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bCA Galleries would like to wish all its Indian readers a very happy Diwali. To our non Indian readers, we would like to explain that Diwali is the festival of lights celebrated in India to mark the triumph of good over evil. As always, we would like to increase the awareness of Indian art globally. This issue carries as the lead article the various symbols seen in Indian art and their various interpretations. For those who believe, like us, that art is the perfect gift, we have introduced the bCA Galleries Gift Certificate. Also, look out for the new features on our website…

Indian Art – Truly ‘Symbolic’

s

Right from the time of the Egyptian hieroglyphic symbols have been an important tool for conveying thoughts and ideas between individuals. While some symbols have been closely guarded secret to be shared only between members of a particular sect, others have been more or less universal. Artists have also used symbols to define a thought process in their art. The best seller The Da Vinci Code would have us believe that all of Leonardo Da Vinci’s works were in a sense a symbolic subterfuge and encrypted messages being passed onto a secret society. Indian art too is replete with symbols. In fact in India art symbols tend to be associated with superstitions believed to attract good fortune and repel evil.

We could enumerate some of the more common symbols that recur in Indian art and their associated ideologies:

The Dot (Bindu): The dot, in its many variations is the most common and oft use symbol in Indian art, and still finds pride of place in contemporary art. It is regaled by Indian philosophers as source of light and energy. Besides, most all creative activity, be it writing or painting originate from a point or a single nucleus. It has also been used to define a point of meditation where you focus all your energies on that one point or ‘dot’ in front of you oblivious to all. The artist who has immortalised the ‘bindu’ in contemporary art is S H Raza, who used it along with other geometric forms to create his artworks. When rendered as a circle, the dot can also be interpreted to mean infinity and wholeness. It is the shape of all celestial bodies like the sun and moon and also represents divinity.

The Lotus: This is one that is very visible in most sculptures, carvings on temple walls and used by artists even today to denote purity. The logic is simple – just as the lotus grows in muck and marshy water but rises above it and retains its pristine colours, so too do enlightened souls remain pure and ethereal even while living in the world where corruption and violence abound. The Hindu god of creation Brahma is always shown seated on a lotus. At the same time, when a lotus bud is rendered in a semi-open state it represents spiritual realisation. When teamed with Goddess Laxmi (the goddess of wealth), a cascade of lotus buds represents plenty. A simile sometimes drawn between the lotus and the feet of God, for the Mahayana sect of Buddhists, every soul emerges from a lotus. Though the lotus is a predominantly Hindu symbol, it also finds pride of place in Mughal miniatures and sculptural carvings. In fact, the Taj Mahal, the pride of Indian architecture was built by a Muslim ruler and its central dome is designed as an inverted lotus resting on its petals. Little wonder then that the lotus is India’s national flower.

The Sun (Surya): The Sun represents everlasting glory. It was used extensively on the shields and insignia of royalty. There is sometimes a conjugal representation of the sun and moon in some sculptures and paintings, the symbolism stems from the fact that these two celestial bodies are believed to be immortal and even today when some great personality or hero is remembered the slogan chanted is, “as long as there are the sun and the moon, you will live forever in our thoughts” (rough translation). In contemporary Indian art, the sun still finds place as a symbolic representation. Another interpretation for the Sun is an agent of purification. The sun’s rays can burn all impure objects; homes are often opened to allow the sun’s rays to enter in the day time, where the sun is considered a ‘mitra’ or friend of the living. Even the ‘suryanamaskar’ a yogic pose offers homage to the Sun and its healing powers – destroying all that is decadent and impure.

The Wheel (Chakra): The wheel is a symbol closely related to the sun. In some art it is used to represent the sun as it traverses the skies. In the famous Konark Sun Temple in the Indian state of Orissa, the Sun God is shown travelling across the heavens in this chariot, the focal point of the temple are it decorated wheels. The wheel can also be interpreted to mean destruction as the Hindu God Vishnu is believed to use his ‘chakra’ to vanquish evil demons. In the annals of meditation, the chakra represents the centre of psychic energy in the body.

The Swastik: This is one symbol that evokes myriad emotions in people across the world, depending upon which culture you hail from. For the Indians it represents something most holy, every household will have a swastika at the doorway. It is said to represent the Sun and the four directions. The Swastik also represents creativity and continuity, the symbol is believed to be derived from the weaving of baskets where the ends of a simple cross design are turned to the right to form a swastika. For the Europeans who have lived through the Second World War, the Swastik represents of the Nazis and their racistic ideology. For them the Swastik stood for "race emblem of Germanism", the reason why the German Swastik ‘moved’ in a direction opposite to the Indian one is because it was it was interpreted as the representation of the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of the idea of creative work, which as such always has been and always will be anti-Semitic [Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler]

The Pot (Kalash): The Kalash or the Indian pot is yet another symbol used extensively in decorating Indian architecture and also in contemporary art. The ‘pot’ cannot be considered uniquely Indian though as it has been symbolically associated with other riverside civilizations. The pot is always considered to be filled with water, in some instances it be rendered with water or milk flowing from it. In all instances the pot represents fertility and the source of life. Sometimes the pot may have the symbols of two eyes across it, this can be interpreted to mean divinity and omniscience of even denote day and night. It also represents the contradictory concepts of fragility and strength which is how we view the concept of Nature. The earthen pot has for this reason been chosen as the symbol of the Ecomark – eco-friendly logo for products by the Indian government.

Footprints: Through the ages, Gods have been represented in Indian art in the form of footprints. They are specially used to depict the Hindu God Vishnu – the protector. The Buddhists also use the footprint symbol to represent the Buddha. This symbol is sometimes rendered in the form of the ‘padukam’ or ‘khadau’ – the traditional name for the wooden Indian slipper.

The Tree: This is one symbol that is universal across the globe, representing life, hope, prosperity. It is seen as a link between the earth, the heavens and the netherworld. The tree with its rejuvenating properties is also seen as a symbol of health. The Indian art normally depicts a banyan tree which is symbolic of growth and prosperity. When the peepul tree is depicted it takes in religious tones as with the Bodhi tree which is equated with knowledge by the Buddhists as it was under this tree that the Buddha is believed to have received enlightenment.

Snakes: The serpent is regarded differently as the divine and the harbinger of death. The snake symbol represents power, sexuality and rejuvenation. The snake in Indian art is also regarded as a protector and guardian. The symbol of two serpents intertwined represents fertility. The snake symbol is a particularly potent one as it combines strength with danger.
There are other symbols that have been employed in Indian art through the ages and are still used today albeit in a more contemporary form. The artists can have their own reasoning behind employing a certain symbol as well. But when it comes to traditional art, each symbol tells its own story and when one reads the logic behind the symbol, the pictographic story reveals itself to us quite clearly. At festival time, like Diwali (the festival of lights in the month of October), many Indian households create patterns from powdered limestone on the threshold and use these age-old symbols which will welcome good energies and repel evil from their homes.

In fact, we at bCA Galleries have used the ‘b’ in our gallery name to denote the ‘bee’. As it represents cooperation, diligence and productivity, it symbolizes our company, its staff and its work ethic completely!

~ Razvin Namdarian

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Snippets

ArtSummit
Beijing Art Salon08
The India Art Summit, Delhi
Beijing Art Salon 2008

Indian Art Summit: Art fairs are getting an Indian flavor as well. When the Art Trust under the aegis of Vikram Sethi launched its first art fair in Mumbai; this time its Delhi’s turn. Supported by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and Sotheby’s the art summit was organized by Hanmer Group in August. The summit aimed to “help internationalize, organize, upgrade and regularize the art market in India by providing a common platform to engage and network with artists, art lovers, collectors & other industry associates.” One of those present was Philip Hoffman who runs the Fine Art Fund based in London, he said "I think Indian art is a one-way bet in the long term. That's why I will allocate money to it…If you look 50 years down the line, what you pay now is peanuts compared to what you will have to pay for the great Indian artists." We agree of course and this is especially true of the young, talented artists we promote, after all M F Hussain, S H Raza were also once in the ranks of the young and talented. Incidentally, Hussain was most conspicuous by his absence at the event.


Its raining art fairs, or so it would seem in neighbouring China, the Beijing Art Salon 2008 is scheduled to be held in China World Trade Center from 30th September to 4th October, 2008.

Besides, China will also host the 7th Shanghai Biennale TRANSLOCALMOTION, from 9th September to 16th November. About 61 artists and artist groups from 21 countries and regions will take part in the event. The theme of the biennale will be to examine “the dynamic urban space and inhabitants against the background of urbanization. It reflects on the issues of migration, as well as the social, economic, and cultural implications of urbanization. Aware of both the challenges and opportunities in the urbanization process, the exhibition explores how urban growth will contribute to our life.”

October will be the month when one of the most popular art fairs in Asia will be hosted. The ArtSingapore is both a trade fair and the place for art collectors to discover and acquire new artworks under one roof. Since the first fair in 2000, ARTSingapore has established a reputation as the place to see contemporary art and museum-quality pieces in Asia. Here, leading art galleries launch new pieces by young artists that will set the trend for the next few years. The dates are set for 9th – 13th October.

Art for Healing: Everyone has heard of and believe that art, that is good art, has the power to move us on an emotional level. Now studies find that art can also be therapeutic for patients who are hospitalised. Researchers at the University of Bari in Italy proved a link between a pleasant environment and distraction from physical pain. A team headed by Prof Maria de Tommaso asked a group of men and women to pick 20 paintings that they considered the most beautiful and most ugly, from an array of works by artists such as da Vinci and Botticelli. They were then asked to contemplate the beautiful paintings, the ugly paintings or a blank panel while being zapped by a short laser pulse on their hand, which gave a pinprick of pain. The participants in the study rated the pain as being a third less intense when they were looking at what they considered beautiful paintings - and these experiences were confirmed by electrodes measuring the brain's electrical activity. So if ever you need a reason to buy art – this surely is one!

Regular Features

Interesting exhibitions seen in the past
Artist in focus

The city has been flooded with exhibitions in the past few weeks. Here is the few which we found interesting…

Read more…

Interesting Feature
In each issue we will feature an interesting feature in our website. This will help you get more information and keep you updated. This time we will tell you 'How to…'

Read more…

Artists who have associated with us in the past 3 months
Our family of artists has been growing rapidly over the past months. The following are the artists who have joined us in the past 3 months…

Read more…

Art Extract
This section of our newsletter is towards increasing the knowledge and understanding of art for the lay person. Here you will find terminology, techniques of art explained. This time we explore...

Read more…

bCA Forum-
When is the next exhibition at bCA Galleries and how do I take part?bCA Galleries has a set up a small gallery...

Read more…

Kazi Salahuddin Ahmed

Kazi

His works are a’maz’ing – pun intended. That is because Kazi Ahmed paints cities – the living, breathing evolution of a city as it grows to accommodate the ever increasing flux of humanity. One could get lost in the twists and turns of his canvases. We bring you an interview with the artist who leads us on a journey of exploration through his ‘urban-scapes.’

Read More…

Contest for October 2008

In celebration of the festival of lights, bCA Galleries is declaring the theme of this issue’s contest – ‘Light’.


We are proud to announce that Fantasie Chocolates will be sponsoring two wonderful chocolate hampers as the prizes for the winner and runner up in the contest.
All photographers and all that enjoy photography are welcome to send in their interpretation of the theme of light which could mean a sunrise, a candle in the wind or the exuberance of a firecracker.
All entries should reach us by 15th November 2008
To participate kindly read the contest’s rules and regulation on our website:

‘How to participate in contests’

Stop Press

bCA Gallery space

Exhibition of Kazi Salahuddin Ahmed: bCA Galleries is proud to announce that we have now created our own gallery space at Prabhadevi. The first exhibition...

Read more…

Stoppress2

Artist in Focus – Kazi Salahuddin Ahmed

Kazi Big

His works are a’maz’ing – pun intended. That is because Kazi Ahmed paints cities – the living, breathing evolution of a city as it grows to accommodate the ever increasing flux of humanity. One could get lost in the twists and turns of his canvases. We bring you an interview with the artist who leads us on a journey of exploration through his ‘urban-scapes.’

What inspired you to become an artist?
I find that art and its creation presents a very liberating experience. Even as a child I would paint and lose myself in the stories I created in my paintings. In a sense you could say that they were my refuge from the mundane aspects of school and daily chores. However, I did not initially consider taking up art as a profession. I studied my Masters in International Relations from Dhaka University. Pretty soon I realized that the corporate life was not for me. I then decided to paint as a free lance artist and am once again enjoying the freedom it grants me.

Is it difficult being an artist in a developing country like Bangladesh? Are you given any encouragement from the state?
To make it as an artist would probably be difficult in any country. Perhaps it is more so in Bangladesh because the art market or industry as it were has not yet evolved here. The reason I am working here as an artist against all odds and making a mark for myself is because of my love for art, I enjoy what I do. I firmly believe in the adage that you like what you do, it never feels like work. The government does try to do its best for the artists of my country. It organizes exhibitions like – the National Young Asian Biennial, workshops, and seminars on art and helps us participate in exhibition abroad as well.

Here in India well known artists have the status of celebrities, how is the situation in Bangladesh?
In India, especially Mumbai, what I have seen, the scene is that if a big gallery or curator does a show, they have a big party and the press makes a big deal of the page 3 celebrities who attend the show. This is irrespective of whether the artist is known or the artworks are really exceptional. In Bangladesh it only the very established artists who have the status of celebrities.

What would a typical exhibition of art in Bangladesh be like?
Art work of Bangladesh is very Modern - in both objective and non objective art. We have seen the rise in popularity of installation art. When it comes to art appreciation, the art lovers of Bangladesh have also taken to Print, Sculpture, Video, Photography, Digital art as well.

Regarding your own personal style, why have you chosen the subject Urbanization?
Unlike popular perception of artists coming out of developing cities, I have not had any form of rural or village exposure. I was born and brought up in ‘urbania’ a city-brat if you may. And like any other artist worth his salt, I paint what is deep rooted in me, what I know and understand. I think it is very important for an artist to paint that which is close to his heart, a subject that moves him on an emotional level. It is only then that he will feel inspired and seek to do the best he can to portray his muse.

Would you say that your artworks are based on actual city maps or even as some would find Google Earth?
I think anyone seeking to find a comparison between my works and any city maps or Google Earth will be pursuing a futile task. My art is from within me, perhaps it may be from memories of the areas I grew up in, their slow evolution as the wheels of development, progress caught up with them, the changing silhouette of the city. I try to portray all that in my works. For the lay person my work may seem like an aerial view of a city, a block of lifeless buildings, but to me and to those who know art, it tells the story of life.

One finds a lack of greenery or nature in your works is that symbolic are you trying to convey a message?
Yes, my work does have an environmental message as well. I want to convey that development without proper planning is like taking two steps backwards. I have seen the destruction of trees, grabbing of paddy fields for setting up housing schemes, pollution in our rivers and lakes, it is quite depressing to see what we are doing to our planet.

How long have you been working on this subject? Do you feel that there is more to explore here?
I have been working and painting this subject for the last 20 years. Yet I feel there is still so much more for me to say to do. My city has a message to convey to the world and I am its medium. I cannot rest until I have achieved it at least in some measure.

You choose to work with oils – any particular reason the medium appeals to you?
I feel very comfortable with oils. I know many artists who used to work with oils have moved to acrylics because oils require a lot of patience. But I have also have used other mediums to express my creativity like collage, acrylic, and even installation.

Where do you see your art evolving 10 years from now?
It is not possible for me to predict what form my art will take after 10 years. I feel there is a new movement in every canvas that I paint, in every new creation; perhaps there will be a complete metamorphosis in a decade. But no matter what the product, it will always be a result of my faith and my belief in myself and the fact that I will always be true to the spirit of art in its purest form.

This is an artist with a soul and a deep understanding and sensitivity to the state of the world. A man of few words he communicates through his art which is expressive and evocative and needs to be experienced first hand.

~ Razvin Namdarian

Interesting Exhibitions seen in the past 3 months

VinodSharma BaptistCeolho

Shiva At Ashish Balram Nagpal Galleries

Shiva – Many perceive him to be the destroyer, but for artist he represents all the is vigorous and sexual. The concept of presenting a God in a modern form which is appealing to the ‘now’ generation is novel in itself. But the artist forges into the world of science fiction when he conjectures that all the Gods we worship could possibly be alien visitors who had come to our planet centuries ago and which the humans for want of a better word had called Gods. While we will not enter into a debate on religion, we have to state that as gods go, this is one whom many may want to worship. Dharr has an amazing control over physicality little wonder when you realize that he has studied medicine. As far as figurative works go, this is one exhibition that raises the bar.

Recent worksby Shreyas Karle, Sandip Pisalkar, Hemali Bhuta, Bhuvanesh Gowda, Baptist Coelho and Leon At Project88

As far as group shows go, there is little to link the artists or their artworks. So if you go there expecting a theme or an underlying philosophy to the exhibition, you are going to be disappointed. But this is true of most all group shows these days. The works are if one might say – entertaining, especially if one spends time to ‘explore’ Shreyas Karle’s works. Leon’s creations are electrifying while Hemali Bhuta’s installation showing the ‘money plant’ in a typically urban setting has its merits. Sandip Pisalkar’s ‘canon’ and ‘charkha’ may try to make a statement and are an attempt to repeat Subodh Gupta’s success at conceptual art but fail to ignite a spark of creativity.

Vinod Sharma at Jehangir Art Gallery

Vinod Sharma’s landscapes or ‘rockscapes’ are a study in contradictions. They are landscapes that blend with the abstract. They pulsate with life even as they represent the bleakness of a desert. They take you from the dull regions of shadows into the bright piercing blue of an icy mountain. These works are invite and beguile the viewer to enter the barren world which is inhabited by myriad emotions. One understands what it means to get lost in the wilderness, to be one with nature to enjoy the purity of a land which man has not tread upon. Besides it is rare these days to find art that manages to satisfy the ranks of those seeking both decorative and ‘good’ art. If asked to define his works in a single phrase, it would have to be ‘visual poetry.’

Alchemist at Tao

It is not often that one comes across a book that inspires millions. Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist is one such book. Not only has it forced its readers to rethink their lives and the way to reach their ambitions but now it also inspires art. 5 photographers take on the challenge to provide their interpretation of The Alchemist in their own unique style. So while Ashok Roy finds his answers to life’s mysteries in fiery streaks, Amit Mehra seeks it in the cold aloofness of ice. Vinay Mahidhar seems to capture the futility of the ‘rat race’ in his reflective works. And Ashok Dilwali seeks solace in the calming influence of nature, even as Ashvin Mehta turns to the sea.

Interesting Features- Top 20s, New improved zoom...

top20s

Top 20s:
Ever wanted to know who are the most viewed artists, artworks…of all time and of the month on the bCA Galleries website? Well we certainly did! So now we have introduced the Top 20s feature on www.bcagalleries.com/top20.asp. This works well for clients who wish to focus on the more popular artists as well as for the artists who will know just how they feature in the scheme of things.

New improved Zooming feature:
bCA Galleries has very strongly felt that some artworks which involve a lot of detailing, layering etc, are not able to get a proper viewing based on an on-line image. Hence – the zooming feature. Just scroll the mouse on the image of any artwork and let it reveal its hidden depths to you. This is truly bringing the art into your homes.

Zooming feature

Gift Certificate:
Gifting art makes for a novel and interesting gift. But often one is faced with the dilemma of knowing the persons tastes and preferences in art. bCA Galleries offers you the perfect solution – The Gift Certificate. We are probably the only gallery to offer this service and all because we understand the needs and requirements of our readers. As an introductory offer, we will be providing a 20% bonus on the value specified by our client on the first 10 purchases of the Gift Certificate. Take advantage!!

Artefacts:
We realize that decorative art is as essential as other forms of artistic expressions. Hence for all our customers who wish to display authentic, classic pieces of art or sculpture in their homes we provide for the sale of all such ‘Artefacts” and art deco items through bShop. To start with we have some unusual Buddha carvings that would be perfect for home or office. Especially for all of you with a yen for ‘feng shiu’ they are ideal, well crafted and unusual!

Artists who have associated with us in the past 3 months

collage
Our family of artists has been growing rapidly over the past months. The following are the artists who have joined us in the past 3 months

Ajit Choudhary
Alok Porwal
Aloke Kumar Paul
Arunabha Ghosh
Ashutosh Apte
Aswad Tamboli
Atish Tamgadge
Atul Dake
Balu Sadalge
Bhupat Dudi
Bhupesh Godkar
Dayanand Kamakar
D'mello Philip Victor
Ganesh Gorintala
Gorakhnath Shinde
Harvinder Singh
Jignesh Panchal
Jimmy Chishi
Joydeep Chatterjee
K.C. Patel
K.Prakash Raman
Khanderao R. Pawar
Maheshkumar Reddy
Mohan Shingane
Neeti Hegde
Nilmoni Chatterjee
Parul Shah

Piu Sarkar
Pradeep Nerurkar
Prakash Nayak
Priya Pariyani
Rajani Shingane
Rajesh Deoria
Rakesh Bani
Ramesh Mehta
Renu Parkhi
Sabita Kundu
Sandhya Arvind
Sanjiivv Sankpal
SatyaDheer Singh
Sharad Sonkusale
Shilpa PanditPatole
Soumya Chavan
Sujit Das
Sunil Kumar
Suruchi Jamkar
Sushanta Kundu
Susmita Adhya
SwapanKumar Mallick
Tapas Gangopadhyay
Varna Sindhu
Vikesh Jandial
Yashwant Pawar
Yolanda De'sousa


The artists have been listed in alphabetical order.

Art Extract: Tantric Art and Neo-Tantricism

Tantra

Tantra, despite of all the unfound ‘voodoo’ connotations it has come to be associated with, is nothing but another path that was advocated to reach Gods and Goddesses through certain modes of worship, prayer and rituals. The practice of Tantra art is actually a process of spiritual discovery by the artist. The geometric shapes of Tantra are believed to help one achieve self-realisation. Tantra art is but another form of abstract symbolism.

Many artists in the 20th century have drawn inspiration from the Tantra spirituality to evolve an art form called Neo-Tantricism. Each artist has picked on certain vital elements of Tantra to come up with his own individualistic style. One might even define it as a meeting of Tantra and Science. The most famous amongst them being S H Raza who used the element of the ‘Bindu’ as the germinal point of most of his artworks. Shankar Palshikar’s artworks focused on the resonance of Tantric chants while Biren De captured the glow of light emanating from Tantric diagrams. While in the modern day, people speak of Tantric sex, this aspect of Tantra also fascinated artist Ghulam Rasoool Santosh.

bCA Forum

forum

When is the next exhibition at bCA Galleries and how do I take part?
bCA Galleries has a set up a small gallery space in our office in Prabhadevi. We have started with the show of a foreign, Bangladeshi artist. Mainly we would be showing the works of non -Indian artists in keeping with our gallery vision. However, we will be showing the works of young, talented Indian artists especially those who are not based in Mumbai to give them an opportunity to showcase their talent to a broader audience. The exhibitions are held for the duration of a month.


“… the gallery not only gives me regular updates on the artists I find interesting, but also helps me stay informed about the art world through their quarterly magazine.” Castelnuovo Cristian

Stop Press

Stoppress2

Exhibition of Kazi Salahuddin Ahmed:bCA Galleries is proud to announce that we have now created our own gallery space at Prabhadevi. The first exhibition here is of the Bangladeshi artist – Kazi Ahmed, whose artworks representing cityscapes with a difference will be on display till the 15th of October. In keeping with the bCA Galleries of bringing foreign art to the Indian buyer, the works have been priced quite reasonably and make for an attractive investment. Kazi Ahmed is also the Artist in Focus for our current magazine issue.


Just last month bCA Galleries had reported on the case of a fake Subodh Gupta work creating a shock in the art world….click here. Now the art industry is reeling with the news of fake J Swaminathan paintings doing the rounds of the galleries and auction houses. We cannot stress enough that one should only purchase from a gallery that has a direct association with the artist and provides a certificate of authenticity.

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  • Our Quarterly magazine is sent out by us to over 2,000 recipients including artists, galleries and art collectors. That’s 2,000 people who are interested in art and are guaranteed to read your advertisement!
  • You could place a link to your website in our Magazine which will be active for 3 months.

Interested! Write to us at info@bcagalleries.com for more information.



 
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