Visual Arts Gallery presents Shivani Bhalla B.V. Swetha Aparneet curated by : Alka Pande20th - 23rd November 2011
Mythololgies “Myth is neither a lie nor a confession: it is an inflexion.” - Roland Barthes. In 1957, Roland Barthes, the French philosopher and semiotician, explored the tendency of contemporarysocial value systems to create modern myths. Embroidering on Ferdinand de Sassures system of sign analysis,wherein the sign is completely arbitrary, so there is not necessarily a connection between the sign and itsmeaning, Barthes added a second level where signs are elevated to the level of myths. Perhaps Barthes mostfamous illustration of this level is the image of red wine – how it had been adopted as a national drink in France;how it was seen as a social equalizer and the drink of the working class; and how it was seen as being sacred,because of its use in the Catholic Mass to represent the blood of Christ. Curiously, red wine was also considered photograph by Mandakini Devito be good for health. It was “associated with all the myths of becoming warm,” thus making it ideal for winter, and,conversely, it was the perfect drink at the height of summer, because it conjured up “images of shade, with allthings cool and sparkling.” Barthes also addressed the modern view of myth and analyzed myth as a type of speech and myth withregards to politics. In speech, myth is a further sign, because its roots are in language, but to which somethinghas been added. In a word or any linguistic unit, the meaning and sound come together to make a sign. To make amyth, the sign itself is used as a signifier, and a new meaning is added, which is the signified. But according toBarthes, this is not added arbitrarily. Although we may not be aware of it, modern myths are created with a reason.As in the example of red wine, mythologies are formed to perpetuate an idea of society that adheres to the currentideologies of the ruling class and its media. Barthes further explored the process of mythologisation, referring to the tendency of socially constructednotions, narratives, and assumptions to become "naturalised" in the process that is, taken unquestioningly asgiven within a particular culture. He was fascinated with how and why mythologies are built up by the bourgeoisiein its various manifestations. He argued that modern culture explores religious experience. Because it is not thejob of science to define human morality, a religious experience is an attempt to connect with a perceived moralpast, which is in contrast with the technological present. Barthes ideas come in handy when discussing myth because various people use the term in different ways.Although there is a broad sense that the word refers to any traditional story, it hearkens back to sacred narrativesthat explain how the world was created and how people came to be. In this framework, a myths characters areusually gods, supernatural heroes and villains, and humans. Rulers and priests often used myths to establishcodes of conduct and behavior. Myth is frequently confused with legend, where the stories are set in a more recent time and feature humansas the main characters, and folktale, with its stories that can be set in any time and place and that are notconsidered true or sacred. However you define traditional stories – by calling them myth, legend or folklore –there is one theory that they frequently have their roots in historical events and that storytellers repeatedlyelaborated upon accounts of these events until the figures in those accounts gained the status of gods. Othertheories posit that myths began as allegories for natural phenomena – describing fire, water, etc, as gods – or asallegories for philosophical or spiritual concepts – wisdom, desire, etc.
The myth-ritual theory states that the existence of myth is connected to ritual. According to the ScottishBiblical scholar William Robertson Smith, people begin performing rituals for some reason that is not related tomyth. Later, after they have forgotten the original reason for a ritual, they try to account for the ritual by inventing amyth and claiming that the ritual commemorates the events described in that myth. James Frazer, an influentialScottish anthropologist, had a similar theory, wherein primitive man starts out with a belief in magical laws. Later,as man begins to lose faith in magic, he invents myths about gods and claims that his formerly magical rituals arereligious rituals intended to appease the gods. As many theories there are about the existence of myth, so there are arguments for the functions of myth.Mircea Eliade, the Romanian historian and a leading interpreter of religious experience, felt that the primaryfunction of myth is to establish models for behavior. In addition, myths provide a religious experience fortraditional societies - by telling or reenacting myths, members of traditional societies detach themselves from thepresent and return to the mythical age, thereby bringing themselves closer to the divine. Lauri Honko, the Finnish professor of folklore studies and comparative religion, asserts that, in some cases, asociety will reenact a myth in an attempt to reproduce the conditions of the mythical age. For example, it willreenact the healing performed by a god at the beginning of time in order to heal someone in the present. For Joseph Campbell, the American writer and lecturer best known for his work in comparative mythologyand comparative religion, myths have four basic functions:the Mystical Function—experiencing the awe of the universe;the Cosmological Function—explaining the shape of the universe;the Sociological Function—supporting and validating a certain social order;and the Pedagogical Function—how to live a human lifetime under any circumstances. Three young artists from diverse backgrounds string their personal myths together in a fusion of colour,medium and texture, making the exhibition Reminiscentiae, a Late Latin word for reminiscence, representativeof Indias plural and young culture. As artists living in contemporary India, they bring the cultural diversity of anevolving India, with their influences such as Swetha from Southern India, Aparneet from Delhi and Bengal, andShivani Bhalla from Delhi and Baroda.Personal or Public--- mythologies by themselves have interesting connotations. They could be stories, bothimagined and true. They also lead into telling tales. In the case of Shivani, Aparneet and Swetha, they have theirown tales to tell. That they happen to be artists simply enriches their narrative . The fact that all threehave been trained at the finest art schools of the country equips them with a rich visual vocabulary tonarrative a story well. Shivani Bhalla has worked in primarily two mediums – canvas and gouache. Her works are essentiallyautobiographical. Memories and objects related to her everyday experiences find their space in the canvasesshe paints. A strong desire to interpret what she experiences as the “close experience of my past” is carried in herpaintings. This invariably led her working in a direction dealing with child-like mental space by experimenting withmediums. She tries to capture the essence of various situations or incidents, through abstract narrative scenariosthat have a dream like quality, not unlike a fairy tale. Her inclination has always been to portray and understandinner (psychological) spaces, and she conveys the different psychological impacts that spaces have on humanexistence. In paper works done in gouache, she deals with same subject matters but in a more playful and lessstructured manner, juxtaposing opaque and transparent layers, with more considered ideas about intimacy.Layering and overlapping of forms and colours, as Shivani tries to condense her subconscious thoughts andfeelings. In her most recent works Shivani has tried to compile art works in a close to book like form experimentingfurther with the intuitive and playful approach to image making. Experimentation has been basic part of her works. A shift of locality from her home town, Delhi, to Baroda which in turned instilled a feeling of self confidencesomehow found its expression in her later works. A strong desire to relive the innocence of her past is evident in
the introduction of tangible objects of pleasure or entertainment from her childhood into the painted spaces,through the portrayal of toys or objects that become motives directly or indirectly referred to in the picture space.Her current research involves painting and engaging with sculpted objects that represent her own and otherspersonal psychological development. For Shivani flipping through her personal diary and reviewing her work overthe time is like a similar exercise. Swethas sensitive and meticulous textile scrolls refers to personal journeys both inside and outside herphysical environment. She traveled to the remote village of Bijapur in Karnataka to work with an 85-year-oldcraftsman who prepares Kaudi, a traditional quilt craft. It was a direct experience with paved the way for her toexplore the medium of quilting and the notions of art against craft. She works with materials which indulge the ideaaround femininity or have often been culturally referred to as womens work or her area of art. Materials such astextiles, stitching, embroidery, patch work, etc. Woman and her representation can be the starting point from where we interact with. It was herinquisitiveness towards experimentation and an attempt to understand the process of narrative expression, withjuxtaposing different materials and mediums that are associated with the narrative experience. This can be seenin her work “Burkha”, where there was an attempt to interact with the burkha, using women to foster a deeperunderstanding of their experience in their veils. These women were photographed and later seriagraphed (silkscreened) on the work. The materials used for the work were the actual textiles that are used to make a burkha,which added conceptually beauty to the narrative expression. The most enjoyable experience of her work is theprocess of touch, handling, act of making, sewing, embroidering, and gradually switching in as line, a drawing or aform. But still the act is stitching or embroidery. Her work deals with the female condition of socially imposeddomestic confinement. Here, one can also detect the traces of self identity, the pressure of the outside world andthe complexities of the inner self (which could also be seen in works like “Red Curve”, “Purdha”, “Gruha Lakshmiseries 2”, and “Angels in the land of Red”). At the same time, we can see the contrast of the glorifiedrepresentation of the female in ones culture, religion and society. Aparneet works in the more primordial space and enjoys the exercise of picture making through a strongpreoccupation with myth. She has deconstructed the subtle yet complex technique of creating a picture, allowingherself to conceive an image and communicate abundantly. The kind of reality she concerns herself with seeks torepresent a structure that is composite and simple yet as dissipated as reality. In order to express her inner journey from myth to reality, she carefully selects all formal aspects of imageconstruction such as the surface of the canvas, the form (in charcoal) and a pattern or a motif (in acrylic). This notonly enables her to project but also allows her to make a spatial dialogue with the viewer. Here the space takes onan indefinite character in which the form and motifs unfold themselves often isolating them in their totality. While fragmentation may seem as an obvious resort of post-modernist tendencies, its logic as a dispersedand dissipated reality continues to determine her context. It is these multiple and illusory images Aparneet seeksto address in their entirety, turning them into personalized yet universal experiences. This process ofnaturalization continuously chooses to construct and deconstruct in a context that synthesizes and desynthesizes itself. Birth, death, beauty, horror, flora, fauna, natural and the supernatural all co-exist in a series ofpersonal experiences which appear in the form of basic instincts on canvas. After sketching and even penning herthoughts on a piece of paper she often begins with drawing on a canvas, sometimes out of memory andsometimes with the reference of a photograph. It is this sense of self awareness; knowingness and delusion whichoften governs her canvasesDr Alka PandeCuratorAutumn 2011
Shivani Bhalla Rain Man | Oil on Canvas | 40"x58"
Shivani Bhalla Angels in my House | Oil on Canvas | 36"x36"
Shivani Bhalla Dalia Eaters | Oil on Canvas | 65"x53"
Shivani Bhalla Pocher | Gauche, Water Colors & Collage on Paper | 43"x46"
Shivani Bhalla My Sisters Birthday Party | Oil on Canvas | 60"x72"
B.V. SwethaThe Red Curve | Medium Textile, Embroidery, Acrylic Colour on Canvas | 36"x36"
B.V. Swetha Angels in the Land of Red | Gouache on Paper | 22"x34"
Shivani Bhalla M.F.A in Painting, M.S. University, Faculty of Fine Art, Baroda (2007-2009); B.F.A. Painting, College of Art, Delhi University (2003-2007); Awarded Krishna Kriti Award, 2007; BFA Gold Medal in final year 2007; 1st prize in 2005; 2nd prize in 2004 and 2006; Exhibitions - Baroda March, Strand Art Room, Mumbai 2011; Abreast Totems, Mon Art Gallery , Calcutta 2010; HUB Group Show, Faculty of Fine Art,Vadodara, 2009. Melange Group Show, Faculty of Fine Art,Vadodara, 2009; Nature v/s Modernity, India Fine Art, Bombay, 2009; Art against Aids, Religare iGallery, Delhi, 2009; Internship with traditional wooden toy makers in Etikopakka,Vishakhapatnam, 2008; Krishna Kriti Workshop in Hyderabad, 2007;Drawing workshop conducted by Vivan Sundaran, Baroda, 2007.Currently teaching as Asst. Professor at Government College of Art, Chandigarh; Visiting Faculty, Painting,College of Art, Delhi University, 2009-2010. email@example.com B.V. Swetha Bachelors in Fine Arts (BFA): 2000-05, ChitrakalaParishath, Bangalore; Masters in Fine Arts (PGD): 2006-08, M. S. University, Baroda; National Students Camp, at Shantiniketan.“Brick” an installation workshop a Chitrakala Parishath, Bangalore; Camp at Mount Abu, organized by Karnataka Lalitha Kala Academy; Rai Foundation artist camp, at Bhimtal, 2011; Inlaks Fine Arts Award for the year 2011 Grahi Studio, New Delhi for a year, 2006. O.E. D (Open Eye Dreams) Studio, Baroda, 2008; Currently at Shimeesha artist studio Baroda; Exhibitions - Travancore Art Gallery at Delhi, 2006; Priyasri Art Gallery at Mumbai, 2008; The Parables of thread at The Loft, Mumbai, 2009. curated by JayaramPoduval; Class2008 at Art Konsult, Delhi, 2009. curated by Bhavana Kakkar; HUB2, groupshow at Baroda, 2009; TheBaroda March, group show at The Strand art room, Mumbai 2011; Banyan art show faculty of fine arts Baroda2011; Purdah at Gallery Sumukha, Bangalore 2010. firstname.lastname@example.org | Swetha9924483876@yahoo.com Aparneet Presently pursuing Post Graduation at Government College of Arts, Chandigarh; Graduated from Kala Bhavan,Visva-Bharati, Shantiniketan in the year 2010 with BFA honors in Painting; Holder of merit scholarship all four years spent at the university; Graduated from Lady Sri Ram College, New Delhi with B.A. Honors in Journalism; Interned with KHOJ in the month of October 2010, a non-profit organization for artists; Worked under Atul Dodiya for a week long workshop in the Chandigarh Art and Museum Gallery in March 2011, organized by Lalit Kala Academy; Exhibited in Kala Bhavans annual exhibition held by the Academy of Fine Arts Kolkata, in the year 2008 and 2009. Exhibited in a group show in NandanArt Gallery Shantiniketan in 2008 and 2009; Participated in a workshop organized in the year 2008 onCensorship with contemporary Indian artists; Interactive inter college workshop at Shantineketan 2007;Interned with Black and White advertising agency as art visualiser in 2005; Interned with Think Media, acommunication and design company; Briefly assisted Dr Alka Pande on a research for a project in the year2005. email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org