Monday, July 30, 2007

Chelsea Crawl - Part 1

I went to four shows in Chelsea last week and wanted to share my thoughts details here.

Daneyal Mahmood Gallery is showing the Italian artist Davide Cantoni in a show titled 'Burn Drawings' and it sure is hot (and it was a revelation). Davide has managed to use a magnifying glass, concentrate the sun’s rays and burn vellum in a detail that needs to be seen. The rendering coalesces into a hazy, nether world scrawl that has you thinking about the social issue depicted as well as the technique employed in creating these works.

Most of the works are small scale but the one that blows you away is ‘Luna’ – a square work 6 feet X 6 feet has you thinking of the lunar surface and other worlds rendered with cunning detail on six individual pieces of vellum.

"This exhibition includes Mr. Cantoni's new drawings including his largest to date "Luna" and his first video "Sol," an animated rotation of the sun rendered as burned drawings. Setting up Sun and Moon at either ends of the gallery Cantoni activates the space in between these two works as the stage to present us with images from our daily existence. Everything laboriously burned, this rite of fire, exposes us to these images for a second time this time demanding more attention. It is this active act of looking, that the artist is interested in engaging us in.”

The paintings (burnt vellum drawings?) has to be seen for someone to feel and be engaged with the work – no image will do justice to his pieces. The fragility of the vellum also hints at some of the ethereal psychological underpinnings behind Davide’s art.

SUN - paper burnt using sunlight

'Looters - Baghdad' (Not part of the show)

I was chatting with the assistant director of the gallery when I caught sight of this huge canvas (must have been at least 9 feet in height) in her inner office. On shamelessly enquiring about it a little more, I found out that Daneyal Mahmood Gallery will be exhibiting the work of Farhad Moshiri in October. His large scale oil/acrylic canvases with Arabic calligraphy are a sight to behold and I will very much be going to his opening in a couple of months from now.

The texture resembles cracked ice (as if millions of ice particles were clinging onto the surface of the large vase). He is said to crinkle up the canvas on completion. Not too sure how he does this in such a predictable way but the results scream randomess and controlled. The gallery was kind enough to send some jpegs my way and I have posted it here…

Farhad Moshiri, 'Gray Target', 106" x 72” . Oil and acrylic on canvas

Farhad Moshiri, 'Brown and Pink Urn', 60" x 42” . Oil and acrylic on canvas

Farhad Moshiri, Brown and Pink Urn - detail

My second visit was to Bodhi Art where a Paris based artist of Indian origin Jayashree Chakravarty was having her show titled ‘Where The Sand Meets the Sky’.

“Chakravarty creates elaborate maps of consciousness. The pictorial language of her works reflects her deepening inquiry into the secret life of memories, their pervasiveness and intensities. Disparate worlds are layered together with great panache – the effect of pigments, texture, personal and historical connotations, and the imagistic registers are orchestrated together in a magical network that creates a telling language of associations.”

I was not too very impressed. A couple of pieces that stand out are posted here, but for the most part were insipid renderings of ducks, sparrows, beetles, butterflies, spiders and fish over a background of acrylic/oil worked finely with a palette knife. The problem with these works was that all of them were much too similar and I got bored after looking at the first three pieces. They were fairly expensive too....

Jayshree Chakravarty, 'Untitled', acrylic and oil on canvas 72" X 70" 2006-2007

Jayshree Chakravarty, 'Untitled', acrylic and oil on canvas 72" X 54" 2006-2007

I will post my travails/travels to a couple more galleries tomorrow.

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