Gallery Alternatives' Group Exhibition, of over a dozen emerging Indian artists -- as well as some established names such as Laxma Goud and Anupam Sud -- once again presents Gurgaon audiences with an engrossing range of India's aesthetic talent. As a growing hub of all manner of activities, Gurgaon must soon become an active centre for artists, due to Delhi's conspicuous lack of studio-space and display options – other than its handful of age-old art centres. Gurgaon will have to provide alternate energies, spaces and creative ideas. Committed galleries such as Alternatives, well-managed by the urbane and discerning Gurgaon art-lover Manu Dosaj, are valuable cultural entities.
My initial response to this Gallery (inside DT Mega Mall) was of concern. My first worry was that it was set inside a typical Gurgaon mall; however, thankfully it is nestled in a quiet corner. My second concern was the Gallery's relatively small-size display-area. The space needed to be used well, to avoid clutter. Also, these smaller spaces must not be in a hurry to display too wide an array of artists. Some mall-based 'lifestyle-shops' have randomly thrown together gift-items, cutlery, furnishings, artificial flowers and toys, along with erratic selections of mediocre 'bazaar art' and commercial prints.
Gallery Alternatives, however, is a mall-gallery that has quietly retained its standards, exhibiting a variety of emerging art with restraint and taste. The profile of this Gallery is mainly connected with projecting eclectic group-exhibitions that aim to nurture and promote younger artists, whose prices would also be more affordable. At the same time, an assortment of more evolved and mature artists also remains viewable. Apart from paintings, sculptures, graphics, and photographic art have also been regularly on display here. In the current Exhibition certain emerging energies and trends are discernible in the works of younger artists born in the 1970s and 1980s.
Laxma Goud is represented by both drawings and sculptures of quintessentially-noteworthy stylistic finesse. A striking print on paper, entitled 'Laughter', by the senior veteran draughtswoman Anupam Sud is one of the most mature works on offer.
Trupti's interesting bronze-toned sculpture, 'Everyday Still-Life' -- an assortment of table-objects along with a solitary hand -- evokes a quaint Zen meditativeness. Laxma Goud's folk-mask bears a timeless totemic Indian quality with its roots in Harappa and Mohenjodaro, while also reminding one of Picasso's Modernistic and Greco-Romanesque sculptural forays. Namita Sachdev's strong metallic 'Head In Repose' is serene, graceful, yet powerful in its classical realism. Krishna Murari's bronze standing woman, although fairly accomplished, lacks more evolved fluidity. The overall arrangement of varied sculptural works adds dimension and whimsicality to the Exhibition.
Amongst the younger painters, the Nepal-born Govinda Sah 'Azad', and Jayashree Kapoor, seem to be exploring similar vistas of outer space in their mysterious acrylics on canvas – with splattered stardust-trails in a cosmic palette. With an MFA from Wimbledon College, Govinda has exhibited largely in London, and plans an upcoming show in Basel. London-based Jayashree has mainly worked in printmaking and design, with a current interest in acrylic painting.
Govinda's cosmo-scapes bear a more methodical, neo-Tantric precision, with greater emphasis on subtle textures, as observed in the painting 'Between Past And Future' – that seems like a bursting galactic sun. Kapoor's 'Lost In The Moment' portrays a flaming comet in a rather more literal manner. Both artists tread a too-similar visual oeuvre; it would be wise for them to evolve more individual signatures.
The first exhibitions of younger artists, of their figurative visual skills, must be seriously considered. Evolved Abstraction can only be achieved once a mastery of Figuration and Representational draughtsmanship has been accomplished.
Swaraj Das and Rajat Nandi are exploring their figurative skills; and while their paintings still remain restricted within certain sentimental-mythical modes, they contain the seeds of potential. 29-year old Swaraj, from Kolkata's Art College, displays considerable linear skills that are quite graceful; however, he must learn to transcend the illustrative and literal mode. A thorough examination of the finely-tuned drawings of Laxma Goud, in evolved musical lines that completely eliminate all that is inessential, would help the young artist in this discipline.
Overall, this is an acceptable collection for general viewers, although greater thematic precision would have honed the exhibit. Gallery Alternatives should now present a more mature curated selection of its best senior artists -- perhaps called 'The Best of Gallery Alternatives' -- in order to provide the public with a more heightened experience of what Indian Contemporaneity can offer. In Fine Art, the 'raw' cannot quite be thrown together with the 'cooked' --- and definitely not without experienced curatorial guidance and impeccable standards of selection. This informed discernment is what makes the difference between a heightened aesthetic experience and random, general viewing.