Meera Menezes

  • Vivan Sundaram

    A crashing of waves precedes the grinding of machinery. Searchlights flash and sirens wail. Soon other sounds rend the air: sailors’ ditties mixed with the staccato beat of Morse code and chants of “Kill the British” and “Quit India.” Staged within the interior of a gigantic ship-like structure fashioned by Vivan Sundaram, this forty-two-minute, eight-channel sound piece by artist David Chapman (made in collaboration with cultural theorist Ashish Rajadhyaksha and film historian Valentina Vitali) creates a gripping immersive experience. Staged in the interior of Meanings of Failed Action:

  • Zarina

    An inky blackness descends and shrouds Zarina’s woodcut My Dark House at Aligarh, 2017. Only slivers of light illuminating an arched entrance hint at the presence of a building lurking in the darkness. This image recalls a place the artist once called home: the Indian city of Aligarh, where Zarina was born in 1937. This was before the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947, when she, like millions of others, faced the prospect of displacement and rupture. While her liberal Muslim family finally moved from Aligarh to Pakistan in 1959, Zarina opted to stay on in India. Having

  • “Vivan Sundaram: Disjunctures”

    A newspaper photograph of a dead man lying in the street during the Hindu–Muslim riots of 1992 and 1993 was the point of departure for Vivan Sundaram’s multimedia installation Memorial, 1993/2014. Sundaram’s interest in the photograph both as a document and as evidence of political violence is an important part of the narrative for his exhibition at Haus der Kunst; it is equally emblematic of the artist’s ongoing deliberations on the subjects of history, memory, and the archive. The show will also bring to the fore Sundaram’s experiments in drawing, painting, sculpture,

  • K. G. Subramanyan

    K. G. Subramanyan’s dramatic War of the Relics, 2012, occupied pride of place in this show mounted as a tribute to the artist and teacher, who passed away in June 2016. As the title suggests, confrontation is a strong element in the black-and-white, acrylic-on-canvas work. Amid luxuriant vegetation where mythical creatures abound, men astride elephants and horses encounter battle tanks, while the desire-fulfilling cow goddess, Kamadhenu, faces off against a ferocious rhinoceros-like creature and grim-faced warriors cross swords. Decorative borders frame the individual panels—a nod to

  • Madhvi Parekh

    A childlike naïveté and a sense of wonder permeate Madhvi Parekh’s paintings. Is it because the septuagenarian draws her creative sustenance not from the teeming cities where she has spent most of her adult life but from her memories of growing up in a village? “I have never forgotten the sights and sounds of my village; I carry them with me everywhere, and although they are often combined with elements I have imbibed living in the city, they still endure,” she confided to me several years ago.

    The village she refers to is Sanjaya, in the Indian state of Gujarat, where she spent a happy childhood

  • Ranjani Shettar

    Echoes of the natural world reverberated through Ranjani Shettar’s solo show “Bubble trap and a double bow.” Some of the works were reminiscent of the gossamer skeins of a spiderweb; others, of lichen covering the forest floor. In How long before another turn, 2016, delicate nets spun out of polyester threads and studded with molded wax beads were suspended between gray gallery walls. These fragile bead constellations with their warm tones of pink, yellow, and orange threw delicate shadows, creating a complex interplay of tangible and immaterial lines in space. This effect recalled an earlier

  • Jitish Kallat

    IN JITISH KALLAT’S illusory world, a roti mimics the moon. This interplay between the earthly and the celestial, the material and the spiritual, was a recurring motif in his midcareer retrospective, “Here After Here.” On entering the new wing of the National Gallery of Modern Art, the visitor was confronted by a corridor flanked on both sides by row upon row of densely arranged prints; from afar, these images appeared to depict the moon’s waxing and waning. Closer examination of the work, Epilogue, 2011, revealed pieces of flatbread masquerading as the heavenly body, with more than twenty-two

  • K. M. Madhusudhanan

    Joseph Stalin, a rubber horn, and a pig might seem like an incongruous mix. Yet K. M. Madhusudhanan pulled them all together in his sculpture Parade, 2016. By placing the erstwhile Soviet leader’s torso atop a creature whose name is a byword for greed and ignorance, the artist pulled down a onetime icon from his lofty pedestal. Parade is a three-dimensional rendition of an untitled 2016 charcoal drawing from Madhusudhanan’s ongoing series “The Marx Archive: Logic of Disappearance,” 2014–. In these works, five of which were on display, symbols of power from the Soviet era are depicted in a state

  • “Jitish Kallat: Here After Here”

    Shortly before the start of World War II, Mahatma Gandhi wrote a passionate letter advocating peace over war. It began “Dear friend . . .” and was addressed to none other than Adolf Hitler himself. This historic epistle is projected on a screen of fog in Jitish Kallat’s immersive installation Covering Letter, 2012, which will feature among the roughly 140 works in this midcareer retrospective. Curated by Catherine David, “Here After Here” gathers together painting, photography, videos, and installations spanning twenty-five years. Organized nonchronologically, the

  • Jeram Patel

    “Black has always fascinated me,” said Jeram Patel, who passed away earlier this year at the age of eighty-six. “It seems that black in itself carries many things, no one knows deposited by whom, and when.” This preoccupation hovers in the air throughout “the dark loam: between memory and membrane,” a retrospective of Patel’s work curated by Roobina Karode; it snakes its way into the various rooms of the museum, settling as soot on wooden surfaces, or as dense, dark masses on paper, or blurry, bleeding, elongated forms in Chinese ink paintings.

    Patel’s black does not evoke the oppressive darkness

  • interviews March 04, 2016

    Sudarshan Shetty

    Sudarshan Shetty is an artist who lives and works in Mumbai and is best-known for his sculptural installations addressing themes of transience, loss, regeneration, and the precariousness of life. His exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi, titled “Shoonya Ghar (Empty House),” runs through March 6, 2016, and features, among other pieces, an hour-long film and a sculptural installation featuring the sets from the film.

    THE TITLE OF THE EXHIBITION, “SHOONYA GHAR,” comes from poetry by the great twelfth-century nirgun (without form) poet Gorakhnath. In his work he talks about a

  • B. V. Suresh

    The silence of the dimly lit ground-floor room was punctured by the shriek of an iron weight, suspended near the ceiling, suddenly bearing down. Luckily, its anticipated crash landing was arrested by a pad of cotton that cushioned the impact. Nearby, other weights hovered tantalizingly over cushions, their heaviness forming a curious counterpoint to the pillowy softness of the cotton. At the other end of the room, a rotating mechanical contraption reminiscent of a cotton gin cast flickering shadows on the wall as cotton shreds floated about. With these installations—respectively titled

  • picks February 16, 2016

    Shilpa Gupta

    “I woke up one night and was duly informed that I now lived in the fragment of another country inside a country.” This lone line on a pristine sheet of paper in Shilpa Gupta’s solo exhibition succinctly sums up the plight of people whose lives undergo dramatic changes by the often arbitrary redrawing of national borders. The untitled work from 2013 refers, in particular, to the Indian and Bangladeshi areas left behind in each other’s countries after the subcontinent’s independence from the UK.

    Gupta travelled to these enclaves, or chitmahals in Bengali, to learn firsthand of life there. The

  • Rummana Hussain

    In 1995, Rummana Hussain walked through the precincts of the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Mumbai, her mouth wide open in a soundless scream. In a performance titled Living on the Margins, her first ever, she cushioned a halved papaya in her hands, revealing black seeds nestling against its creamy orange flesh. The hollow of the tropical fruit appeared to echo her gaping mouth while simultaneously evoking female genitalia. For bystanders who might, in retrospect, have wondered about the origins of this fruity symbolism, Hussain’s recent show “Breaking Skin” was strewn with plenty

  • “Phenomenology of Perception”

    The thread was as taut as a tightrope, showing no hint of a quiver as it wound itself past two nails and turned a corner. Not even its shadowy doppelgänger dared heave. Elsewhere, a fine crack in the wall practiced to deceive. On closer examination, it revealed itself as a thread, blending in, chameleonlike, with its surroundings. It strung onlookers along, leading them to one of Parul Gupta’s photographs. Then, as if by magic, it seemed to pop up briefly within the frame, only to vanish again.

    These spatial drawings reflect Gupta’s keen interest in observing what transpires when a line transcends

  • picks July 20, 2015

    “Fire and Forget. On Violence”

    There is no easy access to “Fire and Forget. On Violence.” Visitors have to negotiate Daniil Galkin’s Tourniquet, 2015, a labyrinth of metal turnstiles, just to enter the exhibition space. What greets them after is an exploration of violence in its various manifestations, as ordered by the curators Ellen Blumenstein and Daniel Tyradellis, along the axes of Borders, Affect, Memory/Remembrance, and Event.

    “Fire and Forget” is a military term for weapons systems that are launched at a safe distance from the enemy that reach their target independently. But there is much in the exhibition that belies

  • picks April 02, 2015

    Alwar Balasubramaniam

    You can almost feel a swish of wind in the gentle, at times almost imperceptible, grooves throughout Alwar Balasubramaniam’s fiberglass-and-acrylic piece Wind Waves, 2012. This, among other richly textured surfaces across the artist’s works here, serves as a testimony to the play of unseen natural forces around us.

    The mixed-media work Filings in the Field, 2012, for instance, created by combining rust, chalk, glue, and acrylic on canvas, references how energy fields shape the material world. The circular arrangement of rusted material mimics magnetic field lines while also evoking memories of

  • picks February 20, 2015

    Mrinalini Mukherjee

    This retrospective brings together over ninety works created by Mrinalini Mukherjee in hemp, ceramics, and bronze over the past four decades. Curated by Peter Nagy, it comes on the heels of her untimely demise on February 2, shortly after the show opened.

    Mukherjee forged for herself a distinctive artistic vocabulary, and her “goddesses,” for which she is well known, are literally tied up in knots. Fashioned out of twisted hemp rope, these totemic creatures appear grotesque yet magnificent, powerful yet benign. Similarly, her fiber pieces Pakshi, 1985; Devi, 1982; and Vanshree, 1994, are reminiscent

  • picks January 30, 2015

    Anju Dodiya

    “Dying / Is an art, like everything else. / I do it exceptionally well,” wrote Sylvia Plath in “Lady Lazarus.” So it hardly comes as a surprise that Anju Dodiya, a self-professed Plath fan, explores death and its relationship to art in her exhibition titled “Imagined Immortals.” In a series of mixed media works on paper, all executed in 2014, she uses collage as a device to investigate the fragile nature of the human body, creating quirky juxtapositions in the process.

    Pages from medical books with detailed anatomical drawings serve as the basis for collages, as inAphrodite and Concave/Convex.

  • picks January 02, 2015

    Anita Dube

    Danger lurks in the unlikeliest of places in Anita Dube’s Phantoms of Liberty, 2006–2007. While a gun pokes nonchalantly out of a refrigerator, a meat cleaver is stuck in an oven, and the box bed opens to reveal the dismembered remains of a woman. Covered in the same greenish-brown camouflage material as the other household objects nearby, these ominous elements are often difficult to discern. A nod to Surrealist artist Luis Buñuel’s similarly titled 1974 film, the installation is an uneasy reminder of the violence that can underscore scenes of apparent domestic harmony.

    Aptly titled “Yours