20 Jun

3D shapes with an apex

Swimming in Data Smog, in an attempt to clutch on to that single straw of self-recognition, I maneuvered my way through the process of self-expression, swinging sharply between knowledge and a bewildering unknown.  The construction cone struck me because, functionally it demarcates space, commanding a presence of its own.  The 3D shape lends a display opportunity with an underlying meaning of its own.

My first work with the construction cone was Precious Metal.  Curator Schlomit Dror, then at the Newark Museum, wrote:

 “Tania Sen’s sculpture Precious Metal (2014) is made out of an orange cone …In this work Sen alludes to consumer culture by borrowing text that is similar in texture, form and color to the iconic Coca-Cola logo from the world of advertising.  She alter the words, however, to “Shared Wealth”.  The gold paint coating the traffic cone, a universally recognized object like the Coca-Cola beverage, suggest the risky outcome veneration of consumer culture may impose on notions of value and corporate wealth.”

Well the Coca Cola logo letters originating in Fizzy Dreams has come a long way since then, the cone itself took its own journey.  Still remember the words of the doorman at the museum, not inscribed anywhere were, “What’s this?  Merlin’s Hat?”  At the time I laughed, today I wish it was…
Very recently when a teenager practiced her parallel parking using some of the unpainted cones that were stashed in my garage, I decided to take a fresh look at them once again.

Look Fizzy, translated into a tattoo design in the shape of a cone.  At a time when I was obsessing over Jamini Roy’s elegant simplicity, his cats with human eyes were what appealed to me the most!  I got Mona Lisa to cuddle one of his kitties, and put a clowder of Jamini Roy kitties on my cone Fizzy Dreams in Percentages translated into a ceiling hung giant exclamation mark!

19 Jun

Data Rush

“Data Rush” – an oxymoron of sorts – “data” implicitly requires interpretation, mitigating spontaneity.  “Rush” – indicating motion, speed, urgency, Impetuosity, violence…
Data gathered through the senses, data indicating elements beyond the object of observation, suggesting elements of time, usage and incidents comprises the basis of these works.  My works are created with data that is “sought” rather than the data that is “pushed” on us.  The nature of data is essentially such that it allows room for interpretation.  The works often comprises of close ups, blurring aspects of scale and perspective.

Data Rush is an attempt of a conversation.  An attempt to make meaning out of a surge of facts and figures, an excess of opinions and polarized impressions…a transmission of sorts with blips, glitches and dropped messages…an attempt of an expression…

Analog Control, Animated gif

Analog Control, Animated gif

07 Jun

13 festivals in 12 months

“13 festivals in 12 months” is a Bengali saying which is not hard to fathom in a place like India with so many cultures and subcultures.   In 2012,  I was invited to do a solo exhibit at Gallery Art Eterne.  At the time I’d just started working on Death of an Icon with initial pencil sketches when the invitation came and I rushed to complete some works on paper, combined with silk screened portions that would be easy to transport.  When asked to pick a date, any date, a year in advance by Sudhanshu Paliwal the owner of the gallery, I picked November 10th, which in my mind was a date in the distant future, not knowing the full implication of that date at the time.  November 10th happened to be the day before Diwali in 2012.  I’ve always been aware of Diwali and the festivities it entails, took part in some of it as well in my childhood.  What I didn’t know was the extent of Diwali in New Delhi! That was quite another story!  Festivities coupled with commerce created a state of emergency in the entire city.  Needless to say that attending an art show opening was the farthest thing from the minds of the public under the circumstances.

It was due to the generosity of a handful of people that the opening still turned out to be a relative success. Exhibition opening in a city where I knew only a handful of people in non-artistic fields was a scary proposition.  Incidentally, I met the very vivacious Ina Puri a short while ago, who took the trouble of coming all the way from Gurgaon to Lado Sarai just to show her support!  Rajan Fulari who was an expectant Dad at the time came with some of his colleagues from the Lalit Kala Artist’s ResidencyBirendra Pani dropped by.  While the opening offered a learning experience in general, it certainly made me realize the meaning of reverse culture shock when I tried pouring wine for one of the attendees I was dissuaded with some urgency by the well-meaning Sudharshan Paliwal.  What I was just about to perform could have been a fairly scandalous act by a woman in the given milieu!

The history “Death of an Icon” series accumulated over time added a certain something to the works themselves. Couple of pieces from the series showed for the first time at Religare Art Gallery, Saket, the year before.  Lyla Rao the curator at the time was amicable and very helpful.  People like that are hard to connect with on social media…I digress….  It has shown in many places here in the States, selected by various curators, James Patrick Reid, Evonne Davis, Armisey Smith, among them.  The works circulated from New Delhi to the Prince Street Gallery, Chelsea, SVA Gramercy Gallery, Monmouth Museum, Goggleworks PA, Phoenix Village Art Gallery, Jewish Museum of New Jersey, Walsh Gallery at Seaton Hall and now at the Art Space in Warren, NJ.

The day after the opening was the festival of Dhan Taras which literally translates to “desire for wealth”.  The tradition is to buy precious jewelry on that day.  Markets were lively, the sweet shops with mirrors freshly cleaned, neon lights shining on the colorful sweets and laddos.  I walked into one of the shops, and showed some curiosity about the legendary Delhi laddos, the store keeper promptly took one out with his bare hands and broke it in two, shaping each individual portion into smaller balls he handed each portion to my cousin and me.  While I was touched by the warmth of his gesture, I could not quieten the nagging of hygiene police at the back of my mind until, prompted yet again by my cousin who popped it into his mouth and urged me to do the same…I gave into the momentary weakness and followed suit, enjoyed the sweet despite my hypochondriac self.

 

 

03 Jun

Please Don’t Burst My Bubble – II

A giant city nestled amid mountain ranges with a very wide and blue Han river flowing right through the heart of it – that’s Seoul.  We stayed at a place near Hongdae University, a bustling youthful part of the town full of restaurants music and colorful young people.  A 40 minute bus ride from Hongdae was CICA museum surrounded by paddy fields, high-rises and mega stores conveniently fitted with Starbucks Coffee.

The food and forms of expression gives you a peek into the heart of a place.  Varied and complex the food was always delicious!  Tunes of songs floating out of restaurants and cafés mostly had a pleasant 101.9 FM sound to it.  Leejin Kim compared a discussion between myself and the collaborative artists.  The discussion led to a perfect synthesis of ideas between two different cultures,  two different places and two different age groups.

Nara Lee (이나라), mentioned her works as reminiscent of her childhood spending time outdoors in parks and jungle gyms as opposed to children today who spend majority of the time on their electronic devices.

C2’s (탄소) work comprising of shots from a post-concert party of upturned furniture, crushed beer cans, drugs etc. the concert she went to see was called Rainbow.  Her very first exposure to adolescent fun!

Mark Yang’s (양윤석). work was the most complex and somewhat abstract, he mentioned that his art was a way of coping with the challenges he faced in real life.

When asked about my works in the solo show and the significance of Mickey and the NYC subway sign ‘ when you see something say something‘ I discussed the starkness that is incorporated into a child’s world in many parts of the globe today.  How children cope with dire situations and are resilient to shocks that have become part and parcel of their lives in many places.  The subway warning put in place primarily as a means to fight terrorist activities also are a familiar sight today, to which we don’t even raise an eyebrow.  Please don’t burst my Bubble – a photograph of a child lunging to touch a giant bubble in Central Park, Red, Brown and Blue, a story of my own journey of displacement, embracing and assimilation into a new culture.  This show is meant to remind us of the importance of keeping dreams alive.  When Borim Lee (이보림), an artist of his own merit, asked why my works were so dark?  I was caught quite by surprise and only managed to say, “that’s just how it is!”

Last but not the least, all of this exchange of ideas was possible because of the superb translation and amicable personality of Leejin Kim, the gallery director, UPenn graduate currently residing between DC and Seoul.  Leejin, herself a conceptual artist, is now working on starting a branch of CICA near about NYC or DC.

03 May

‘Curiouser and curiouser!’

“‘Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English); ‘now I’m opening out like the largest telescope that ever was! Good-bye, feet!’ (for when she looked down at her feet, they seemed to be almost out of sight, they were getting so far off).”

A short walk off from 14th and 6th, I walked briskly on a spring morning to the odd shaped glass structure – a Mecca of Modern American Art – The Whitney Museum.   Glancing up, I found a gold blimp shining in the sun on one of its terraces high above the throng of the city streets.  A long line snaked up to the counter, an officious young volunteer in a green over coat prodded the distracted waiters of the line along the course, closer to the counter – nearly all of them pouring on their cell phones – a modern malice no one even notices anymore!

So what was all the fuss about the Biennial?   Art from the 80’s displayed it’s loud colors in vapid imagery, until I walked in and out of a room tagged with dried up boloni from floor to ceiling, inside and outside, mocking the hungry eyes of the striving artist.

True, that art allows for emotional purging, but purging was all I found, loads of it!  Then I read the names of the sponsors and continued to chew my gum, like a cow – strayed from its way to the slaughter house…