Home TRAVEL BLOGS Art for the Binge-watcher – Leisure News

Art for the Binge-watcher – Leisure News

Art for the Binge-watcher – Leisure News


You might think that visual artists have had it better than most during the Covid-propelled lockdown, and you would be right. Most artists work alone, and display only needs to shift from the clean white 3D cube of the art gallery to the 2D rectangle of the digital screen. So even as the lockdown left a series of shuttered shows in its wake, many galleries rose to the challenge. One exciting development has been In Touch, a digital platform created collaboratively by galleries across India (Artintouch.in/).

Edition 4 of In Touch, which runs till November 10, includes Rustom Siodia’s little-seen 1920s and ’30s watercolours on the Chatterjee and Lal site, Kanu Gandhi’s astonishingly intimate photographs of the Mahatma on PhotoInk, Dhruvi Acharya’s arresting pandemic-inspired work at Nature Morte, and Buddhadev Mukherjee’s marvellously humorous human figures, playful studies in scale, at Mirchandani + Steinruecke. Chemould Prescott Road is showing Lavanya Mani’s ‘Game of Chance’, mixing science with miracles and omens in a manner perfect for a pandemic year. In ‘Miraculous Sights 2’, a town floats into the sea aboard a ship, which itself hovers over the scaly back of a submarine creature. In the hypnotic ‘Portents’, a gigantic red flower opens a bleeding glass eye to a world buffeted by strange animal-headed comets.

In Touch’s on-screen display is effective: you can see a chosen artwork as it might look on a wall (with a virtual chair for scale) and zoom in. I wish, though, that more galleries had done what Gallery Espace has with Manjunath Kamath’s dream-like pastiches, to identify sections of each work for higher-resolution reproduction. It feels like a privilege to have his strange, vivid imagination enlargeable on one’s private screen: a pile of books in flames as an elephant grazes placidly in a field outside, a television splashing into a bathtub, an angel approaching a Mumbai taxi, or a giraffe a buffet.

Others, too, have made efforts online. The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art has a superb virtual tour. Kolkata’s CIMA has a new website. The uncertainty of recent months seems to have pushed the artistic process into the foreground. Mumbai’s Tarq Gallery is presenting Garima Gupta’s notes and sketches from the Southeast Asian wildlife trade, “unarchived fragments of a conflict that is pushing us into a war with the very world we inhabit”. Nature Morte offers up a downloadable colouring book by Acharya, while Kolkata’s Emami Gallery has devised a virtual flipbook. The flipbook is a great format both for Prasanta Sahu’s Suburban Shadows (see below) and Aroh, a group show that came out of Emami’s open call for lockdown work by young artists (I particularly liked Arindam Sinha’s ‘Marking’, Arpita Akhanda’s ‘Hung Up On the Past’ and Jahnavi Khemka’s ‘Lockdown 1’). Finally, the digital crossing of geographical limits allowed us to view, sitting in India, 35 sketches from the late great modernist Ram Kumar’s 1960s and ’70s notebooks on Art Basel’s Online Viewing Rooms.

But while the hushed silences and ‘no touching’ rules of the gallery may feel only a step away from the literal untouchability of a virtual display, an aura still clings to the work of art in the era of digital reproduction. Three of the five shows to look out for this month, at DAG and Art Heritage Galleries in Delhi, and at Chatterjee and Lal in Mumbai, are open for offline visitors.


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