Archive for March, 2013

The Renaisaance Society

The University of Chicago

5811 S Ellis Avneue,



In a world full of bombastic imagery where colors have dominated, we have almost forgotten that a world of black and white imagery exists. It seems that B/W world is reduced  only to Art history books or photocopies of B/W Printer (of my school that never seems to work). Nowadays, even people’s hair follow an artist’s color palette.

John Neff recent exhibition at The Renaissance Society of Art is an attempt to bring that bygone era of Black and White photography back in the mainstream. And I believe he nailed it.

The photographs seem to have a character of their own. They speak of being sentimental, nostalgic, sensual, personal and intimate. The entire setting of mounting the photographs on a gray wall and dim lighting makes you enter a personal space. It’s like John Neff is letting us into his private world. The subjects make a reference to landscapes, still life, portraits and abstracts. The one thing that ties them all together is that they are a documentary work of personal lives of his close friends and relatives. The camera used by him is crudely self-built and engineered to suit him. The result is a photograph so awesome that even the glitches are unnoticeable and have ephemeral quality. I guess this renders a mystic aura to his photographs.

One of the best part of the exhibition was that I met Doug Ischar who was going to give a talk next day. Conversation with him helped me understand more on the sentimental value the show had for Doug and John Neff. 


Doug Ischar: Artist and educator. Since the early 1990s, Ischar has worked in sound, video and photography. His work has to single channel videos that address issues surrounding gay identity, desire and loss. Currently an associate professor of photography at UIC, he has exhibited at MCA, chicago; The Wexner Center for Arts, Columbus; Photographers Gallery, London; LACE Los Angeles and Museu de Arte Moderna, Sao Paulo. (you can spot him in the photographs of the show)


“Aye Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahan
Zara Hat Ke Zara Bach Ke, Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan…”

– lyrics, 1956 film C.I.D., performed by Mohammed Rafi and Geeta Dutt.

This is how I guess Sir Sudhir Patwardhan would like to sum up his artist statement. This lecture was a presentation of paintings by Sudhir Patwardhan related to his experience living in a ‘hot and happening’ city like Mumbai. He expresses his remorse at the present condition but his paintings thrives on the issues the city is facing. He is glorifying the ‘present condition’ and elevating it to a artistic level so that people start noticing it.

He also spoke about the mindset an artist should have while creating a scene or any art for that matter. He elaborates this topic by taking into consideration the structure of a painting other than the compositional or formal aspects . By structure he meant how the thoughts are arranged, whether the medium used justifies the subject and whether are we paying the price for drawing the subject (this one was pretty interesting one).

Personally, I was in awe! Meeting a great artist whose works you have only seen in books. Now you are sitting right in front from him. Watching him talk on your favorite subject.

Its like a superhero from a comicbook coming to life. Also to click a snap with him, to ‘show off’ your friends in Facebook.

It cant get better than this!! 😀

Namaste SAIC: Namaste SAIC is a student organization in The School of the Art Institute of Chicago dedicated to promoting cultural unity and social interaction. It celebrates diversity while exposing India as a country and it’s ways of doings. This organization is a conglomeration of the festivals, food, culture, traditions, entertainment, mythology and every fun and interesting aspect of India. You do not have to be Indian or know anything about India to join us! All we ask for is your interest and participation if you’re eager to learn about us.

Nora Taylor: Professor and Alsdorf Chair of South and Southeast Asian Art, Art History, Theory and Criticism (2007); BA, Brown University, 1984, MA, PhD, Cornell University, 1997.


835 S. Wolcott, Rm 144
Chicago, IL 60612-7260 

The location of the Gallery is a bit unusual place but after walking through the works I realized the aptness. Her works easily leads us to believe that they are an ornithological study but they have deep roots of human character (that are bought out slowly). The paintings are related to extinct exotic bird species and mythic unicorn, we can infer humaneness of it to our own lives of having lofty dreams as oppose to what reality is. 

In terms of technical skills the handle of watercolor medium is jaw-dropping (considering the she works in really large format). The use of negative space and fresh vibrant colors bring out the notion of extinction and existence. 

Hope we see your bigger paintings in your next show, soon!

“Since 1989, the influential Delhi-based Sahmat has offered a platform for artists, writers, poets, musicians, actors, and activists to create and present works of art that promote artistic freedom and celebrate secular, egalitarian values.

The collective formed in the weeks after playwright, actor, and activist Safdar Hashmi was fatally attacked by political thugs while performing a street play. In the more than twenty years since, Sahmat has drawn on India’s secular heritageand an expansive group of collaborators to produce a series of projects that engage in important political and social debates through a mix of high art and street culture. This exhibition will introduce Sahmat’s work to the United States through a survey of art and ephemera while assessing the impact this unique—and sometimes controversial—collective has had on contemporary Indian society and artistic practice.

Curators: Jessica Moss, Smart Museum Associate Curator for Contemporary Art, and Ram Rahman, photographer and independent curator.

Support: This exhibition is made possible by The Smart Family Foundation; Helen Zell; the Efroymson Family Fund, a CICF Fund; The Joyce Foundation; and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Larry & Marilyn Fields; Barbara Fosco, The Fosco Family Foundation; and Lisa and Michael Kornick.”



When I was standing in front of the Artworks I was literally standing on my toes. Simply because back in India I had little or no understanding of art and now, standing in front of the artworks of Jatin Das, Atul Dodiya, Rumana Shaikh, Subodh Gupta and other biggies of Indian Art world and knowing what they have done, there was a “WOW” feeling inside me. I cant write much about it or give a review of the works because…..

……I’m speechless.

I really cant define the effect Indian Art has on me, there is something that I just  cant express. I had my mouth wide open and eyes as big as tennis balls. (no wonder why the gallery assistant was smiling at me). I was like the Alice in wonderland. Just stunned, amazed, at the grandiose works.

The recent lecture of the lecture series ‘Conversations with art and science’ at SAIC was given by Nicholas Negroponte.

Who is Nicholas Negroponte???
well for those who don’t know him he is kinda the Picasso of the ‘art and tech’ world. The one who initiated the one laptop per child program and he is the founding brain behind MIT media labs (that’s why I called him Picasso).

The lecture was mainly on his entrepreneurial journey of ‘one laptop per child program’, how he went about in doing it, the challenges he met, his failures and the future of that entrepreneurship program. He talked about computer is the marriage of art and science. He also talked about the history of MIT media lab sprinkled with anecdotes of how critics mocked the experiments conducted at MIT labs in 1980s and Steve jobs & other visionaries, identifying their potential, supported them.
The thought provoking topic he touched as an entrepreneur was defining the difference between a market and a mission. We can’t cater the needs of both the worlds: profit and non profit sector (that are like north and south poles). This is an important aspect, of classifying your business idea early on and whatever choice we make it doesn’t matter.
If your business idea is gonna save the world you’ll be the SuperMan, GREAT!!! If its gonna save the stock market and you’ll be the Steve Jobs(indirectly Superman).

PS: Today’s world is driven by stock market. But being batman is an option that doesn’t exist. (According Mr. Negroponte’s theory)