All art is political: “Immateriality in Residue” at Experimenter Kolkata – in pictures

The group show “Immateriality in Residue” subtly deals with the consequences of economic and political decisions on society.

The exhibition at Kolkata-based Experimenter Gallery features Indian artists Prabhakar Pachpute and Sanchayan Ghosh, Bangladeshi artist Ayesha Sultana and French-Indian artist Gyan Panchal. Running until 26 December 2015, the show claims “all art is political” by revealing a much deeper engagement into global present occurrences.

"Immateriality in Residue", (9 November - 26 December 2015), installation view, at Experimenter. Image courtesy Experimenter.

“Immateriality in Residue”, (9 November – 26 December 2015), installation view at Experimenter. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Famous for its crucial platform Experimenter Curators’ Hub (ECH), which takes place annually in Kolkata, the commercial space Experimenter run by directors Prateek and Priyanka Raja proposes a calendar of practice-driven exhibitions, in which concepts, even before works, are being explored.

Through the words of the two directors and curators of the exhibition, “Immateriality in Residue” is

not only a reflection on ideas of material and what is inherently present in these materials but also a reflection that these materials have their own residual value, that could be not apparent in plain sight but is outside that field of view.

"Immateriality in Residue", (9 November - 26 December 2015), installation view, at Experimenter. Image courtesy Experimenter.

“Immateriality in Residue”, (9 November – 26 December 2015), installation view at Experimenter. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Artists in the show sketch their idea of landscape through sculpture, drawing and painting. They do not recount the entire view, the texture or the relational complexity underneath; instead they provide hints, thus leaving one to compose a narrative that eventually develops in the real world, outside the gallery walls.

Ayesha Sultana, 'A Study in Movement', 2015, iron and paint, 61 cm each, i) 41 x 40 x 32 cm, ii) 30. 5 x 30.5 x 22.5 cm, iii) 35 x 50.5 cm. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Ayesha Sultana, ‘A Study in Movement’, 2015, iron and paint, i) 41 x 40 x 32 cm, ii) 30. 5 x 30.5 x 22.5 cm, iii) 35 x 50.5 cm. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Based in Dhaka, Ayesha Sultana’s minimal work relies on the motto “less is more”, according to which she reduces landscapes and the architecture surrounding her into pure elementary geometric forms, through drawing and sculpture. Her previous series of ink on paper, made in Naples between 2012 and 2013 such as Napoli porta I, Napoli amidst a wedding on top of hill and Napoli Rail Q. Spagnoli anticipate such interest in the essence of what she sees: transforming the material landscape into fragile, almost immaterial, fundamental marks. 

Ayesha Sultana, 'Untitled', 2015, Teak, 183 cm each. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Ayesha Sultana, ‘Untitled’, 2015, Teak, 183 cm each. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Ayesha Sultana, 'Skin', 2015, Linen, 26 x 27.4 x 26.7 cm. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Ayesha Sultana, ‘Skin’, 2015, Linen, 26 x 27.4 x 26.7 cm. Image courtesy Experimenter.

For “Immateriality in Residue”, Sultana proposes diverse projects made out of iron, A Study in Movement; and of teak, Untitled; alongside a series of watercolours The Blue of Distance; and the sculptural three-dimensional painting Skin. She is not just experimenting with the aesthetics of minimalistic representation but also, according to directors Prateek and Priyanka Raja,

she is […] exploring the ideas and usage of that particular material, sculptural element in the work, the elements including shadow that complete the work and other residual qualities that may not be visible on first sight or encounter.

Ayesha Sultana, 'The Blue of Distance', 2015, Suite of 28 watercolour on paper, 21.5 x 29.2 cm each. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Ayesha Sultana, ‘The Blue of Distance’, 2015, Suite of 28 watercolours on paper, 21.5 x 29.2 cm each. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Gyan Panchal, 'Pelom 1', 2012, Marble, ink, 57 cm x 54 cm x 1.5 cm. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Gyan Panchal, ‘Pelom 1’, 2012, Marble, ink, 57 cm x 54 cm x 1.5 cm. Image courtesy Experimenter.

French-Indian sculptor Gyan Panchal’s practice revolves around the heavy physicality of the matter, in that opposition to Sultana’s light, almost ethereal, works. Influenced by the Arte Povera movement, Panchal mainly works with discarded material and found objects. In the show, he presents the series Pelom, consisting of inked marble slabs the artist has salvaged from scraps found at marble-cutting workshops, giving them new identity and life.

Besides the immediate sense of transience conveyed by the unstable installation of the slabs leaning against the wall, the invisible (or residual) aspect in his works, according to the exhibition press release, can be found in the way the artist composes “specific new narratives” and gives “possible alternative identities” through the act of recontextualisation.

Gyan Panchal, 'Pelom 2', 2012, Marble, ink, 57 cm x 54 cm x 1.5 cm. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Gyan Panchal, ‘Pelom 2’, 2012, Marble, ink, 57 cm x 54 cm x 1.5 cm. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Prabhakar Pachpute, 'People of Horizons, 2012, Charcoal, pastel and found object. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Prabhakar Pachpute, ‘People of Horizons’, 2012, Charcoal, pastel and found object. Image courtesy Experimenter.

The research conducted by Indian artists Prabhakar Pachpute and Sanchayan Ghosh is rooted in the histories of marginal lands. Prabhakar Pachpute presents the charcoal-based works People of Horizons and Sleep Walking. The particular choice of material references his interest in the impact of exploitation of natural resources on villages and its inhabitants in India, which he started researching in 2010. Pachpute was born in Chandrapur, a city in the Maharashtra state, known also as ‘Black Gold city’ for its large number of coal mines. With several members of his family having worked in one of the oldest mines in the nation, Pachpute is intimately acquainted with these kinds of environmental problems. As explained in the press release,

through the narratives that entwine histories of the land with people who live there, Pachpute creates a certain value in its afterlife and explores the imbalances we create in our never-ending quest for earth’s resources. His work confronts the viewer with these narratives, often brutal, but also one that proposes future possibilities in the residue of the landscape and that of its occupants.

Sanchayan Ghosh, 'Notes from a China clay 2015 Vanishing Land', 2015, China clay. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Sanchayan Ghosh, ‘Notes from a China clay 2015 Vanishing Land’, 2015, China clay. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Along the same line is public art practitioner Sanchayan Ghosh’s understanding of a space. A passionate advocate of the concepts of relationship and sharing, Ghosh works on activating spaces and connecting with local communities. Particularly, for “Immateriality in Residue”, he has been involving the inhabitants of Kharia village, a short distance from Santiniketan.

Notes from a Vanishing Land is his ongoing project reflecting on the environmental degradation caused by depletion of resources in the territory hosting the Patel Nagar Minerals and Industries Ltd, a China clay open-mine established in 1955. On view is a part of Gosh’s investigation, a sort of skyline of villages in the region coming out from the gaps left by fragments of dried China clay mounted on the wall and fallen down looking like rubble. As the press release further explains,

juxtaposing the forms with notes and a layered wall application of the China clay, the installation provides an insight into a complex relationship between land, its form and purposes, its people who inhabit it and its material manifestations.

Sanchayan Ghosh, 'Notes from a Vanishing Land' (detail), 2015, China clay. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Sanchayan Ghosh, ‘Notes from a Vanishing Land’ (detail), 2015, China clay. Image courtesy Experimenter.

Prateek and Priyanka Raja conclude:

A lot of the artists that we show use ideas of structure, architecture, the built environment and our field of view into consideration. A few of them also work with materials that range from wood to concrete, found objects, archival material and related items. In our view the exhibition reflects our interest in ideas of form, architecture, time and space and materiality; its usage and related visual relationships / interpretations  between that choice of material and the final form the works take.

"Immateriality in Residue", (9 November - 26 December 2015), installation view, at Experimenter. Image courtesy Experimenter.

“Immateriality in Residue”, (9 November – 26 December 2015), installation view, at Experimenter. Image courtesy Experimenter.

The exhibition “Immateriality in Residue” originates from both the need of the artists involved and the gallery directors to give voice to the current researches and thoughts on landscape and architecture. Today, such topics are particularly hot in a country where, among other things, the number of skyscrapers under construction in metropolises like Mumbai – of which many are unregulated – overcomes that of any other capital in the world, thus violently clashing with the existing panorama of surrounding slums that give shelter to most of the population.

Carmen Stolfi

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Related topics: Indian artists, Bangladeshi artists, French artists, architecture, art and the community, installation, sculpture, drawing, picture feast, gallery shows, events in Kolkata

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