Aparna Roy Baliga writes about the creative vibes that filled up the atmosphere for a group show organized in the memory of the late ceramic artist Jyostna Bhatt.
‘Chalo kam karie’ was a group show which came forth from the workshop remembering Jyotsna Bhatt. This exhibition was held in ‘The space studio’ in Vadodara. All the participants were part of the workshop in the Ceramic centre in Baroda which was set up in 1998 modeled after the Dutch model EKWC patronized by Jyoti and Reshma Patel. It was mentored by Jyotsna and Jyoti Bhatt ,Bhupen Khakhar, Ira Chaudhary and Nirmala Patwardhan. The show offered the continuing ceramic pedagogy that lingers in textures and forms and techniques in the works of the art practitioners who were touched upon by Jyotsna Bhatt as a mentor or a colleague.
I first went towards the works of Jyoti Bhatt, I wondered how he remembered his artist partner. He translated his visuals through the letters, the imagined portraits almost in the form of plaques in ceramics offering obituaries. There lies a starfruit in a bowl a reminder how Jyotsna ben as we all called her remained in the memories as forms in the work titled ‘Fruit of memories’ by Zaida Jacob. It’s strange that how things become carrier of memories, how patras as vessels become the conduit and transcend the useability.
There is the idea of home beyond its physicality as a mind place, the idea of dwelling and the things that exist like how one packs a bedroll and the idea of living in packages, as if life had been designed artificially. She experiments with red clay and wood firing which give strength to these works. ‘Catryoshka’ is like the matryoshka dolls which open one by one again remembering how fond Jyotsna ben was of cats.
The ‘Dungar’ series of wood-fired stoneware of Hina Bhatt explores the mountain forms and landscapes painted and glazed on it. In her ’Shadows of cat’ is found the JB black matt glaze which was considered to be Jyotsna ben’s invention. The cats remain as fossils recalling Jyotsna ben. There are experiments with porcelain slip with an overlap of oxides with touches of gold. Nostalgia I and Nostalgia II by Nehal Ranch Nandi are small ceramic tiles put together, arranged in a manner emulating quilts. She combines two different materials like: as light as silk and the ceramic tiles on the heavier side. The quilt as a form often evokes a repository of memories, sharing the personal with the co-workers, each of them exploring different glazes. She also worked on the differently hued moons and the series titled ‘Unearthed’.
Sukdev Rathore’s ‘Life study’ and ‘Matter antimatter’ are a series of stoneware works. ‘Life study’ is the work speaking of the toil and labour that goes on in making the dream home while it’s often unrealized on shaking grounds; often not stable. The ‘Matter antimatter ’series is of contradictions; of a shadow that is thought to be flimsy is translated into something which is hard and solid. The shadow and its reality exist together. Neha Pattanayak explores the architectonic in the organic forms. She is interested in how manmade things are absorbed by nature and how nature also contributes to the making of things that are manmade. Her childhood memories of observing scraps and how nature grows over them in abandoned spaces excites her till date. She keeps the accidental effects of the medium and loves to keep the tool marks.
Khanjan Dalal’s stoneware works ‘On the aisle’ series is an interesting combination of sculptural figuration and pottery, they speak of human conditions down the labyrinthian depths. ‘Treasury of loyal thoughts47’ is a stoneware work that explores many chromatic possibilities of the medium and stands for the range of thoughts in rushes that get condensed in an imagined form that doesn’t describe anything but the quiet emotiveness of several contemplations.
Anju Pawar’s series on birds were of earthenware done in Raku technique. Devesh Upadhyay uses satire and humour in his works ‘Between yesterday and tomorrow’ and ‘Untitled’. He used hollow throwing pottery techniques and speaks about the everyday life with a quip. Kavita Pandya Ganguly uses organic forms of trees and landscapes titled ‘Jungle of emotion’ and ‘Owls’ , they show the explorations of stoneware with nerikomi technique. Dipalee Daroz engaged with functional forms transformed and mutated into organic forms. The series titled ‘Folios’ show her inclination towards the historical. The stoneware forms germinate and intervene other forms stressing on the idea of transmutations.
P. Daroz’s series titled ‘Excavations’ point out the exuberance of forms and colours with openings and fissures and flares in layers revealing forms thus also referring to the complexities of techniques involved in stoneware along with the well-chosen glazes. Vinod Daroz’s series on ‘Sanctum’ exudes the hues of beautiful glazes with touches of gold which is his signature in the medium of porcelains, speaking of primeval beginnings, or maybe of refuge of forms about to pulsate and bloom. ‘Samudramanthan’ series of stoneware with turquoise glaze and threads refer to the Pauranic story of the churning of the sea translating it to stoneware forms of minimal presences of the oval and circulars forms with textured colours. Panthini Thacker journeys between the functionality and non-functionality of ceramics as a medium and plays with motifs which are organic tending towards the decorative, they often remind of Ira Chaudhuri.
There are series on Shakti and Prakriti and Yantra which are culled out from the Samkya-Yoga darshana and takes us back to such references in Neo-tantric forms in the works of modern Indian artists in the 1960s. Rakhee Kane’s works are woodfired stoneware and stoneware wood soda fired referring to organic forms of beaks often recalling the pottery of ancient times which often emulated the natural forms through their shapes. There are also ‘Totempole’ series of stoneware with wood soda fired with Bracusian geometric configurations. Sampa Shah experimented with pitcher forms and ocular forms along with a series on moonscape in stoneware. Her moonscapes are like plates capturing various observations of the moon in its different forms; the waxing and the waning rendered in various brushstrokes reveal textural complexities. This exhibition offered a plethora of formal possibilities in ceramics and experiments with forms and reminded how Vadodara is till date an important art centre where we see artists practicing the ceramics and exploring the medium to its fullest.