Art that questions art

Updated: Jun 20, 2019, 08:08 IST | Snigdha Hasan

Worli's Tao brings together eight digital and material artists to challenge the notion of what's considered art

Art that questions art
Madman's Labyrinth, linocut by Vasundhara Anand

Going beyond the dictionary meaning, what does "formless" mean? Is it the lack of form or what cannot be confined to a fixed form? If an artist doesn't put his brush to the canvas and seeks beauty in the textures of a tree bark instead, is it still art? And what about the process where an artist paints a piece of work and tears it up to create what it could be?

Mumbai-based writer, photographer, filmmaker and musician Ronojoy Sircar had been grappling with these questions ever since he read French intellectual Georges Bataille's journal, Documents, which represents a dissident branch of surrealism.

Eye Didn't Note, acrylic and hologram on canvas by Hetal Shukla
Eye Didn't Note, acrylic and hologram on canvas by Hetal Shukla

Having followed the works of a growing tribe of artists across India, who challenge the conventional definition of art, Sircar — also the gallery manager at Tao — thought the time was ripe to curate an exhibition around the theme. And he decided to call it, well, Formless. The show brings together the works of digital and material artists, including Sanchit Sawaria, Sudeepti Tucker, Sayon Chatterjee, Illesha Khandelwal, Rashmi Pote, Hetal Shukla, Tyrell Valladeres and Vasundhara Anand.

"With this exhibition, the idea is to change the disrupt the notion of what's considered art, and move beyond the binaries of fine art and digital art. We are looking at exploring questions like what visual art is, and what it means to be a viewer," explains Sircar, adding that when a viewer looks at an artwork, the obvious question of "Yeh kya hai?" should be rooted in an element of pleasant disbelief, and not one that translates to "I don't get it."

Ronojoy Sircar
Ronojoy Sircar

The works curated for the show explain Sircar's point further. Shukla's Eye Didn't Note, for instance, includes motifs from the demonetised Indian currency notes, which when seen through his eyes, are a piece of art. Mumbai-based Valladeres — who is also known for his "I am Bandra" installation and the art on the Mount Mary steps — works with bismuth, resin, tin, aluminium and brass to create metal art. Artistes Aarifah Rebello and Andrew Sabu, whose music deals with a sense of formlessness, will perform on the opening night, while the last week of the exhibition will feature a panel discussion among photographers and writers. Fluid, as art should be.

From June 21 to July 14, 11 am to 7 pm
At Tao Art Gallery, Worli.
Call 24918585

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