Copper Reliefs
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 Curatorial Note by Sadanand Menon


The retrospective of any artist who has consistently been at work for over five decades, is no longer about the artist per se. It also becomes the narrative of a nation, a region, a school, a style.


His retrospective then, becomes the occasion for an archaeological exploration into the multiple layers of social, historical and aesthetic accumulation that reveal themselves, as clearly as strata in stone.

As a leading contemporary modernist of post-Independence India, S.G. Vasudev's work takes us into the thick of the debates and turmoil in the sixties within the College of Art, Madras - a pioneering centre for arts education that has received the least critical attention from our art historians. The products of the Madras art movement have, thus, remained confined to the margins of the narrative around mainstream Indian art. This is an injustice that needs to be swiftly corrected.


Vasudev's work reveals the creative churn among the students and teachers at the Madras Arts College in the mid-sixties. The reputation of the school attracted students from all regions of the sub-continent - Bengal, Gujarat, Bombay, Andhra, Karnataka, Kerala and, of course, Tamil Nadu itself. It helped generate its own form of inter-culturalism. And an eclectic art practice grounded solidly in the play with line and surface, significantly absorbed and integrated from prevailing practices of traditional artisans and of ordinary people on the street.

An exposure to Vasudev's collected work brings us to the centre of these preoccupations with evolving a local, native vocabulary that was, in itself, a critique of Western canons of spatialization and depth. Inspired by the critical indigenism of their mentor K.C.S. Paniker, Vasudev and a group of young graduates of the college dared to break away from the then urban conventions of modern arts practice and create Cholamandal, an arts village on the outskirts of Madras. In the mid-sixties, this was a radical move.

The subsequent five decades has seen Vasudev go through distinct periods with specific themes - Maithuna, Vriksha, Tree of Life, Tree of Life & Death, Humanscapes, Earthscapes, Theatre of Life, She and He and Rhapsody - a journey that defines his preoccupations with relationships, transience, nature and ecological concerns, the fire of desire and performative aspects of life. He is now among a distinguished group of senior Indian artists whose work is much sought after and part of many important collections.

While the artist has stayed rooted to the medium of oil on canvas and drawings, he has also made significant departures in media like copper reliefs and tapestry, bringing a new dynamic to the media.

This Vasudev retrospective at NGMA, Bengaluru, has a distinct curatorial and design plan. Bringing together over 300 works by the artist, including some from the collections of the NGMA, the Lalit Kala Akademi and private collectors, the exhibition will map the inner rhythms that motivate the artist's expression - much of it triggered also by his deep response to classical Indian music - and a sustained, spiralling resonance which, like a musical cycle, keeps returning to sama, before it spins off into the next avartana.

The exhibition design is executed by the dynamic Bengaluru-based dancer and designer Miti Desai and her mitidesignlab.




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Cultural programmes gallery

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Samskara screening | 6 Sept 2018
Kalpa Vriksha Vrindavana | 9 Sept 2018
Tribute to Ramanujam | 12 Sept 2018
Panel discussion Artistic Connections | 14 Sept 2018
The Open Frame screening | 16 Sept 2018
Poetic Connections | 18 Sept 2018
Painting demonstration | 20 Sept 2018
Panel discussion Presence of an Absence | 25 Sept 2018
Conversation SGV Prema | 27 Sept 2018
A Soliloquy | 27 Sept 2018
Hindustani music recital | 30 Sept 2018
Curatorial walk | 26 Sept 2018

Media Coverage

Magazine The Week Sept 30, 2018 S.G. Vasudev: Copper memoir
Magazine The Week Sept 19, 2018 Poetry in copper: An SG Vasudev retrospective
Online Outlook Online issue Aug 29, 2018 Retrospective show on S.G. Vasudev's art to open in Bengaluru
Newspaper New Indian Express, Indulge Aug 31, 2018 A retrospective show exhibits SG Vasudev's work from the '60s till date
Online Vartha Bharati Aug 29, 2018 Retrospective show on S.G. Vasudev's art to open in Bengaluru
Online Architectural Digest Online Sept 14, 2018 SG Vasudev's retrospective at NGMA, Bengaluru unearths the narrative of a nation
Newspaper New Indian Express, Sunday Express Sept 16, 2018 Compelling canvas
Newspaper New Indian Express, Indulge Sept 4, 2018 A retrospective show exhibits SG Vasudev's work from the '60s till date
Newspaper The Economic Times, Namma Bengaluru Aug 22, 2018 A master looks back: Bengaluru to host first-ever SG Vasudev retrospective
Newspaper Deccan Chronicle, Good Life Aug 31, 2018 Return to Sama: Roots in heaven, branches in the earth
Newspaper Deccan Chronicle, Bengaluru Chronicle Sept 1, 2018 A Legend, in retrospect
Newspaper Business Standard, Weekend Sept 1, 2018 S G Vasudev's art: The first ever retrospective opens in Bengaluru
News agency/Newspaper IANS/Business Aug 29, 2018 Retrospective show on S.G. Vasudev's art to open in Bengaluru
Newspaper The Hindu Sunday magzine Sept 2, 2018 A retrospective traces the sustained and spiralling resonance of S.G. Vasudev's works
Newspaper The Hindu, Metro Plus Sept 10, 2018 A rich tapestry
Newspaper The Times of India, Saturday features Sept 1, 2018 THE CONSTANT REINVENTOR
Newspaper Financial Express, Sunday FE Sept 23, 2018 A Return to Sama: SG Vasudev's retrospective exhibition tracks his journey so far
Newspaper Mint Lounge Sept 1, 2018 S.G. Vasudev: A return to the beginning
Newspaper Bangalore Mirror, Unwind Sept 3, 2018 The evolving tree of life
Newspaper The Times of India, Bangalore Times Sept 9, 2018 When paintings translate to a dance dyad
Newspaper The Hindu, Friday Review Sept 21, 2018 Saying it with ART
Newspaper The Times of India, Bangalore Times Sept 25, 2018 It's important for any form of art to have a local flavour
Newspaper The Times of India Sept 1, 2018 THE CONSTANT REINVENTOR
Newspaper Prajavani Sept 3, 2018

Event Coverage

Newspaper New Indian Express Sept 26, 2018 Soliloquy traces veteran artist's journey
Newspaper The Hindu Sept 20, 2018 Saying it with ART
Newspaper The Times of India Sept 9, 2018 When paintings translate to a dance dyad
Newspaper The Hindu Sept 7, 2018 Fruits of collaboration

Merchnadise Gallery

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Photo credits for paintings, drawings, copper reliefs, tapestries: Photo credits for photos in Gallery:
Mallikarjun Katakol
Navroze Contractor
K.N. Raghavendra Rao
Tanya Alexander
Rhea Saran
Bharat Vijay
Ammu Joseph
Credits ® Copyright 2008 S.G. Vasudev Arnawaz Vasudev Charities