The Conscious Voices of Vida Heydari Contemporary
By Satarupa Bhattacharya
At the India Art Fair 2023, a Pune based art gallery – Vida Heydari Contemporary – performed a vital presentation. Their collection featured an interesting engagement with the world where they focused on bringing informed artists together in coining 'the contemporary'. Interestingly, their artists presented a very nuanced display exploring the brevity of our times. Each artwork selected for display was an interception with materials and forms, where textures and artistic styles were an interplay of designs and aesthetics. The theme centred around architectural influences and inspirations that blurred the artists engagement into one giant impact of skills and techniques at the fair. This, also, engaged larger scopes of reading into practices of gender and its dominant structure in everyday living
VHC Installation view 4 photo credit Mohammed Chiba
India's artist M Pravat occupied a central spot at the exhibit with his 2023 piece – The Malleability of all things solid 5: this is a perfectly globular sculpture made of burnt brick, cut slate, stone dust, and pigments. The artwork is quite essential to look at shapes, textures, colours, and other visible tactile factors that constitutes Pravat's visual language. His engagement with space, architecture, material, and cityscapes are all relevant insights to the study of this immediate moment in the arts. His strength as an artist lies in his ability to capture the ambiguous meanings in the nature of visible shapes. The roundedness in this particular piece reflects his universality that has often crept up in discussing his works, where a certain architectural association with mapping, strategy, and planning has been central to his practice. His artwork was further complimented by the staging of China's artist Zhang Ji's works.
Zhang Ji works with syringes and tubes of acrylic paint which he further designs with the needle of the syringe to get a designed effect on the canvas. Layering his canvas with colours and then rendering details creates an impact of amassing intricate details that are often lost in the larger tropes of explanations. The two pieces – The Skin of Truth 101 and The Skin of Truth 103 – are an engagement with his interest in bas-relief sculptures that are often seen in temples or in religious spaces. The architectural engagement here demonstrates Zhang Ji's ability to engage with the traditional while he finds means to recreate the same in the modern space. One may say that art helps this ambition become a reality which is designed to bring out the most intricate details hidden in plain sight. This particular practice is an interesting moment in itself where we as viewers are able to engage with traditionality and the immediate visual vocabulary.
VHC Installation view 5 photo credit Mohammed Chiba
Zhang Ji was then stitched to the fabric pieces that Indian artist Vaishali Oak presents in her study of textiles. Her visual practice is a revisit to the quilting technique of Godhadi adding a volatile expression to the femmage artistic school of our times. The large canvases staged at the exhibit area expounded on the ways in which textures can be witnessed closely. Her practice informs us of our everyday lives, densely woven to our historical and political narratives, where she is willing to display the most detailed emotional responses to our times. Simultaneously, we see Iranian artist Katayoun Karami, who primarily works with photography. Her work is a deeper reading of archiving and personalised memory-making while she also reflects on the current socio-political climate of Iran.
The feminist positioning of both these artists are important inferences of our times when the dismantling of the binaries has led us to look beyond the given. All artists at VHC are consciously displayed while picking up batons in their intricacies with time and its conditions as affected realities. India's artist Debasree Das's 2022 artwork 'Envisage of Eternal Joy' and 2023 artwork 'Golden Stars' definitely struck a chord in accordance with the other artists in raising awareness for the 'self' narrative. Her works are an expert insight to materialism and motif-making that has been important to coining the femmage culture in India. The varied skills of embroidery, drawing, painting, and appliqué in her artworks render a special visual language that is succinct to describe the many women lives bound in 'labour'.
Katayoun Karami Azadi From Stamp Series
The entire narrative of the space was finally brought together with the help of the English artist based in India – Mark Prime. His contributions to the rhetoric of labour in factories and the environment in which productions are executed are exemplary feats that have been included at the exhibit venue. To look at his works is to engage with the amplification of light and form. The geometrical quality of his installed pieces – Koda I and Koda II – from his 2022 collection are interesting arrangements of shapes using stainless steel and other industrial materials. In both his works, he showcases the intertwining of objects as a means to explore the aesthetics of industrial production in a global era.
All in all, the display at the VHC stall was intrinsic and neat without dislocating the voices that each of their artists possess. Given these conscious voices, one may finally suggest that this is the epoch of global resurrection, where art is no longer bound to nationalities or its evaluated semiotic references but to a feeling, an event, not one particular sense or skillset or technique or, even, realisation.