Released June 24, 2007
Salem, Mass-Gateway Bombay presents the work of 13 artists who are deeply connected to the city, which is today-60 years after India's independence-a booming commercial and financial hub and a leading center of the art world. The exhibition features major paintings, works on paper, photographs and a mixed-media installation created over the past four decades and as recently as 2006. The 29 works are drawn primarily from PEM's Chester and Davida Herwitz Collection of contemporary Indian art. The artists represented include Chirodeep Chaudhuri, Bal Chhabda, Atul Dodiya, Kattingeri Krishna Hebbar, M.F. Husain, Bhupen Khakhar, Bose Krishnamachari, Nalini Malani, Tyeb Mehta, Gieve Patel, Sudhir Patwardhan, Anil Revri, Ketaki Sheth-most of whom live and work in Bombay. The exhibition opens July 14, 2007, and remains on view through March 1, 2009, in the Herwitz Gallery.
"Each artist in Gateway Bombay deploys a carefully honed aesthetic vision to explore the city's everyday realities, its residents and the locales they shape and inhabit. Collectively, the works draw viewers beyond the surface noise of a densely peopled metropolis into a deeper encounter with one of the world's largest and most energetic cities," says Susan Bean, PEM curator of South Asian and Korean art.
Bombay became officially known as Mumbai in 1995, but both names are widely used. With a metro-area population of over 18 million, Bombay/Mumbai is India's most populous city, and is expected to be the world's largest by 2020. This dramatic growth is due to the constant influx of people seeking opportunity in the nation's commercial capital. The Gateway of India, which frames Bombay's harbor on the Arabian Sea, was created as a monument to colonial rule. Today it is a fixture in Bombay's daily life, one of its most visible icons, and a draw for tourists and citizens alike.
In the first two and a half months of the exhibition, Mumbai-based contemporary artist Bose Krishnamachari's mixed-media installation, GHOST/TRANSMEMOIR, will be on view in the museum's light-filled Atrium. The 40-foot long work, on loan from Aicon Gallery New York, includes 108 metal cans used by the city's famous dabbawalla lunch delivery system (the word comes from dabba, a reference to a box containing a light meal, and walla, the person who delivers). Dabbawallas deliver home-cooked meals to tens of thousands of office workers every day with a level of efficiency rivaling some of the world's top delivery systems. The lunch boxes in Krishnamachari's compelling piece are mounted on iron scaffolding and contain LCD monitors that project interviews with a range of Mumbaikars (Mumbai residents), from street vendors to socialites, industrialists and intellectuals. The tangle of wires, hand straps, headphones, and metal containers is a play on the indomitable spirit and energy of Mumbai's people in a city constantly on the move.
In Gieve Patel's Two Men with Handcart, saturated tones of pink and orange create a dense urban backdrop, against which two male figures are centered at the bottom of the canvas-laborers pausing for a moment in their work day, seemingly deep in conversation. Sudhir Patwardhan's Pokharan depicts a distressed site in transition, littered with haphazard construction and the toxic air of industrialization. Here muted colors emphasize the recent pollution of this landscape and the near-exclusion of people testifies to lifelessness amidst a panorama of urbanization. Chirodeep Chaudhuri's black-and-white photographs remind us that India's great urban metropolis is also a city on the sea. Mumbai's deep-water harbor, which handles some 40 percent of India's maritime trade, is a popular gathering point for tourists visiting the thousand year old cave temple at Elephanta Island or traveling from Mumbai to Goa. It also serves as a playground for residents seeking reprieve from the city's congestion.
A 66-page, fully illustrated color catalogue published by the Peabody Essex Museum accompanies the show. It includes essays by PEM curator Susan Bean with research assistance from Beth Citron, an art historian currently based in Mumbai.
Among the events related to the Gateway Bombay exhibition, is a day-long public program on July 21, complete with D.J. artist Komal Trivedi of WZBC radio as she shares her passion for South Asian and underground music by playing selections from the greatest Bollywood films. An Atrium Alive weekend in October will feature a film festival, including Mira Nair's Salam Bombay; Mani Ratnam's Bombay, and others. For more information, visit www.pem.org.
Kattingeri Krishna Hebbar
Gateway Bombay has been generously supported in part by Samir & Nilima Desai; the Desai Family Foundation.
Media Partner: India New England
The accompanying catalogue, "Gateway Bombay," is made possible thanks to The Pundole Art Gallery in Mumbai, India.
Indian Art at PEM
Acquiring its first work of Indian art in 1800, the Peabody Essex Museum is the first American museum to focus on the art of modern India. Today the museum holds the nation's leading collection of Indian art of the modern era, from the 18th through the 20th centuries including paintings and works on paper; sculpture in metal, wood, and clay; textiles, furniture, silver; and a large collection of 19th-century photography, as well as important documents recounting 18th- and 19th-century commercial and cultural relations between the United States and India. In 2001, the museum acquired the Chester and Davida Herwitz collection of contemporary Indian art which includes 1,200 works by more than 70 of India's leading artists of the second half of the 20th century--M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza, Manjit Bawa, Tyeb Mehta, Ganesh Pyne, Laxma Goud, Jogen Chowdhury, Nalini Malani, Bhupen Khakhar, Gieve Patel and Arpita Singh, to name a few. This groundbreaking collection also includes the Herwitz's international art library and archive of letters, papers and other documents. In 2003, PEM became the first museum in the nation to devote an entire gallery to contemporary Indian art.