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Abstract Notations

Abstract Notations

October 30, 2020 – December 7, 2020

Artworks in Exhibition

Abstract Notations traces the practice of twenty-five contemporary artists and five postmodernists from India. The contemporary artists project a journey of consistently moulding the context of abstraction through sub-visual imprints of its history, culture, metaphysics, socio-politics and ecology. Including reverberations of an idiosyncratic monotony embedded with a universal chaos, the proposed notation isn’t limited to the formal attributes of abstraction alone. The artists, through their enquiries, present records of cognitive perceptions, and responses charged with intuitive insights—this combination characterizes their abstract expressions as inclusive, integrative, poignant and sublime.

The curatorial praxis of the exhibition is based on the five fundamental elements of nature (Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether) called Panchbhuta. In its concrete entirety, Panchbhuta is perceived as many ‘scapes’ while in its gross singularity, it is experienced through our senses. Ayurveda, a Vedic manuscript, describes Panchbhuta as a pervading constituent of our human body, which merges back with nature after death. Whereas, Tanmatra, an aesthetic concept of the Rasa theory, explores the relation between the gross elements and their sensory experience. The theory narrates an elevated experience of perceiving, sensing and intuitively feeling them in their subtlest forms. According to the theory, the gross manifestation of each element could be experienced though one or more senses. For example, Earth can be realized through all five senses; Water can be felt through taste, sight, touch and hearing; Fire through sight, touch and hearing; Air through touch and hearing and Ether, the subtlest of the five elements, can only be heard. Both the theories, Panchbhuta and Tanmatra, assimilate these fundamental elements within and around, informing our sensorial cognition.

Abstract Notations proposes an adaption of these ancient concepts into contemporary sensibility. Expanding into a larger perspective, the exhibition proposes several critical subtexts and connotations of political pragmatism, ecological concerns, scientific attributes and metaphysical quality. Significantly, these factors perspicaciously ingrain within the abstract responsiveness of five elements. The exhibition attempts to re-craft the individuality and empirical significance of Panchbhuta and Tanmatra through parallel and reconciling artist-segments of Topographical Poetics, Organic Resonance, Space-Colour Refractions, Motions of Shadow and Sublime Rhythms. Interweaving ancient and contemporary facets, these segments deepen the aesthetic trajectories and modulations, which chart new definitions of abstraction consciously. Crucially, the conceived abstract image is dynamic in reference to the trait of archetypal imagery, integrating the past-formal along with the current hybrid and transcultural relationships.

Extending the fortified definition of abstraction in India, Abstract Notations includes five postmodernists to complement the present curatorial enquiry. These postmodernists, during the mid-20th century, have been instrumental in contributing to the foundation of abstraction, inclusive of thought and practice in the South-east Asian contemporary discourse. Notably, they re-shaped modernism, which rode parallel to the predominantly representational discourse. These artists not only suit this survey of contemporary abstraction but also pose as an important thread of reinventing Indian modernisms as a part of perpetual research.


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