contemporary art museum st louis
Amitesh Verma from India and Andrew Connelly from California Bridge the Culture Barrier to Collaborate in A Two – Man Show Titled ‘CROSSING OVER’New Delhi: One is an Indian artist whose past work resonating with detailed anatomical animal and human studies won him accolades in just a few years, the other an American artist whose large-scale installations can even double up as performance art! Bridging the geographical and cultural barriers that separate the two artists, Amitesh Verma (New Delhi) and Andrew Connelly (California, USA) collaborate for a two-man show titledCrossing Over that begins at Shridharani Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam, 205, Tansen Marg, New Delhi, from June 15 to June 25, 2010.
While Amitesh Verma’s body of work, nearly 25 canvases in oil, charcoal and mixed media, has been created during his three-month residency at Marnay-Sur-Seine in France in November last year, hence reflecting a new-found European sensibility in his detailed studies, Connelly’s installations are inspired by his residency at Sanskriti Foundation in India and imbibe his observation of Indian social and cultural milieu.
Says Amitesh Verma, who has worked in charcoal on paper and canvas, oil on canvas, & pen and ink on paper: “I have always treated spirituality in human form as my subject. But my three-month stay in France was a period of spiritual arousal and gave me a new insight into how I looked at people as subjects.”
For instance, in the painting titled Karmic Connection, the only work that shows the torso of a horse, his earlier muse, juxtaposed with a spiritual face, he connects himself with ‘Karma’, displaying his artistic transition. In a totally different canvas titled My Crush, portraying the face of a blonde girl, who Amitesh speaks of as Mayra, a lady with whom he developed a close friendship during his residency programme, the artist reveals his mastery over drawings as well. Another work titled Awakening, of a French woman, shows a similar inspiration. “I met the subject of this work at a railway station in France and was impressed by the way she spoke,” says Verma, “despite the barrier of language, we forged a friendship that still endures.”
In Releasing the Self, Verma shows how in awe of his beautiful surroundings in France, he took solace in meditation and discovered a whole new meaning to freedom. Apart from the portraits of various people he closely interacted with and was influenced during his first visit to France, there are full bodied pencil and charcoal drawings that once again reflect Verma’s deftness with the drawn line, for which he gives full marks to guru and eminent artist Neeraj Goswami. He also believes that his drawings have changed greatly over the last two years and his work has “evolved”. “My studies used to look more like still life earlier but now I think I have come much closer to the abstraction in form that I was seeking for so long.”
Best known for his large-scale sculptural installations that perform themselves and, more often than not, become sites for collaborative monologues and performance pieces, Andrew Connelly’s latest installations dwell on various topics ranging from the transition of traditional to industrialization, from bureaucracy to layers within the social strata of a society.
Referring to his installation work titled Transcendence, a bamboo structure rooted in the earth and yet carrying an embodied lightness as it appears to reach towards the sky, becoming fluid like water as it travels, transforms and disappears, he explains: “The abstract form certainly lends itself to interpretation and I enjoy the ambiguity. Being a ‘transcendent’ performance, the form itself exists in transition, defining space only by means of represented line (bamboo) while light passes through, yet its presence can not be denied.”
He adds: “I made a similar form in my studio back home out of solid laminated wood and wanted to see the same form in woven bamboo, I wanted to see a contrast, a translucency to the form. Bamboo is also a material associated with the developing world. Unlike the US, it is used for so many applications such as scaffolding and furniture here in India. While making this work in India, I was able to observe and embrace the contrasting cultures and approaches to all things.”
Apart from bamboo, the other element that gets repeated in Connelly’s work is water, for which he says: “The Sanskriti grounds are so beautifully considered and architecturally designed. The pond there was a perfect site for its reflective qualities while setting a sculpture on fire. We all have personal connections to water, whether it is the clear substance that comes out of the tap, a murky pond, or deep ocean, not to mention our physical makeup. I grew up with a healthy respect for water both swimming and fishing in the waters around New York. Its memories and personal connections evoke both a passion to breathe ocean breezes and to fear its fury during storms and floods.”
In yet another seminal work titled Beacon, that combines terracotta pottery with a bamboo stick wrapped with a colour coated electrical tape, Connelly draws a cross reference from the traditional to industrialization. In the installation titled Helm, the outer forms are made from recycled water bottles covered with rice and glue. This work portrays “sustenance, formalized into the large steering wheel, often the large ship of bureaucracy as it turns ever so slowly.”
The installation titled Instrument is made of soft drink bottles with concrete bamboo stick covered with electrical tape. This “device” is extrapolated from an outdoor installation where this object was balanced in a tripod. The “Instrument” was able to rotate freely in the breeze similar to a weather vane. In Identity,Connelly uses Limca bottles with rice colored by holi powder capped with a concrete lemon. Each bottle is juxtaposed with decal of an image taken from different flags of India.
Structured to observe the social strata in India, Looking In is a ring of suspended photographs of most of the male workers from the Sanskriti Kendra ranging from kitchen help, landscapers to security.
Object in Transition is a form covered with shapes resembling micro-organisms supporting a horizontal stack of bottles. “I am making a series of these for the show in different forms, including the bottles. I enjoy the comparative between the recognizable identity of the bottles and the abstract of the pink forms,” explains Connelly.
About The Artists:
Amitesh Verma: Born in Bihar, Amitesh Verma studied from the College of Art, New Delhi and held his first solo show in 2002. Within a very short period, Amitesh Verma made a niche for himself through the intricate and detailed portrayal of animal and human anatomy. Verma, known among many for his portrayal of horses, this time explores further to add a more spiritual touch to his works. With artworks representing discovery of one’s spiritual self via various media, this collection of artworks stands apart from his previous works.
Andrew Connelly: Andrew Connelly studied art at Alfred University, College of Ceramics, Art and Design, where he earned his Bachelors of Fine Art in 1987. He earned his Masters of Fine Art at the University of Colorado, in 1991.Connelly is noted for his installation and performance works that incorporate time based elements such as mechanized elements, performances of duration, monologue and collaborative interdisciplinary works. Connelly made his museum debut in 2000 at the Forum Contemporary Art, St. Louis. His recent large-scale outdoor work entitled “Indifferent Space” was included in the Adelphi University Outdoor Biennial in 2004 in Garden City, New York. Currently, Connelly resides in the Sacramento California Area and is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at Sacramento State.