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Queens Chronicle

Asian Art Week brings Indian talent to the borough

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Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2011 12:00 pm

   Works including Srinivas Krishna’s video installation inside a suitcase titled: “When the Gods Came Down to Earth,” left, Uday Dar’s painting “Kiss Me! Kiss Me!,” top, and Fareen Butt’s painting “Mirage Canyon 17,” below, made from mineral pigments including lapis, copper, amethyst and agate, are on display as part of Asian Art Week at the Queens Museum of Art.


   While the volume of Asian art displayed regularly in Queens may make it seem like every week is Asian Contemporary Art Week in the borough, officially there is only one.

   This week, Asian art and the artists who make it will be celebrated at venues across the city, including the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing Meadows Park.

   “Erasing Borders: Contemporary Indian Art of the Diaspora” features the work of 43 artists whose origins can be traced to the Indian subcontinent. Through sculpture, painting, photography and collage, the diverse pieces selected by the Indo-American Arts Council enhance any visit to the QMA.

   Many of the works are strikingly colorful, using red and orange tones to “investigate themes of cultural dislocation, memory, exile and spiritual inheritance,” as the exhibit guide puts it.

   Tanu Jindal, exhibitions director of the arts council, said many of the show’s participants were influenced by their cross-cultural lifestyles. “When you move to another country, there is this sense of dislocation. Everything comes together, work becomes different,” Jindal said.

   Jindal herself was born and brought up in Delhi, India and moved to the United States in 2008. She immigrated with the desire to bring her expertise in Indian art to the center stage, and through her work with the council, she has. This is the eighth year they have put together a traveling exhibition which will be making stops on Long Island and in Connecticut, in addition to the one in Queens.

   Curated by Vijay Kumar, the show features Srinivas Krishna’s “When The Gods Came Down To Earth,” a suitcase video installation depicting ornate Indian dieties.

   “My images are intended to enchant viewers with their beauty and fantasy, while provoking interest in their underlying stories and the uniquely human process by which such mass-produced images become sacred icons,” Krishna wrote, commenting on the use of idols in Indian culture and provoking comparison with the iconic nature of celluloid culture through his work.

   Nidhi Jalan’s sculpture, “Cobra Pose,” takes its name from an Indian yoga position, and appears to be a human-animal hybrid. Her work is inspired by a fundamental tension in Indian cosmology — that each living thing contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction and transformation.

   The focus on metamorphosis is apparent in her skillful white ceramic work, which at one time appeared in an installation with several other human-animal hybrids she created.

   Like Jindal, Jalan was born in India and continues to draw inspiration from the time she spends there, splitting her time between New York and Calcutta.

   Though many of the artists in the show use their multicultural identities to inform their art, the work is so diverse that it’s hard to identify the common thread of diaspora without an explanation. The lack of visual link between the works is at times distracting, and may take away from the individual merit of each piece on display, as works of various mediums compete for attention.

   Minna Phillip’s “Route No: 8, Stop 2,” a 36 inch by 24 inch black and white photograph of an outdoor runoff drain, upon which she has painted blue water droplets, is beautiful, but has seemingly little to do with Indian or bicultural identity, unless one does research on her methodology.

   The theme of Phillips’ work is paradox and fragmentation. “Imagery is deconstructed in a way to distort perspectives and the drawings are arranged in a manner that is at the same time continuous and fragmented,” Phillips writes of her art.

   It’s as if Phillips puts her work through the process of acculturation, jumbling everything together, then bringing it to the gallery, neatly arranged in an unexpected manner. Phillips’ art, like the exhibition itself, appears controlled yet diffuse, and despite its apparent lack of context, it is a joy to behold.



   ‘Erasing Borders’


   When: Wednesday through Sunday 12 to 6 p.m. through April 10

   Cost: Suggested donation $5 for adults, $2. 50 for seniors and children

   Where: Queens Museum of Art,New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Park



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