Tao Art Gallery reopens with a new show that features mixed-media work by six contemporary artists
Even though art shows online have become a reality, there is a certain sense of excitement and enthusiasm when it comes to visiting a gallery to view a show offline. With this thought in mind, Mumbai-based Tao Art Gallery is opening its doors with a new show after a hiatus that was courtesy, the pandemic. The show titled Textures and Layers features prominent Indian artists such as Jaideep Mehrotra, Kalpana Shah, Kisalay Vora, Michelle Poonawala, Revati Sharma Singh, and Shruti Jhaveri. The show is curated by Sanjana Shah and Sapna Kar. In an interview with Indulge, the curator duo share more about the show and what to expect. Excerpts:
Tell us about putting together this show. When did you start on it, how long did it take to work on the concept and bring it together?
Sanjana Shah: The idea for this show preceded COVID-19 times. My co-curator Sapna Kar and I thought that it would be a good idea to bring these six artists together because of their unique practices. However, because of the pandemic, we had to temporarily shelve the show! Eventually, we resurrected it around September-October this year as the gallery geared to get back with its first physical show. This show was made even more apt because both of us firmly believed that art is best experienced in person, especially such 3-dimensional, ambient art that no virtual viewing can do justice to. The concept was clear - to truly understand the art, one must understand its essence, by interacting with every aspect of it minutely. One must de-layer it, move around it to get a sense of scope and scale, and, most importantly, experience it. Bringing it together took no time and all the artists jumped on board to get back into action!
What does the title, Textures and Layers signify?
Sanjana Shah: The title symbolises the engaging nature of contemporary art today. It's beyond just a canvas on a wall - it's a multi-layered, living entity that pulls in the viewer with its vivid display, creating moods, weaving narratives, and impacting perspectives. The physical textures and layers on artwork are an extension of the metaphorical expression of the artist! So the title has a two-fold meaning, the art itself is physically textured and layered but it is also textured and layered in its narrative and interaction with the viewer.
Sapna Kar: A lot of contemporary art is more than 2D. There is texturing in technique and in the materials used, that adds depth and dimension. The pandemic also made some artists push the envelope and work with whatever was available. All this creative experimentation is best delayered by the viewer’s senses. Textures and Layers indicates a body of experiential artworks, best enjoyed in person.
Could you tell us a little bit about the artists? Why did you choose their work?
Sanjana Shah: Every artist has their own unique beautiful method of expression. All six artists were picked because of their exploration of a variety of media. Be it Jaideep's innovative use of acrylic and metallics, Michelle's fluid 3D butterflies, Revati's beautiful assemblage of ceramic, paint, and embroidery, Shruti's ecologically conscious creations made from paper, Kisalay's expansive and expressive meditations with pins and thread, or Kalpana's vivid knife strokes that look like a sculpted mosaic - every artist brings something new and exciting to this show!
What do you want visitors to take away from the show?
Sanjana Shah: I just want viewers to come in and experience this art. Experience the magic of being back inside a gallery and interacting with this wide array of art that will encapsulate all of their senses. The takeaway is that no matter how much we are confined to isolation or living in a world that is primarily online, it is an inherent human need to connect and interact in person with the world around us!
Sapna Kar: The pandemic has affected all of us to some degree at a subconscious or mental level. Lockdowns and social distancing have also led to the loss of connectivity with both visual and performing arts. Online solutions cannot replace the magic of ‘in-person’ experience. In fact, a lot of people are today feeling the burden of excessive hi-tech communication. At a time like this, a show like Textures and Layers provides a creative engagement that is therapeutic to the senses. Art reaches the core of a person’s being and if the show can provide some mental and visual upliftment to the viewer, it will be a job well done.
In a pandemic-stricken world where uncertainty has taken centre stage, how does art help deal with it
Sanjana Shah: The arts encompass anything that uses imagination and skill to produce objects and experiences. Films, books, painting, dance, music, theatre: anything that can be used to transport a person, even if that is virtually, to a place elsewhere, is art. This experience is invaluable, especially in today’s world. A world that was up until March 2020, more globalized and fast-paced than ever before, but is now locked down in continuing fear and uncertainty. However, this pause, incessant as it may seem, has in fact been instrumental in giving perspective. Perspectives on our life, on the world, on the subtle ideas of meaning and existence…leading to a deeper exploration that channelizes creativity! Despite being shut in our homes, our mind is more open and inquisitive than it has ever perhaps been before. The resilience shown is a testament to the human spirit that perseveres, and creativity is the embodiment of that spirit. Art helps us to find this peace, to find this inspiration, and to know there is always hope and light at the end of the tunnel!