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A Focus on Non-Profit Art Foundations in the Global South:
The Devi Art Foundation




Devi Art Foundation was established in 2005 to facilitate viewership of creative expressions and artistic practices that exist in India. This not-for-profit organisation provides a platform for contemporary artists from India and the region engaged in innovative, experimental work, away from any commercial interest. The idea is to interact closely with and encourage young curators and critics, helping to give voice to their concerns. By undermining geo-political divides, the objective of the Foundation is to foster a dialogue from within the Indian Sub-continent amongst various art practitioners, enhancing the understanding of our shared history.


Over the years, since its inception, the foundation has engaged with and come up with path-breaking exhibitions by simply challenging the role of a curator, engaging with “non-curator” curators and developing ideas that have refreshed the curatorial practice in significant ways.


To view more exhibitions by Devi Art Foundation please click here.










Home Spun


In an unprecedented sequence of events that have occurred and brought the world to an unforeseen standstill, we pause and think, confined to spaces we call our ‘home’. The idea of home in turbulent times is a consuming one. For some, home remains a thought, a fragrance, a memory, a person, a feeling. In its essence, home is more than just the physical space one rests in.


As uncertainty and need for hope / action grips us, and we turn to arts of different kinds to cope – we look back at an exhibition Devi Art Foundation did in 2011 – HOME SPUN. The exhibition was curated by Girish Shahane, an independent writer-curator.


“Conceived to survey notions of domestic space, the exhibition had featured South Asia’s leading globe trotters. The show’s works were divided into three sections. The first explored the double edge of security and anxiety that today marks the physical and emotional dimensions of “home.” The second—billed as an “apartment on acid”—riffed on the quirky banalities of daily life. And the last situated art in a succession of rooms meant to evoke housing types as disparate as grand European palaces and Mumbai’s working- class chawls. Continuing the reliably inventive and diverse roster of shows at Devi, “HomeSpun” presented a new take on many Indian artists who had recently become as familiar abroad as at home”, wrote Beth Citron, for Artforum.










Zarina Hashmi


“Letters from Home, is a portfolio of eight prints, based on my sister’s letters. On a visit to her in 2003, she gave me letters she had written to me but never posted. The letters were to let me know about deaths in the family, selling her house and how much she had missed me. Perhaps she wrote these letters to herself; putting these emotions on paper might have helped her to cope with her grief.


I left India in my early 20s, and my family moved across the border in 1959. My sister’s letters have been my connections to my family, culture and the language I grew up in.


When I returned to New York, I decided to make a portfolio based on her letters. I had metal cuts made from six of her letters, printed them on Japanese handmade paper and overprinted the letters with woodcuts of maps, floor plans and the image of a house.


The letters are in Urdu, in my sister’s handwriting. Few people read Urdu or for that matter write letters anymore.” – Zarina Hashmi

 

Featured:
Zarina Hashmi
LETTERS FROM HOME, 2004
edition 14 of 20
Woodcuts and Text on Handmade Kozo Paper
22 x 15 in. (each)
Devi Art Foundation











Sudarshan Shetty


“One of the things I feel the need to talk about is the highly urban need for escape into an imaginary view of nature, and the way industrial set up constantly produces items for consumption that play upon that need. The need for instance to have plastic roses and artificial mangoes that are alluring but inedible in ones living room. My aim is not to achieve the illusionist effects that make a plastic mango seem almost edible but to lay bare the artificiality of the mango itself. In doing this I am examining the compulsions of my own urban existence and how these compulsions do not offer me any simple routes to the realm of the ‘natural’.” – Sudarshan Shetty


Featured:
Sudarshan Shetty
UNTITLED FROM EIGHT CORNERS OF THE WORLD, 2006
Fiberglass, Tinted Water, Steel, Wood and Motor Mechanical Device
71 x 33.5 x 39 in.
Devi Art Foundation


You can also watch the Art Dubai Portrait video of Sudarshan Shetty here.










Minam Apang


“The work, Everyone Denied the Possibility, was made right after my first solo show, Peel which featured pen and ink drawings on paper.  It’s an in-between piece which echoes my earlier interest in fantasy and whimsy. This particular work was instigated by my affinity for old and nostalgic machines (the typewriter in particular as a word-or type-machine) and my desire to work with found objects.


The old typewriter was not in working condition and pretty much beyond repair when a friend of mine found it. Since the typewriter presented itself to me, I took the object itself as the point of departure for my enquiry into its identity and history. As I explored my own connection to it, I soon realized that I was more interested in dichotomies like real/imagined, possible/impossible, lost/found. I was not as interested in the object’s ‘known’ history (that it may have been one of the many typewriters used in the legal districts of Fort area in Mumbai) as I was in the ‘unknown’ history of this ghost machine.


Since the object had lost its original utilitarian function, I tried to further nullify its functionality by pulling out the type keys and pouring paint into the key holes. To take the contradiction further, the typewriter creates a painterly drawing instead of text. The imagery on the painted surface of the typewriter comes mostly from my drawings and immediate surroundings (for instance, I ‘sourced’ the fabric used to upholster the box containing the typewriter from my PG accommodation). Some of the drawings are made on suggestive spills of paint or on spaces revealed by new paint chipping over older layers of paint. This work was also an exercise in reclaiming and renewing something which might be perceived as useless and defunct.” – Minam Apang


Featured:
Minam Apang
EVERYONE DENIED THE POSSIBILITY, 2007
Mixed Media
16 x 16 in.
Devi Art Foundation











Anoli Perera


“I see through the lace curtains the floral designs, the crystal glasses and the hands that hold the threads. I try to see the patterned world beyond. I see the spinning web and the cocoons of comfort that lies within. I feel the pains of entanglement, the strains of confinement. I feel the nostalgic urge to memorize and remember the homemaker of the patterned world.


Dinner for Six is the first conceptualization of a series of works that I subsequently continued under the title Comfort Zones that looked back at the (middle class) home-making woman of the previous generations. My perception of her is built on memories, memorizing, nostalgia and understanding and misunderstanding. I am looking at women from families related to my own. They belong to a generation who grew up with convent education, crochet curtains, home science and cookery books. Both Dinner for Six and Comfort Zones unveil my familiarity and proximity to this home-maker’s world and the anxieties and expectations that manifest in different stages of her life. They are the wives, mothers, grandmothers and aunts of a bygone era…the comfort providers. I remember with nostalgia and guilt the comfort of this home-maker’s world. I memorialize this nostalgia and guilt in my art. As I lay caught between two worlds with my hands knotting together the crochet pieces my thoughts ponder, “Am I carrying the legacy of the comfort provider? Do I belong to a different generation…a different world, or am I the last link of that home-makers’ world?” – Anoli Perera


Featured:
Anoli Perera
DINNER FOR SIX: INSIDE OUT, 2008
Crotchet, Cotton Cord, Table and Chairs Wooden Screens, Dinner Set and Lace Cloth
Size Variable
Devi Art Foundation











Neda Razavipour


A range of used, handmade Persian carpets chosen from different parts of Iran, are presented to visitors. A few scissors are fastened on walls by nylon strings. Viewers are invited to choose the part of carpet they like, cut it and take it with them. But before leaving, they must put the piece in a shopping bag on which a text from Plato’s Republic is printed:


“… The story is, that Leontius, the son of Aglaion, coming up one day from the Piraeus, under the north wall on the outside, observed some dead bodies lying on the ground at the place of execution. He felt a desire to see them, and also a dread and abhorrence of them; for a time he struggled and covered his eyes, but at length the desire got the better of him; and forcing them open, he ran up to the dead bodies, saying, Look, ye wretches, take your fill of the fair sight…”


“When, in 2009, for the first time I showed this installation/Happening in Tehran, my thought was about violence and the potentiality of being violent in human being. But after it, I realized different layers of this project. For Iranians, carpets are part of life. We grow up on them… The first thing we bring into our new house is a carpet. We take off our shoes to go on it. They symbolise heaven, nature, comfort and calm. Cutting them is really painful. But sometimes we need to pass through this destruction to understand the importance of things, and then recreate them in a new way. Now each part of those carpets could be in new houses in Iran or abroad, as a souvenir for us and other people. Each part keeps its beauty and importance. A thousand pieces of carpets are in different houses, used in different ways.” – Neda Razavipour


Featured:
Neda Razavipour
SELF SERVICE, 2011
Woollen Carpets
Size Variable
Devi Art Foundation











Srinivasa Prasad


“‘Waves’ is made of jumbled threads where one cannot find the starting or the end of the thread, trying to find ends is metaphoric of solving life’s puzzles. Memories are in layers and when cherished, come in waves.

‘Someday it all has to end’ was born out of frustration, fascination and the laborious task of clearance. The work is in a sense autobiographical, as it progressed concurrently with the construction of my house. Through the long, strenuous process of construction, I was drawn to the ease with which migratory birds assemble, relocate and reassemble multiple homes throughout their lives.

A meditation on the transitory nature of birds caused me to start weaving bamboo and thorns into work that emulates a bird’s nest with acutely human proportions. Through this work I explore the idea of whether material attachment is a distinct human attribute where we become attached not only to the objects around us but also become emotionally invested in the structures we build.

Here the nest is a space of protection while disregarding its function as a place of comfort.” – Srinivasa Prasad

Featured:
Srinivasa Prasad
SOMEDAY IT ALL HAS TO END, 2009
Thorny Bamboo, Gl wire
73 x 47 in.

WAVES, 2005
Wire Thread and Adhesives
694 x 54 in.
Devi Art Foundation










Subodh Gupta


“My Mother and Me gave me the opportunity to work outside the normal white cube space of a gallery. It was made in 1997 in Modinagar during the Khoj workshop. I had seen how cowdung is covered up and stored across the country during the monsoon, and I used the memory of those structures in my work. The difference is that I created a hollowed out space so people could walk in. Also, as a performance, I burned some cowdung cakes inside, so there was a layer of ash on the floor. Modinagar was situated on a highway near Delhi and there was constant noise from trucks going past. Inside the structure, though, the noise got cut out, and there was something spiritual about the silence.


When I was a child my mother would send me out to get things associated with her daily pooja, like mango leaves, and also cowdung. We also used cowdung along with coal for cooking. So I was used to handling cowdung since my childhood. While working on the structure at Modinagar, I remembered fetching cow dung for my mother’s rituals, and that’s why I called it My Mother and Me.” – Subodh Gupta


Featured:
Subodh Gupta
MY MOTHER AND ME, 2006
Cow Dung Cakes and Ash
105 x 88 in.
Devi Art Foundation











Rashid Rana


“From the time of conception of Desperately Seeking Paradise, I knew it was going to be an ambitious and daring work, due to its sheer scale. But what I didn’t know was that it would be the meeting point for all the different threads in my art. Among those, ‘two-dimensionality’ as a concern has always remained a core factor since the time of my ‘grid paintings’ from early 1990s, though it’s ironical that the exploration of two-dimensionality becomes effectual in this three-dimensional work instead. This merger of two-dimensionality and three-dimensionality is a point where I tread between representation and abstraction too. Desperately Seeking Paradise in a way is a deceptively abstract work, or at least it appears to be an abstract minimal structure from one view but the view from the other side is inherently representational; the horizontal stacking of images of homes (from Lahore) forms a virtual skyline of an imaginary city with high-rise buildings representing the evolution of the human society and breaking away from the groundings we have concurrent to a house.


The concept of home itself has an aspect of duality, where there is an objective criteria of a home pertaining to the environment and the subjective one, a human’s vision of what he desires it to be like. The polarity of verticality vs. horizontality creates illusions and realities within one work, these illusions and realities I feel are what make each other exist, and like the form of a grid – separate, and simultaneously make the multiple entities into one whole. These parallels in life and concepts are exactly what I try to elude and incorporate, and expound through my work, where every idea and truth has an opposite self.” – Rashid Rana


Featured:
Rashid Rana
DESPERATELY SEEKING PARADISE, 2007-8
C-Print + DIASEC and Stainless Steel
108 x 108 x 108 in.
Devi Art Foundation











L.N. Tallur


“Today, what we are and where we are is because of the hunger we have for a “civilized” society. The rules that form a civil society are now so complicated, that a shift of an inch here or an inch there can trigger panic. Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress. When you see these signs and symptoms in the society around you and its economic, political, social aspects, the society we are in is bound to experience Panic.” – L.N. Tallur


Featured:
L.N. Tallur
PANIC ROOM, 2006
Jute Bags 4 Blowers, CCTV with Cameras
Size Variable
Devi Art Foundation