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April 2009, Newsletter
  Editorial Note
  Body & View - Panel Discussion
  Fact or Fiction
  Did You Know?
 Styles and Forms

  Did You Know?
 Ancient Understanding of Body in Art

January 2009, Newsletter

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April 2009, Newsletter
Did You Know? - Styles and Forms

There could be various styles in which an artist could create “form” in their works of art that suits their idea. Styles are often related to time and space of their origin or concept; but quite often the same styles are used in another time, space and concept. Styles can be frequently adapted and can be used to supplement variety of thoughts. There are several modes of representation, where line could be strong, or colours could be dominating the composition; the form could be bulky or slender and so on.

The history of art has an extensive range of ways in which the body is perceived and represented in art. Though, there are various stylistic distinctions that can be used to formally analyze a work of art. In contemporary times there are many styles available to the artists, and as art has become aware and responsive to society, politics and culture. The artists use variety of techniques and styles of representations that enhance and reflect their response to several issues of self, identity, culture, politics and society. Sometimes, they use a style, often associated with a thought in order to critique the same.

Here we are looking at five such categories often used to understand contemporary art. We are here interested to look at variety of stylization of body in works of art. These categories are often used to read and interpret the style in contemporary art but are not fully sufficient to grasp the full meaning of the work. We here give a glimpse of few categories that serve as helpful tools to understand styles and also see works of few eminent Indian contemporary artists that seem to respond to the same. We are neither trying to allocate stylistic groups to artists, and nor are we saying that they are the best examples of that style. A work of art can be interpreted in several ways; artists work with multiple ideas and any simple classification gives only partial view of the work.

It is where body can be designed to symbolize or illustrate some general ideas of life, death, love, virtue, faith, justice and so on. Use of allegory in art has a long history, but here it can be illustrated with Riyas Komu’s installation.

Video and sculpture Installation 2007

Riyas Komu’s installation brings to the viewer’s naked eye the impact of social disparity, atrocities over the minorities and issues of displacement. The installation is built with clips from the film, ‘Uttara’ that are continuously projected on the centrally placed large piece of concrete in shape of the cross indicating minorities. The stars engraved in it are representative of the power driven people in the society that could be the majority community, religious leaders or political authorities. The projection of a violent scene over the stars is communicative of their cruelty over the marginalized communities. The falling of the projection over the wall hints at the ripples of damage caused on the human psyche and life due to disharmony and conflicts. Objects surrounding the cross: the square, broken statue of mother Teresa and burnt leg of a football player are symbolic of the aftermath of social irresponsibility, inhumane tendencies and the imperialistic power drives.

It is a style that is characteristic by its painstaking details and precision, it rejects the painterly qualities by which individual artist could be recognized and instead create pictures that looked photographic.

Existence of Extinct Acrylic on Canvas 2007

Shibu talks about his works: “Paintings should shock people actually.” He feels that in today’s time, this photographic style of painting is quite tired. Now what he has done is to make it crazy. He has changed the subject matter; he has brought the unreal, impossible, part of imagination into the actual. He uses the photographic style to make the unreal appear real. And play with the very concept of genuine and illusionary.

It relates to ‘motion’ and in art is used to explore possibilities of movement. It can be partly used to introduce the element of time and partly to reflect on the process of mechanization in the modern world.

Mahisasura Acrylic on Canvas 1997

Tyeb Mehta’s powerful depictions of the human figure have large flat areas, body marked with broken lines and a lot of energy. His works embody movement in a peculiar way using curves in the figures, etched lines and mutilated bodies. In 70’s he introduced diagonal into his works that cut across the canvas, giving the figures in it a sense of movement. Symbolically, the fragmented segments of the body is said to create a sense of conflict, raising questions about the identity. Pictorially that conflict seems to be enhanced by the kinetic force added to the body due to the cutting across flat planes of colour.

A very well known style, it is where a form of a body is distorted or exaggerated in order to mock or satirize the subject. Jogen Chowdhury’s paintings employ caricaturist figures that are very differently rendered than the known genre of “cartoon caricature”.

Couple 1 Black Dry Pastel on Paper 2004

With corpulent bodies, beady eyes, and demented expression, his figures embody artist’s choice of satire and grotesque over conventional norms of beauty. To his style, line becomes extremely important and sometimes he uses only a few strokes to introduce a particular personality. His works in general are simple, naïve and playful. He writes for his works: “My painting and drawings are not made; they grow out of me as plant grows.”

It’s a very different combination of draughtsmanship with images that were considered ugly. They were rendered with a chilling photographic clarity designed to highlight the shallow and alienating brutality of modern world. Though, used in the context of western art; recently, it can be observed in the works of K. K. Raghav.

The Dark’s Her Bone Acrylic on Canvas 2008

A very interesting pictorial language is developed by K. K. Raghav, an artist and also a cartoonist. His works challenge many traditional notions of beauty, female nudity, life, love and will. Very destructive, nihilistic but at the same time regenerative; his works are minutely drawn and acutely expressionistic. He says: “I have come to find greater beauty in the flawed body than in the acceptable streamlined form. The concept of female beauty must break down the barriers of mere physicality and enter the realm of the persona and the mind. Mere physical perfection is relegated to the realm of sugar-candy cuteness.”

Sources of Images