22 Jul

1/2 Circle, Full Circle


Fizzy Dreams @ Pleiades Gallery

Fizzy Dreams @ Pleiades Gallery

Blue jeans and Coca Cola once stood as a symbol of freedom – freedom of expression, sexual liberation, and freedom of making a choice as opposed to being boxed into an elitist society with meager personal resources.  The need to actualize spurs the need to dream.  The mind morphs and continues to seek beyond borders, beyond individual and cultural differences.  In light of current ongoing unrest and upheavals in the different parts of the globe starting with the Arab Springs, uprisings in China against government atrocities, failure of economy in Greece and Spain, failure of Capitalism in much of the first world, the fuzzy boundaries of the global village, love seems to be the answer as elementary and new-age as it might sound.  Displacement lends perspective to the fragility of an ideology. The self thrives on love universally.  Thus, through the years, Coca Cola came to represent another set of dreams and destination.  Fizzy Dreams, envisions a world with peace, sweetness and zing, the splatter of blood as a reminder of the current state of affairs!

In popular media, the woman in India, largely portrayed as the mother/nurturer assumes the denomination of a “giver”. When I found the sketch in its dusty and discolored state, rescued by my mother from one of our giant book cases, it brought back memories from high school days when 20 paise was still in circulation and perhaps fetched a little something, however small. It was also acceptable alms to be given to the poor beggar woman out on the streets. It has been a while since the Reserved Bank of India stopped minting such a tiny fraction of a currency, yet the condition of a woman and a mother has remained much the same. She now roams the streets adorned by large bill boards advertising Coca Cola and Red Bull. Even though she remains equally illiterate, she can perhaps distinguish a Mc Donald’s from KFC. Hence, I thought I will rejuvenate the dusty forgotten sketch from my high school days to this new identity that she has assumed.

Algorhythm @ Phoenix Village Gallery, PA

Algorhythm @ Phoenix Village Gallery, PA

Algorithm I and II, is a patterned representation of a familiar motif.  Dancing Shiva and Buddha stand for a certain ideology in the minds of the people, often jaded to the visual impact of such symbols.  When masked in a handful of shapes, it may yet offer a visual challenge to unfurl the significance of the symbols.

Patterns are intrinsically associated with belief systems. Thus we have fish motifs and crosses dotting the landscape of Christianity, the crescent moon and menorah illuminates the Islamic and Jewish worlds respectively, Hindu temples are adorned by ancient symbols of mandalas and swastikas…our intellect converses in metaphors with our environment. Thus we assume a bearded God creating the first man…

Globalization morphs the meaning that are mapped into our minds, thus we have the golden arch of Mc Donald’s painted with Chinese dragons and Kentucky Fried Chicken offers steamed rice as a side in lieu of Southern flaky biscuits in Kolkata, India, where the primary staple is rice. Thus we feel the need to spit out, “the butt ends of our days and ways” (T.S. Eliot) and reinvent.

Wisdom in 3D is a neon representation of Gandhi.  His glasses – one red, one green mimics the 3D glasses of gamers.  “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind” was the strong hold of Gandhian principle.  How indeed does it apply to the current global atmosphere?!

Emersion and How do I Look? Explore conventional rituals and their current global setting.  Thus the traditional Indian bride’s veil (ghunghat) oozes the Louis Vuitton pattern, and Mona Lisa takes a purgatory dip in the water.

On his encounter with the series of work using Mona Lisa as a social icon, Dr. Roy, scholar and authority on post colonial modernism, Cyberspace and Voices Dr. Roy commented on the “tension between oppositions of that dialectic, dichotomies that have been central to the aesthetics of defamiliarization, iconic unity and digital fuzziness, between the uncontaminated original and its inevitable decay, between recognizability and facelessness, between personal and depersonalized identity through substitution, mediation and commoditization.”  He notices, “All of the images in this sequence dramatize the life of this iconic image in the age of “mechanical reproducibility,” as theorized by Walter Benjamin.”

Voices at NSA, NJ

Voices at NSA, NJ

“Half circle, full circle, half circle a, half circle, full circle, right angle, a” was a riddle we asked each other in elementary school.  Well indeed it was a trick question that masked the spelling of Coca Cola.  Ironically, this show brings me full circle in my expression.  The Dance and The Giver, 2008, were initial attempt at giving an iconic expression to popular religious motifs, Durga, in this instance, thus Ralph Bellatoni wrote in Courier News,  “Tania Sen explores traditional…symbolism…through a personal interpretation for the subject matter.” After years of contemplation on the dichotomy of an icon and its underpinnings, would like to view Durga in her two facets, put together in the shape of an egg, symbolizing birth, the latter, purely accidental!


21 Jul

James Turrell: ramblings

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A snaking line at the entrance of any museum or art event raises anticipation and eagerness and there was one fit to order right down the sidewalk of Museum Mile this morning when I walked into Guggenheim to experience the much written about James Turrell: the master of light!  I booked my ticket way ahead of time and got them delivered to my house so I was able to walk right past the lines at the ticket counter…I walked in eagerly only to stumble upon rows of bodies laying on the floor absorbing the concentric oval rings of light changing  color.  There were many who were standing and along with observing the exhibit there was much people gazing happening as well…next I walked past to the rest of the show…and in one dark room there was one lit rectangle close to the floor – all white  and crisp, into another dark room with only a strip of light expanding from floor to ceiling and silhouetted against it was a young father, visitor at the gallery, baby strapped to the front of his body, stepping cautiously towards the strip of light only to be reprimanded by the standing guard whose sole responsibility was to guard that strip of light at the corner of the room.  After passing yet another dark room with some more rectangular displays, a floating box wedged against the corner of a room caught my eyes!  Well, that too was a creation of light along with it there were a number of similar etched images, of white boxes on an otherwise dark corner of a room.  When I emerged out of that room feeling a bit like the emperor and his new clothes, there was Cezanne, and Gauguin and Seurat and Lautrec in a well lit room!

For one, the tangible nature of these impressionistic paintings felt comforting after experiencing art that would all but disappear with the flick of a switch.  Also a reminder of how the Impressionists rendered light as opposed to their predecessors before the advent of the camera, made me aware of how new and unique the idea of a temporary art practice offering an experience of light must be!  So I walked into a reading room and leafed through a couple of coffee table books on Turrell’s work.  The photographs, which were in color, mostly round, oval or rectangular, resonated somewhat of Rothko works.  Beautiful!  There is no doubt that Turrell’s work is extremely photogenic!  The counter experience happened to me very recently when I experienced the works of Toyin Odutola, which are outstanding in person!  Photographs don’t do justice to the intricacies of the sinuous details of his plates and prints.  While walking out of the museum and into the busy street on a gorgeous sunny day I reflected on how Turrell worked in his isolated circular barn-like windowless structure in the middle of a desert and an extinguished volcano, the trials and tribulations of most of the impressionistic painters.  For the audience, is it safe to say that beauty is an adaptive effort enjoyed in experiencing something that is well done?  Did I just experience beauty at the Guggenheim?  If I had to consider the words of Denis Dutton as to what is beauty,  “Beauty is a way that evolution has of arousing and sustaining interest or fascination, even obsession in order to encourage us towards making the most adaptive decisions towards mating and reproduction.”  I’d say, hmm, really?