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AirSpace Projects is currently closed while we install the May Exhibitions

May Exhibitions

5-21 May 2017

10 Junction Street, Marrickville

Just 6 minutes easy walk from Marrickville Station

Opening Event: Friday 5 May, 6-8pm

Artist Talks: Saturday 20 May, 3-5pm

Open Sunday 21 May from 11-5 for the 20/21 May

Inner West Studio Trail

Gallery One

Misael M.
Prolegomena: About filters, codification and domestication

“One must distinguish between what is understood and what is not understood”

–Søren Kierkegaard

Prolegomena: About filters, codification and domestication stems from an attempt to expose the precarious basis of the human communicational/epistemological system. Understood from signic to symbolic systems, including all the complexities associated with the interpretation of meaning (hermeneutics).

Focusing on the treatment of certain semantic and linguistic theories (namely those of Ferdinand de Saussure, Charles S. Pierce, Umberto Eco, Edmund Husserl, Foucault, etc.), the investigation is presented as a triadic system of understanding the world

(filters, codification and domestication), with the possibility of emancipation via a fourth subversive one: The language of poetics; that constant which creates the intertextuality among apparently dissimilar topics, the epiphany after a paroxysm, the slang, the neologism, the mystics of the absurd.

“The irony rises and subverts; humour falls and perverts”, says Foucault in his Theatrum Philosophicum, and the proposal emphasises this; the best way to learn and destroy is through humour & confusion (at least that is what we think for now).

Note to the public:

This exhibition is just an ‘attempt’ and therefore we take full responsibility for the suicidal task. Any complaints will only be received in written form, with the exception of those individuals who may lack hands.

Gallery Two

Eunjoo Jang

The Illusion that is Reality

The Illusion that is Reality explores the phenomenon of virtualisation, which is often referred to as ‘blended reality’. It describes the time and space that allows a person to experience different realities, which in Jang’s case, is explored through virtual layers employing mobile technologies.

Jang’s work encapsulates the process of virtualisation and how it exceeds the limits of our physical world by creating another dimension for individuals to experience. This transition into a new dimension, an unconscious world, opens the possibility to travel into the world of dreams and imagination.

Jang uses her body to map the city area by undertaking a series of walks over a period of several months. Her routes are then reviewed and processed through Google maps and translated into a series of scratch holograms, an analogue technique of drawing on aluminium to make representations through light diffraction, reflection and interference. By allowing the elusive, moving effects of the scratch holograms and the line drawings in aluminium to co-exist, Jang balances the modalities of actual and virtual.

The Cranny

Stella Chen

Facade of Memory

Facade of Memory is an installation presented by artist Stella Chen. This exhibition questions the accuracy of recollection and portrays the present as a state of flux. Chen’s work locates itself in the past and present by delving into the unreliable, fraudulent and fragmented nature of memory.

Chen comes from a traditional family in Taiwan and lives as a migrant in Australia. For Chen, the sense of dislocation created by making a home in a new country holds parallels to the traditional cultural practice of ‘Tongyangxi’, whereby girls are adopted into the family of their future husbands. Chen explores her personal history through the execution of a caged hoop skirt, which signifies her immersion into Western society while simultaneously symbolising female identity within a patriarchal world.

Deep Space

Ajay and Vinita Sharma

Review before the Storm

Ajay and Vinita Sharma have been exhibiting their works at AirSpace Projects since 2014. In September this year, they will be exhibiting new original works and a selection of copy-works in the tradition of Indian miniature painting. Ajay is a master miniature painter from Jaipur and is internationally renown for both his original paintings on paper and copy-work, which is particularly defined by his mastery of natural pigments and subject matter. He has exhibited his work at the Julie Saul Gallery in New York in collaboration with Julie Evans, an exhibition that featured in major journals such as Art in America and Artforum. Vinita exhibited her fine original and copy-works in her first solo exhibition at AirSpace Projects in 2016. Vinita has been involved in Ajay Sharma’s production and teaching studio for at least twenty years and her work is now receiving attention in its own right. This is an exciting opportunity to view their works currently available for sale at AirSpace Projects.

 

Images from top: Misael M., Topologytopologia. Courtesy of the artist; Eunjoo Jang, Vitruvian Ocean Blue. Courtesy of the artist; Stella Chen, Facade of Caged Memory, 2015, photograph, 59.4 x 84.1cm. Courtesy of the artist; Ajay Sharma, Life (Invariable Loss of Parental Guidance), 2014. Stone and natural pigments, 35.5 x 40cm. From the Speed of Life series. Image courtesy of the artist.

April Art Talks

Saturday 22 April 3-5pm

Join us for the next round of artist talks by Vilma Bader, Sarah Eddowes and Rebecca Shanahan (Paula do Prado’s exhibition is up but sadly she can’t join us). View Paula do Prado’s vibrant fabric collages, Vilma Bader’s responses to her northern artist residency, Sarah Eddowes’ experimentations in wax and Rebecca Shanahan’s feminist knitting project. Hear artists talk about everything from the doors of Tallinn, spruce and beech, linguistics and semiotics, waxy surfaces, the fusion of the geological and bodily, as well as gendered work under surveillance.  What else would you want to be doing on your Saturday afternoon? If stimulating artist talks are not enough then consider this: we are making cakes!

Four fabulous must-see exhibitions

10 Junction Street Marrickville

A 6-minute easy walk along Schwebel St from Marrickville Station

April Exhibitions

7 – 22 April 2017

Opening: Friday 7 April 6-8pm

Artist Talks: Saturday 22 April 3-5pm

All Welcome!

Gallery One
Paula do Prado
Bomba

The Bomba artworks are made from a mix of humble materials: fabric samples, cloth remnants, paint and paper. The use of collage on fabric and paper relates to the traditions of ‘making do’ and the bringing together of seemingly disparate, unrelated and disjointed elements assembled together to create something new and cohesive. In Afro-Uruguayan culture there are still strong links to superstition and the merging of Christian and West African religious beliefs. Lines become blurred and slippages occur between religion, magic, art, music, dance, ritual and ceremony. Bomba or blast becomes a visual metaphor for cultural collisions and explosions, resistance and survival.

Paula do Prado is running a Fabric Collage Workshop, Bomba: Offcuts, and has organised two Afro-Latin Dance Workshops run by Mariu Meneses Betervide. Go to Paula’s page on the AirSpace Projects blog for booking links here

Gallery Two
Vilma Bader
Northern Encounters

Northern Encounters consists of two bodies of work – Käsintehtyjä Suomessa (Handmade in Finland) conceived and made in situ during a residency in Finland and Geometry and Colour System in the Doors of Tallinn researched in Estonia and completed in Australia. The works explore the mnemonic function of linguistics, semiotics and space in the construction of identity.

Käsintehtyjä Suomessa (Handmade in Finland) 2016 is an installation-based work that functions as a collection of visual poems. Made entirely from Finnish birch and spruce, the integrity of the wood is preserved. Paint is used sparingly and expressive gesture and concern for surface textures are retained, juxtaposing the hand of the artist with that of nature.

In Geometry and Colour System in the Doors of Tallinn 2017 the flattening of perspective and focus on geometric shapes and colours collide with the many linguistic metaphors and aphorisms associated with the door.

The Cranny
Sarah Eddowes
Imprints

Sarah Eddowes’ work explores the object as a static imprint of a process of transformation. Coming from a background in animation, she is interested in showing direct movement in her animated work and the extension of this to the implication of change in the static object. Despite the abstract nature of the imagery, it alludes to certain universal processes of change, notably those of the geological and the bodily. The translucency of the wax recalls bodily textures, the organic shapes resemble cells, organs or bruises, and the pervading colours of pinks and cool turquoise are rooted in the tones of the body. Elements of geology such as structural shifts and faults, layering and compression of sediment are also recurring visual features.

The process of slicing is a prominent theme, both as a method of transformation and as a means of revealing a specific view of an object’s interior, much like a geological cross section or a magnetic resonance image (MRI). This process is similarly employed in animation and cinema where an illusion of motion is created by revealing one image at a time. In this way, her static work may be seen as cinematic objects.

Deep Space
Rebecca Shanahan
Home Security

Home Security uses performed actions and self-surveillance to synthesise ideas about temporality, gendered labour and contemporary conditions of existence. Filming herself with security cameras, the artist unravels adult jumpers and uses the yarn to knit children’s hats. Home Security models and reveals the invisible volunteer labour (usually women’s) that underpins capitalist economies yet is unaccounted for. The history of women knitting for others is often political, and this work operates in the current context of global family trauma and displacement. Unfolding in real time, the activities and video meditate on transience and the multiple networked presences of performed and documented everyday life.

2018 Callout

Images top to bottom:
Paula do Prado, Bewitched/Embrujada 2016, fabric collage, 71 x 67cm. Image: Alex Wisser.
Paula do Prado, Rebel/Rebelde 2016, fabric collage, 73 x73cm. Image: Alex Wisser.
Vilma Bader, Geometry and Colour System in the Doors of Tallinn, 2017, acrylic on plywood on 48 panels, each 19 x 11cm. Image courtesy of the artist.
Sarah Eddowes, Cells II, 2016, wax and wood, 25 x 33cm. Image courtesy of the artist.
Rebecca Shanahan, Home Security, 2017. Image: Rebecca Shanahan.
Callout, airspace Projects.

 

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AirSpace Projects is now closed until Friday 2 October, when four new exhibitions activate the space.

Join the artists for opening drinks

Friday 2 October 6-8pm


GALLERY ONE

Marlene Sarroff

Sustained Expansion

Marlene Sarroff Pub shot copy


GALLERY TWO

Allison M. Low

Oddlings

dorothy-web copy 2


THE CRANNY

Marikit Santiago

Altar Ego

Malakas & Maganda copy


DEEP SPACE

Anna Kirk

Optical Avatar

Anna Kirk Pub Shot


Please highlight Upcoming Exhibitions under Exhibitions and Proposals on the AirSpace Projects menu to find out more.


Images top to bottom

Marlene Sarroff, Installation view multiple visions and (mis-steps), 2015. Courtesy of the artist.

Allison M. Low, Dorothy, 2015, graphite and gouache on paper, 90 x 71cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Marikit Santiago, Malakas & Maganda, 2015, acrylic, oil and gold leaf on canvas, 120 x 160cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Anna Kirk, Optical Avatar, 2015. Courtesy of the artist.

All images copyright of the artists ©2015

 

Chai and Cheerio

On Saturday 16 May we will see the closing of two wonderful exhibitions

Ajay Sharma:Past Continuous

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And

Screen Memories: Photographs by Kendal Heyes

screen-memories-2-W copy

Ajay will soon be returning to his studio in Jaipur and Kendal will be making the journey back down the escarpment to the Illawarra.

To celebrate both exhibitions and to give everyone the opportunity to say good-bye to Ajay, and to Kendal, and even hello, we are going to cook up a big pot of delicious chai. This is your chance to catch the final hours of Past Continuous and Screen Memories and to see the incredible accomplishments of Ajay’s students.

Saturday 16 May, 3.30 – 5.00pm

AirSpace Projects, 10 Junction Street, Marrickville

ALL WELCOME!

 

Top image: Ajay Sharma, Hunting Scene, 2015. Image Courtesy of the Artist
Image below: Kendal Heyes, Untitled (Curtain III), 2014. Image courtesy of the Artist.

Air Salon

with

Kaye Shumack

Sunday 22 March, 2.00-4.00pm

Are you a practising artist wanting a space to reflect on your work with others?

This two-hour salon offers practising artists – in any medium – a friendly space for discussion about their works-in-progress. At each salon, artists have the opportunity to speak about their work and to gain insights and feedback from other artists. The intention is to create an open space for dialogue and critique, to support artists in the development of existing and new directions.

The salon will be led by Kaye Shumack, who has over twenty years teaching experience in art and design.

Kaye in studio

Normally the salons will take place on the last Sunday of every month 2-4 pm at Airspace Projects, with no more than 12 participants at each session (the first salon, however, will take place on Sunday March 22). A $10 fee for use of the space will be collected on the day from each participant.

The Premier Salon

Sunday 22 March 2.00-4.00pm

Be a part of it!

The first salon will be fairly informal. If you can, bring a work-in-progress, some thoughts about it, and also some examples of your previous work (digital or hard copy is fine). If you feel like it, bring an image of work by another artist who inspires you in some way.
This will give us some options for discussion.
The plan is to provide some really helpful and positive feedback for everyone, regardless of medium. And have an enjoyable afternoon!

To book a place in the first salon on Sunday March 22, email sally@airspaceprojects.com

We have been busy behind the scenes at AirSpace Projects preparing for the expansion of our space into the indoor driveway and basement next door. It’s been a lot of hard work but we’re almost there! Frank ter Meulen of Dutch Touch did a sterling job building platforms, stairs and walls, we couldn’t have asked for a better job. Then the painting day working bee got underway. Huge thanks to James Nyugen, Veronica Habib, Veronica Shen, Ciaron Begley, Janine Bailey and George. Sally has been refining her concreting skills to fill in various gaps and has just one more coat of paint to do on the floors before it’s pretty much done.

wBeeBrenda Factor feeds the workers

There will be three new exhibition spaces to add to the main gallery: Gallery Two, The Cranny and Deep Space. The spaces vary in size and can be reserved individually or in groupings. We have already received inquiries and while we have not yet called for proposals and uploaded information to our blog, we are accepting proposals and are very happy to discuss the conditions and your ideas with you. Information coming soon on the blog!

We now also have a permanent workshop area. Li Wenmin and her Drawing Through Journey class has tested out the new workshop area and if the resulting drawings are any indication, the space is working brilliantly!

Upcoming Workshops – Soon!

Alex Falkiner will be running her ever-popular workshops Drawing With Thread (un-embroidery) on Sunday 25 January 1.00-4.00pm and Stitching Off The Page (fancy edgings) on Saturday 31 January from 1.00-4.00pm.

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For more information and bookings check eventbrite:

http://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/drawing-with-thread-un-embroidery-tickets-14971832153?aff=erelexporg

http://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/stitching-off-the-page-fancy-edgings-tickets-14971698754?aff=erelexporg


 

Exhibitions

This year’s exhibition program will be commencing with two exhibitions both opening on

Friday 6 February 6.00-8.00pm

Iconoclasts

Lehmann_Berlin.82x75.5cmjpg copy

Yvette Coppersmith
Chelsea Lehmann
Paul Williams
Heidi Yardley

The exhibition Iconoclasts takes the etymology of the word ‘Iconoclast’ literally as a ‘breaker of images’. Artists explore this concept individually and collaboratively with the directive to ‘break’ each other’s images, resulting in paintings that are layered, excavated and ‘Frankensteined’ in the style of exquisite corpse.

Image above: Chelsea Lehmann, Berlin, 201-14. Oil and resin on linen, 82 x 75.5cm. Image courtesy of the artist

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Openings

 To celebrate the opening of the new spaces we are holding a group exhibition where artists choose to respond to the term ‘openings’ in any way they see fit.

Artists include Annie Aitken, Susan Andrews, Janine Bailey, Kylie Banyard, Ciaron Begley, Robert Bennett, Anthony Cahill, Cindy Chen,  Leo Coyte, Rox De Luca, Lynda Draper, Nat Gock, Veronica Habib, Yvette Hamilton, Kendal Heyes, Pollyxenia Joannou, Erin Keys, Hyun-Hee Lee, Glenn Locklee, Fleur MacDonald, Francesca Mataraga, Jacqui Mills and Mike Barnard, Sarah Newall, James Nguyen, Anie Nheu, Emma Price, Catherine Rogers, Nuha Saad, Marlene Sarroff, Kristel Smit, Helen Sturgess …

More on this exhibition coming soon …


Courtyard Residency

Sarah Newall is undertaking a three-month residency from February until the end of April to transform the dilapidated courtyard at the rear of AirSpace Projects into a sustainable gardening project. Where possible she is using recycled materials and even recycling an artwork donated by Francesca Mataraga! The garden will be a work-in-progress and you are welcome to visit during openings and opening hours.

Sarah 1

 


Anie Nheu and Jan Fieldsend

 

11.00am Friday 1 August – 5.00pm Saturday 16 August 2014

Anie Nheu Playbox image 1
Anie Nheu, Crepuscule, 2014. Oil on board, 30 x 25cm. Image Credit: AirSpace Projects

Opening tonight: 6.00 – 8.00pm, 10 Junction Street, Marrickville.

Sydney artists Anie Nheu and Jan Fieldsend work independently then collaboratively to bring together a collection of unlikely objects and materials to stunning effect. While the title Playbox holds childhood associations, this exhibition delves into adult considerations of bodies, emotions, memories and inter-cultural space. Seductive hand painted and drawn surfaces are juxtaposed against industrial and manufactured materials that carry signifiers of culture, place and history. The result is a sophisticated installation crafted with intense deliberation and intelligence.

Informed by the thoughts of the Japanese school of thought Mono-ha (Nheu) and the practice of Ikebana (Fieldsend), extensive time and attention has been paid to the arrangement of things to provide a multi-sensorial experience. Western art history has not been overlooked and references to Minimalism, the Pattern and Decoration Movement and Abstraction abound.

While there is a strong sense of play and collaboration in this installation, playmates Nheu and Fieldsend have left behind a sense of nostalgia, and an emotional residue that is unsettling but fascinating. Works titled Problem Child, Disassembled Monument for a Slow-Motion Dancer and The Tooth Fairy are all shaped and placed in such a way that that it leaves no doubt that this installation is not a consequence of child’s play.

DWR_facebook

revisited

Andrew Frost, Curator of Conquest of Space: Science Fiction and Contemporay Art at Galleries UNSW, was going to open the recent Fly-In Fly-Out exhibition Danger Will Robinson! at AirSpace Projects. Due to an ‘outage’ at Sydney Airport, Andrew was stranded in Brisbane and declared Lost in Space.  Needless to say he did not make the opening.  Andrew did write an opening speech and today, thanks to his generosity, we are able to post it on the AirSpace Projects site.  I have included it here but it’s usual home will be on the Danger Will Robinson! page in Past Exhibitions.

Thanks Andrew.

 

Danger Will Robinson!

Andrew Frost

One of the most critically important science fiction short stories of the modern era was written by someone you’ve probably never heard of – the author’s name is Pamela Zoline and her story is The Heat Death of The Universe.

Published in the July-October 1967 issue of New Worlds magazine and described by the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction as an iconic works of the New Wave, the story has been anthologised at least nine times in various influential short story collections and is now widely available as a PDF online.

Writing in Daughters of The Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the 20th Century, Mary E. Papke describes Zoline’s story:

“Heat Death” might not at first reading strike the reader as science fiction at all. It contains no bug-eyed monsters, interplanetary flights, post-apocalyptic worlds, or technological marvels. It focuses not on outer space as much as it does inner space—notably that of a woman—and the geography of the mundane—that of the home and the supermarket—rather than the fantastic or extraordinary. […] Zoline’s story explores relational spaces, those shared by mothers and children, husbands and wives, domestic economy and the public sphere. The story [extrapolates] from the everyday reality of a middle-class American wife and mother a nightmare vision of endless meaningless routine, demands, and expectations, focusing intently on issues of gender, the ethics of care, and the promise of the future. Within this domestic space, “aliens” appear in the guise of children, the mother-in-law, high and low cultural figures such as Shakespeare and Tony the Tiger, and even, in the most disturbing scenes for the female protagonist, the central character herself.”

Another fascinating aspect to the story was that it was produced by an artist. Zoline who was at the time a 26-year-old American expat living in London interested in radical art and agit-prop and had become a part of author-editor Michael Moorcock’s Notting Hill artist circle. Moorcock was the new editor of the previously staid and formulaic New Worlds magazine and he had quickly turned it into a radical publication with an editorial manifesto that sought to change the very nature of science fiction itself. Around the magazine Moorcock had rallied a group of distinguished writers and critics to help him win support from the British Arts Council to help finance publication. And along with many other artists, Zoline contributed illustrations for New Worlds and Heat Death was the first story she’d written since high school. It appeared in the same month that one of her paintings was exhibited at the Tate Gallery. Zoline was a highly active member of the Notting Hill group both as an artist and writer and she facilitated a number of the group’s more radical excursions outside the strict confines of the SF print genre, among them JG Ballard’s sole foray into becoming an exhibiting avant garde artist – it was Zoline who had curated Ballard’s Crashed Cars exhibition at the Camden New Arts Lab in 1970.

Today the New Wave itself isn’t so well known outside SF circles, but it forms one of the first significant breaks in the otherwise conservative history of the genre. In essence, the New Wave was the intrusion of avant garde and modernist experimentation in both writing styles and subjects of science fiction, but also a tactical alliance with like-minded radicals in visual arts, design, film, media and television.

Form the perspective of the future looking back to the art practices of the 1960s, it’s interesting to note that today the entirety of Zoline’s practice – from painting and illustration to writing and curating – looks like the CV of any number of contemporary artists. But in the late 1960s the silos of creativity were still very much in place and the mainstream of SF was embodied by long running US magazines such as Astounding Science Fiction whose editor John W. Campbell was writing infamous editorials that, for example, called upon the US government to use its troops to fire upon anti-Vietnam war demonstrators. In the heightened political fever of the late 60s, in the era of Paris, Prague and Mexico City, in the era of student unrest and the expanding American wars of South East Asia, science fiction was suddenly torn into two factions – the old guard vs. the new radicals.

The New Wave was a genuinely multi-media avant garde, ironic and self aware, pretentiously sincere and, for about ten years from 1967, a challenge to the orthodoxy of mainstream SF. Like all radical movements it eventually descended into a mannerist phase before fading away completely in the noise of the post Star Wars era that began in 1977. But its effect could still be felt in he subsequent ructions that define the history of recent SF literature – cyberpunk was its spiritual heir in the 1980s and ‘90s and the more recent attempts to kick start a radical agenda in SF such as Mundane SF and or in the New Space Opera, each reflect New Wave’s world view.

Zoline’s story is considered an important work in that tradition of radicality in SF because its form and content anticipated the meta-fictions of post modernism – its narrative the feminist redefinition of SF’s potential subject matter – and if we think of Heat Death as a work of art, it’s a valorization of the value of the everyday while questioning the hetero-orthodoxy of consensus reality.

Science fiction is, in my view, a metagenre – a collection of ideas, themes, tropes and concepts that are easily recognised but devilishly hard to categorise. There’s no single idea or narrative structure that defines it, no setting or relationship that it can’t conceivably contain. SF, like most popular genres, is essentially democratic in the sense that its populism is accessible, and it evolves in response to its audience.

And this is science fiction’s paradox – while it contains within it a vast field of practice and a huge potential for a true multiplicity – it has all like all mass genres a tendency towards a conservatism that is absolute and rigid. My view is that real SF is created from the outside – from the edges – in the zone of the science fictional, that space that produces odd artefacts that might not first appear to be SF but, like Zoline’s story, suggest another future – a space for otherness to flower, to take centre stage and redefine that rule of orthodoxy into a more agreeable and egalitarian present.

© 2014 Andrew Frost

Ajay Sharma: The Speed of Life. It was a wonderful opening night …

Ajay Sharma’s exhibition The Speed of Life opened at AirSpace Projects on Thursday 3 July with much fanfare. The Deputy Mayor of Marrickville Councillor Rosana Tyler introduced Mr Pawan Luthra who spoke so generously about Ajay Sharma’s work. We thought it was well worth posting. The Speed of Life will continue until 5.00pm Saturday 19 July.

Green Horse
Ajay Sharma, Mother Nature (Impairment of Nature) from The Speed of Life series, 2014, pigment on paper, 30.5 x 40cm. Image credit: AirSpace Projects.

Pawan Luthra’s Speech

Deputy Mayor Councillor Rosana Tyler, Ajay Sharma, Sally Clarke, Brenda Factor and guests, thank you for inviting me today.

Growing up in India, we were surrounded by many examples of miniature art. We had them in our homes and in our schools, and often on the walls at work also. It is a great pleasure for me to be here: something that was such an essential part of my childhood, is being appreciated in my new home.

I have never been good at art myself, but as a child I would often wonder at how tedious and painstaking it must have been for the artist to create the paintings that hung in my hallway, and that my mum cherished so much. The margin of error seemed so narrow, and having no confidence in my own fine motor skills, I made up my mind fairly early that I would not enter a field in which my mistakes would be laid bare for easy scrutiny.

And so you will understand, what a privilege it has been for me to meet Ajay Sharma, India’s leading miniaturist. In a career spanning some 40 years, Ajay has devoted himself to keeping alive a centuries’ old tradition. As head of a studio of artists and students in Jaipur that was launched way back in 1984, he is involved in all aspects of the art form, including composition, drawing, conservation, copy work, in the research and preparation of pigments.

He has some fascinating stories to tell about his art, not just the process in which he creates the wasli paper on which the works are made, but also of how in the early days, he made his own paintbrushes: he physically caught the squirrels to extract the fine hair from their tails. He will assure you though, that no squirrels were killed to make up the brushes that created these, or indeed any, of his works.

Ajay has also been instrumental in taking the Rajasthani style of miniature art to some of the world’s leading art institutions, in the form of both exhibitions and workshops. Many non-Indian artists have now taken up the art form.

Interestingly, the theme of his current exhibition, The Speed of Life, finds much parallel with his own life’s work. While he has dedicated his energies to conserving and perpetuating an age-old practice, he sees around him a world that is modernising at fast pace. The Speed of Life is a lament on the loss of traditions and family values, and an increasing disconnect with nature, that such modernisation and globalisation has brought in.

The horse of course, has interesting symbolism. Representing a driving force that carries you through life, it is a symbol not only of life energy, but also of freedom of expression. As such, it turns out to be a perfect medium for Ajay.

As an observer myself of trends in the psycho-social fabric of contemporary India, I do agree with Ajay. The change is quite tumultuous really, and like a tsunami sweeping across the land, it is leaving behind some debris in its aftermath. The particular social problems that have arisen in India recently and made headlines across the world, are an unfortunate side effect of this fast-paced change. I don’t want to bring a sombre note to tonight’s event, but I think this has a significant bearing on the works of art displayed here. They speak of the far-reaching psycho-social implications of rampant and unsustainable modernisation.

Unlike Ajay however, I am a bit more optimistic about India’s youth. My own view is that as a developing country, India is going through an adolescence of sorts, struggling with issues of identity as it grapples with the notions of tradition vs modernisation. It’s going to be interesting to see how the ‘teenage’ India resolves this crisis, but at the end of it, it will evolve into unique selfhood.

India will modernise – it must modernise. And just as Ajay’s particular passion has evolved through Persian, Islamic, Mughal, Rajput, even British, influences, and survived to tell its own tale as an amalgam of all these, yet an independent and innovative art form that can be used to cast a contemporary look on life, India will make it too– with its own particular mix of traditionalism and modernism.

I thank Sally and Brenda in their vision of putting this exhibition together and sharing with all of this the talents of Ajay Sharma.

Thank you.

Pawan Luthra 2014 ©

For more information about this exhibition see Current Exhibition on this site.

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