Art has the potential to bring lesser-known stories and narratives to the mainstream. However, this can be only done by promoting equal access to galleries as well as exhibitors, instances of which are sporadic. Giving insight into disparity in the arts, Bose Krishnamachari, artist and curator comments, “When I was studying in Bombay [now Mumbai] in the 80s-90s and then the 2000s, I saw a lot of artists get opportunities from the North, Gujarat, The Bengal School.
But, I did not see many opportunities of patronage given to the southern side of India.” To carve an exclusive space for artists from the South, Krishnamachari recently curated ‘Extremely South’, an exhibition that is currently on display at Art District XIII, Lado Sarai. “This show has been an attempt to expose them [artists] to the artworld that is limited to cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru. It was an important opportunity for me to give them confidence in some way,” he adds.
The idea of remembrance is the central theme explored through this exhibition that features the works of 13 artists from various parts of South India—Aami Atmaja from Andhra Pradesh; Sooraja KS, Sreeja Pallam, Helna Merin Joseph, Jalaja PS, Kavitha Balakrishnan, Radha Gomaty, Yamini Mohan, Santhi EN, Lakshmi Madhavan from Kerala; Meera George from Chennai, Smitha GS from Karnataka; along with Mona Isa. These artists have explored stories and memories that propose a method for mapping shared heritage of the southern part of India that, though divided into separate states, have common lived experiences.
Exploring the idea of memory
In ‘Extremely South’, the 13 artists look at the impact that displacement—both voluntary and involuntary—has had on our stories and realities. In the process, they have devised ways in which they can map the South through “acts of remembering, observing, and memorialising”. A testament to this idea is artist Meera George’s mixed-media works on acrylic and paper. George attempts to break down the psychological impact of environmental changes as well as represent humankind’s collective consciousness.
Krishnamachari has, interestingly, curated works created only by female artists—a decision that lends a feminist perspective to this exhibition. A glimpse of this approach is particularly visible in artist Lakshmi Madhavan’s ‘Hanging by a Thread II, (2022)’, the second work in a two-part series. Here, Madhavan explores layers of identity through the memory of her late grandmother. The artist’s principal works have been created using the kasavu mundu veshti—a traditional white and gold saree worn by women in Kerala—that Madhavan’s grandmother donned throughout her lifetime.
“This is a way of paying tribute or homage to her. She is the reason I have stayed connected to my homeland,” explains Madhavan, who is currently based in Mumbai. “The idea of the body, the loss of my grandmother, the relevance of the material all comes together in this work,” the artist adds. Such a portrayal only reinforces the idea behind this curation as mentioned by Krishnamachari in his curatorial note, “To remember is to resist.”
CHECK IT OUT
WHAT: Extremely South
WHEN: Till June 24
WHERE: Art District XIII, Lado Sarai