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Hungarian artistes to exhibit a potpourri of paintings
Ravi Bhatia

The Hungarian Culture Centre here is organising a group exhibition of paintings of 27 renowned Hungarian artists beginning February 7. The exhibition, which will continue till March 5, is entitled “Process”.

Strange as it may sound, Folyamat Tarsasag (Association “Process”) is an association of exhibitions, indeed, an “exhibition association” of artists. The organisation of group exhibitions and, more generally, the process of exhibiting are the chosen operational principle of the Association and, also, the most important link, if not the only one, among the twenty members. For them, a new exhibition represents a phase of the process, of what is both “working” and “flux”, in the life of the Association as it takes a kind of snapshot of this process. Since its foundation in 1991, there has been nineteen group exhibitions of the Association, an impressive number and a remarkable achievement in purely numerical terms as this series of events has provided members with a means of presenting their work to the public and maintaining a more or less continuous presence in the public view under conditions usually not very favourable to the presentation and appreciation of contemporary work in this country.

In its exhibitions the Association has successfully avoided the all-too-familiar pitfalls of “Thematic” exhibitions, where contributing artists feel compelled to “adjust”, if only notionally, their works to be exhibited to some idea or theme, often commonplace and forced set for the contributors by the organisers. Though a few of these exhibitions had some occasional or very general “theme,” their very occasional or general quality made the burden of adjustment easy to bear for the contributing member artists.

The most significant quality of these exhibitions (and, more broadly, the members’ creative work that is common to them or at least running parallel) is their striking variety. Partly in the technical sense, in the methods, means and media of the creative process: looking round at any of these events, one can observe small-scale sculptures and photographs, “traditional”, brush-paint-and-canvas paintings and very unorthodox techniques and materials including pictures composed of various pieces of tree-bark, statues made of painted cardboard, metal sculpture produced by traditional iron manufacturing methods, a scrolling gobelin, an object trouvee of nature with artificial extension, a hologram evoking archaic natural forms and structures... the full list would be very long indeed.

The same holds true for the artistic vision or creed of the member artists as embodied in their work. We have abstraction inspired by organic natural forms, folk-loristic inspiration, and the avant-garde impulse of “classical” isms, pop art, conceptual art, confident self-expression and ironical self-reflection and self-questioning. Just as in the routine activities and of the social life of the Association, friendship and peace reign in its exhibitions: the peace of conflicting and mutually exclusive artistic visions that can, nevertheless, supplement one another.

This accounts for the final general (and in this case reassuringly paradoxical) impression the exhibitions and the work of the Association taken as a whole make on the observer, which is nothing less than the pleasing harmony of overall incompatibility. That is, while they have nothing much to do with one anther in the artistic sense, there is harmony among members as they all accept, appreciate and, difficult as it may be to believe, they even like one another and one another’s work.

The imprint of a being

In this series of paintings by the New York-based painter Jasleeen, UNMASKINGS: Intimations/Invocations, each work bears the imprint of a being. The exhibition opened on February 1 at the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature, Siri Fort Institutional Area, here. The show will continue until February 15th and can be viewed daily from 11 am to 7 pm, including Sunday.

Critics say that in this series, each painting bears the imprint of a being. As Kirlian photography attempts, arguably within the realm of credibility to succeed, to grasp and `capture’ a living being’s astral nature and record it as a two-dimensional photographic image, so does Jasleen’s brushes apply paint and bring forth unique features of these sensorial characters. As if a dance of a thousand souls, there is a voice, spoken as if by many and at once by one.

Despite visible differences in palette, form and shape, sex and age, each work stands individually strong but interconnected. Elements of the rainbow pull colour skeins apart, but still spin about on a related axis. Their underlying cord, an expression beyond maya, transforms and unifies the astral, material, physical, mental, and vital planes.

Timeless and universal, a suggestion and summoning of life spirit, these works weave webs, loci of ethereal beings. Beyond simplistic categorisation or analysis, the use of the picture plane denies planar mortality, a tribute to the space of the spirit, of the power of the imagination. Jasleen’s hands surreally conjure celestial strokes, affirming non-duality and spontaneity. Ever-moving, these ‘portraits’ greet the viewer in a shifting, hallucinogenic way.

Jasleen Singh spent her impressionable years in India and has studied, lived and worked in such various locales as New York, New Delhi, London and Sofia. After taking her degree in English literature from Delhi University, she studied art at Sir John Cass College and the Hornsey School of Art in London, and photography and graphic design at the New School in New York. Since 1978, she has devoted herself entirely to painting. She has worked and lived with her two children, Carishma and Akaash, in New York City since 1983.

Her last solo exhibition was at the Nehru Centre in London in 2001 and New Delhi in 1999. Since then, she has been very active in New York City. In particular, in the aftermath of 11 September 2001, which had direct impact in her neighbourhood, she participated and exhibited in-group shows in New York. 


A doyenne of vocalists

Padmini K Rao, disciple of Dr Prabha Atre, the famous vocalist and late Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar, the dhrupadia and rudra veena maestro has emerged as one of the most gifted voices from the Kirana gharana, a style that has produced legends like Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Gangubai Hangal. Having already performed in West Asia, Europe, the USA, Mumbai and Bangalore, she was in town recently for her first-ever musical concert in New Delhi.

The concert, organized by Kanupriya Sangeet Vidyalaya Trust was attended by legends like Ustad Fahimuddin Dagar and Ustad Asad Ali Khan. Also present were Mr Muhammad Aziz Khan (Pakistan High Commissioner), Mrs Veena Modi, Dr Somdutt (Somdutt Builders) etc. Kanupriya Sangeet Vidhalaya Trust is known for pre upcoming artists in the field of music from India and abroad to the masses.

Special attraction of the evening was the felicitation of Mr Ramesh Patel by Ustad Fahimuddin Dagar. Mr Patel from London is known for his love and dedication towards the Indian music and culture.

Padmini’s performance included compositions in Raag Puria Kalyan and Keer Vani followed by Abhang (a light Marathi folk bhajan). According to critics, her music is a blend of two most enchanting Indian classical musical streams: the dhrupad and the khayal. She ended the night in style with a lovely composition in Raag Bhairavi.

She had her vocal musical initiation at a relatively tender age under the guidance of Pandit Manohar Otavkar. Thereafter, over a period of six years, she received training in sitar from Mrs Pramila Dagar. Discovering that her first love was for vocal music, Padmini reverted to the vocal form. She then underwent 11 years of rigorous training in voice culture under the guidance of late Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar, the renowned scholar, dhrupadiya and rudra veena maestro, who is a familiar name to the discerning connoisseurs all over the world.

Even as her interest and musical talents flowered rapidly under the able guidance of Ustad Z M Dagar, Padmini did her Master’s degree in Music from the SNDT University under the tutelage of Dr Prabha Atre. This was to lay the foundation for a long and fruitful association with Dr Prabha Atre. Critics claim that Padmini can be depended upon to carry forward the legacy of Dr Prabha Atre.

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