Zehra Jumabhoy

  • picks April 12, 2010

    Nilima Sheikh

    The title of Baroda, India–based artist Nilima Sheikh’s latest exhibition issues a clear suggestion: “Each Night Put Kashmir in Your Dreams.” Sheikh’s shimmering gold-flecked paintings about India’s erstwhile “Paradise on Earth” make it impossible to disregard her plea. Nine scroll-like canvases hang suspended from the ceiling, alluding to Kashmir’s multicultural history: In bygone times, Srinagar’s Jhelum River was once a conduit for trade and the spread of Buddhism to Central Asia. Hence, small capering golden deer, flying sprites from the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang (the oldest Buddhist shrines

  • Dayanita Singh

    Captured at an angle, two adjacent doors appear to tilt, thrusting themselves into our line of vision. Suffused with a soft glow, they compete to entice viewers into alternative, equally mysterious, realms. This is Blue Book #2, one of thirty-six untitled images in “Blue Book,” 2009, Dayanita Singh’s series of photographs of industrial sites and deserted, down-at-the-heel interiors swaddled in shades of . . . you guessed it: blue. The deep indigo of corrugated rooftops in Blue Book #9, for example, vies for attention with the wide expanse of azure sky (punctuated with a teardrop-size white moon)

  • picks February 25, 2010

    Anish Kapoor

    The past, we are told, is another country. We can access it from some directions, not from others. We lose our bearings, feel frustrated, retrace our steps. Such is Memory, 2008, Anish Kapoor’s latest attempt to perplex viewers. Constructed with twenty-four tons of Cor-Ten steel, his site-specific oval sculpture looks––from architectural blueprints––like an oversize (albeit squished) basketball. Visitors can never see Memory in its entirety: Squeezed between white walls, it can only be approached obliquely. From one entry, its burnished “skin” invites us to touch it, while from the other entrance,

  • Nasreen Mohamedi

    Housed in the airy precincts of a light-filled gallery, “Nasreen Mohamedi: Notes—Reflections on Indian Modernism” was an invitation to look and linger. Curated by Bangalore–based Suman Gopinath and Antwerp, Belgium-anchored Grant Watson, this retrospective (significantly expanded from the version seen at Office for Contemporary Art Norway in Oslo earlier in 2009) followed Mohamedi’s aesthetic journey from the early 1960s to the late ’80s (she died of Parkinson’s disease in 1990). Here, monochromatic pen, ink, and pencil drawings and black-and-white photographs were accompanied by glass vitrines

  • A. Balasubramaniam

    Tricks with light and shade were A. Balasubramaniam’s favored means of deception in “(In)between,” an exhibition of screenprints and serene sculptural interventions. Take Link, 2009, a fragile length of thread, fitted with a silvery hook at one end and suspended between two adjacent white walls in a small room. The superfine string and its shifting, alternately curved and straight lines of shadow were difficult to tell apart; like wavering pencil marks on a blank page, they conspired to redraw the dimensions of the alcove. Was it square, rectangular, triangular? The answer depended on your

  • picks November 13, 2009

    Eddo Stern

    The first solo exhibition in the UK by the Tel Aviv–born artist Eddo Stern presents a visually dazzling array of alternative universes. References to Balinese shadow puppets and fantasy fiction (think Aslan, the golden lion from C. S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia” [1950–56], as well as indigo multiheaded dragons) meet and mingle with online avatars in Stern’s psychedelic sculptures and videos. The mechanical puppet Lotusman, 2007, is the first to greet viewers. This macho man’s visage floats on a bed of lotus-pink muscular limbs that flap like wings above green leaves. Casting giant, intensely

  • picks September 07, 2009

    Atul Bhalla

    Installed outside the gallery, Atul Bhalla’s Chabeel, 2008, appears to be a giant’s gleaming white jerrican. But within the edifice, a worthy activity is in progress: Here Bhalla offers dehydrated visitors paper cups of mineral water. The dregs of water left behind are mixed with sand from the Yamuna River and cement to fashion tiny blocks, mini-monuments that are stored in Chabeel. Investigating the role that people play in enshrinement, the work gestures to the aquatic nature of many Hindu rituals: The holy river is the favored site of religious ablutions (despite being abysmally polluted).

  • diary August 27, 2009

    Chit Chaat

    New Delhi

    AS I SPED into the dusty Delhi precincts of the Pragati Maidan for last Wednesday’s VIP preview of the India Art Summit, I realized that the four-day event was going to be, quite literally, a big deal. The Sculpture Park surrounding the spacious building in which “India’s only art fair” was gleefully kicking off was littered with massive installations. A giant metal Dalmatian puppy (courtesy of sculptor Ved Gupta) stood beaming at the gate, while one of Ravinder Reddy’s ubiquitous gilded Heads—this time his black-haired damsel had ruddy cheeks instead of a gold face—welcomed us at the front

  • picks August 13, 2009

    Baptist Coelho

    Baptist Coelho’s first large-scale solo exhibition in Mumbai is the result of his expedition to the foot of the Siachen Glacier, the peaks of which are the sub-zero zone of contention between India and Pakistan. Coelho embarked on the journey––a self-inflicted torment given that he loathes the cold––to explore the lives of Indian soldiers. The ensuing videos, photographs, and objects (a threadbare uniform, a discarded parachute) blend politics with personal explorations of the body.

    The most powerful illustration of this is the video Beneath It All I Am Human, 2009, which criticizes myths of

  • picks July 07, 2009

    Heather Phillipson

    “Something Is Bound to Happen” is both the title and the premise of Heather Phillipson’s second solo exhibition. In her videos, she unravels a woolen hat, tap-dances on a dirty staircase to inanely upbeat jazz, conducts a symphony to oblivious geese, and performs other trivial tasks. Yet while nothing momentous happens, her works are too amusing to be disappointing.

    The London-based artist is a trained musician––she plays the piano and violin––and is also making a name for herself as a poet (she won the Faber New Poets Award this year). This show is the result of her winning the 2009 Sir Leslie

  • Yasue Maetake

    Do you believe in magic? If you had visited Japanese-born Yasue Maetake’s first solo show in Miami, you might have begun to. For “Sculpture Without a Skin,” the New York–based artist used parts of dead animals to make spindly sculptures that are so dainty (and deadly), they seemed like tools fashioned for evil-intentioned fairies. Leaning against a wall was Manufactured Decay in the Spear (all works 2009), a long, medieval-looking lance made from ivory-hued bones and wickedly glinting steel. The disturbingly beautiful Warped Floor and Object seems to present tools for a ritual sacrifice—is that

  • picks May 02, 2009

    “Chance Encounters”

    Ghanaian El Anatsui’s gigantic, iridescent installations are unusual treats in Mumbai. In this exhibition, his Black River, 2009, which offers bright golden aluminum liquor-bottle caps that simulate a quilt, and India, 2009, wherein similar dark golden caps are interwoven with blue, red, and green ones, hang like rich folds of crumpled kente cloths on creamy walls. Anatsui’s works are, admittedly, the most alluring on view in this group show of African art, curated by Lagos-based Bisi Silva. Nonetheless, “Chance Encounters” presents an exhilarating array of paintings, installations, and photographs,

  • picks April 09, 2009

    Tallur L. N.

    Dividing his time between Korea and India, Tallur L. N. hasn’t had a solo exhibition in Mumbai in ten years. This show, titled “Placebo,” is stuffed with macabre sculptural installations and makes up for lost time. Tallur’s medicinal title alludes to society’s tendency to delude itself and to believe that it has a cure for its ills. The artist took courses in museology at Baroda’s MS University, and the discipline exerts a strong hold over his art, which gleefully dismantles institutional structures.

    “Placebo” lampoons stifling paradigms of power. Souvenir Maker, 2009, is its most impressive

  • Nataraj Sharma

    Those who are irritated by the interminable construction projects littering Indian cities will discover no soul mate in Baroda-based artist Nataraj Sharma. Sharma’s solo exhibition “Work in Progress” included paintings of lone figures surrounded by seemingly incomplete structures and a dark red, sixteen-foot-high mock-up of a building under construction—proof that for Sharma, such sites are fonts of inspiration. His deliberately rusty iron installation from 2008—also dubbed Work in Progress—hints at conflicting views on the construction boom that has overtaken urban India in the last few years

  • Peter Buggenhout

    Visiting a gallery in Mumbai is generally gratifying, if for no other reason than that the air-conditioned white cube provides a welcome respite from the heat and dust of the city’s streets. But not this time. For his first show in India, “Res Derelictae II,” Belgian artist Peter Buggenhout was determined that we should encounter at least one of the things we were fleeing from: dust.

    Buggenhout’s show, curated by Sofie Van Loo and gallery owner Abhay Maskara, comprised four large, lumpy objects, each made of waste material. Iron slag, polystyrene, polyester, and cardboard were thickly coated with

  • Vivan Sundaram

    For some, India’s cities are tomorrow’s miracles. “India Shining,” boast government slogans; “Mumbai will be another Shanghai,” promise others. The veteran Delhi-based artist Vivan Sundaram, however, rubbished the idea that India’s rapid urbanization is an unmitigated blessing with his recent solo show “Trash.” The exhibition of installations, videos, and photographs featured so-called urban refuse—empty bottles, discolored plastic bags, broken toys, crumpled newspapers, and so on—and overran two chic galleries, Project 88 and Chemould Prescott Road. As anthropologist Mary Douglas famously put

  • T & T

    It’s all in the packaging, say the marketing gurus. Delhi-based Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra, at least, are not likely to disagree. Their second solo show in Mumbai, “New Improved Bosedk,” consisted of a large painting and several installations. The collaborative duo (better known as T & T) transformed Chatterjee & Lal into what resembled a luxury department store. The floor was carpeted with hot pink vinyl, and gleaming glass cabinets were stacked with plastic bottles brimming with gorgeously colored liquids.

    T & T started their careers as graphic and product designers. Their signature brand,

  • Ranjani Shettar

    Ranjani Shettar’s recent solo show, containing two sculptural installations and four woodcut prints, dressed the mundane in the garb of the mysterious. In Touch Me Not, 2006–2007, creamy-colored wooden beads are attached to a snow-white wall; their carefully fashioned, lacquered spheres balance on silvery metal rods. Like the bashful plant for which it is named, Shettar’s beadwork seems acutely sensitive to the viewer: The beads form undulating lines on the wall that seem to meet and merge while casting tiny, shuddering, bubblelike shadows.

    For the second installation, viewers meandered down a