Unseen Art – A STIR original series on works of art that have never been shown

The specially curated series by STIR takes a peep into artist studios to explore a work that has been created but never placed before an audience.

by Rahul KumarPublished on : Oct 05, 2020

It would be impossible to write a few words to describe the thought process of a creative professional. Reasons being: it is neither a simplistic or procedural flow, and nor is it anything even remotely standardised. However, the one thing that is almost always true is that artistic practices involve exploration and experimentation. By definition, creativity implies something imagined, something that never existed. And so, walking the beaten path is no fun!

An artist’s studio is its sanctuary. Some doodle and others research. But as a practicing artist myself, I can say that the process of experimentation is always the best part of what I do. I work in clay, and there is not a single firing that does not have tests. I end up employing process and material such that I can never predict the result. But once I have ‘figured’ it, it is rather mechanical to ‘produce’.

As creative practitioners, there are always works that are created but never taken out of the studio. The reasons could range from the work being purely experimental, not fully resolved, or something too close to the creator to allow a public view, or simply not getting the right opportunity to present it. There is a lot to be discovered about the practice by engaging with such work.

I curated this series to dive deep into an unseen work of select international artists. Artists from varied disciplines and geographies shared one such work and respond to investigative questions to bring out, hopefully, a whole new aspect of their concerns and approach.

1. Dhruvi Acharya discusses her mixed media installation that would have been

Artist Dhruvi Acharya | Dhruvi Acharya's art unseen | STIRworld
Artist Dhruvi Acharya Image: Dhruvi Acharya/ STIR

An artist who works primarily with paint and canvas as her medium, Dhruvi Acharya takes us into a world of installation and projection-based art. The immersive experience draws from her experience of grief, building on a previous work, titled What Once Was, Still Is But Isn't, which she showed at Chemould Prescott Road gallery in Mumbai in the year 2016. The soft sculpture installation resembled furniture, creating a bedroom space using unbleached cotton fabric, which was hand stitched, stuffed and suspended from the ceiling. Recently, Acharya conceptualised a layer atop this installation, one which used video projection and sound to immerse the viewer into a surreal space. However, due to logistical constraints, this dream never came to life. The artist tells us about the process of creating the work and her hopes for it in the future.

2. Ceramist Dipalee Daroz shares her doodles in clay

Ceramic artist Dipalee Daroz | STIRworld
Ceramic artist Dipalee Daroz Image: Minati Baro/ STIR

At one level a practice in ceramics requires far greater commitment than its distant cousin, painting. But then again, there is so much that is left in the hands of providence, that fair bit cannot fully be controlled. And therefore, from a process standpoint, a ceramist is perpetually on a journey of experimentation, trial and error. And for most parts, not a lot can be replicated. A clay studio looks like both, a chemist’s laboratory and Alice’s wonderland, with Innumerable test pieces and rejects. STIR speaks with Dipalee Daroz on her doodles with the medium that was made several years back and has since remained within the confines of her studio. 

3. Entang Wiharso plays with a new material in an unrevealed work - glitter

A portrait of the artist | Entang Wiharso | STIRworld
A portrait of the artist Image: Christine Cocca/ STIR

While we are quite used to seeing canvas mounted on a wall, Wiharso invites us to view it from an entirely new perspective. Using an unexpected material, the artist chose to work on a large roll of canvas covered in glue and colourful glitter. The Indonesia-born artist, who currently lives in the USA, uses this playful material to invite the viewer to engage in conversation around slavery and racism in the West. Building on his research as a Guggenheim Fellow, Wiharso places the canvas on the floor creating a space within which viewers are encouraged to explore different points of view, both literally and conceptually. While he hopes to display the 20-meter-long artwork somewhere soon, the challenge lies in finding a space large enough to accommodate it.

4. José Ángel Gomis González presents his Medusa videos

A still from Medusa videos | Medusa videos by José Ángel Gomis González | STIRworld
A still from Medusa videos Image: José Ángel Gomis González/ STIR

José Ángel Gomis González is a Spanish video artist with a striking visual vocabulary that is built using a liberal application of glitch aesthetics and extreme colour saturation.

I have been fascinated by this artist’s work for well over a year now, initially encountering his photo-edits as well as snippets of his video work on Instagram.

The artist understands shock and theatricality as only a dedicated cinephile would, but is also able to undercut this with a hauntingly subtle moroseness when he so chooses to.

5. LN Tallur on Time Travel being exhibited… but not quite

LN Tallur | Time Travel | STIRworld
LN Tallur Image: Jeon Jae Ho, Courtesy of LN Tallur/ STIR

LN Tallur’s creative practice includes reinterpretation of images to reimagine established notions of aesthetic contexts. In 2017, he was invited to be a part of Hangar for the Passerby, curated by Akansha Rastogi and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, but a series of unfortunate events, from technical issues to logistical nightmares, found his response with the curatorial note missing the exhibition’s opening and the work being irreverently decontextualised into the museum’s parking area. The work in question was an immersive exploration of Ramkinker Baij’s iconic Santhal Family – Tribe, titled Time Travel, which meant to emulate the experience of physically inhabiting the inside of the sculpture. Tallur talks to STIR about Time Travel, from its conception to its partial exhibition, and contemplates an ideal setting for its display.

6. Marius Ritiu’s ‘Odysseus’ is a journey of a different kind

Artist Marius Ritiu in his studio | Unseen Art | STIRworld
Artist Marius Ritiu in his studio Image: Vijai Patchineelam, Courtesy of Marius Ritiu/ STIR

Sculptor Marius Ritiu spent three months in New York working and preparing for his show in Slag Gallery. When he returned to Antwerp, the story of Odysseus, the Greek King of the island of Ithaca, came to him. His stay in Brooklyn, experiences of quarantine and the lockdown perhaps reminded him of the journey Odysseus undertook after finishing the Trojan War to reach Ithaca. He ached to return home to his wife Penelope and children Telemachus and Acusilaus and had to fight many more battles to be with family at home. In this work Ritiu highlights his feet that undertook such arduous journeys to reach home. He uses his favourite metal copper and employs the technique of repoussé to tell the story. The artist feels this technique suits his nomadic lifestyle as it doesn’t need an elaborate set-up. He speaks about this exploration through a work that he is yet to show.

7. Parul Gupta’s endeavor to curve the linearity of the constructed world

Artist Parul Gupta | Unseen Art| STIRworld
Artist Parul Gupta Image: Parul Gupta/ STIR

The single straight line connecting the point A to point B is the culmination of calculative facts that could hardly defy the notion of misjudgement. Conveying spatial information, the combination of lines in a format of a two-dimensional drawing may dissuade the viewers as a simplistic style of making an art piece. On both accounts, artist Parul Gupta bends the rules to make her work topple the conventional idea of linear perception. A commerce graduate, Gupta attempts to let the viewers notice an oblique shift within and around the work in an effort to deconstruct the geometrically aligned spatial set-up.

8. Why the study of the Sunflower head never left Rohini Devasher’s studio

Artist Rohini Devasher | Unseen Art | STIRworld
Artist Rohini Devasher Image: Courtesy of Rohini Devasher/ STIR

Noida-based Rohini Devasher has never exhibited the study of the Sunflower head. This glass-marker on newsprint was made in 2004 while the artist was pursuing masters from Winchester School of Art in the UK.

Patterns pique her interest. In this work, she is exploring the patterns within an organic form and notes the complexity of nature. During this time, Devasher recalls doing several such studies of seeds, plants, coral that were characterised by specific patterns to deepen her understanding of the forms.

The work neither made it to her MA final year show nor any other exhibition after that. She felt that the work did not fit into the conceptual framework. The work, damaged by time and age, remains rolled up in her studio. Nevertheless, it forms a crucial part of her studies. It sheds light on Devasher’s growth as an artist when she moved ahead from observing and recording to imagining: for instance, her explorations on deep time sciences. The times that are so beyond human comprehension are so fascinatingly imagined in her art. And it is in this context, Devasher also turns her gaze at altered landscapes by human interventions.

9. A work that extols feminine objects by emphasising on its materials

Artist Tayeba Begum Lipi | Tayeba Begum Lipi | Unseen Art | STIRworld
Artist Tayeba Begum Lipi Image: Tayeba Begum Lipi/ STIR

With a radiance of blinding shine, the sculptural works by Tayeba Begum Lipi could be easily perceived as a sign of opulence. Before committing a mistake to dismiss them as the mere daily objects of utility, a closer look at the intricate sewing of the materials – razor blade and safety pins - to carve these opens a space to talk about the emotional turbulence and physical pain the women put up with. I first saw her works, neatly displayed at the exhibition entitled Vanity Fair (2019) at Shrine Empire Gallery in New Delhi. Not surprisingly, the implicit duality of her works, steeped in the long history of womanhood, stayed with me. For this series Lipi showcases a work that epitomises what she stands for.  

10. ‘AM | USEME | NT’ by Brigitte D’Annibale - a nudge to look within

Artist Brigitte D'Annibale |Brigitte D'Annibale | Unseen Art | STIRworld
Artist Brigitte D'Annibale Image: Courtesy of Brigitte D'Annibale/ STIR

Spontaneity is the hallmark of Brigitte D'Annibale’s art. Old fabric and discarded material make it to her work, leading the piece to shape up organically.'AM | USEME | NT' came up like that. It is a heavily layered work using bits from her old works, architectural drawings, textiles and sketches. She has also worked with encaustic wax in the piece to build texture and play with depth.

AM | USEME | NT traces its origins to her moving to Los Angeles after living amidst a close- knit community in the island of Hawaii for 20 years. In LA, noticing this never-ending desire for entertainment, D’Annibale felt compelled to ask a few questions. The work deals with material consumption and the world cluttered with distractions which prevents us from going within. She feels the pandemic has changed some of that making art necessary than ever before. The artist has collaborated with children by incorporating their messages into the piece. According to her these simple messages of love, peace and compassion can help see us things from a different perspective.

11. Dhruva Mistry’s 'Little Bird' highlights the importance of cultural history

Falcon | Dhruva Mistry| Unseen Art | STIRworld
Falcon Image: Courtesy of Dhruva Mistry/ STIR

The sculptures made out of a variety of material by the artist Dhruva Mistry are steeped in deep conversation with cultures and civilisations. Having studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University, Vadodara, before moving to the Royal College of Art, London, Mistry’s oeuvre is known for both small and large-scale sculptures. He was the Artist in Residence at Kettle’s Yard and sculptor in Residence at the Victoria & Albert Museum. At Victoria Square, Birmingham, he was commissioned to design public sculptures. After returning to India in 1997, he was appointed as the Professor, Head of Sculpture, and Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at MS University, Vadodara, for the next five years. The bout of illness did not halt his interest to continue his exploration of sharp and intellectually stimulating material to create sculptures. Mistry, currently, plays with the AutoCAD technology to make small yet colourful sculptures. 

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