Review by Hemavathy Guha
October 01, 2018


The Edge
Curated by Yasodhara Dalmia
September 7-22, 2018
Empire Shrine, Bikaner House, New Delhi

Delhi-based art gallery Shrine Empire kicked off their 10th anniversary celebrations by hosting an exhibition – The Edge – which tries to build a South Asia Narrative for art in the region, curated by the art historian Yashodhara Dalmia.

When asked about the selection of artists for this exhibition, Yashodhara Dalmia says ‘Artists all over the subcontinent are reflecting great amiss and despair over their social situation.There is unhappiness about division within the communities, religion and casts.People are extremely polarised.The old notion of ‘divide and rule’ from colonial era has continued and is being accelerated. So, I chose these artists for the following reasons. They are all very good artists and there is a lot of energy in their works. Despair and optimism are depicted in a very vivid way in their works.”

Young Nepalese artist Karan Shresthaechoes his concerns about happenings in Nepal –floods, earthquake, political upheavals and the inability or the lackadaisical attitude of the politiciansthat have failed to respond these crises.Shrestha’s works portraythe angst of people waiting for gas connection, electricity or even waiting for the next calamity,some of them taking to arms and the chasm that divides the rich and the poor. In one of his work he has also shown the plight of Nepalese men who migrate to gulf countries in search of jobs, living in inhuman conditions leading to their untimely death and return in the coffin.He has executed all these works using ink, quill and brush on cotton rag paper. Being a self-taughtartist, his hand exudes the childlike quality.

Suhasini Kejriwalin her work Break, depicts a scene of Chor Bazar in Mumbai where men dismantling automobiles. In the painting with a subdued background and a detailed foreground, she has shown a worker taking a break with a cup of tea. Another artist from Nepal Youdhisthir Maharjanhas exhibited pages from reclaimed books with wordings about death, birth and the sad life of a boy called ‘kitsch’. He has pierced the letters and also has formed geometric symbols denoting sacred spaces says the curator.In his workSong of Love and War, he has cut patterns like a net on the paper and displayed horizontally.

Italian artistNicola Strippoli Tarshito has teamed up with tribal gond artist Anand Kumar Shyam and has created canvases which depict animals and mythical creatures, crossing the river and travelling through the entire world which is depicted by the world map on either side of the river.This work done in the tradtional Gond style is quite simplistic, yet eye-catching.Bangladesh artist Munem Wasifexhibited a set of three monochromatic photographs titled Land of Undefined Territory (2014-15). Although no region is specified,it is a mountainous and isolated one bereft of human beings except for a lone man sleeping and the mark of tyres.The photographs are remarkable for its minute and sharp details.

Sri Lankan artist who is currently based in Delhi,Anoli Perera, has exhibited two works which are digital prints reworked with ink, acrylic and pencil on canvas.In these works, titled Masks IV and V, she has shown the total denial of the harsh realities of life like pollution, decay and urbanisation by the people who are happy and contended in their own personal lives in secured homes.  This is depicted by humans wearing masks and clinging to their own life in the upper portion of the painting.There is also another work displayed like an accordion which is quite a well-executedpiece. As she explained, the work done on tracing paper titled Logbook of Absence, deals with the current exodus of people from their native places leaving behind all their worldly possessions and carrying only their memories. When they return, their memories without the physical remnants,are also fractured. Legs symbolising walking and various personal things have all been drawn and coalesced well. Mumbai-based artist Sujith S.N. has also depicted the same, but in water colour.In his work he juxtaposes star hotels with peasants.

Pakistani artist Waseem Ahmed from Pakistan has exhibited small paintings done with natural pigmentsand tea stains on wasli paper.They depict the common life of people, yet show the turbulence and violence prevalent in subtle manner.The burqa clad women in blue and the learned man with a goat’s head touch upon the satirical element.

Eminent artist Ravinder Reddy’s head that of a dhobi or Dhoban which is painted on polyester, resinand fiberglass, eludes a dignity with the neatly done cofire adorned with flowers, hair pins and ear ornaments and with eyes looking directly at the viewer.

Varunika Saraf’s work titled Nothing Happened Here is a water colour on lokta paper pasted on unprimed canvas.Taking a cue from Persian miniature painting,the painting hasillustrations of people,buildings,atrocities by men in uniform,flames and mountains in pale blue. Tayeba Begum Lipi from Bangladesh has exhibited a work titled Once Upon a Time, which is a chest which reminds one of the old wooden chest in which women keep their personal belongings.Lipi in her trademark styleusesstainless steel razor blades, emphasising the ‘fragile space that a woman occupies’ as the curator puts it.

Gigi Scaria’s painting Truth About Gravitydepicts the overdevelopment and construction in urban and semi urban areas. In his painting,there are three levels of construction and the top has become heavy and the crust of the earth is almost cracking!

Sri Lankan artist JagathWeerasinghe exhibited two paintings, which again show disjointed figures,splattered blood and general despair that one could encounter in Sri Lanka even though the civil war has ended.Veer Munshi has created a papier mache deer titled Protected Innocence in False Dichotomywith the two horns sporting disconnection with a red mosque underneath.The deer with forlorn eyes does not know where to go given the present circumstances there.

Vadodara-based artist Natatraj Sharma in his mixed media work on canvas, Orchid Platina Phase 2,yet again depicts urban development withmulti-story buildings cropping up everywhere.In the middle of it all,a man is enjoying life eating sweets.Pakistani artist Zoya Siddiquiin her interesting work Melancholies of the Migrated has small post cards with texts and photographs, wherein she traces the longing of migrants for things left behind which includes the sounds of azan and mother’s affection.

Delhi-based sculptor Sumedh Rajendran’sexhibits a wall installation, Between Sharp Air. The curatorial note says,“In Sumedh’s workof the fenced and barricaded individuals within steel bars,where like the entrails of the body, one can barely be distinguished from the other, thesense of entrapment remains.’’

Yashodhara Dalmia’scuration elevates this exhibition into a significant show of 2018, embracing artists from the subcontinent and its neigbours!