New Faces in Contemporary African Portraiture, and Art News of the Week 19 – 25 October 2020

Sacred Faces. Photo: Brian Siambi
Sacred Faces. Photo: Brian Siambi

Kusum Lata Sharma is an art practitioner and researcher in Bhopal that started a series of contemporary art called ‘Water Hyacinth’ a few years ago. “Consciousness Without Borders” is a new exhibition being shown in St. Petersburg that presents the work of two young contemporary artists, Yulia Virko and Anthony Gelfand. PORTR-8 is an exhibition presented by the contemporary African photography gallery Doyle Wham, that presents a diverse group of photographers with different backgrounds, frames of reference, and photographic style.

Kalakriti’s New Exhibition Focuses on Emerging Contemporary Artists

October 23, 2020 – Via THE HINDU

Swim by Smita Gupta. Image from Kalakriti
Swim by Smita Gupta. Photo: Kalakriti

Kusum Lata Sharma is an art practitioner and researcher in Bhopal, a city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Sharma started a series of contemporary art called ‘Water Hyacinth’ a few years ago. After working on more than 100 paintings in the series, she says that the art has to reflect reality and in this particular case the alteration of the ecological balance.

Some paintings from the series ‘Water Hyacinth’” can be seen in the Kalakriti art gallery, Hyderabad, and on the website of the gallery An exhibition that highlights new voices in contemporary art that focus on urbanization, spiritual journeys, and human networks.

The ongoing exhibition ‘Through the Looking Glass: New Voices in Contemporary Art’ delves into different perspectives and techniques of emerging contemporary artists. “At first, the water hyacinth appears beautiful, glistening in the sun rays. Soon, it takes over the water body and the aquatic life is deprived of oxygen and nutrients. I’ve tried to convey this dichotomy, using symbolism and abstraction” says Kusum.

She compares this takeover of the ‘Water Hyacinth’ to the rampant urbanization in the cities where the quality of life worsens over time. These paintings are done in several layers, with a lot of detail, offering a bird’s eye view of a city and its difficult situation. In his Dream City series, she lets his imagination run wild and says, “dreams are unlimited, full of possibilities”.

Some of the artists presented are Smita Gupta, Nishant Dange, Sumit Banerjee, Uday Goswami, Protyusha Mitra, Balagopalan Bala, Ekta Sharma, and Divya Patwa. Among the works on display are also the mixed media sculptural installations of Aishwarya Sultania who has been working with wood carving.

Smita Gupta achieves fluid textures, which are the result of allowing the fluidity of the colors (alcohol ink on paper) to guide her while she paints. The feminine form, the earth, and Krishna emerge from this fluidity merging one color and pattern into another. “My work is never planned in advance”, said Smita Gupta.

The artist Ekta Singha looks back to her family’s past which goes back to a royal Rajput family. But on the other hand, she also shows her experience of sharing a hostel room while studying art. For example, there is an image of mattresses piled up in the hostel room that deals with the daily life of an emerging artist.

‘Consciousness Without Borders’, New Russian Art

October 22, 2020 – Via The Moscow Times

"20.255" by Yulia Virko, 2020
“20.255” by Yulia Virko, 2020. Photo: “Consciousness Without Borders”

“Consciousness Without Borders” is a new exhibition being presented in St. Petersburg. It presents the work of two young contemporary artists, Yulia Virko and Anthony Gelfand. The exhibition is an extended version of a previous joint exhibition held in Moscow earlier this fall at the Winzavod Center for Contemporary Art.

Both artists work with the creation of personal realities based on what they experienced, saw, felt, or dreamed. However, they approach their themes from opposite directions, as Gelfand draws on family memories and personal recollections, such as childhood toys. Virko, on the other hand, explores the images of their dreams and represents them in paintings that generate a strong visual impact.

“My paintings tell you about that particular and precious moment in time when you wake up without realizing it yet, the moment when the boundaries between dream and reality are still blurred”, Virko told The Moscow Times.

Both artists use layers, collage, and mixed media in their work, but some of Virko’s images are surreal and somewhat disturbing. You can see for example a flock of flamingos facing a police car, a lion sailing in an orange rescue boat, a huge iceberg floating in raspberry water, or even trains that burst into flames and derail.

Gelfand, on the other hand, creates his installations to share some very personal moments with the spectators. His art revolves around particular events, people, and memories.

In Virko’s case, he only numbers his paintings and never gives them names. “When there are no clues, the experience becomes an attractive and captivating quest; the numbers free the audience from any preconceptions. Instead, they fire the imagination and inspire fantasy, and this is what I like”, said Virko.

Virko and Gelfand have much in common as their Russian origins, artistic education in the United States, and a strong interest in exploring the boundaries between reality and human consciousness. The exhibition is organized as a “Transformative labyrinth” so that viewers can explore the exhibition in any order and enter or exit it from any direction. This was designed by architect Ksenia Lukyanova.

“The idea was to mix the art of Yulia and Anton and have the audience dive into one reality and then another and alternate their experience while exploring the exhibition. In these rooms, Yulia’s imagination meets Anton’s memories, and these two realities interact. The metal labyrinth that our designers created inside Kabelny Tseh at Sevkabel is like the circle of human consciousness”, said exhibition curator Kristina Romanova.

New Faces in Contemporary African Portraiture

October 21, 2020 – Via The Guardian

PORTR-8 is an exhibition by the contemporary African photography gallery Doyle Wham. The artists represented vary greatly in terms of their backgrounds, frames of reference, and photographic style. They are all united by a desire to expand and challenge traditional notions and narrow interpretations of Africa, African art, and African society.

PORTR-8 is a celebration of emerging talent, featuring an exciting series of innovative and experimental photographic portraits by eight African artists. The exhibition at ECAD in South London is aimed at showing innovative and experimental portraits of these new African artists from Gabon, Nigeria, Namibia, Kenya, and Mozambique.

MILK (Ebony and Ivory)

MILK (Ebony and Ivory).Photograph: Tuva Wolf
MILK (Ebony and Ivory). Photo: Tuva Wolf

Wolf is a biracial woman born in exile in Angola. She is attuned to the complexities of identity, race, and feminism. MILK is not about race, but about perception, and what we subjectively perceive as beautiful. It forms part of a broader project, Shades of Industry, that hopes to redefine beauty standards through art. “Dark-skinned and albino people are generally excluded from the mainstream fashion industries and suffer discrimination and prejudice based on their appearance. My work is a celebration of diversity, and fundamentally, of humanity”, said Tuva Wolf.

Before the Grief

Before the Grief. Photograph: Yannis Davy Guibinga
Before the Grief. Photo: Yannis Davy Guibinga

The portrait of Yannis Davy Guibinga is executed by using the color black in the body of the protagonist. Before the Grief offers an abstract illustration of a universal human experience. It traces the mourning process through consecutive stages of sadness and struggle, towards an eventual acceptance. It deals with the evolution of grief, by making the figure simultaneously familiar and unknown, and aims to remind us of the unpredictable nature of what we cannot prepare for or fully understand.

Ode to Oya About Ode to Oya

Ode to Oya About Ode to Oya. Photograph: Yannis Davy Guibinga
Ode to Oya About Ode to Oya. Photo: Yannis Davy Guibinga

Oya is known as the goddess of winds and storms in Yoruba mythology. The Hymn to Oya is a celebration of this pre-colonial deity. This tribute serves as a severe warning against the tide of cultural elimination, collective oblivion of history, and heritage that saturates the contemporary African Diaspora.

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