Zehra Jumabhoy

  • Bhupen Khakhar, Janata Watch Repairing, 1972, oil on canvas, 36 1/4 x 36 1/4".

    Bhupen Khakhar

    OVER THE PAST DECADE, the late Indian painter Bhupen Khakhar (1934–2003) has been alternately celebrated as the “king of kitsch” and the father of Indian pop art. He famously appeared as a visionary artist in Salman Rushdie’s 1995 novel The Moor’s Last Sigh, and his affable specter still looms large over the Indian art world—as when his bespectacled, toothy visage featured in the installation of his friend and sometime acolyte Atul Dodiya, Celebration in the Laboratory, at the first Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2012. This past year, Khakhar’s wide cross-disciplinary appeal and larger-than-life

  • Left: Artist Anjana Kothamachu. (Except where noted, all photos: Zehra Jumabhoy) Right: Srinivas Aditya Mopidevi, assistant curator of INSERT 2014, with artists Rasmus Nielsen, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Mai-Thu Perret. (Photo: Akshat Jain)
    diary February 20, 2014

    Say You Want a Revolution

    ROUND AND ROUND and round we go. It was the eve of the sixth edition of the India Art Fair, and a group of us had made our way into Gallery SKE for Sudarshan Shetty’s solo exhibition, “Every Broken Moment, Piece by Piece.” The show kept us busy ruminating on revolutions, both physical and metaphorical: At its center was a burnt hexagon-shaped wooden container filled with shattered white crockery, and at the core of this chaotic jumble sat a delicate pink-and-gold teacup, rotating serenely. All the usual Shetty themes were there: the cyclical passing of time, decay, resilience. Walking out of

  • Amar Kanwar, The Prediction, 1991–2012, silkscreened, handmade banana-fiber-paper book and digital projection (color, silent, 8 minutes); book: 22 3/4 x 55 1/2".

    Amar Kanwar

    Beauty is interspersed with menace in “The Sovereign Forest + Other Stories,” New Delhi-based Amar Kanwar’s first major show in the UK. Nestled among the undulating hills of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is the shadow-filled Underground Gallery. Here, visitors encounter Kanwar’s The Scene of Crime, 2011. Watching this forty-two-minute video with its mesmerizing sound track, one is initially has trouble imagining violence in such tranquil terrain: A fisherman casts his net, birds chirp sweetly, long grass sways, and a solitary tree shakes its leaves in a breeze. Slowly, we apprehend that we are

  • Idris Khan, Beyond the Black (Wall Drawing), 2013, oil and gesso on wall, dimensions variable.

    Idris Khan

    This season, black is the new black. Despite—or, possibly, because of—its racial connotations, it’s been the noncolor of choice for an unusual number of recent London exhibitions, among them Indian modernist F. N. Souza’s black-on-black figurative paintings from 1965 at Grosvenor Gallery; Korean sculptor Meekyoung Shin’s “Untitled (Black Series),” 2013—comprising exquisite vases made of soap manipulated to mimic coal-colored ceramics—at Sumarria Lunn Gallery; and the late English filmmaker Derek Jarman’s assemblaged “Black Paintings” from the 1980s and early ’90s at Wilkinson.

  • “Subodh Gupta: Everything is Inside”

    The rest of the world may have seen a lot of Subodh Gupta recently, but this mid- career survey is the most comprehensive to date in his hometown. Spread across two wings of the NGMA, Gupta’s solo will contain early works from the 1990s such as the cow-dung-smeared self-portrait Bihari, 1999; his more recent sculptures in brass and copper; and multiple site-specific installations. In Everything Is Inside, 2004, a black-and-yellow Ambassador taxi sinks under the burden of its bronze luggage—simulating the precious bundles carried by poor immigrants from India’s

  • Sheila Hicks, Mauresque Etiquette, 2013, cotton, silk, paper, feather, 9 1/4 x 5 1/2".

    Sheila Hicks

    Visiting Paris-based artist Sheila Hicks’s first solo show in the UK, “Pêcher dans la Rivière” (Fishing in the River), was like entering a seductive subterranean realm. In the titular installation, 1989–2013, some thirteen feet of creamy linen threads are wrapped together to resemble rippling waves. As one walked around the rectangular piece, its surface appeared to heave; shadows appeared and disappeared, as if cast by moving threads of sunlight on a sandy riverbed. When the fabric filaments caught the light filtering through the windows, they shimmered like schools of silver-scaled fish dancing

  • Dayanita Singh, Dream Villa 11, 2007, 2008, C-print, 18 1/8 x 18 1/8". From the series “Dream Villas,” 2007–10.

    “Dayanita Singh: Go Away Closer”

    Dayanita Singh’s largest survey to date will feature a broad selection of the New Delhi–based photographer’s work, ranging from her 1989–2001 photo-essay about her friendship with a eunuch, Myself Mona Ahmed, to her balefully tinted “Blue Book” series, 2008, as well as seven wooden “portable museums” freshly fabricated for this show. In the last, Singh’s long association with archives—the decaying files and musty volumes that, like museums, acknowledge the irretrievability of the very past they preserve—has come full circle. These large works resemble

  • Raqib Shaw, After George Stubbs “Cheetah and Stag with Two Indians”, 2013, oil on canvas, 72 x 108 3/8".

    Raqib Shaw

    “So quick bright things come to confusion,” says Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The perplexed lover’s comment came to mind at the recent show of thirty-eight (old and new) paintings, works on paper, and sculptures by Calcutta-born, London-based Raqib Shaw—the artist’s largest exhibition to date. Here, shimmering surfaces often concealed sinister truths. At first, the rhinestone-studded painting Blue Moonbeam Gatherer, 2010, might suggest romance. Enfolded in a velvety indigo night, fir trees caked in sugar-white frost glimmer like diamonds; silvery deer prance under glittery stars.

  • Ernesto Neto, Life Is a River, 2012, cotton fabric, polyamide fabric, spices. Installation view, Moidu’s Heritage Plaza, 2013.

    the Kochi-Muziris Biennale

    “THE PAST IS A FOREIGN COUNTRY: they do things differently there.” This is the famous first line of L. P. Hartley’s novel The Go-Between, published in London in 1953, but it could have easily been a description of India’s first biennial, in 2012–13. Curated by Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu, both Mumbai-based artists of Malayali descent (they grew up in Kerala), the Kochi-Muziris Biennale dredged up ideas of history, difference, and—that elusive concept—multiculturalism. Set throughout Kochi, the exhibition also paid homage to the ancient city of Muziris, once a thriving seaport,

  • Left: Skoda Art Prize director Girish Shahane. Right: Dealer Lorenzo Fiaschi. (Except where noted, all photos: Zehra Jumabhoy)
    diary February 18, 2013

    Material World

    THE FIFTH EDITION of the India Art Fair kicked off with a bang. Or should I say a smash? At the fair’s opening a couple weeks ago, dealer Lorenzo Fiaschi subbed in for artist Michelangelo Pistoletto—infamous in recent years for his performance Twenty-Two Less Two, in which he breaks giant gilded mirrors with a sledgehammer—and had a go at a piece of long, silvery looking-glass. CRACK! it went, shooting glittery shards all over Galleria Continua’s booth: The VIP preview had begun.

    Mingling with the shiny fragments of mirror that night were lots of bejeweled guests. Among the art-world glitterati

  • Left: Rafiq Jumabhoy, collectors Budi Tek and Guillaume Levy-Llambert, artist Takashi Murakami, and Nao Tazaki. (Photo: Ai Tee Hoon) Right: Art Stage Singapore founder and director Lorenzo Rudolf. (Except where noted, all photos  Zehra Jumabhoy)
    diary February 04, 2013

    Center Stage

    SOME CLAIM THAT THIRTEEN is a lucky number. Certainly Singapore’s art world would like to believe so. “Everyone struggled in 2012. But with a positive start like Art Stage, we all look forward to a prosperous 2013!” said Lorenzo Rudolf, the onetime Art Basel master and prosperous-looking founding director of Art Stage Singapore. The third edition of the fair was supposed to be the biggest yet. And in the tiny city-state of Singapore, size matters.

    Art Stage 2013 was located at the massive Marina Bay Sands Exhibition and Convention Center, its glass-encased building facing the Sky Bridge that

  • View of “Bharti Kher,” 2012. Foreground: The skin speaks a language not its own, 2006. Background, from left: From the beginning to the end, 2012; Solarum Series I, 2007/2010.

    Bharti Kher

    Baubles, bangles, and bindis came out to play at New Delhiite Bharti Kher’s recent solo show. Waiting for visitors in the middle of the gallery was the work Kher has become more than a little famous for: The skin speaks a language not its own, 2006, a life-size white fiberglass elephant stretched out on the floor. Covered with velvety, sperm-shaped white bindis (the tiny dots that married Indian women wear on their foreheads as signs of fertility), it looked rather sad. Was the elephant asleep? Or dying? Its dramatic scale, and the ugly-beautiful delicacy of its “skin,” gave viewers pause—for