artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s exhibition “Essays and Documents” confront the viewer with strong gazes and bold brushstrokes. In contrast to what the show’s title suggests, the works here eschew any sense of conventional narrative, as most figures are painted against gestural planes of color. In style and sheer luxury of paint, these pieces speak consciously to a dominant continental European tradition, including Velázquez and especially Manet, rather than to the more immediate heritage of expressionist figuration in twentieth-century

  • picks April 14, 2010

    Walt Cassidy

    In his first solo exhibition, “The Protective Motif,” Walt Cassidy maps his own unconscious through a group of photographs, drawings, and sculptures filled mostly with geometric forms. Whether these triangles, dots, and lines are meditations on his inner experience (or instead diversions from it) remains unclear, yet the results are visually engaging, if affected.

    Though his series of photographs “The Inferior Orbs,” 2006, seems to refer unselfconsciously to the now popularized new age dream catchers, the circular form present in works including The Broad and Beaten Way is a bicycle wheel that

  • picks April 08, 2010

    Risham Syed

    In her first solo exhibition in the United States, Lahore, Pakistan–based Risham Syed presents a striking landscape of Victoriana and contemporary violence. Comprising a series of paintings set into theatrical installations and unusual hangings, “and the rest is history” is a rich consideration of how colonial history and values inform and contradict Pakistan’s experiences today. Take, for example, The Marble Hearth, 2010, in which an antique-inspired fireplace is lit by a painting of flames shooting from the engines of a shuttle midlaunch, or The Cushion, 2010, a methodical salon-style installation

  • “Resemble/Reassemble”

    Featuring miniature paintings and room-size installations, and works whose reference points range from Lollywood (Lahore’s film industry) to Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, “Resemble/Reassemble” sets out to show the broad diversity and the best of contemporary Pakistani art, presenting works by forty-five artists. Curated by Rashid Rana, Pakistan’s leading global art star and one of the founding faculty members of the art school at Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, the exhibition is composed exclusively of works from the Lekha and Anupam Poddar collection. The show exemplifies

  • picks March 22, 2010

    Sudarshan Shetty

    Like the ungraspable clauses of its title, “The More I Die, the Lighter I Get,” the works in Sudarshan Shetty’s latest exhibition are at once mysterious and subtle, each a sardonic dance of conceptual elements and material forms. The large-scale sculptural installations take on the difficulty of representing death and emptiness, adapting their structures from the suit jackets, aluminum skeletons, and other tropes Shetty developed in earlier considerations of big topics in exhibitions including “Love” (2006) and “Leaving Home” (2008). Whereas in 2008 Shetty fashioned an installation of men’s suit

  • picks March 16, 2010

    M. Pravat and Heeseop Yoon

    In “Linear Obscurity,” M. Pravat and Heeseop Yoon create elegant clutter. Both artists use a flurry of lines to suggest layered architectural spaces: The New Delhi–based Pravat fashions neat ground plans that are obscured by overlaid abstractions, and Yoon, who lives in New York, manipulates Mylar, tape, and ink drawings into dense surfaces evoking her perception of crowded places. The total effect is visually harmonious, if conceptually diverse.

    While the lines and shapes in Pravat’s “Still Underconstruction” series (all works cited, 2009) appear as formal structures, Yoon’s built-up surfaces

  • picks March 03, 2010

    Vidha Saumya

    The women in Vidha Saumya’s drawings are depicted as feminine and flirty, seducing their male consorts (as well as viewers) with provocative poses and sexy red lingerie. What’s surprising about their playfully rendered silhouettes, however, is their size: Saumya’s “sirens” are universally fat—though rendered both in large scale and in miniature. Artists working and exhibiting in Pakistan regularly consider sexuality and nudity, so the implication of skin in this exhibition is not new. But Saumya’s humorous representations of obesity touch on social issues like the changing standards of beauty

  • picks February 15, 2010

    “Réunion Island: Offshore Territory”

    The traveling exhibition “Réunion Island: Offshore Territory” introduces India to the unique composition of a faraway but famed place—some two hundred miles away from its closest neighbor, Madagascar, and known for a vibrant and distinctly tropical synthesis of African, Malagasy, French, and Indian cultures and currents. Eleven artists, selected by curator Francine Méoule, engage a disparate range of approaches, aesthetics, and media—from video art and painting to graffiti and small sailboats. The most common and compelling problem for Reunionese artists is the connection of their island to the

  • “Hanging Fire”

    Heralded as the first major American museum exhibition of contemporary art from Pakistan, “Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan” sets out to challenge preconceived notions about the nation and its culture. As has been correctly and repeatedly pointed out in many newspaper articles (including no fewer than three full-length pieces in the New York Times), such an exhibition is long overdue. In its intention to instigate a corrective shift it follows a familiar pattern, but that doesn’t make the process any less important. To have mounted this exhibition is itself a major accomplishment,

  • picks December 02, 2009

    Sopheap Pich

    For his first New York solo exhibition, Phnom Penh–based artist Sopheap Pich takes us right to Cambodia’s heart––and to its stomach, kidneys, and lungs. In a series of medium-scale installations, Pich twists, contorts, and expands bamboo, rattan, and wire into organic and subtle forms that evoke human organs. Take Cycle 2, Version 3, 2008, in which two stomachs are sewn together into an abstracted form, a reference to the dual concerns of starvation and food-borne illness that still plague Cambodia. Caged Heart, 2009, encloses a partially covered, seemingly battered vessel in a circular ring

  • interviews November 04, 2009

    Nikhil Chopra

    The Mumbai-based artist Nikhil Chopra challenges the boundaries of drawing, photography, theater, sculpture, new-media, and live-art practices. In conjunction with Performa and his solo exhibition at the New Museum, on view until February 14, Chopra will perform as the Victorian draughtsman Yog Raj Chitrakar at the museum November 4–8.

    I CAME ACROSS a lot of photographs of early British imperial photography and Indian dignitaries dressed in regalia when I was studying for my master's at Ohio State University. I thought I could adorn myself and play this part. It began as a fun, nonacademic project.

  • Ranbir Kaleka

    After a decade of working primarily in video art (albeit often projected onto canvases), Indian artist Ranbir Kaleka turned the bulk of his attention back to his home medium of painting for this exhibition, titled “Reading Man.” The show, conceived as a follow up to “Fables from the House of Ibaan: Stage 1,” Kaleka’s 2008 exhibition of video installations (also held at Bose Pacia), included several installations incorporating his pictures, and thus posed a set of questions about the relevance of painting today and the implications of experimentally working between media.

    Kaleka, who was trained

  • picks August 16, 2009

    “Iran Inside Out”

    “Iran Inside Out” sets out to challenge conventional perceptions of Iran and Iranian art. It succeeds not by explaining and apologizing for Western politics and prejudices but by showcasing 210 glimpses into contemporary Iranian culture. Curated by Till Fellrath and Sam Bardaouil, this timely and important exhibition is equal measures rebellious, expressive, aesthetic, and historical. It situates the traumatic experience and aftermath of the 1979 Revolution and reinforces the powerful voices of public protest in Iran following its recent contested elections.

    The exhibition is organized around