Harper's Bazaar March 2016 - Page 187

BOOKS O N ART SO FAR, SHOW GOOD IMAGES COURTESY THE MET BREUER, PHOTOGRAPH BY ED LEDERMAN; COLLECTION OF DOSSAL FAMILY (MARIAM PANJWANI, ZEENAT SADIKOT, LAILA KHALID); ALEPH BOOK COMPANY; ESTATE OF PRABUDDHA DASGUPTA; STEVE WHITE, 2015 COURTESY COURTESY SAATCHI GALLERY, LONDON An all-women exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery addresses the role of gender in art Saatchi Gallery’s first-ever group show comprising only women artists—Champagne Life—closes this month, but it opens a new dialogue on the glass ceiling in art. And it seems necessary. Of the top 50 most expensive artworks sold at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in 2015, only four were by women artists. It’s no wonder then that the gallery chose to address the issue to mark its 30 years. “Every aspect of our ideas about gender are being challenged and revised,” says participating artist Mequitta Ahuja, who is of equal African-American and Indian heritage. “I think Champagne Life is, perhaps accidentally, subversiv e by composing a show whose logic seems to be nothing other than the presentation of outstanding work. The fact that all of the works happen to be made by women isn’t of primary importance.” An installation view of Champagne Life. (Top left and below) Birthday by Mequitta Ahuja; Seated Scribe by Mequitta Ahuja. T H E G O We caught up with Kanishk Tharoor, the New Yorkbased author of Swimmer Among the Stars Where does an aspiring writer begin? It begins with an engagement with the world outside. You have to be open in a way that you’re constantly imbibing information, and challenging yourself and the bounds of your knowledge. You have to write every day to hone that muscle. You’ve said that part of being a good writer is being a critical reader. How do you get to that? When something strikes you as good or not working, you think about why. If you mentally edit pieces, it helps you figure out how best you can write. Authors or books you’ve particularly enjoyed reading? First, I’d say Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. I don’t pretend it’s perfect, but it opened up my idea of what fiction can achieve. Eduardo Galeano’s books on football blew me away in terms of the kind of writing that was possible. I’ve also enjoyed Amitav Ghosh’s trilogy. I also read historical literature, and folklore—it captures the tone and spirit of a fundamental kind of storytelling. By Sunalini Mathew Champagne Life has been celebrated for its message, panned for ‘tokenism’, but here’s the thing: It is not the voice of women’s art, if there is such a thing. But it’s brought art made by women to a space that attracts investors and collectors—the big spenders. And maybe that’s enough. ART PHOTOGRAPHY The Met Breuer Untitled by Nasreen Mohamedi, circa 1980 Famed lensman Prabuddha Dasgupta was known for his portraits and work in fashion, but his ouevre included more than that. Case in point: Images of Hampi, on display in Ganjam’s Bengaluru flagship until the end of the month. (It will then travel to Goa, New Delhi, and Mumbai). The pictures show his artistic vision of the city against a melancholic, deserted landscape. The Silence of Hampi also introduces a coffee-table book, designed by Tanya Dasgupta. An iconic Marcel Breuer-designed Manhattan building will reopen its doors this month as The Met Breuer—an outpost of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The former home of the Whitney Museum of American Art will, for at least eight years, house The Met’s contemporary collections. And it starts with two Indian names: A major retrospective of Nasreen Mohamedi’s work, and a series of performances by resident artist Vijay Iyer. n 187