Manjunath Kamath from Mangalore debuts at Abu Dhabi Art Fair with Gallery Espace
Gallery Espace will be participating in this year’s Abu Dhabi Art Fair at Booth S09, with a showcase of new and previously unseen works by multidisciplinary visual artist Manjunath Kamath.
Manjunath Kamath plays with a range of cultural motifs: the architecture of temples and churches, Middle Eastern ceramics and Western Renaissance paintings.
Focusing on the commonality at the root of these seemingly distinct iconographies, his work also celebrates the idea of likeness in diversity.
To commemorate their first showcase in Abu Dhabi, Gallery Espace will present a selection of Kamath's paintings and terracotta sculptures that have been inspired by the architecture of the region – specifically, the tiles that adorn West Asia’s most iconic structures.
His use of blue in this collection is suggestive of Turkish pottery – a symbolic reference to the diverse ethnography of the region.
Kamath’s work is characterised by the element of storytelling. He crafts a visual narrative, engaging the viewer in a journey across the form of the artwork – a metaphorical beginning, middle and end that is suggestive of life and movement in a static work.
His imagination is almost childlike – a playful rendition of magic and reality that is both surreal yet disconcertingly familiar.
There is also a sense of humour to his work – elements of absurdity, recognisable forms that are presented irreverently, a spirited blend of colours and motifs.
Kamath, who works primarily with digital art, painting and terracotta, will be bringing his work to Abu Dhabi for the first time.
He has previously showcased his art in New Delhi, Seoul, Bangkok and Cardiff, and was one of the artists represented by Gallery Espace at Art Dubai in 2008.
The New Delhi gallery, founded by Renu Modi, is committed to fostering cultural exchange through an interdisciplinary approach to art.
Abu Dhabi Art offers them the unique opportunity to showcase ambitious work on an international platform, with a focus on engaging with a diverse public audience.
Born in 1972, Mangalore, Manjunath Kamath's art is a play on diverse cultural references – the sculptures, frescos and carvings of gods and goddesses in the temples, churches and basadis in and around where he grew up in South India, the floridly-made up figures in the folk plays he saw as a child, stories and myths from the Indian epics and their depiction in the modernist painter Raja Ravi Varma, and further afield, Persian miniatures, the Arabesque patterns of Middle Eastern ceramics, and Western art of the Renaissance.
But viewers would be hard-pressed to isolate the discrete motifs in the baroque images Kamath scatters across his canvases and drawings, employing a humour and quirkiness that are his signature style.
Underlying it all is a consciousness of the common roots and the interconnectedness of cultural motifs and iconographies, a message of sameness in diversity.
Kamath works in painting, digital art and terracotta. He lives and works in New Delhi. Gallery Espace was established in New Delhi, India in 1989 by Renu Modi with an exhibition of autobiographical works of MF Husain, Modern India’s most celebrated artist and one of the founder members of the path-breaking Progressive Artists Group.
Soon success followed success, and the Gallery’s name became synonymous with representing artists, whose works defined the 1980s – Jagdish Swaminathan; Manjit Bawa, Krishen Khanna, Bhupen Khakhar & Vishwanadhan.
From its early inception when the circulation of art was limited to informal efforts, Espace has constantly traversed borders and boundaries, showcasing the art of primarily Indian artists from multiple generations in diverse mediums.
Espace, under her vision, can be credited for organising curated exhibitions, probably some of the first in the Indian art scene, providing a platform for leading art commentators and journalists to translate their ideas into an artist-shared pictorial vision (Drawing ’94, Sculpture ’95, Mini-Print ’96, Kitsch Kitsch Hota Hai ‘01, Bronze ’06).
In its journey as a vast entrepreneurial enterprise, Espace has also had the pleasure of collaborating with leading institutions in India.
Abu Dhabi Art Fair runs from 21st – 23rd November, 2019, 2 – 9 pm at Manarat Al Saadiyat Sheikh, Khalifa Bin Zayed Hwy, Saadiyat Cultural District, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi.