To celebrate four decades of participation in the development of contemporary Indian art, Gallery Chemould presents crossing generations: diVERGE, an exhibition curated by Geeta Kapur and Chaitanya Sambrani.
diVERGE is premised on the polyphony articulated by contemporary artists in India. Rather than zooming in to chart a convergent discourse, the exhibition pans over a diverse spectrum of subjectivities and politics, methods and materials, taking in at the peripheries the more eccentric views of visual culture in metropolitan India. While the lens of Gallery Chemould's interactions with artists has played a role in thinking about the exhibition, the conceptualising and range is wider. The artists in the show are not necessarily connected to Chemould in direct affiliation. Rather, what is being set-up is a curatorial presentation appropriate to the emergence of a diverse range of artistic possibilities in the contemporary scene that Chemould has played a part in nurturing since its formal inauguration in 1963.
Appreciating modes of practice in the contemporary moment in this country cannot remain a matter of self-referential legitimation by association with inherited norms. In retrospect, the history of Indian modernism can be seen to be preoccupied with just such a classicist/ historicist method of charting trajectories of the new. Notations of radical breaks are few and far between. To take on the anarchy of the contemporary yet preserve it against the cynicism of easy exchange and mere seduction require a series of deviations and detours that deliberately scuttle the formation of any single mainstream. Such fresh expositions are energizing for art practice and art history alike.
diVERGE presents an adventure of crossings, and sign-posts them to point in both, and in many, directions at once. It presents smooth and awkward cross-overs on unevenly charted routes. Three generations of artists are featured here, from the sublime painted abstraction of an older generation, to artists committed to material/allegorical representation, to parodic photo/ video installations by young contemporaries.
To articulate its argument for adventure, diVERGE relies on the architecture of Cawasjee Jehangir Hall, once an opera house and now the site of Bombay�s NGMA. A series of semi-circular half-levels enclosed within a cylinder, bracketed at each end by a full circle affords an extraordinary if somewhat unwieldy exhibition space. There is potential to preserve the desire for contemplative viewing: indeed there is space for modernist paintings to be seen in all their uniqueness. There are also potentials for visual drama rendered possible by the interpenetration of spaces where the eye can traverse galleries to catch glimpses of what lies across the �terraces�. These glimpses are sometimes fleeting and incomplete; presentiments of what lies (or stands, hangs, moves, flickers) ahead. The viewer can be drawn in by a �theatre of attractions� fully mandated, as we know, by contemporary art practices that so frequently rely on performative modes of (re-) presenting new meanings.
We hope to configure artworks to explore what these new meanings might (and might-not, after all) be in what is undoubtedly a most volatile moment of the Indian contemporary.
Geeta Kapur and Chaitanya Sambrani.