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Critic and Curator Uma Nair has been writing for the past 33 years on art and culture She has written as critic for Times of India and Economic Times. She believes that art is … MORE
What happens when Vadehras, Experimenter, Chemould and Jhaveri Contemporary fuse their artist lexicon and cultivate a show that couples the complexity of humanist existence?
These four premium galleries from India have just descended on Sadie Coles in London for an avant garde unveiling amidst the tinkle of a wine and cheese preview amidst  English weather.
Melange of materials
A glimpse of the installation images of art works at Sadie Coles, suggests a  diversity of  mediums, including painting, sculpture, etching and photography.
In bringing together these artists and creating a melange of materials the viewer is offered a taste of universal resonance born in the crucible of personal experience. Amidst a handful of versatile names, viewers in London can read artistic ferment  as being about the artist, the practice, and the vocabulary because they weave history to critically engage with the language of their work through the context of a  lived  experience. This is where the histories of artistic practice, or personal narratives, come into the picture and overlap with the visible  vocabulary of human figures and cadences of individual sensibilities.
In the  pursuit of  the interweaving of past and present, of studio practice and naturally sustained vocabularies, we can find a common thread of  conceptual dexterity that seeks to transcend the simplistic opposition between the leaves of modernist  and contemporaneous character.
Vadehras twin offering
Anju Dodiya’s quartet creates an evocative tableaux of emotive intensity.Each image is constructed in the corollary of individual conversations.She uses padding plumped up , charcoal and acrylic on fabric  amidst  the felicity of the contour to create women as victims of violence, bruised ,  by both pursuits and  domestic settings while confined during the pandemic.

When asked why Anju is an important artist in terms of evolution and contemporary character, Roshini Vadehra says from London: “ Anju Dodiya’s works are a poignant reminder of the everyday during our collective confinement during the pandemic. These works are hinged small realities, on the  little things that gave us joy, be it books or the views of nature, along with her starkly drawn roots that she metaphorically grew in her home spaces.These four works  make us reminisce about the time that we collectively experienced during the self imposed isolation.”
Roshini’s words point to Anju’s  play with elements of solitary satiation — books, gardens, and food.The beauty of her works lies in the narrative she employs, as we view images mirroring joy and pain, celebration and memoir.

KM Mudhusudhanan’s work, Conversations with Black, 2019-2022, combine  sixteen charcoal drawings, specifically addressing the theory of classical singer Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (1902-1968) who regarded art and music as forces capable of stimulating cross-cultural unification. For  Madhusudhanan music is a consolidated force; as much as the elements he uses;  a small gramophone  cradled in wire and a bundle of microphones form a mesmerising mass. Miniature mannequins  and toy animals all jostle for space amidst the fall of  monuments in an elegiac ensemble in a set of charcoals that are meticulous in creation.
Experimenter’s environmental echo
Prabhakar Pachpute has for long now been a proponent of lamenting the  volatile human relationship of man to land.Environmental transformations shaped  dependency creates his installation  Resilient Bodies in an era of Resistance, 2018, a network of soil-clump cutouts, arranged like a tunnel route to treasure, respond to  recent protests and collective action by Indian farmers against the threat of legislative disfiguration of agricultural rights.

Pachpute’s sculpture, Rattling Knot II, 2020,  a pyramidal mass of red clay, Multani miti, gum arabic, wire mesh and soil doubling down on and almost consuming several pairs of legs, relates to the exhausted mine worker’s body.The terracotta sculpture reads like an apt epitaph.

Radhika Khimji combines photography with painting and embroidery,  to reimagine geographies. The installations are dense and majestic but create an abstract environmental aura. She also melds small lozenge markings, based on beads from  Lord  Krishna’s necklaces, and makes it appear like ideograms that revolve  as it seeks open ended interpretation.
Chemould Gallery’s inventory of lost utopias
Atul Dodiya’s reloaded Wunderkammer. Encased in shallow wooden cabinets, with apertures shaped like easels, is a collection of trinkets integrated with a monochrome sequence of images.

Each depiction is a citation drawn from Dodiya’s close watching and recollection of a seven-minute section of Hitchcock’s Blackmail that focuses on a fatal struggle between a woman and an artist. This storyboard, filtered through Dodiya’s memory and fragmented by his miscellanea, visible through the shape-shifting windows, invites more imaginative associations.
The simplicity of Mithu Sen’s mark making belies the intensity of her work, Until you 206, 2021-2022. With a pinpoint she pierces paper to form a suite of images that personify the human skeleton. In her anatomical diagrams bones are shown shattered, hands are bloodied and each body part is labelled with a date. The dates reference a historical timeline. The works create a mosaic of pricked paper notes in which is mirrored  pain and premonition suffused with acute anxiety.
Jhaveri Contemporary’s Rhetoric
Mrinalini Mukherjee’s etchings are a treat for tired eyes. Mukherjee’s detailed evocative  etchings of verdant landscapes con-trastingly implicate the joy of being one with nature. These are landscapes from her visual diary, they form a record and create an ecological echo.

Channel, 2014, a series of photographs by Simryn Gill, presents the conflict between human and ecological life, everyday items –including fabric and plastic waste—cling to branches and wind themselves around roots exposed in a Malaysian mangrove, to the extent that they appear intrinsic to the landscape.
Ali Kazim’s watercolour, Untitled (Ratti Tibbi Series), 2017-18, that most directly addresses patterns of settlement and human interconnectivi-ty. Shattered across a grid of nine white leaves of paper are fragments of terracotta vestiges from civilisations that once populated the IndusValley around 3000 BCE to 1500 BCE.The beauty of his commentary are the open ended questions we are left with in the human predicament of land and human habitation.
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Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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