Critics’ Picks

View of “L’exigence de la saudade,” 2013.


“L’exigence de la saudade”

Kadist Art Foundation
19 bis - 21 rue des Trois Freres
May 18 - July 28

The outcome of Bombay-based Clark House Initiative’s curatorial residency at Kadist, “L’Exigence de la saudade” (The Urgency of Nostalgia) is both a testimony to the ebullience of the burgeoning contemporary art scene in India, and a reminder of the specificity of its cultural and historical roots. Not only does it establish connections between the contemporary works on display and Indian politics, architecture, and dance, but it also retraces the continuities—and discontinuities—in the evolution of Indian art by including works realized in the 1960s and ’70s by a previous generation of practitioners. Like their younger counterparts, these earlier artists also blended Indian and Western influences to varying degrees.

Consider PUSHED, 2006, a video of a performance by dancer and choreographer Padmini Chettur, whose work evokes that of Pina Bausch. Yet in reality Chettur trained with the pioneering Indian choreographer Chandralekha, from whom she subsequently broke away to develop her own austere language. Consider too Yogesh Barve’s Equality/Inequality, 2013, which contrasts a photograph of a rectangle traced on overlapping sheets of paper with a drawing showing fragments of that same rectangle, broken up as a result of the sheets having been laid side by side. Its abstract leanings notwithstanding, the piece has more in common with Nalini Malani’s For the Dispossessed, 1971, a papier-mâché head made from the pages of a magazine article on refugees fleeing the genocide during the Bangladesh Liberation War. Meanwhile, Prajakta Potnis’s Room Full of Rooms, 2013, is a sculptural wall installation exploring the question of integration. Consisting of assemblages of lace that originated from different cultures and look like peeling paint, the installation evokes forced proximity and neglect. It also gives an added poignancy to Mangesh Kapse’s etching of a chawl, or Indian tenement building. These urban dwellings, widespread but now slowly disappearing, are known for fostering friendly relations between the different communities inhabiting them. The work unfurls another fascinating chapter in a parallel history largely unknown in the West.