CLAY – OFF THE WALL, was born out of an aborted wall-mural show. In a way, it condensed the thoughts of clay artists from a canvas of a large wall, to three platters. Call it condensation, call it focus, a platter is a strong statement to hang up on a wall; it demands attention, it grabs eyeballs. Immediately. Add to that the variety of approaches to the idea of a platter from thirty selected artists and you have a conundrum of nearly ninety platters jostling for attention in a beautifully dark gallery setting!
This show at Gallery Art & Soul and is co-curated by gallerist Tarana Khubchandani and ceramists Shayonti Salvi and myself; three very diverse points of view, I may add. We decided at the outset to make this a show as inclusive as possible, flinging out a net far and wide, inviting over fifty artists to send in proposals. With the crunch of the time factor we lost out on some important names but we gained by inviting several fresh new faces that are already making waves on the vibrant studio ceramic scene in India.
Why is the show titled so? Remember the enigma called Michael Jackson? Off The Wall as an album was the opportunity for him to start from scratch–to put the Motown years and childhood star behind and become arguably the greatest performer in history. Lyrics in the album touched upon a number of themes including escapism, liberation, loneliness, hedonism, and romance. While I personally cannot stand unseen concepts in art, and more so, metaphors in art discourse about art, I can promise that the platters showcased in this show, more than ever, touch upon these themes.
Expect simplicity; expect complex emotions and humour;
Expect cloak & dagger politics;
Expect the unexpected because a certain timelessness hangs in the air at the gallery. Some works look new, others look weathered in the bodies that inhabit them. Studio ceramics in India is blazing away. Come experience some magic here, where clay as a medium encourages us to lift our eyes… to attend more closely to the implications of the stunning wannabe universe around us where democracies are slayed but where hope abounds. Remember? “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough”.
ADIL WRITER, MANDALA POTTERY, DANA, AUROVILLE
We stand at an interesting juncture in the history of our nation. Where our social fabric seems to be fraught with rips and loosening weaves. Amidst conversations, that revolve around ideas such as – basic human rights to love, safe existence for the so-called ‘weaker gender’, culinary cultural differences, depletion of natural resources, the meaning of home ground and secularity, we find ourselves exposed to the cold draft that the fabric lets in through its tears.
What hope do we have to keep warm?
This exhibition showcases Platters… Mezze platters, Cheese platters, Fruit platters, Cold meat platters, the Thaal… through time, these have stood as symbols of sharing, of dissolving boundaries between individuals by breaking bread. The tableware uses these platters as a backdrop and echoes the sentiment, that food unites. The group of artists in this show bring forth themes that are socially relevant to our current climate… hotter than ever before!
SHAYONTI SALVI, Mumbai