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TARQ Art Gallery got a new address, opens with Sameer Kulavoor’s Edifice Complex

Shifting base from Dhanraj Mahal to it's brand new location, TARQ art gallery now has a new address in Fort Mumbai. The new space opens with the artist Sameer Kulavoor with an exhibition titled, "Edifice Complex" from April 13th for the public.

Sameer Kulavoor’s practice encompasses his unique observations of spaces, structures and geographies. These nuanced compositions, featuring sequential drawings and reverse painted transparent sheets, underscore his affinity towards cities and their multi-layered identities. In this exhibition, architecture is once again the main protagonist. The city in question is an unnamed, ubiquitous entity. A place where design and architecture are born out of responsiveness and resourcefulness rather than a result of extensive detailed pre-planning. Here, sophisticated design principles are thrown to the wind and built structures are mutating beings, growing and adapting to the needs and aspirations of the lives lived within.

The title ‘Edifice Complex’ is borrowed from a phrase coined by Behn Cervantes, a Filipino activist writing in the time of the autocrat Ferdinand Marcos. It references the phenomenon where individuals, organizations, or governments become obsessed with building grandiose structures to give an impression of power, status or progress, often at the expense of more pressing needs. Kulavoor's works explore this theme, particularly in the context of post-independence aspirations taking the shape of structures built in "tier-one" and "tier-two"townsacross India. In these new post-modern structures, he found a distinct visual language that reminded him of the works of the Milan based group, Memphis Milano-a rambunctious counter to the seriousness of Bauhaus and Modernism, Incidentally, Ettore Sotts as the founding member of the group was, in fact, inspired by his visits to Tiruvannamalai, India in the sixties and seventies-before he founded Memphis Milano in the nineteen eighties.

The exhibition presents a body of work across six series. With Drawn Timelapses, a series of sequential drawings that are presented in tandem with a video, Kulavoor reflects on the idea of condensed time, with structures being in a constant state of flux. Here, the artist shares a zoomed-in experience of elements that form complex city structures and their temporal progression. Each drawing on a single page is created in relation to the one that came before it, thus developing a moving image. Discomfort(2022) (a series initiated during the first Covid-19 lockdown and part of his previous solo-You Are All Caught Up), looks at the basic shape of a home morphing from one uncomfortable form to another-examining its transformation through time–physically as well as through lived experience.

Kulavoor has also experimented with reverse painting with acrylic and oil markers on glass sheets for the first time in the series Dense City, Tech Park, Retro fits and Outside The Gated Community-a reminder of the ubiquitous glass sheet cladding, enveloping several new structures. The works point to the transformation of these structures from opaque mirrors of their surroundings during the day to transparent windows at night. Displayed in TARQ’s new home, this body of work places urban structures firmly in the foreground transferring the focus from the people that inhabit the city to the city itself.

Edifice Complex will be on view till 10th June 2023.

The story behind the space -

TARQ has collaborated with Mumbai-based Japanese architect Katsushi Goto on the architectural vision for the new gallery space. Goto’s expert use of material has transformed the hundred year-old brick-face building into a highly utilitarian yet conceptual space. Steel frames are strategically used to open up space to maximise a sense of verticality. This coupled with the street-facing windows allows natural light in.

The building, KK Chambers, dates back to the turn of the twentieth century and whilst the current structure does not have distinctive Art Deco features, the foundations and layout leave ample room to reference TARQ’s Art Deco identity that was pronounced in its first home at Dhanraj Mahal.

About the Artist -

Having closely witnessed the rapid transformation of urban surroundings and culture in India in the 90s (results of economic liberalisation and the internet boom), Kulavoor's innate approach is to constantly note and understand the impact that time, culture, politics and socio-economic conditions have on our visible and invisible surroundings. His works often address how and why cities look and work the way they do by filtering, dissecting, documenting and defamiliarizing commonly seen subjects and events–often oscillating between instinctive and conceptual methods of making. Through the early 2000s, Kulavoor became widely known for his design and illustration work and set up one of the earliest specialised studios in India-Bombay Duck Designs. Over the next decade, Kulavoor moved on to focus on his solo art practice that has taken the form of drawings, paintings, videos, sculptures, murals, books, zines and art-prints.

About the Architect -

Katshushi Goto is a graduate of the prestigious Architect’s Association in London. He has worked extensively across India including #7 Southlands in Mumbai, which was nominated for the INSIDE Award, World Architecture Festival 2018 and Dezeen Award 2018 for residential Interiors.

He is a visiting researcher at Meiji University in Tokyo and visiting faculty at CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India. He is also a founding member of SqW:Lab which is a research fellowship programme in Mumbai for cultural practitioners from all over the world.

TARQ was founded in 2014 by Hena Kapadia on the values of creating a meaningful conversation around art and its myriad connotations and contexts. It was envisioned as something of a laboratory-an incubator for young contemporary artists which would work towards pushing the boundaries of how contemporary art in India is exhibited and perceived. TARQ's youthful and experimental ethos encourages collectors, novice and seasoned alike, to approach art collecting through a perspective that marries thoughtfulness with an inquisitive eye for aesthetics and artistic processes.

Since its conception, TARQ has endeavoured to create a robust outreach program that ties in with the gallery's exhibitions and overall raison d'être. The program is an amalgam of educational initiatives in the form of workshops, gallery walk-throughs and talks. Our intention is to engage with a diverse audience to develop an informed viewership for contemporary art in the future.


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