Demolish, Deface, Re-Imagine: Mumbai's Art Mantra This Week

22 June 2013

What happens when the architect turns artist? This is not to devalue the creative, aesthetic abilities of an architect in any way but their job does have a greater leniency towards the functional. This is possibly what makes Bijoy Jain's, of luxurious Alibagh holiday homes and other indulgent cement creation fame, foray into the art world so intriguing. Contrary to where I've been leading however, his entire series being exhibited at Chemould Prescott Road, the 'Demolition Series 6,' is firmly rooted in architectural conceptualisation.

All Jain really wants his viewers to do is reconsider the history of their spaces, give it historical context perhaps. What if the porch of your house was built upon a graveyard, or minefields upon minefields reminiscent of a war you know nothing about is now the station you walk to everyday to catch your train? Through his series of installations, made of multiple materials ranging from asphalt to silt within varying spaces, force feeds a notion of consideration into his viewer. A consideration for what things once were and even might be. As Jain says however, “The immediate response [to demolition] is destruction, but the whole idea of demolition is the loss of status quo, It’s not about making a judgement on old is good or new is bad.”

And in another display of demolition of sorts, in an entirely different context, we have Amitabh Kumar who's project technically speaking, defaced the city of Mumbai with jovial murals of pot-bellied men and chunky grey elephants on buildings, making his mark on the city that so inspires him. From Chor Bazaar to Sassoon Docks, his terrific tattooing can be found on over 47 sites across Mumbai and he's taking things further by unveiling his first solo at The Guild Art Gallery in an effort to make things even more interactive. Admittedly, he is "not using the gallery as a sacrosanct space" so much as challenging them to chart the entire project, across the streets of the city.

He's created replicas of all the work within the gallery as well as included video footage which displays the real murals on the city's crumbling walls hoping that viewers will be adventurous enough to take on the challenge of locating the real thing. There is no map but Kumar says the the "drawings inside the gallery are merely simulations of the Murals outside. They create a constellation of images that are crucial in triggering an update in the way the urban site in question is re-imagined."

Art on display this week is thus, not really for the faint-hearted. But if you're looking for an adventure fix, you know where to go.

Bijoy Jain's series is on display until Saturday at the Chemould Presscott Road Gallery, Fort. It is open from 11am-7pm.
Amitabh Kumar's exhibition will be displayed until 29 June 29 at The Guild Art Gallery, Colaba. It is open Monday - Saturday 10am- 6.30pm.

Image Credit: Amitabh Kumar, Messahe to Zero, Gallery view
Words: Mandovi Menon



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