Meera Menezes

  • Anju Dodiya, Circle of Fog, 2021, ink-jet print mounted on light box, 15 × 11 1⁄2 × 3". From “Erasure.”

    “Erasure”

    “The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth,” wrote George Orwell in 1984. The rewriting of history was just one of the many forms of expurgation that artist Susanta Mandal asked viewers to consider in “Erasure,” a group show he curated to examine the role that effacement, both intentional and inadvertent, plays in the creative act of artmaking.

    Erasure generated by the painterly process was on view in Anju Dodiya’s eight ink-jet prints, derived from the manipulation of larger works, mounted on light boxes. In Circle of Fog, 2021, blotches of grayish blue all but obliterate

  • Sohrab Hura, The Lost Head & The Bird, 2016–19, video projection, sound, color, 10 minutes 13 seconds.

    Sohrab Hura

    Images bombarded the retina in quick succession in Sohrab Hura’s furiously fast-paced single-channel video The Lost Head & The Bird, 2016–19. A live performance by Hannes d’Hoine and Sjoerd Bruil, curated and produced by Wendy Marijnissen/Bending the Frame, provided the musical soundtrack and amplified the bewildering mix. Hura orchestrated the frenetic dance of visuals by splicing together found video footage of Bollywood stars and films, guns, beatings, misogyny, mob violence, and right-wing propaganda with his own still photographs, mixing reality and fiction. This lethal cocktail brought

  • N. N. Rimzon, The Round Ocean and the Living Death, 2019–20, fiberglass, granite dust, plywood. Installation view, 2020.

    N. N. Rimzon

    An enigmatic figure sits cross-legged in a meditative pose in the middle of a circle in N. N. Rimzon’s sculpture The Round Ocean and the Living Death, 2019–20, which lent its intriguing title to the artist’s most recent exhibition. The statue’s nose and closed eyes are vermilion, offering a vivid contrast to its grayish body. Seven breasts dangle like overripe fruit above a distended belly, merging spirituality and sexuality in a riveting manner. Is this figure a fertility goddess sitting in her charmed circle, or a hermaphrodite mendicant renouncing the temptations of the world? A similar figure

  • Tama River, Tokyo, 2020. Photo: Du Keke.

    Where we’re at: Beijing, Singapore, Tokyo, Shanghai, New Delhi

    VICTOR WANG

    BEIJING

    BLACK MAOISM was a real thing. Recently I’ve been thinking about what that means in China today.

    Radical histories of Blackness in China are rarely part of mainstream discussions on Afro-Asian solidarity on either side of the Pacific, yet those very legacies explain why Shirley Graham Du Bois is buried in Beijing’s Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery, China’s illustrious burial ground for its national heroes.

    I’ve recently found access to these histories through the Department of Xenogenesis, a series of pedagogical dialogues organized on Zoom by the Otolith Group. Kodwo Eshun

  • Sujith SN, Untitled, 2019, watercolor on paper, 41 × 70".

    Sujith SN

    Sujith SN’s monumental watercolor And River without a Bend, 2019—nearly seven feet long—seemed uncannily prescient. It depicts a line of people standing on a narrow jetty with plenty of space between them. Adopting different postures and rendered in profile, they appear strangely disconnected—some lost in contemplation, others staring ahead aimlessly, while still others seem to be waiting for some action to unfold. Accentuating this sense of estrangement is the artist’s dexterous use of lighting, his characters illuminated against the murky gloom of the river beside them. The work recalled an

  • Shambhavi, Purabiya.Easterly, 2019, iron, dimensions variable.

    Shambhavi

    You could almost feel a gentle breeze rippling through Shambhavi’s aptly titled installation Purabiya.Easterly (Easterly.Easterly) (all works 2019). It appeared to tousle the work’s dozen elegantly perched metallic objects, bending and twisting them as it went along. These forms, scattered through the upper floor of the gallery, could masquerade as part of the vegetal world just as blithely as they could claim to belong to the animal kingdom. Were they perhaps the large leaves of some luxuriant plant or possibly the wings of a moth? The flapping ears of an elephant or the petals of some exotic

  • Abir Karmakar, Here everything is fine I, 2019, double-sided painting, oil and gesso on canvas, 107 7⁄8 × 102 3⁄8 × 15 3⁄8".

    Abir Karmakar

    “Here everything is fine,” proclaimed the cheerful title of Abir Karmakar’s recent show. Yet clearly this assurance was not meant to be taken at face value. Lying in wait in the gallery were five works, including three large-scale installations, that conjured the feeling of a topsy-turvy world. Fashioned out of canvas and wooden stretchers, mimicking in some ways the sets in a theater, each of the three big L-shaped structures served to depict the interior of a home of a migrant family in Vadodara, India, where the artist lives. In the floor-to-ceiling oil-on-canvas Here everything is fine II

  • Asim Waqif and Chandrika Grover. All photos: Meera Menezes.
    diary February 10, 2020

    Stayin’ Alive

    “WHEN I EAT, I EAT MY OWN DEATH,” proclaimed a pile of bright green stickers, injecting a gloomy note into what otherwise promised to be a lively opening. However dour, artist Atul Bhalla’s warning was not going to keep me from India International Centre’s famed samosas and a cup of hot tea on a cold winter’s day. Curated by Arshiya Lokhandwala, the site-specific exhibition bore the sanguine title “We Are Still Alive: Strategies in Surviving the Anthropocene.” I spotted the statuesque Shalini Passi, the collector and founder of MASH (My Art Shalini, a digital platform that sponsored the project),

  • Nalini Malani, George Orwell Once Said, 2018, iPad animation, color, sound, 30 seconds.

    Nalini Malani

    Nalini Malani’s animated Instagram posts are peopled with frenetic figures conjured up on her iPad. More than fifty of these, part of the series “Notebooks,” 2018–, were catapulted from the intimacy of a handheld device onto eleven large projections in the gallery space at the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan. Malani has had a long and productive association with the institut where in 1993 she staged her collaborative project with the actress Alaknanda Samarth, Medeamaterial. Malani’s recent exhibition “Can You Hear Me?” was conceived to mark the institution’s fiftieth anniversary.

    To make

  • View of “Bani Abidi,” 2019.

    Bani Abidi

    Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction, and Bani Abidi possesses the uncanny knack of driving this dictum home more vividly than almost anyone else. Her sources are news reports and human-interest stories to which she lends a twist, spotting the absurdity in these situations and weaving fictional narratives around them. Her single-channel video An Unforeseen Situation, 2015, for instance, is based on a series of mass events organized by the Punjab Ministry of Sports in 2014, in which multiple world records were ostensibly broken by Pakistanis. Abidi focuses on the patriotic fervor displayed

  • “ZARINA: ATLAS OF HER WORLD”

    Curated by Tamara H. Schenkenberg

    For decades Zarina has explored the notion of home, homeland, and her identity as a diasporic Indian artist. Nowhere can this be seen more eloquently than in Home Is a Foreign Place, 1999, a portfolio of thirty-six woodcuts portraying pared-down notations on language and place. Like millions of others, her liberal Muslim family faced displacement when the British partitioned the subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947. Zarina’s subsequent marriage to an Indian diplomat took her around the globe, leading her to map her memories of the different cities she

  • Arpita Singh, Munna Apa’s Garden, 1989, oil on canvas, 62 1⁄4 × 68 1⁄4".

    Arpita Singh

    ARPITA SINGH has a flower fetish. Blossoms creep up the legs of a nude female in Security Check, 2003; inscribe patterns on the household furnishings in The Lily Pond Carpet, 1994; and adorn the margins of A Man with a Telephone, 1992. They spring forth from vines or bundle into bouquets that enshrine her characters, creating intricate backdrops for the mise-en-scènes collected in “Submergence: In the midst of here and there.” Curated by Roobina Karode, the octogenarian’s first retrospective comprises more than 160 works drawn from six decades of artistic production. One of India’s foremost