In 1963, Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy founded Gallery Chemould, one of India’s oldest commercial art spaces. Since then, the gallery has nurtured and represented many of the country’s leading artists. Initially housed on the first floor of Bombay’s Jehangir Art Gallery, Gallery Chemould held historic, first solo exhibitions of several generations of India’s most prominent artists, including Tyeb Mehta, Bhupen Khakhar, Atul Dodiya, Anju Dodiya, and Jitish Kallat, Mithu Sen, LN Tallur and several others. In 2007, Chemould Prescott Road moved into a large loft-like space at Prescott Road and continues to be central to the art world. Under the directorship of Shireen Gandhy since 1988, Chemould Prescott Road has expanded its roster of artists to represent those working in experimental work, and its exhibition program spans younger, mid-career, and senior artists.
Reena Kallat is an internationally-renowned artist who returns to Mumbai this year after a gap of 4 years to showcase her art works at a solo show in Chemould Prescott Road. Her work is currently being exhibited at the ICA Boston, Museu Oscar Niemeyer. Previously, she has had her art works showcased all over the world, which includes an exhibition at the Manchester Museum, and a flurry of exhibitions in venues as varied as the Museum of Modern Art New York, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and Havanna Biennale.
Reena has not restricted herself to one particular medium, and has continued to express herself through various mediums like drawing, photography, sculpture, and video. She makes it a point to give a unique conceptual dimension to each of the mediums by playing with ideas and themes like the plausibility of physical man-made demarcations (borders) between countries, geography, landscape, identity, memory, history and the natural world. Over the last several years, Reena Kallat has used the border, the territory and the map as motifs that point to broad historical narratives as well as the manner in which human kind have left the imprint of history on the geography of the world.
In the solo exhibition, she explores this theme through four art works in different media.
In a suite of six drawings titled Leaking Lines (2018-19), Reena intentionally conflates the ‘line’, a primary artistic device with epic territorial delineations. Here, tense international borders and fortifications during wars appear like charred fissures on the surface of the paper.
The “Chorus” (2018-19) is modelled on pre-radar acoustic devices used to track sounds of enemy aircrafts during the Second World War. In order to subvert the notions of war, Reena introduces bird calls from border-sharing countries either politically partitioned or in conflict, such as the Hoopoe bird (national bird of Israel) singing to the Palestinian Sunbird (national bird of Palestine), the Peacock (from India) communicating with the Doyel (from Bangladesh), and the Crested Caracara (national bird from Mexico) singing in unison with the Eagle (national bird of US).
In an art work titled “Shifting Ecotone-2”, landscapes are constructed with rivers at the heart of contestation between countries or the seas from contested border lands. In the art installation, these landscapes are shown to become unstable, beginning to shuffle and scatter, as if it is a part of a child’s puzzle board. The title alludes to the transitional space between biomes where biodiversity proliferates or wherein two communities might meet and integrate.
In the art work titled Blind Spots (2018-19), Reena Kallat deploys the preambles of the constitutions of seven pairs of warring nations from around the world as Snellen eye charts used by optometrists to measure vision. As the founding promises of hostile nation-states are revealed in the form of pyramids with disjointed letters, words common to both constitutions in each pair morph into Braille-like dots. The dots lack the haptic element that makes Braille legible, thus rendering the words inaccessible both to the sighted and the blind. The parts thus obscured express universal values such as freedom, democracy, justice, and equality, shared by the constitutions of most modern nation states. The artist alludes to the metaphor of having lost sight of these shared values and common aspirations by posing a ‘test of vision’ that invites audiences to reflect back on promises that have slipped from collective memory amidst years of political rhetoric and myopic competition between states.
The preview will be taking place on 29th November, with a Q&A session with the artist.
Dates: 29th November (Preview) - 28th December [Monday to Saturday\
Venue: Chemould Prescott Road
Timing: 11am to 7pm
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