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The virtue of dots that form a perfect line
NIDHI GUPTA  15th Jul 2012

Pranati Panda’s Breathing Inside-I

ummer in the Capital is a time of slim pickings for art-lovers in the country, with barely any shows or new exhibitions daring to be aired in this torrid heat. While most exhibitions have their permanent collections on display in this lean period, the folks at Vadehra Art Gallery have spun a new yarn out of their inventory, unwound in their latest exhibition called Extending the Line.

The show gathers works by over 20 artists across the Indian spectrum to etch out a case for drawing and sketching. "Today, we have artists who do elaborate installations and work intricately in acrylic on vast canvases. But the dot and the line are the starting points and no art can be made without these," elucidates curator Julia Villasenor Bell.

During the Renaissance, the Venetian and the Florentine schools were at daggers – while Titian and Veronese of the former argued for the worth of paint as true art, Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci pitted for the virtues of perfect lines. Up until recently, drawing was, in fact, not given much consideration, often dismissed as just a preparatory phase of any creative process. But of late, there is renewed interest in the form, as art fairs dedicated to draughtsmanship, such as Le Salon de Dessen Contemporain in Paris for instance, are cropping up slowly around the world.Image 2nd

In the same vein, Bell picked up on this 'primordial artistic gesture of every culture' and wanted to explore how it has been utilised, interpreted and extended by a range of Indian contemporary artists. To begin with, she selects works by the doyens of the Indian scene – S.H. Raza's sketches, Tyeb Mehta's inks and F.N. Souza's drawings get a room and a special place unto themselves.

Then, there is focus on a new crop of experimental artists, including Zakkir Hussain, who works with conti and watercolour to build stark, screechy trees of limbs rooted painfully in a man in The Fall and House on Railway Track; Shefalee Jain, who uses graphite and dry pastels to work on a study for The Garden of Earthly Delights, a series dedicated to the joys of scratching the itch and Arpita Singh, who has a series of seven abstract paintings that use ink on paper.

Finally, at the other end of this string is the notion of extension – how artists have built upon the form to create a distinguished oeuvre. So while A. Ramachandran's works in progress have been framed and transformed into artworks in themselves, Minal Damani uses purple and pink watercolours in her Container series. Priyanka Chowdhary has created installations out of wire, daggers and acrylic. Collages by George Martin and Sumedh Rajendran are vivid, abstract interpretations done up in ink, paint and paper.

What, then, differentiates drawing from its more 'mature' form? "It is perhaps the fact that these have all been done on paper that sets them apart from painting. Also, as we've tried to bring out, drawing is a part of the artistic process but it can, at the same time, be a finished product in itself. Of course, drawing is much easier too, in terms of material, size and costs," says Bell.

Venue: Vadehra Art Gallery
Date: Until 28 July
Timing:11am - 7pm

 
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