Providing insights into how artists view and escape from the grid, the exhibition highlights the work of India-based contemporary artists.
Art Radar takes a closer look at the artists who are participating in the show at Experimenter in Kolkata.
“Raster – Emerging from the Grid”, on view from 18 November to 31 December 2016 at Kolkata-based Experimenter, is an exhibition based on artistic responses to the concept of the grid. The exhibition features work from six artists and artist groups including Rathin Barman, Astha Butail, CAMP, Nabil Rahman, Julien Segard and Praneet Soi.
The exhibition takes its name from the term “raster”, which according to the gallery is
a rectangular pattern of parallel scanning lines followed by the electron beam on a television screen or computer monitor, or any electronic device [and] is the modern day grid or structural format within which we live our lives.
The concept of a grid is open to many interpretations, especially in the context of our contemporary lives where we are living within grids of cities, grids for organising information or virtual grids. The idea of going “off the grid” is becoming increasing more difficult in this connected world. The theme opens up ideas of space or architectures, exploring built and natural environments. It also alludes to formal and informal structures, the limitations of a grid as opposed to more organic formations. As explained in the press release:
Works in the exhibition seem to emerge from the grid, or represent the grid and push the limits of its structural confines…The processes that emerge from keeping the grid central, thereby explore the productive tensions between rational calculation and subjective expression, conceptual thought and material form, and precision and disorder that animate much of the work on view in this exhibition.
“Raster – Emerging from the Grid” presents a number of artistic practices, such as drawing, sculpture, painting and installation. It provides an insight into how artists view the basic form of the grid as well as diverse ways of escaping from it.
Art Radar takes a look at the artists in the exhibition.
1. Rathin Barman
Born in 1981, Kolkata-based Rathin Barman’s practice includes sculptures, drawings and installations of objects that he makes or collects. He is engaged by interventions in different urban spaces that define individual cities. Through his interventions in these physical spaces, Rathin highlights “a subtle sense of wry helplessness that is born from its location between reality and illusion”. He looks at cities as political phenomena, exploring built environments such as urban sprawl, development and human behaviour.
Rathin Barman’s sculptures show a very visible form of a grid, with dominant lines in materials such as steel and concrete. The use of architectural materials reflects the physical nature of grids that are laid in the foundations of our everyday lives.
2. Astha Butail
Astha Butail is inspired by her work in fashion as well as Indian mythology. Born 1977 and based in Gugaon, India, Butail explores how oral traditions and memories are passed through generations and through the handicrafts that are created. In past projects she has called upon contributions from her audiences, who are invited to write or create something on a prompt card. Butail then turns these into crafted, individualised books, which gather together people’s experiences, stories, poems and sketches.
In this exhibition, Astha Butail presents a series of interactive books. Visitors are encouraged to share stories while seated around a square table. By engaging in oral storytelling the books break free from a structured form and accumulate new meaning.
CAMP is a studio established in Mumbai in 2007 by Shaina Anand (filmmaker and artist), Sanjay Bhangar (software programmer) and Ashok Sukumaran (architect and artist). The studio is a place for ideas and energies to gather, and through this process the artists try, in their words, “to move beyond binaries of art vs. non-art, commodity markets vs. ‘free culture’, or individual vs. institutional will”, in order to think towards future possibilities. Based on the willingness to change and adapt, the aims of CAMP are to investigate ownership and authority as sites for artistic practice, engage with questions relating to infrastructure and to develop or reconfigure distribution platforms.
CAMP produces and sustains long duration and sometimes large-scale artistic work and investigates global phenomena such as shipping, CCTV, the emotional state of workers and guards, phone leaks and various media.
In “Raster – Emerging from the Grid”, CAMP approaches the concept of the grid from geographical perspectives emerging from their work on sailing boats on the west coast of India, the Gulf countries and east African ports. The cyanotype from their durational work explores the geography of these seaports and their complex network of trade and relationships that have long histories. The re-appropriation of the grid in this space provides a new context for viewing this mapped space.
4. Julien Segard
Julien Segard is a French artist now based in Delhi. His work involves large-scale drawing, watercolours, works on paper, installations and sculpture. Influenced by the Arte Povera movement of the 1960s, Segard makes work out of nothing. In an interview with Blouin ArtInfo, he explains his process of creating his paintings:
It’s more like a map than a window […]. I lay down my material like carpets, on the floor […]. Once I put down different materials, I choose the size freely. I don’t plan at the beginning that I want to do something specific within this frame or this kind of canvas. My drawing is like that, I think, more linked with mental maps than window representations.
In the exhibition, Julien Segard’s paintings explore materials and forms as well as spatial dimensions.
5. Praneet Soi
Born in Kolkata in 1971, Praneet Soi is based between Amsterdam and Kolkata. This movement between places impacts his practice, in which he investigates patterns from his social and economic landscape, such as the suburban landscape from his time in the United States, the reportage of unrest in the Netherlands, the historic Sufi shrines in Kashmir, or the documentation of small-scale factories in Kumartuli, North Kolkata.
In “Raster – Emerging from the Grid”, Praneet Soi has developed a series of drawings on graph paper that reflect architectural and other motifs recurring within his practice.
6. Nabil Rahman
Through his works on paper, Nabil Rahman explores the constraints of industry, which is ruled principally by rational logic. He highlights the potential of art to overcome serial and repetitive actions.
- Spice girl: Indian artist K. Benitha Perciyal – in conversation – November 2016 – Indian artist K. Benitha Perciyal uses spices, found materials and incense to create thought-provoking and intensely personal installations
- Cosmin Costinas and Dayanita Singh at Experimenter Curators’ Hub 2016 – video – November 2016 – Art Radar reports on the 6th edition of the Experimenter Curators’ Hub, which took place in late July 2016
- Quirky and ingenious: Hong Kong artist Samson Young at Experimenter Gallery, Kolkata – September 2016 – Hong Kong sonic artist Samson Young takes sound art to the next level with his debut solo in India at Experimenter Gallery in Kolkata
- 5 Northeast Indian artists to watch – May 2015 – Art Radar profiles five Northeast Indian artists and art collectives who are forging a new artistic language
- Curating the contemporary biennial: Ranjit Hoskote at Experimenter Curators’ Hub 2014 – video – October 2014 – Indian cultural theorist, poet and curator Ranjit Hoskote, talks about curating contemporary art at the Experimenter Curators’ Hub (ECH) 2014
Subscribe to Art Radar for more on South Asian artists