Galleries come together to launch a collaborative online exhibitions platform: In Touch

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Galleries come together to launch a collaborative online exhibitions platform: In Touch
Maya Varadaraj, Imagine the Truth, 2020. Collage; print on paper, 18x18 in. Photo: Courtesy Nature Morte.

MUMBAI.- In Touch is a digital exhibitions platform created in partnership between galleries to present online exhibitions. Its collaborative nature makes this a unique platform, bringing together a diverse range of programs and artists. In its fourth edition, In Touch presents thirteen galleries from India and Dubai. Participating galleries are Chatterjee & Lal, Mumbai; Chemould Prescott Road, Bombay; Experimenter, Kolkata; Green Art Gallery, Dubai; Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai; Gallery Espace, New Delhi; Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Dubai; Nature Morte, New Delhi; PHOTOINK, New Delhi; GALLERYSKE, Bangalore/New Delhi; Shrine Empire, New Delhi; Tradition and Beyond, New Delhi; and Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi.

The platform enables the art community to connect with each other through organized and synergistic exhibition-making that challenges traditional formats of engaging with art and brings together a diverse range of online programs and exhibitions. The initiative was conceived as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused an unprecedented physical closure of public spaces and cultural institutions worldwide.

Editions of In Touch are on view for a brief period with each gallery presenting an exhibition that changes with every following iteration. The website – – hosts dedicated sections for each gallery’s exhibitions through which viewers can consider the works on view and directly reach the participating galleries. The In Touch platform will additionally host collateral online programming, including gallerist connects and artist talks conducted digitally.

Short Notice: Works by Nityan Unnikrishnan

Nityan is an artist and sculptor from Kerala. He trained in industrial design but was persuaded to earn his keep through drawing and painting. He did not ‘train’ to paint, but the world seems to prefer him in the role of an artist. He uses a combination of current affairs, mythology, history, modernist literature and personal thoughts on life and living as resources for his work. His latest solo show, ‘It Is Getting Louder’ is currently on view at Chatterjee & Lal, Mumbai.

Dhruvi Acharya: Elusive Recesses

These ink and watercolor works were made while in isolation during the global coronavirus pandemic. If the fear of the virus was not enough, almost on a daily basis we were confronted with news of political upheavals, unrest and protests in countries across the world, crimes against minorities and against women, and worldwide environmental disasters including wildfires, cyclones, heat waves, floods and melting polar ice, brought on by our collective actions. These events have hardly allowed us to breathe before the next one occurs. And all this is compounded with sickness and even death among our dear families and friends.

2020 has truly been unprecedented in how it unfolded.

In these strange times I have found myself mulling over these overwhelming global events. With our massive human population and our propensity for selfishness, greed and our inertia for change, I worry about the kind of world we have created and will leave behind for future generations. I have been thinking about the root cause of our collective misery, the inequalities and environmental disasters that plague our world and affect all living things.

While spending time in my studio, I found myself painting about thoughts and thinking, realizing that all actions begin as thoughts, and the one thing we can do for our own peace of mind and eventually for the world in general, is pay attention to our own thoughts, try to replace the clutter with clarity, try to find solutions for our problems. This body of work is about the difficulty in taking breaks from the constant chatter in our heads, and the elusive recesses of our minds, the working of which are often mysterious to even ourselves.

Under the Crust

Through a new series of works, Prabhakar Pachpute continues his inquiry about exploitation of land and mineral resources, depicting an ominous future of a post-mined and post-industrial landscape. He uses personal experiences, research and folklore, represented by characters in his paintings, drawings, animations and sculptures, that confront, subvert, or even succumb to the pressures of economy and capital on land. His works on view propose as much a state of disarray as they indicate a chance of optimism. A precarious visual equilibrium emerges to indicate a time that is at the precipice of change. Pachpute proposes a possible afterlife of objects and people who inhabit the landscape today, where an alternate legacy exists or even calls to action for revolution.

Prabhakar Pachpute lives and works in Pune. Education: 2011 Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S.U. Baroda, Gujarat; 2009 Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture, Department of Sculpture, I.K.S.V.V. Khairagarh, Chhattisgarh. Awards: 2020, Shortlisted for Artes Mundi 9; Asia Arts Game Changer Award by Asia Society. Solo exhibtions include: 2020, Beneath the Palpable, Experimenter, Kolkata; 2019, Artist’s Rooms: Prabhakar Pachpute, Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai, UAE; 2018, ‘Workers in Progress’ Site- specific intervention at Asilo Via Porpora, Milan; 2017 Shadows on Arrival, Experimenter, Kolkata; 2016 no, it wasn’t the locust cloud (‘te tolanche dhaga navhate’), curated by Zasha Colah and Luca Cerizza, National Gallery of Modern Art, Bombay; 2013 Land Eaters, curated by Zasha Colah, Sumesh Sharma and Prateek Raja, Experimenter, Kolkata, in collaboration with Clark House Initiative, Mumbai; 2012 Canary in a Coal Mine, curated by Sumesh Sharma and Zasha Colah, Clark House Initiative, Mumbai.

P.R. Satheesh: Drawings

The pen and ink drawings of P.R. Satheesh are streams of visuals that are fused into layered formations. Liberating himself from information, the artist leaves himself vulnerable. Drawing for him is an intuitive process.

The environment of Satheesh’s childhood was lonely. He grew up in the mountains of western Kerala, on the outskirts of a forest. All forms of nature and life were in close proximity, the family’s existence marked by a fear of the unknown. Finely lined in parts and frenetic in others, these drawings are populated by demons and futuristic inventions alike. They convey that quality of precariousness that is recorded in the artist’s memory.

Satheesh studied at the College of Fine Art in Trivandrum. His work was shown in the 4th edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2018 and he held his first solo exhibition at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke in 2019. He lives and works in Munnar and Kochi.

Sharad Sonkusale & Ishita Chakraborty: Selected Works

Gallery Espace presents the works of Ishita Chakraborty and Sharad Sonkusale, two young artists who explore the world of nuance between black and white.

Chakraborty (b. 1989), a native of West Bengal currently lives in Zurich, where she is pursuing an MFA program at the Zurich University of the Arts. Her art arises from her feelings of cultural alienation and her struggle with the Eurocentric self-image of the society around her. More particularly, it arises from the many stories she hears from immigrants from across the world at the language school where she learns German. Her work, she says, evolves from ‘deep listening’ to the oral histories of these displaced people, from their stories of violence and loss. Her assiduous hand-scratched drawings – a process she likens to ‘wounds’ - transform their collected memories of home and exile, of floorplans, folk-tales, reports and the writings of diaspora poets. They are also inspired by maps, landscapes and transient geographies or shared historiographies crossing Asia and Europe.

Sonkusale’s (b.1977) monochromatic works on canvas, overlaid with small squares of rice paper, reenact the vibrations of music, and are a visual transposition of ‘sur’ and ‘taal’ in the ragas of Hindustani music that he is deeply interested in and inspired by. Sharad’s canvases begin with the dot, a point of focused attention, which aggregate to form dabs, dashes and lines that travel horizontally and vertically, and sometimes diagonally across the visual plane, creating abstract patterns and grey tones, flecked sometimes with gold. The effect is that of an emotional landscape, a reflection of the artist’s own interiority, perhaps, but also one that invites viewers to engage with the translucent surface and make of it what he will.

Sunil Padwal: Recent Works

Sunil Padwal’s recent exhibitions include ‘Lining an Archive’, GALLERYSKE, New Delhi (2019), ‘Intertwined Plasticity’, GALLERYSKE, New Delhi (2015), ‘Confluxes’, The Arts House - The Old Parliament, Singapore (2014), ‘Soliloquies: notes from the drawing book’, Veranda 8 at Space 1857, Chicago (2012), ‘Soliloquies: notes from the drawing book’, Gallery BMB, Mumbai (2011), ‘Myopia’, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (2008), ‘Numb’, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi (2007). His work featured in AS FAR AS THE FOREST IS, Kewenig, Palma, Spain (2019), NO PLACE Like the Present, Akara Art Curated by Ranjit Hoskote Mumbai (2019), ‘forming in the pupil of an eye’, Kochi Muziris Biennale, curated by Sudarshan Shetty (2016-17). Padwal received his BFA from the J.J. Institute of Applied Art, Mumbai. He lives and works in Mumbai.

Latif Al Ani: Photographs 1950–1970

Much of what we know of modern Iraq has either been lost or is mired in clichés of conflict. Latif Al Ani’s practice from the late 1950s to the late 1970s documented a broad sweep of Iraqi daily life, capturing a vanished pageant of Iraqi society. His work is a trove of ‘golden age’ documentary memory—from impromptu quotidian moments to glimpses of infrastructural might.

Al Ani wore many photographic hats, ranging from propagandist-like work showcasing modernisation and industrializing for the Iraq Petroleum Company, to a deeply sensitive and occasionally experimental personal practice on the margins of his corporate and ministerial projects. He framed not only beauty, but also the uncanny—in the portraits of ‘his own people,’ historical monuments, street scenes, and daunting landscapes. Consequently, his practice exhibits a compelling tension between the nation’s modernist urge, an enduring archaeological legacy, and the people who inhabited a now-intriguing everyday.

That the archive exists at all is somewhat miraculous. Al Ani ceased shooting in 1979, pitted between Saddam Hussein’s strong-arm rise to power and the cusp of the devastating Iran-Iraq War. What work survived was lost during the 2003 US-led invasion. The Arab Image Foundation managed to protect what we see today—a rare oeuvre made even rarer by the calamities that imperiled it.

Maryam Hoseini

In her work, Maryam Hoseini explores the concept of ruins in a politicized social space. Hoseini captures empty historical echoes as bodies walk among the literal and figurative, the visible and invisible ruins of objects and architectures. In the context of the censored female figure, Hoseini presents her subjects as nude, cast simultaneously as unrealistically flattened diagrams of the human body, and hyperrealistic disembodied limbs covered in hair. Her recent work is made up of multiple fragments, strategically balanced upon one another and anchored into the wall behind at a single point, where she builds her ongoing curiosity in space and sequence as a formula for a narrative where she confronts her viewers perception, preoccupation and projections of identity. These interjections within the gallery’s white cube serve as a way in which the artist rebuilds and elevates these fractured stories, now sturdily supported with weighted columns of opaque color.

Ghost Watcher, a sequence of small-scale paintings elaborates on the oneiric experience of this spatial encounter. It begins with an abstracted architecture in which a checkered floor is legible but other elements are vaguely defined, and Hoseini’s signature warped bodies are set at a distance in a landscape. As the sequence progresses, the perspective of each successive painting gradually recedes to reveal more of the architecture while the figures diminish. As we study each painting, the effect is one of sharing our position as viewers with a ghostly third-person observer within the space of the paintings themselves – a voyeuristic experience of looking and being looked at as the definition of inside and outside shift. Ghost Watcher series is a part of Maryam’s Hoseini solo exhibition “After you” at Green Art Gallery, Dubai, till 7th of January.

Artist biography: Maryam Hoseini (b. 1988, Tehran, Iran) earned a BA from Sooreh Art University in Tehran, Iran and dual MFA degrees from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Bard College, NY, USA simultaneously (2016). Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include: Green Art Gallery, Dubai, UAE (2020); Yes Sky!, Rachel Uffner Gallery, NY, USA (2020); Body Armor, MoMA PS1, New York, USA (2018) and Of Strangers and Parrots, Rachel Uffner Gallery, NY, USA (2017). Recent group exhibitions include: Fables of Resurrection, Deborah Schamoni, Munich, Germany (2020); Open Call, The Shed, New York (2019); Heartbreak, curated by Tamara Chalabi and Paolo Colombo, Ruya Maps, Venice, Italy (2019); Notebook, curated by Joanne Greenbaum, 56 Henry, New York (2019); Night at the Museum, MOMA PS1, Long Island City, NY, USA (2016) among others. She currently lives and works in New York.

Maya Varadaraj: Revolution, of Sorts

The collages of Maya Varadaraj start with vintage images from the popular culture of India, specifically representations of women. This is the history into which the artist was born, her inherited identities, that she chooses to question. Varadaraj reorganizes these images, spinning them in a centrifuge, interrogating their factual status and histories. The end results are introspective mandalas, hoping to reimage reality, and diagrams to hypnotize the spectator into an alternative universe.

Varadaraj received her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Apparel Design from the Rhode Island School of Design before completing a Master’s Degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Varadaraj’s work has been exhibited internationally at Vitra Design Museum, Museo Del Disseny Barcelona, Salone De Mobile, Mana Contemporary New Jersey, and Assembly Room New York. She has been featured in publications such as Juxtapoz, and We Make Money Not Art. She is currently based in New York City.

Roger Ballen: Roger the Rat

For the fifth edition of In Touch, PHOTOINK is pleased to present photographs from Roger Ballen’s most recent book, Roger the Rat. Throughout his career, Ballen has pursued a singular artistic goal: to give expression to the human psyche and visually explore the hidden forces that shape who we are. In his hands, the documentary power of the camera merges with the ingenious power of his imagination to produce photographs that get under the viewer’s skin.

Elaborately produced between 2015 and 2020, Roger the Rat is a story told in oppressively sharp black- and-white photographs, which follows the life of a part-human, part-rat creature who lives an isolated life outside of mainstream society. Picture after picture, we witness scenes that—deconstructed and wrested from everyday gestures—reveal the suppressed aspects of human existence.
In addition to the book, Roger Ballen produced a 25-minute film that will be released soon.

ROGER BALLEN (born, 1950, New York City) lives in Johannesburg. His artistic practice, spanning almost forty years, is underpinned by studies in psychology, geology, and mineral economics. His ‘Ballenesque’ photographs and films have not only been exhibited in numerous major museums but have also been the subject of many books. In September 2017, Thames & Hudson published a large volume of his collected photographs titled Ballenesque Roger Ballen: A Retrospective. His retrospective monograph, The World According to Roger Ballen was accompanied with a year-long exhibition at the Halle Saint Pierre museum, Paris and closed in August 2020. PHOTOINK has been representing Roger Ballen since 2015.

From the Soil

On view is a range of Sangita Maity’s works from the last several years that are based on her extensive research in Keonjar, Orissa and Tripura on forced displacement of indigenous communities and their occupational conditions as a result of ongoing industrialization and accompanying erasure of natural forests. During the last few years, she has been spending time at the rubber plantations in Tripura, engaging with communities whose subsistence depends on the industry, the region’s ecology, and the ways by which policies have affected the land and its native people. Rubber plantation has been aggressively promoted in Tripura since the 1960s as the harbinger of employment and development, ousting native custodians of the land, and turning those who depended on naturally occurring resources of the forest and jhum chaas (step cultivation) to grow rice, vegetables, and fruits, into plantation labour. In the iron ore mines of Orissa, similar aspirations for development displaced communities that lived in harmony with the land and its produce. The people indigenous to the land had to eventually turn to work in the mines for survival, in the process wiping out their customs, traditional tools, ornaments and way of life.

Transcending Traditions
This edition is yet another attempt at pushing the boundaries of tradition whilst adding a new dimension borrowed from another rich cultural heritage. The gold accents of the handmade Japanese paper call attention to the beautifully detailed ornamentation of the Shrinathji idol, enhancing the Shringar, a significant part of the “Seva” in the Pushtimarg sect, the devotees of the 6 year old avatar of Krishna ensconced in the Haveli of Nathdwara.

Mynaakam: Recent Drawings

A recent set of spontaneous drawings from Madhusudhanan, Mynaakam is inspired by a figural bird from the Puranic Vedas, particularly chapter 18 of the Harivamsa Purana, whose name when translated means ‘the mountains have wings’. It is said that when Lord Indra cut off the wings of the mountain, the mynaakam escaped or was set forth upon the world, charged with the duty of guarding the world from demons and evil spirits. As a symbol of protection and freedom the mynaakam is a saviour, whom the artist envisions as a metaphorical guide for the present refugee crisis in the world as explored in these drawings. In considering the disembodied displacement of refugees, Madhusudhanan continues to undertake a discourse on colonization and the perpetuation of a slow pace of development in previously colonized nations. He approaches an evaluation of movement and territory and the redressals of belongingness with a similar vigour to his appraisal of the ideological apparatuses of the Marx archives and Franz Kafka’s short story ‘In the Penal Colony’.

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