Sunday, March 30, 2014

India asks Australian gallery to return stolen Nataraja idol


The sculpture acquired by the National Gallery of Australia from Subhash Kapoor in 2008.

A. SRIVATHSA
The sculpture acquired by the National Gallery of Australia from Subhash Kapoor in 2008.

The Indian government has requested the National Gallery of Australia to return the 1,000-year-old Nataraja idol in its possession.
The Attorney-General’s Department in Australia, in a statement released on Wednesday, said it received the letter and would take action in accordance with the Australian legal provisions. This significant development possibly marks the beginning of the return of the idol.
In its letter, the Indian government complained that the idol was exported in contravention of the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972, which, among other things, prohibits export of antiquities. It was only a few days ago that the Attorney-General, who is also the Minister for Arts, had criticised the NGA for its slack practices in purchasing the Nataraja bronze.
In a related development, the NGA on Wednesday removed the Nataraja idol from display. In an email reply to The Hindu, it confirmed that the museum voluntarily removed the idol from the gallery, but refused to explain the reasons.
In 2008, the NGA bought the bronze idol for US $5 million from Subhash Kapoor, the U.S.-based antiquities dealer. The Tamil Nadu Police produced evidence to establish that the idol was stolen from a temple at Sripuranthan in Tamil Nadu. They had arrested Mr. Kapoor for his alleged involvement in the theft. He is now lodged in the Chennai prison and is facing trial.
The NGA had earlier said it had followed proper procedures before purchasing the idol. It had also claimed that the Nataraja in its possession and the one stolen from Tamil Nadu were not the same. It refused to return the idol and continued to display it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Rare bronzes from India at New York auction

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi  March 10, 2014 Last Updated at 13:00 IST

Thangkas, sculptures and ritual objects, from a Japanese collector of Tibetan art are coming up for auction in New York later this month. The sale also includes items associated with

The Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Works of Art Sale by Sotheby's scheduled on March 19 includes over 45 thangkas, sculptures and ritual objects, from the collection of Yoshitomo Tamashige. 

The collection was first exhibited at Meditation Homeland in Toyama Prefecture in  in 2004 and published in a catalogue titled "Gems of Thangka Art." 

Many of the works up for auction were also included in the 2005 exhibition "The World of Mandala" at the Okura Museum of Art in Tokyo. 

Leading the sale is a very fine gilt copper alloy figure Depicting Tara from the Yongle period (1403-1424) and estimated to fetch USD300,000 to USD 500,000. It has been finished and gilded to perfection with the Yongle hallmark style of jewelry and lotus petals. 

Also included from the collection in an  thangka depicting a King, possibly Tri Ralpachen, one of the three legendary imperial patrons of early Buddhism in Tibet estimated to fetch USD 60,000 to USD 80,000). 

The very large-format narrative thangka depicts a temple at the centre. 

Further highlights from the auction include a rare copper alloy figure depicting Bodhisattva Manjushri, the oldest and most significant bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhist literature. 

Cast in a lustrous copper alloy with silver inlay in the Kashmiri style has been estimated to fetch between USD 350,000 to USD 450,000. 

An 18th century parcel gilt copper alloy group depicting Manjushri on a snowlion has been estimated to fetch between USD 40,000 to USD 60,000. 

Also up for offer is a large-scale granite figure of a Yakshi from South India and is pegged to sell between USD 50,000 to USD 70,000. 

The 13th century bronze has been sourced from a private West Coast collection that includes Gandharan and Central Indian stone sculpture. 

The auction also features an eclectic group of Indian miniature paintings from Rajasthan and Punjab led by a opaque watercolour with gold on paper titled "Maharana Ari Singh Searching the Skies circa 1764 (estimated USD 15,000 to USD 20,000). 

The painting has been part of a private New York collection since 1989.

Visions Art - news updates on Indian Art: Queens Museum to open Indian art exhibition next y...

Visions Art - news updates on Indian Art: Queens Museum to open Indian art exhibition next y...: “After Midnight” will focus on art from 1947-1997. By American Bazaar Staff NEW YORK: The Queens Museum has announced that it will op...

Queens Museum to open Indian art exhibition next year


“After Midnight” will focus on art from 1947-1997.
By American Bazaar Staff
NEW YORK: The Queens Museum has announced that it will open an entire exhibition entitled “After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India (1947-1997)” in January 2015, which will highlight important works of art and track the growing modernity of India during its first 50 years of independence.
Malini Shah, Sudhir Vaishnav, Sunil Modi and other community members along with Tom Finkelpearl, President and Executive Director, Debra Wimpfheimer, Director Stategic Partnerships, Hitomi Iwasaki, Director and Curator and Manjari Sihare Curatorial Manager.
Malini Shah, Sudhir Vaishnav, Sunil Modi and other community members along with Tom Finkelpearl, President and Executive Director, Debra Wimpfheimer, Director Stategic Partnerships, Hitomi Iwasaki, Director and Curator and Manjari Sihare Curatorial Manager.
In a statement, the museum explained that the timeframe was chosen because its beginning and end dates are significant checkpoints in Indian history. The year 1947 is obviously important because it is when Indian gained independence from the British, but also because it saw the birth and rise of the Progressive art movement in India. The year 1997, when India turned 50, was marked by “economic liberalization, political instability, the growth of a religious right wing, as well as a newly globalizing art market and international biennial circuit, in which Indian artists had begun to participate.”
“After Midnight will be the first exhibition large-scale examination of Indian art in the United States prominently featuring the Modern masters, core members of the Progressives including M.F. Husain, S. H. Raza, F.N. Souza, and their extended circle of friends such as Ram Kumar, Krishen Khanna, V.S. Gaitonde, Tyeb Mehta, and Akbar Padamsee,” the museum, formerly known as the Queens Museum of Art, said in a press release. “The contemporary artists under consideration are CAMP, Nikhil Chopra, Desire Machine Collective, Atul Dodiya, Anita Dube, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Tushar Joag, Jitish Kallat, Amar Kanwar, Prajakta Potnis, Sreshta Premnath, Raqs Media Collective, Sharmila Samant, Mithu Sen, Tallur L. N., Asim Waqif.”
The “After Midnight” exhibition will debut on January 25 of next year, and run for just over one month, ending on May 3. Its curator is Dr. Arshiya Lokhandwala, who is currently based in Mumbai. She holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Bombay, an M.A. in the same field from the University of Bombay’s St. Xavier’s College, another M.A. in “creative curating” from the University of London’s Goldsmiths College, yet another M.A. in art history from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. from Cornell University, where her dissertation was entitled “Postcolonial Palimpsests: Historicizing Biennales and Large-Scale Exhibitions in a Global Age.”
“After Midnight, while a large-scale survey show itself, adopts a critical position against blockbuster exhibitions of Indian art that have undertaken tokenist representation of India, or have attempted to illustrate the nation through its art,” said a museum spokesperson. ” Instead of capitulating to the market forces and the need of the West to “present” and “frame” Indian cultural practices, the intent of the exhibition is to dismantle the stereotypical nationalist presentations of India. The exhibition attempts to produce and present art practices, dialogues, and questions emerging from an Indian context to be embraced within the larger global framework of modernity.”
The Queens Museum is located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and was established in 1972. It boasts a permanent collection of artefects and works of art that numbers close to 10,000.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Experts hail contributions of state to Indian art

PATNA: State art, culture and youth affairs department secretary Chanchal Kumar has said future is linked to past via present and lessons learned from the past must be kept in mind while formulating policies for a better future.

Addressing a gathering on the concluding day of a three-day seminar at Patna Museum to highlight the contributions of Bihar to Indian art, organized by the state department of art, culture and youth affairs, the official said the state government was receptive to innovative ideas. The state has had a rich history and the people here are fond of development and knowledge, he said.

"Like time, art is a continuum and is divided by us only for the sake of our convenience," said Banaras Hindu University's art, history and tourism management professor Maruti Nandan Prasad Tiwari. He said art must never be confined to an area or region. Expressing his satisfaction over the concept of Bihar Museum, the academic urged the officials concerned to focus on displaying the artefacts in modern perspective.

Eminent poet Alok Dhanwa said places like Nalanda and Rajgir should not be considered as mere tourist attractions in the Buddha circuit but must also be known for their contributions to the world of knowledge.

Bihar State Public Library and Information Centres Authority chairman Ram Vachan Rai said 'Arthashastra' contains comprehensive description of Mauryan architecture. Basavan, a painter in the court of Mughal ruler Akbar, was a Bihari, he added. "The Deedarganj statue, later christened as 'Yakshini' by noted historian K P Jaiswal, is another example of the state's contributions to Indian art," said Rai.

TNN | Mar 1, 2014, 02.49 AM IST

Sunday, February 02, 2014

China shows interest in Indian art scene at India Art Fair

Sunday, 2 February 2014 - 6:45am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
Zhou Taihei poses in front of the IAF halls at the NSIC Grounds in New Delhi. ARIJIT SEN DNA

China, the world’s second biggest art market is showing interest in the art scene in India, finds Gargi Gupta at the India Art Fair that concludes in Delhi today.
It’s easy to miss the short, slight man doing the rounds of this year’s India Art Fair (IAF), wearing an inscrutable expression as he takes in the art from all across India and the world. Few in India known about, much less recognise him, but he is Zhou Tiehai, one of China’s most highly-regarded contemporary artists who shot to global fame in 2003 for his provocative painting, Libertas, Dei Te Serventi, which depicted former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani flanked by elephant droppings.

Teihai is not the only Chinese visitor at this year’s IAF, which concludes in the capital today, but part of a delegation of influential gallery-owners, museum officials and collectors which is here to look around, network and see if they can forge connections that might result in collaborations with Indian artists and galleries. These include Waling Boers, Dutch co-founder of Boers-Li Gallery in Beijing and Lise Li, the owner of Vanguard Gallery in Shanghai — both known for promoting avant garde art from China and elsewhere. Then there are Wong Shun-kit, executive director of Himalayas Art Museum, a new private museum in Shanghai, and KC Kwok, former executive director of the National Gallery Singapore and present deputy chairman of Yellow River Art Centre, a large upcoming museum in Yinchuan, a city in north-west China. Among the Chinese collectors are Budi Tek, reputed to be one of the most important in east Asia; collector couple Yang Fang and Augusto Laforet, and Fang’s brother Yang Yiqun.

Their schedule in India includes a tour of the National Museum and National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), besides galleries and studios visits. Renu Modi of Gallery Espace will be hosting the delegation at her gallery, which is running a major show of Zarina Hashmi, followed by lunch at her residence — exactly the kind of social interaction that might lead to artistic collaborations.

The names of the Chinese delegation will be unfamiliar to many within India’s art fraternity, an indication of how little interaction there is in the arts sphere between the two countries. Barring a few such as Subodh Gupta and Tushar Joag, few Indian artists have shown in mainland China. Ironically, Shun-kit says the only Indian contemporary artist whose works he has seen is Shilpa Gupta, but that was at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Indians, have not seen Chinese contemporary art that’s making waves internationally, unless it is at a Western metropolis. In 2012, “star” dissident artist Ai Weiwei was to come to India to take part in the inaugural Kochi-Muziris Biennale, but he was put on house arrest by the Chinese government. There was a solitary Chinese participant at the Biennale, Zhang Enli. Teihei was there, accompanying his friend Enli, and says he was “very impressed with Kochi”. 

The lack of interaction is, however, not an indication of lack of interest, feels Philip Dodd, the influential British arts and culture administrator who led the initiative to get the Chinese delegation to Delhi. Dodd is a self-professed Sinophile who has been closely associated with Chinese contemporary art since 1998 when, as director of London’s Institute of Contemporary Art, he put together the exhibition, Beijing London: Revolutionary Capitals, which was one of the first large-scale expositions of Chinese contemporary art in the West. He now runs “Made in China, a company that promotes artistic collaborations between China and Britain. “I talked to my Chinese friends and they were very interested in going to India,” he says. “Unfortunately, the fair coincides with the Chinese new year. There are around 18 people who’ve come — without the conjunction of dates I would have brought 40.”

“The Indian art world can learn a lot from the Chinese, especially in the sphere of arts education, where private museums there have taken the lead,” says Modi, whose Gallery Espace is one of the few Indian galleries to have shown Chinese artists. In 2010, the gallery hosted a joint show by Han Bing, a young artist from Beijing, and Tejal Shah from India. A year later, the gallery had video works by well-known artists, Yang Fudong and Peng Hung-Chih, included in its “Video Wednesdays” programme. The last one was the result of a dialogue between Indian curator Gayatri Sinha and Taihei, who was the curator of Minsheng Art Museum in Shanghai at the time.

Though the West frequently clubs China and India together as “the rising Asian art powerhouses”, the Chinese are far ahead both in terms of market size and a domestic audience for art. There are nearly half a dozen private contemporary art museums in Shanghai alone, while India has just two. The Chinese art market is the second largest in the world, worth $14 billion; the Indian one, in contrast, is less than $0.2 billion. Clearly, the Chinese attention can help Indian art.

Cross-border art
Barring a few such as Subodh Gupta and Tushar Joag, few Indian artists have shown in mainland China. Ironically, Shun-kit says the only Indian contemporary artist whose works he has seen is Shilpa Gupta, but that was at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Indians, have not seen Chinese contemporary art that’s making waves internationally, unless it is at a Western metropolis. In 2012, “star” dissident artist Ai Weiwei was to come to India to take part in the inaugural Kochi-Muziris Biennale, but he was put on house arrest by the Chinese government. There was a solitary Chinese participant at the Biennale, Zhang Enli.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Kerala a Better Place for Art

The 21st-century Kerala is becoming a better place for art, according to renowned painter-sculptor A Ramachandran.

The state has moved forward by opening itself up to the larger world of art outside its geographical boundaries, but its visual arts sensibility has scope to become more active, the Padma Bhushan-winning septuagenarian said in the run-up to his first-ever show in native Kerala.

Ramachandran, who left Thiruvananthapuram in 1957 to do higher studies in art at Santiniketan, notes that the cultural environment in Kerala those days was not congenial for artists, prompting many talents to leave the state.

“Of late, a few in that generation are getting a chance to exhibit their work back home,” the Delhi-based master observes ahead of his exhibition starting in Kochi on August 11. The 15-day exhibition, being organised by the Vadehra Art Gallery (VAG) and curated by art historian R Siva Kumar of Visva-Bharati University, is a compact retrospective of the artist and will showcase 100 works.

Ramachandran, who has been living in the New Delhi since 1964, recalls that Malayali artists had found it tough to flourish in Kerala even in the first half of the 20th century. “That is how and why K C S Paniker, C Madhava Menon and K G Subramanyan left for greener pastures. The local system was non-supportive.”

He recalls that the situation was “no different” even when he boarded the train to West Bengal. “I knew Kerala wasn’t the place for a serious pursuit of art. While things have changed, there are still miles to go.”

Substantiating his point, the 78-year-old artist notes the magnitude of protest India’s first Biennale faced in its host state of Kerala last year. “The art circles there could not realise the momentousness of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale,” said the native of Attingal downstate, referring to the staunch opposition the three-month contemporary-art extravaganza faced even during its three months run.

Kerala, says the artist who post-graduated in Malayalam, could accommodate new trends in literature and cinema and celebrate the works of modernists such as Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, Vaikkom Muhammed Basheer and P Kesavadev and appreciate G Aravindan and Adoor Gopalakrishnan. “In painting, though, the state got stuck for long in the realistic school of Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906).”

Ramachandran was briefly chairman of the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi in the early 1990s.

Prof Siva Kumar, who has written extensively on modern Indian art, the Kochi show is being curated with a certain chronology in mind. “It will cover his works of the last five decades - from 1964 till that of 2013.”

Delhi-based art scholar Rupika Chawla notes Ramachandran possess a “unique” sense of colours that has kept changing over the years. “There is a moving luminosity in his works.”