Zehra Jumabhoy

  • Manish Nai, Untitled, 2010, gouache, 57 x 82”.
    picks September 01, 2010

    Manish Nai

    In his latest exhibition, titled “Extramural,” Mumbai-based artist Manish Nai indulges his taste for grubby surfaces. This show recalls his previous productions, particularly his jute and canvas “paintings,” which in past presentations have hung on the walls like threadbare rush mats. Here, navy and beige square blocks comprising jute thread rank as newcomers to his oeuvre. So, too, there are new silvery works on paper that resemble pockmarked tinfoil––and a gritty site-specific mural. Perhaps to emphasize the curious materials used in their manufacture, all these offerings are called Untitled

  • Shapoor N. Bhedwar, Tyag No. 4: The Mystic Sign, ca. 1890, black-and-white photograph, 10 1⁄4 x 13 1⁄2".

    “The Artful Pose”

    A MELANCHOLY YOUNG WOMAN sits on the steps of a crumbling building, a pile of glistening fruit beside her. The folds of her white robe seem to glow. Do her garments symbolize purity? Is she a representation of the chaste goddess Diana? Instead of a toga, though, the snowy fabric swaddling her looks suspiciously like a sari—draped in the Gujarati style favored by the Parsi community in Mumbai. Shapoor N. Bhedwar’s Fair Fruitseller, ca. 1890—one of the photographs included in the recent exhibition “The Artful Pose: Early Studio Photography in Mumbai, c. 1855–1940,” at the Dr. Bhau Daji

  • Nikhil Chopra

    If you had met Nikhil Chopra at New York’s New Museum, disguised as a 1920s flapper for his Performa 09 piece Yog Raj Chitrakar: Memory Drawing IX, you would not have recognized him in Mumbai. Chopra’s latest performance here, Yog Raj Chitrakar: Memory Drawing X, lasted a strenuous forty-eight hours and afforded no glamorous gender bending. In keeping with his other ventures, Chopra explored the city. But unlike previous works, this one left him much the worse for wear.

    Here, Chopra as “Yog Raj Chitrakar”—dressed in fawn plus fours and equipped with a rucksack stuffed with provisions—set off from

  • Nilima Sheikh, Gathering Threads, 2004, casein tempera on canvas, 120 x 72”.
    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)

  • Anish Kapoor, Memory 2008, Cor-Ten steel, 47 x 29 x 15'. Installation view.
    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

  • Eddo Stern, Best Flame War Ever, 2007, still from an animated video, 14 minutes 37 seconds.
    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

  • Atul Bhalla, Chabeel, 2008, sand, cement, water, ceramic tiles, stickers, recyclable paper, plywood, video projection, dimensions variable.
    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).

  • Left: Lisson Gallery director Michelle D'Souza. Right: Art India editor Abhay Sardesai with artist Subodh Gupta. (All photos: Aqdas Tatli)
    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

  • Baptist Coelho, If It Would Only End, 2009, still from a color video, 3 minutes 50 seconds.
    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