Kiran Nadar Museum of Art

April 23, 2015 -  Nov 29, 2015

Constructs Constructions
The museum's collection has been the point of inspiration for the exhibition, "Construct Constructions". The exhibition presents a resonance, a deeper interrogation of the urban condition, of built structures around us, and psychological constructs in the everyday.  
Constructs Constructions
The exhibition brings together 30 artists across-generations to address the passage/process that moves a creative work from the realm of a mental construct into that of a constructed image/reality. It focuses on the close relationship between the act of making and the manifestation of thought and ideas.
Constructs Constructions
Several of the works invite viewers to enter into assembled/built environments of different spatial units, carefully constructed for a specific experience. Like mirages, they propose to displace the viewer from their current position, whilst asking for a re-examination of the materiality of the worlds we inhabit. As temporary insertions, the works in the exhibition propose on one hand to reflect on the massive outgrowth and the new clusters accumulating in our globalized, networked, urban condition, and on the other invite strategies of absorption and engagement with multiple histories,and belongings that artists trace and dwell on.

Dayanita Singh's 'Museum of Vitrines', consist of five teak-wood structures bearing an arrangement of photographs that can be reconfigured, allowing a new narrative to emerge.

Veni, Vidi, Vici ( I Came, I Saw, I Conquered)
The work explores the many interpretations of the term, ‘conquest’ at a microcosmic and macrocosmic level. Tallur tell us how the reference to the roof-tiles, comes from a tile factory set up 200 years ago by a Christian missionary group. The factory while providing employment, also stood for the prevailing of one religion over another.  

There seems to be a sustained tie between religion and economics from the past up until now. After WWII, the tile factory came under British supervision adding yet another layer to the history of conquest.

But conquest can also mean the surmounting of odds. Hatha Yoga, implied here by the sculptural forms, professes to teach the overcoming of diseases, bodily urges, the aging process, and natural life-spans, in a way defeating the most powerful advisory, Time itself.

Veni, Vidi, Vici ( I Came, I Saw, I Conquered)

8’ x 12’
The impressive installation invites viewers to enter into an 8 by 12 feet interior space, which is the size of an average house in Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum. The three adjoining walls and ceiling present an aerial view of the slum. 

Maquettes of houses made from aluminium sheets, car scraps, enamel paint, tarpaulins, pieces of metal, and found objects cover every inch of the inner walls and ceiling. The physicality of the installation and the strange co-existence of interiority and exteriority is violent and disorientating.

As the viewer hesitantly adjusts to this discomfiting arrangement,they begin to pick out carefully constructed details. Temples and mosques, few high-rise towers amid a swarm of small dwellings, a wired meshwork of street lamps, and TV antennas inhabit this space, lending a sober beauty to the squalor.

Masooma Syed's five architectural maquettes function like stage-sets where intense dramas from different times, cultures, histories of colonialism, and globalisation unfold.

Masooma constructs these works by cutting shapes out of cardboard packaging of alcoholic beverages and sourcing images from magazine and print media as well as her own archive of images and personal photographs. The five works are like stages where collision of past and present happens.

Nandita Kumar creates installations, interactive sculptures, and animations, integrating technology with(in) natural landscapes. She often uses biomimcry as a design method in her work.

'Element Earth' is an interactive sculpture in the form of a miniaturized garden inside a glass jar fashioned from circuits, tiny speakers, and sensors. Once exposed to an external light source, the sculpture produces recorded and natural sounds.

Pooja Iranna’s fascination with architectural forms, grids, and labyrinths of man-made structures is reflected in her paintings and sculptures.

By using stapler pins as her primary material and undergoing the tedious process of pasting individual pins together, Iranna meditatively creates imaginary architectural forms that resemble models of futuristic buildings.

Simryn Gill’s personal experience of displacement and forging relationships with new cultural environments greatly informs her artistic practice. She is sensitive to metaphors and the realities of grafting of plants, people, objects and, ideas.

'Eyes and Storms' are a set of panoramic aerial photographs celebrating the beauty of mines across Australia. Closer inspection reveals its socio-political connotations: over consumption of natural resources and humankind’s ever-growing demands adversely affecting the earth’s biodiversity.

Ganesh Haloi’s exploration of landscape, using dots, dashes, lines, simple geometric shapes, and cryptic signs suggesting trees and green fields are views from a distance, with faint resemblance to the real world. 

This Untitled tempera work executed in 1995, encourages the viewer to contemplate on distances and visions, to mediate upon infinity or shifting horizons, even as a flat rainbow appears at the far end of the field.

Viswanadhan's paintings and drawings are informed by the close observation of kalamezhuthu (an artistic practice of ritualistic floor diagrams in Kerela) mandalas and, early Malayalam calligraphy on palm leaf manuscripts. 

These set of drawings are among the first that Viswanadhan did after moving to Paris in 1968. A prismatic relay of images register iconic structures from all over the world, caught as if in passing. The Eiffel Tower, the Egyptian Pyramids, the filtering of light through the Rose Window, and other architectural fragments of the Notre-Dame are presented like fleeting glimpses of things seen on a highway as they rush past.

Sarangi music intermittently coupled with the sound of ceramic cups smashing welcomes the viewer into Sudarshan Shetty’s room, showcasing his three recent works. The sound component is part of his ten minute poetic video work,'Waiting for Others to Arrive'. In the video, Shetty hints at the cyclical laws of nature and the passage of time. 

The breaking of ceramics in the video is accompanied by an installation; Every Broken Moment Piece by Piece, made of shelves of broken blue china sourced from Chor Bazaar in Bombay.

These vases and plates are reconstructed with a patchwork of wood.

The Enlightening Army of the Empire
Tushar Joag positions himself as an interventionist and activist, working mostly in the public sphere. His works are often absurdist situations that draw attention to incongruities  in socio-political realms. 

'The Enlightening Army of the Empire' is an installation of robotic creatures, made of electric bulbs, stop lights, rib-cages of LED lights, and armed with florescent tube lights reminiscent of 'lightsabers' from the Star Wars franchise.

Done as a response to America’s ‘war on terror’ he points out the arrival of Capitalist Imperialism and its variations constantly emerging in the globalized world order.

Kaavad: Travelling Shrine: Home
'Kaavad: Home'  is inspired by the kaavadiya or the small, portable shrines used by Bhats, the nomadic storytellers of Rajasthan, associated with the Vaishnava faith. Sheikh’s Kaavad is an enlarged eight feet high walk-through box, made of 34 painted panels that fold in and out, allowing viewers to walk around and see both sides of the panels. 

He has summoned together faqirs, zen masters, holy men, historical, and mythical figures (such as Gandhi, Kabir, the Bhakti poet, tthe warrior Rahim, Shoriken) and vagrants (like Majnu and the sweeper) from different pasts, histories, geographies, cultures, and social hierarchies.

Cityscapes and maps form an important part of his artistic vocabulary, wherein the angels and guardians from mythical stories are seen overlooking the city.

The inner doors have Sheikh’s own paintings from the 1980s: 'Soaking Street' and 'Returning Home', an attentive Gandhi and the sweeper who is immersed in his work, nayika from Raagmala and the 'Tree of Life'.

Kaavad: Travelling Shrine: Home (detail)

Casts of high relief mural 
The three panels are casts of high relief murals that Himmat Shah executed at St. Xavier’s Primary School in Ahmedabad between 1968-69. Made right after his return from his study in France, this impressive work in the central courtyard of the school, marks his transition from painting to sculpture, as he gradually gravitated towards working more and more with reliefs and sculpture.

These murals bring out his dependence on relief and texture , which have become crucial aspects of his later sculptures.

The two blowtorch works of Jeram Patel done in the 1960s are early examples of his experiments with wood and metal.

Davierwalla experimented with diverse materials (wood, lead, steel, stone, and marble). He distorts the human form, simplifying it to its basic geometric structure that revealed its underlying nature.

Bamboo House
Srinivasa Prasad’s 'Bamboo House' forms an immersive interior made of bamboo twigs woven together. An audio of chirping birds and moving traffic accompanies the work. Interestingly, it engulfs the exterior museum walls that are supposed to contain it, with mesmerizing shadows, creating web-like patterns on the floor and all around.

Using different kinds of industrial materials like stainless steel, ceramic tiles, iron rods, and leather Sumedh creates forms that are both hybrid and organic.

Several of Nataraj Sharma’s earlier works were of detailed drawings of buildings, denuded fields and garbage, fences and walls that mark land as property, scarred and dug up earth, scaffolding, and grids set in a world of cement and steel. 

The installation 'Constructs' consists of two iron towers occupying the museum space from floor to ceiling.

The repetition, patterned grills, staircases, balconies, and the texture of exposed brick walls, dwarf the viewer and make one reflect on the colossus that is urbanity and the trail of troubles it brings.


For Indian Modern Masters such as S.H. Raza or Ram Kumar, the city and its constant transformation, changes the living landscape of places. Some of them have looked at these structures to comprehend its architecture, respond to the built spaces, mark the growing absence of nature and, often highlight moods of alienation, darkness and sense of mystery that engulfs city life. 

In 'The Red Road', a potent, blood red fissure cuts across the plush greenery. It is flanked by tree-like skeletal marks, pathways and, architectural structures. The powerful imagery are rendered as bold, frenetic, distorted forms.

In his early phase, Ram Kumar focused on everyday subjects in the city. He invited into his works, the poor and destitute, the frustrated lower-middle class, workers, and unemployed graduates who all seem to be trying to fathom the alienating depths of urbanity.

"The sacred river Ganga in Varanasi is unique in the world. The city emerging at its back has an overwhelming physiological impact onpeople.” (Ram Kumar, Art Heritage Journal, Season 1984-85)

In the 1950s following his move to Paris, Raza absorbed in and painted the landscapes and cityscapes of France, with its mountains, villages and churches. His houses look like cubes viewed from an aerial perspective, rendered in glorious colours, imitating the stylistic qualities of both European modernist art movements and Indian miniatures.   
Elevator from the Subcontinent
Gigi Scaria’s installation 'Elevator from the Subcontinent' is slightly bigger in size than a normal elevator. As one enters the elevator, three back lit projections take you up and down, from a basement car parking  into interiors of middle class households, a gym, living spaces, and cityscapes of Old Delhi. 

Taking the viewer to different levels and intermittently halting at certain points, the elevator constructs a dizzying illusion of being on a city ride traversing diverse social strata and hierarchies, whislt simultaneously bringing horizontal and vertical structures of the city into a complex dialogue.

'Brooding Section' by Mariam Suhail is part of a series of works titled 'Brooding Protagonists' (2013) wherein she explores suspended moments; faceless figures frozen in time are rendered in repetition within a detailed architectural cross-section of a building.

Noemie Goudal questions the limits of the real and the fantastic through her work, often creating alternative landscapes by using the most ordinary elements. The perspective plays a pivotal role in her works. She constructs ‘make believe’ environments, with large scale paper backdrops, which she places within a landscape, inviting the viewer to enter both the space as well as the narrative.

Home is a Foreign Place
Home is a Foreign Place was conceived when Zarina faced an eviction from her New York studio. It addresses the anxiety of losing a “space to hide forever”.

The home is internalized and merged with the outer world as hot breeze, the open sky, stars, thresholds and borders, corners, courtyards and ground-plans. They all become elements of describing the place that one inhabits.

'Folding House' speaks of the transcendental exploration of an eternal home that exists in the realm of the imagination, constructed from the brick and mortar of memory and dream, but rooted in the material ruins of a physical structure.

'In Mind'
Anish Kapoor presents us with an acrylic cube that resembles a frozen model of the Big Bang (the cosmological archetype for the creation of the universe) or just an exploding globule, in an acrylic paperweight, creating an illusory third space. The air bubbles trapped inside the cube make the invisible empty space visible, and the refracted light seems to create an impression of shifting floors and and moving walls.

Credits: Story


Curated by: Roobina Karode

Text copyright (2015) Curatorial Team, Kiran Nadar Musuem of Art

Image copyright (2015), the Artists and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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