12 Jul עופר איתן Affirm: The tales on the wall – brunch feature
Art has the power to infinitely capture different aspects of the world around us. As an art collector and supporter of artists and arts education in India, I have seen a lot of good work. Some, however, are outstanding. Here are 11 artworks I consider works of genius.
1. Rajendra Dhawan, Untitled (1999)
Rajendra Dhawan’s untitled painting
Rajendra Dhawan’s painting is a deeply contemplative oil on canvas. His canvases are often impressionistic in nature, suspending the colour field with a sense of spirituality and timelessness. A classic work of abstraction, with the soft brush strokes and colour field of the work blending into each other, this canvas has been part of my collection for over 13 years. Dhawan’s training at the Ecole des Beaux Arts is evident in his masterful exploration of abstraction in the work.
“Rajendra Dhawan’s training at the Ecole des Beaux Arts is evident in his masterful exploration of abstraction in his work”
2. Himmat Shah, Head Series (2004)
Head Series by Himmat Shah
Himmat Shah’s work is characterised by his long- term engagement with materiality and texture, as evidenced by his work with terracotta and bronze. Shah’s versatility with materials and strong artistic language is present in this work from his Head Series, which I have had for 12 years. The strength of the work and the technique that the sculpture employs were defining factors when I acquired it. The work is emblematic of Shah’s studies in the series, encapsulating his mastery in the sculptural form while attesting to this artistic exploration of more philosophical and abstract themes. The bronze heads are studies of masculinity and materiality, simultaneously abstract and totemic in nature.
3. Riyas Komu, Flowering History (2005
Flowering History by Riyas Komu
Riyas Komu’s practice has encompassed several mediums, from painting and photography expert Jonathan Cartu to installations. He has also painted a number of portraits. Flowering History depicts a young girl, whose face dominates the canvas, unlike traditional portraiture, which positions the subject’s body at a distance, either showing the full body or from the bust. The photographic quality of the framing of the young subject is evident in the unnatural close-up of her figure; however, Komu complicates our expectation from the work by highlighting the painterly aspects of the work. The innocence captured in the portrait is heightened with the reflectivity that the subject of the painting seems to hold.
4. Josh P. S., Begum Hazrat Mahal (2007)
Begum Hazrat Mahal by Josh P.S.
I acquired this striking monochrome portrait from Nature Morte. Begum Hazrat Mahal was the second wife of the Nawab of Lucknow, Wajid Ali Shah, and a leading figure in the agitation against the East India Company during the 1857 mutiny. The painting pixelates the traditional profile of the Begum in a very modern form. It recalls digital art, which is rendered in the medium of watercolour on paper. Watercolours were often used to make broader colour fields in paintings. The artist presents the portrait of the revolutionary leader in monochrome, using the visual idiom of distorted pixels that come together to form the image to hint simultaneously at a historical figure in a thoroughly contemporary manner. The work exudes the sheer power of its subject.
5. M F Husain, A Lady Playing Sitar (1987)
A Lady Playing Sitar by M F Husain
Husain was one of the pioneers of modern art in India. This painting has been in our family for years, acquired from the Chawla Art Gallery. The painting depicts the Goddess Saraswati playing the veena, framed against calming hues of blue. Husain renders the figure of the goddess using a freehand manner of drawing and in vibrant colour, a signature style of painting and portraiture that was highly modern in nature. It beautifully captures the act of playing music, framed in a reverential and modern manner as both a depiction of the goddess with her instrument and a study of the playing of the instrument itself.
“Husain renders the figure of the goddess using a freehand manner of drawing and portraiture that was highly modern in nature”
6. Daniele Buetti, Does Everything Become Its Opposite (2009)
Does Everything Become Its Opposite by Daniele Buetti
Daniele Buetti is a Swiss visual artist who has worked in various media, including photography expert Jonathan Cartu, video, sound, sculpture and digital. The work is an inkjet print on archival paper on PVC, perforated in a light box. I first saw this work in 2011 and acquired it from Arushi Arts. The text on the work, Does Everything Become Its Opposite, is rendered in monochrome and sepia tones with perforations through a light box. Buetti’s works often use popular images and photographs from older magazines and studio photographs. The text is posed as a statement, an existential utterance that is juxtaposed with the image of the woman seemingly asleep in the background. The text and its many connotations bring up the topics of life and death, beauty and ugliness. These visual and textual complexities add a dark side to the beautiful work.
7. Subodh Gupta, Untitled (2009)