Asian Music and Dance

Indian Summer

An Indian summer consists of hazy, smoky sunshine and soaring temperatures in late autumn. A welcome addition to the year, it is a gratefully-received respite from the impending cold of winter.

Many of the highly-decorative wall-based paintings, prints and collages in Indian Summer – a collaborative endeavour between Arts for India and the Albemarle Gallery – give rise to these autumnal hues and glows of hazy sunshine. It is through their use of rich natural colours and sumptuous golds that notions of the passing seasons are evoked by many of the artists in this group show. 

The premise of the exhibition is quite simple: the works all have some connection to India, whether the artists are from the country itself, or inspired by its people, its culture or its vast and varying landscapes. 

Arts for India is a UK-registered charity that supports a scholarship scheme for students in India, where public investment in art education is lacking. The organisation sources patrons from across the world who support prospective artists in a scholarship programme. These students study at the International Institute of Fine Arts (IIFA) north-east of Delhi. Without such help, many prospective students would be unable to fund their own artistic education.

Indian Summer showcases two of these students, both in their first year of study at the IIFA. Their talent, even at such an early stage of artistic development, is quite evident. Consisting of three paintings and one woodcut print, the works by these young artists are some of the smallest in the show, but prove to be highly sophisticated. The rudimentary woodcut by Meenakshi displays a ritualistic scene of a veiled woman dancing beneath a tree with what looks to be a dead chicken as an offering. Meenu Thakur’s paintings epitomise the autumnal and transitory nature of the overall show. The geometric Untitled and repeating patterns of Leaves are especially beautiful in their sheer simple confidence.

Artist Brinda Miller Chudasama began her career as a designer in the 1980s, composing patterns and designs for the textile industry in her native Mumbai. Turning her hand to collage, Miller’s awareness of the principles of design is apparent. Though perhaps somewhat overstated in their entirety, there are many smaller elements within her collages that are compelling and involved. The lower portion of Speed of Light III, for example, is intriguing. Specifically, the black and white Bridget Riley-esque circles and maze-like structure covered by bits of orange plastic, together with the intricate gold fabric to the right and a block of partially-covered cobalt blue to the left, has the potential to be a captivating image, were it somewhat less cluttered and chaotic. The artist’s assemblages of throwaway pieces of material such as cardboard, plastic packaging and fabric together with layers of paint are hovering on the edge of becoming something quite special, but just a little more finesse and elegance is needed.

JayShree Kapoor’s canvases are an intensely vivid amalgamation of paint, glitter and plastic flowers. Altogether entirely kitsch in appearance, these large-scale works do reflect the Indian Summer of the show’s title. A press release for the exhibition states that according to Hindu mythology, flowers are the pens with which Mother Earth writes. Kapoor’s recreations of the natural world highlight this religious connection in a dramatically animated, psychedelic approach.  

Other artists in the show include Ravi Mandlik, Anwar, Nupur Kundu, Aisha Caan, Kalpana Shah and Christina Pierce. Each of these artists works with the abstracted, painted form. Their muted palettes and nod to the organic give rise to the changing seasons denoted by an Indian Summer.

This exhibition does contain some gems. The works of young Meenakshi and Meenu Thakur and elements of Brinda Miller Chudasama’s collaged assemblages are energetic and tantalising. The connotations created by the show’s title as well as the muted, abstracted palettes create an atmospheric display, reminiscent of ideas of transition and progression.



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