An innovative, experimental global Art Exhibition at Epicentre marks the onset of a new art-perspective. In a fresh initiative which could impact future art-activity for years to come, Southfields Gallery of London has organised an International Mixed-Media Group Show of successful and significant artists from more than 12 countries – across Europe and Africa. Many artists, who are well-regarded and prolific in their countries of origin, have agreed to showcase their art on a common aesthetic platform in Gurgaon, from 27~30 September. As a corollary project, this London gallery —run by a UK citizen of Punjabi origin—intends to showcase Indian artists in London, in the near future. The project is a 'collective' of international art, sculpture and photography. Adding to the drama, several artists will be flying down, to be present for this unique event. This unusual exhibit could be a harbinger of future collaborative art shows in India.
Under the management of maverick London gallerist Kuldip Singh Rihal of Southfields Gallery a wide range of 100 samples of international art will come together for the first time. This is an opportunity to observe a variety of recent art – from such varied countries as Italy, South Africa, Germany, Vietnam, Senegal and UK, and in the process interact with artists from diverse cultures.
Southfields Gallery is one of South London's premier art-venues, situated in Wimbledon. It has helped bring out quite a few international artists, ever since its inception in 2006. Kuldip was born in Kenya, and moved to London in 1966. With a B.A. in Design, Kuldip managed two Design and Print Companies before opening Southfields Gallery with the intention of "encouraging emerging artists to showcase their works". A member of the Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce, he also designed the London Fashion Week Magazine.
I spoke to Kuldip as well as with some of the artists exhibiting in this rare group. They are all excited to be visiting India for the first time. Explaining the 'Why, What and How' of this unusual exhibit, Kuldip told me: "My intention is threefold -- the engagement of successful artists; the sustainability of such an exchange; the establishment of a communicative art-platform."
Underlying market forces cannot be overlooked, however, in analysing such a project. The market, rather than ideals, dictates the art gallery business. Evidently Gurgaon now seems to be the latest 'hot selling zone' for luxuries such as art. In an exclusive Preview at the Aralias, as I viewed the random collection of paintings, sculptures and graphics, I hoped that a certain 'quality control' would be maintained while displaying such an eclectic group. A Gurgaon resident and friend of the gallerist, Brij Kapur, has been instrumental in suggesting that such a exhibition be brought by Southfields Gallery to India.
Regarding his selection of artworks, Kuldip cited his three criteria of emotional expressiveness, technical skill, and aesthetic beauty – with a partiality for "emotive and cutting-edge expression". I spoke to Southfields' artists Richard Fuller, Rosie Casselden, and Sophie Jacobsen in London prior. It is a first-time India-darshan for them, that could become a life-changing experience.
The senior British artist Fuller, who is also a Consultant with this Exhibition, is involved in Figurative painterly modes that are linked to Western Life Drawing. "I break up my paintings' surfaces into three-dimensional units for a 'cubic' look. I am also a calligrapher, and I include calligraphed texts within my art. I further work on Murals, and I like applying bright colours, mainly in oils that display the natural textures of paint." Fuller was previously a Graphic Designer by profession, and did commercial theatre posters for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Among his aesthetic inspirations he cites Pierro della Francesca, Duschamps and Kandinsky. Although Richard does not know of individual Indian contemporary artists' works, he looks forward to seeing current Indian Art.
The Welsh design-oriented painter Sophie Jacobsen is a less mature participant at age 24, with an Art degree from Swansea Metropolitan University. Claiming to be inspired by Indian patterns, saris, designs and textiles, she looks forward to exploring the art of Gujarat, and travelling to Rajasthan and Goa. She works at a UK company that designs fancy dresses, fairy wings, and other theatrical accessories.
A painter of seascapes, Rosie Casselden, who will be present for the show, has helped to make Fine Art a part of the British National Curriculum. Her works incorporate pebbles, shells and broken glass found in her beachside habitat, in paintings illustrating the changing moods of the sea, cloud and sky. She too makes reference to the Decorative Arts --- hence one hopes that such artists discover the unique visual inspirations in India, during their six-week visit.
Among this Exhibition's most nuanced and evolved creations are the subtle grey papier-mache sculptures by the Scot Andrew Fyvie, who describes his work thus -- "I am interested in finding a link between the human form and the natural, mechanical and architectural structures. I would like to achieve the simple monumentality of standing stones and treetrunks – that are both solid and fragile."
Several artists in this display are rather like gypsies, constantly on the move with their art --- such as the Italian Daphne Cazalet, who is currently in Australia, hence cannot be present for this show; the Vietnamese-French-British peripatetic artist Gerrard, who is, interestingly, employed fulltime by the car corporation Peugeot, as an airbrush-artist; and the South African Eggleton, who will be represented by a single large painting within a very heavy frame.
Rather than merely showcasing and promoting the art of other countries, one hopes that this cross-cultural interaction can dynamically bring about a more evolved international awareness of the genuine Indian aesthetic genre, as a source of fresh and original energy for eclectically-searching international groups of artists. Various stylistic strands, embodying diverse cultures, will be visible in this extensive collection of art --- from British minimalism to European flamboyance, and the starkness of an African palette.