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Taking Khadi and Crafts to the World - the Gandhian Way

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satyagraha - a groupshow by South African and Indian Artists

Satyagraha

“The principle called Satyagraha came into being before that name was invented, indeed when it was born, I myself could not say what it was”.
Mahatma Gandhi

“Much of his reception in the first decades of Independence was formalistic, iconographic, and hagiographic. … Was Gandhi’s fate in independent India to be an icon, in sight but out of mind, a dead monument rather than a living memory?”
Lyod I. Rudolph

September 11th 1906, Natal Empire Theatre witnessed the launching of the passive resistance by Indians of South Africa, against the racist policies of the British regime. There under the guidance of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, they launched an unprecedented strategy of agitation, the ‘passive resistance’. Later this strategy of agitation will be called as the Satyagraha.

In the centenary year of Satyagraha, Afrikhadi is envisaging an art exhibition, showcasing the visual journey in quest of the principle and various manifestations of Satyagraha. The contemporary artists of India and South Africa would interpret the modes of non-violent struggle and give a visual interpretation to the symbolic representations of Satyagraha. 

The proposed show envisages such elucidations primarily visual in nature, construing the basic philosophy of Gandhi and his novel way of resistance mapping his ideology and philosophy but not Gandhi as an individual. The contextualization of Satyagraha in 21st century is the prime premise of discussion and representation. Some of the artists have actively participated in the freedom movement but majority of them born in the post independent India. South African artists who have gone through the anti-apartheid movement would present their ‘recent’ experiences of Satyagraha method of struggle for individual dignity. The viewpoints would be diverse and that diversity may bring out new elucidations of the philosophy of Satyagraha itself.

The show

The Show will have two sections [1] Pathways [2] Footprints

Pathways would include selection of Photographs of the Satyagraha and the Satyagrahis, Calendars and Cartoons of Gandhi along with interpretation and critique of Satyagraha through the words of Gandhi and others. This section of the show would give an insight to the viewer about the concept of the Satyagraha and the history of Satyagraha movement. The section also would map the established and clichéd signs and icons of Satyagraha.  

Footprints, which will be a collection of visual representations by the contemporary artists of India and South Africa, would query into the concept of Satyagraha not as philosophical, miraculous and spiritual act as it had been mapped hitherto, but as a relevant, positive action against the encroachments into individual freedom and personal dignity by the powers oppression. 

Around 40 contemporary Indian artists are participating in the exhibition, belonging to various regions and art centers of India. As the conceptual premise of the show revolves around Satyagraha and the visual representations and interpretations of it, we have invited artists from different generations.

The reputed artists like KG Subramanyan, Gulam Mohammmed Sheikh, Sudhir Patwardhan, Nilima Sheikh, Hakku Shah and Mahedra Pandya have been and would remain the face of contemporary Indian art in India and abroad. They will be looking at the changing images of Satyagraha in retrospect with their affiliations with the freedom movement and as the first generation of youngsters in the post independent era.

The other artists are all born in the independent India and have known about the freedom struggle and the Satyagraha only through academic training and popular books. Their interpretation on the concept of Satyagraha in the turn of the century is relevant, as it would map the perception of freedom, and the significance of non-violent resistance for civil rights. The young artists from Mumbai as Krishnamachari Bose, Sudarshan Shetty, Riyas Komu, TV Santosh, Chintan Upadhyaya, Tushar Joag, Suryakant Lokhande, Anoop B and Simeen Oshidar play a pivotal role in the contemporary Indian art scene. Vivek Vilasini, Sunoj, Sonia and Pradeep  from Bangalore works mainly in the realm of conceptual art while Murali Cheeroth delve into the conceptual realm through the colors in his canvases.   Satrughnan Thakur from Ahmedabad uses the natural dyes to paint on Khadi cloth. Surendran Nair, Vasudevan Akkitham, Anandajit Ray, Indrapramit Roy, Mayur Gupta, Alok Bal, Vinod Patel, Anuj Poddar and Vinod Daroz represents Baroda as the major center of contemporary Indian Art. Karl Antao, Walter Dsouza and Hindol Brahmabhatt would present their interpretation of the city of Gandhi, Ahmedabad and the state of non-violence in the state. Delhi like Ahmedabad can stand as a city where the Gandhian legacy is visible. Abhimanue VG, Soman, Subba Ghosh, Arun HG, Iranna, and Sumedh Rajendran, Haridran, Binoy Varghese and Sabu Joseph would look at this museumization Gandhi and the fading of the Satyagraha concept. While Rajesekhran Nair represents the senior artist of Chennai, Benitha would pose the questions on behalf of the younger generation. Rajinder Tikku and Dilip Tamuli, both hailing from a violence- ridden states as Jammu and Kashmir and Assam respectively would probe into the relevance of Gandhian ideology in perspective.  The artists of the present show are given a free hand by the organizers to work on any mediums and even away from the conventional methods and materials.

South African artist include the well known figures of Andrew Verster and Aidan Walsh along with the artists of the Indian diaspora as Clint Singh, Marklyn Govender and Rani Pillai.

Afrikhadi
The organizers of the show, Afrikhadi work in the craft sector in South Africa based on the Gandhian ideology to impact positively on the lives of the most disadvantaged sectors of rural populace in creating sustainable income generating opportunities, and to sustain a viable livelihood for financially fragile communities by affording access to a large market base.

The Gallery
Travancore Gallery, New Delhi is a Kerala Government sponsored art gallery.

 

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