Excerpts from Diary Pages
March 13 to April 25, 2009
Talwar Gallery is pleased to announce Excerpts from Diary Pages, an exhibition representing a significant collection of “diaries” of seven artists, spanning three generations in Indian contemporary art for the first time. The exhibition curated by Sasha Altaf features works by artists Nasreen Mohamedi, Rummana Hussain, Vivan Sundaram, Navjot Altaf, N.N. Rimzon, Alia Syed, and N.S. Harsha. The exhibition will open to the public on March 13 and will be on view through April 25.
Diaries as records with discrete entries, notations, inner explorations and ideas provide an intimate insight to artists’ journeys, those completed as well as unrealized. Extracted from this self-reflective documentation and by extension, the process of art making itself, is a deliberate selection of entries employing a variety of media that translates their individual concerns with regards to the self, history, knowledge, and the environment.
Traversing three generations of artists who have essentially retained a ‘diary’ has been a strategic facet in the curatorial component of the show. Where the first generation of artists employs the diary in its written form, to the second exploring their search to extract purpose and significance based on their own histories, religion, culture, and consciousness to the third that draws and retains – on paper, in photo, on film, a conscious step toward an unknown destination.
Invoking an aesthetic spiritual experience are Mohamedi’s diaries, which are filled with painted and written expressions of private feeling, abbreviated sentences. The silent interplay of words with colored textures presages and interfaces the compulsive force behind her pen and pencil drawings. With references to the image being a repository of values, Rummana Hussain places her own self-image as the ‘other’ to excavate the underlying social realities in Is it what you think? (1998) – a series of photographs that question the stereotype of the Muslim woman, further the translation of notions of war and love and how they become connected with the woman’s body – the body being her own after her mastectomy in 1997.
Sundaram’s video Wigwam Tune (2009) has the artist reading aloud from his diaries – the words “memorial”, “revolution”, and “digital” question the origin of his own ideas while Altaf’s diaries, both written and photo based in Memoirs (1975-2008) draw upon minimalist strategies of repetition and seriality, engaging in critical moments in her career, relationships, travels, absence, and contingency. In a different way, Rimzon’s diaries that span over two decades reflect how his ideas originate and evolve from keeping a diary. Known primarily for his sculpture, his diaries lie at the core of his artistic practice. A video sketchbook, LA Diary (2005-2009) taken whilst traveling around Los Angeles is a wonderful window into the workings of the film artist Alia Syed. The footage, essentially a collage of light on surfaces combined with oblique portraits and verbal thoughts are jottings over six week period. Harsha’s drawings and photographs of plant life from his surroundings in hometown of Mysore functions as a remarkable lexicon of his rigorous observation and personal enterprise that he further employs for a seminal work For you my dear Earth (2004).
Nasreen Mohamedi (b. 1937, Karachi, India – d. 1990). Rummana Hussain (b.1952, Mumbai, India – d. 1999). Vivan Sundaram (b. 1943, Shimla, India) lives and works in New Delhi, India. Navjot Altaf (b. 1949, Meerut, India) lives and works in Mumbai, India. N.N. Rimzon (b. 1957, Kakkoor, Kerala, India) lives and works in Kerala, India. Alia Syed (b. 1964, Swansea, Wales) lives and works in London, England. N.S. Harsha (b. 1969, Mysore, India) lives and works in Mysore, India.
The Estate of Nasreen Mohamedi & The Estate of Rummana Hussain are represented by Talwar Gallery.