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Tradition and Transition: Watercolors from India and China

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TRADITION & TRANSITION Watercolours by Indian and Chinese artists

Opening Reception 28th July 2014, 6.30pm

At Kalakriti Art Gallery, 468, Road No.10, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad

Timings: 11 am - 7 pm (open on all days)

&

At Kalakriti Art Gallery, Upper Lobby, Trident, Hitech City, Hyderabad

Timings: 12 - 8 pm (open on all days)

Please note this exhibition can be viewed at both the venues till the 25th August 2014.

Artists participating in the exhibition, Indian artists: Atul Dodiya | Anandajit Ray | Avijit Dutta | George Martin | Sujith S N | Jagannath Panda | Manjunath Kamath | T V Santosh | Theodore Mesquita | Veer Munshi | Rajeshwara Rao | V Ramesh

Chinese artists: Dai Qian| Guo Jian Ting | Huang Fang Qi | Huang Wen Feng | Ji Ping | Lu Lin | Liu Dong | Qian Lei | Wei Shen | Wei Shao Dong

The idea of curating this show was that it should be a window into the heart of both Chinese and Indian culture. When we first thought of this show it was with the purpose of exploring the commonalities between Chinese and Indian culture. And the best possible way was to invite Chinese artists to share a common space with Indian artists.

As young Indians we have always nurtured the urge to have a conversation with our friends in China. But language came in between. Till we realized the visual language is the best available option to communicate.

Along with our gallerist Mr. Prshant Lahoti of Kalakriti, we saw this show was the first available opportunity to introduce Chinese contemporary art to India. And we settled for watercolours as a metaphor, if you can pardon that expression, ‘so much water has flown under the bridge’. Apart from this, these are the two countries where transition is the mirror image of tradition. And they are now global forces. We had two things in mind when we curated this show. One, it had to be representative of the people and culture of both countries. Two, the show must present works that cut across the heart of the human condition in both the countries that have made an acceptable transition from tradition. This is best reflected in the works of the Chinese artists. It was not an easy task. But we hope that we have managed it.

And there is a valid reason why we stuck to watercolours. Historically watercolours were at the core of our hearts. They are as natural as a medium for an artist can be. Therefore, it is the most difficult medium. Because it is very difficult to be natural and adopt nature. Mankind has always been appropriating nature. Then there is this story about the history of China’s watercolours. A humble explanation of why we are doing what we are doing.

They have had a major role to play in the visual art history of both China and India—more in China’s history than India’s. It is a tradition that began around 4000 B.C. in China and has been in constant transition over a period of more than six thousand years. During this period in the 12th century, advancements in Chinese papermaking and the decorative use of watercolor spread to Europe.

But what is unique about Chinese watercolours or brush painting is its philosophy. Chinese brush painting is more than a representation of an object; it is also a symbolic expression. However, as China embraced the world in the last two decades reaching out to the West in particular, its watercolours too got a wash over by the liquid contours of a largely unified global language.

Though the influence of Chinese watercolours and washes were felt in India and their popularity increased, there has been a paucity of occasions to see the actual works of masters or even contemporary Chinese practitioners of this highly delicate art.

This major collaborative exhibition, with more than 21 contemporary artists, at Kalakriti Art Gallery in Hyderabad, India, will remove that anomaly in the ‘real’ationship between the two countries that goes back to the time when Buddhism was introduced to China from India during the 1st century A.D. that brought with it the carving of grottoes and building of temples. Soon to follow was the art of painting religious murals.

This exhibition also marks an important cultural exchange that will promote the ‘real’ationship, and deepen the dialogue, between these two countries that are on the cusp of transition as are their respective approaches to the art of watercolours. The growth of watercolours in both the countries has inevitably reflected the changes of time and social conditions. In both the countries the styles and techniques, even if the practice is relatively recent in India, are in constant state of motion. One in which the tradition merges with the transitional as if under the spell of a chant uttered under the meditative mood invoked by a prayer wheel.

By showcasing the diversity of techniques in watercolour painting, it will demonstrate how the tradition of Chinese painting has informed Indian contemporary art and open up the possibilities of how Indian contemporary watercolours can have a dialogue with the Chinese style and techniques.

This show ranges from the whimsical to the purely serious-minded, from the romantic to the political, from the sartorial to the satirical. We hope you enjoy the show.
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