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Gallery Beyond - The contemporary art gallery
contemporary art gallery

Gallery Beyond

Gallery Beyond
Nitin Agrawal View Gallery 

Education : • Bachelor of Fine Arts (Drawing and Painting) – Sir J. J. School of Arts – Mumbai • Masters of Fine Arts – The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda - Baroda • A program with Pont Aven School of Contemporary Art, France Awards and Exhibitions: • State Art Exhibition (Maharashtra) Exhibit 1999 • Annual Exhibition (Sir J. J. School of Art – Mumbai) Camlin Award 1999 • State Art Exhibition (Maharashtra) Award 2000 • Bombay Art Society Exhibit 2000 • Annual Exhibition (Sir J. J. School of Art – Mumbai) Bronze Award 2000 • Art Society of India Exhibit 2000 • Vidhyarthi Vishesh (Pradarshak Art Gallery – Mumbai) Participation 2001 • Camlin Art Exhibition – Western Zone (July) Exhibit 2001 • Invited for a show curated by www.freshlimesoda.com 2001 for young upcoming artists in different mediums. • Camlin Art Exhibition – Western Zone (February) Exhibit 2002 • A Show at Kanoria Center for Art – Ahmedabad Participation 2003 • A group show of Artists From Pont Aven School Participation 2004 of Contemporary Art – Pont Aven, France • “yeh hai mumbai meri jaan” a group exhibition - 2006 Rabindra Bhavan and Gallery Art Consult, Delhi Show curated by Gallery Beyond • “Black, Gray and White” a group show – 2006 Gallery Dusk, Mumbai Solo Shows and Projects (as a student) · An Audio-Visual Installation, Exhibition hall, April, 2003 Faculty of Fine Arts, The M.S.U. Baroda. · An Installation, Exhibition hall, September, 2003 Faculty of Fine Arts, The M.S.U. Baroda. · “UNTITLED” A Process Work, October-November, 2003 Faculty of Fine Arts Campus, The M.S.U. Baroda. · “Intercity” an exhibition, Baroda March, 2004 Scholarships · Government Scholarship 1997 Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai. · Government Scholarship 1998 Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai. · Government Freeship 1999 Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai. · Nasreen Mohammadi Scholarship 2003 The M.S.University of Baroda. Workshops · The Vagad project, Rajasthan – India March, 2004 Works in personal Collection of The British Deputy High Commission to Mumbai – India in 2002.

Of blown-up individuality and an ugly duckling's thirst…

Smart computers acknowledge it now, but it is inferred that the Chinese knew it 5000 year ago…the connection between individuality and fingerprint is enduring and persistent. Your fingerprint is with you before you are born, it gets formed in the 19 week of the 40-week pregnancy. The ridges, valleys and loops on a fingerprint define you as different from other individuals. But the Chinese, it seems, had thought of fingerprint beyond the notion of signature. They used the fingerprint on mud-seals to testify the bond between a person and his belonging [1].

In his enlarged fingerprint-scapes, Nitin Agarwal takes you along these ridges and valleys. The invitation is tactile, as he carefully constructs his painted ridges with their elevations from the flat surface and then lets light play with his monochromes. The visual experience transcends the concept of individuality attached to the fingerprints, where the individual domain gives way to a realm that is universal. Nitin achieves this while he utilizes his fingerprints to look like something else, too.

Though he uses his own fingers/ thumbs/ palm prints [2] as reference to his works and refutes any overtones that denote the commonplace illiteracy or crime. His works, instead, interact with the surface and have a formal aspect. Thus, his fingerprints become generic faces, as faceless as the innocent commons. A thumbprint may look like a rose, another set of fingerprints dubs itself as 'a big happy family', and yet another may evoke the soft seduction of a chocolate bar than anything to do with the fingerprint on its semi-soft surface.

The direct visual linkages make his work readable. The polemics in these readable images is yet invisible. The genetic uniqueness might make you proud; it cannot make you any wiser, the works propone. They go on to search the wisdom in simplicity. Personal realities might not conform to the truth always, but the innocent make-believe realities are far better a tool against the universal arrogance.

While prints from the palm have been used in art strictly for their formal pleasure [3] as well as subversive suggestions [4], Nitin does not subscribe to either of these intentions. The intentions with which he devises a palm impression can best be viewed as a critique of the 'discourse of the fingerprint' in art, that of the supremacy of a painted work as a saleable object. The critique is not antithetical but imbibed from his life experience as a contemporary Indian artist sans an institutional or corporate support to make his/her projects viable. The temporal element in visual art, however contemporary and cutting-edge, does not claim equality with 'individual, unique work of art' that is invariably a painting.

The myth of 'fingerprints of the artist' today encompasses Leonardo to Pollock, and beyond. As if blissfully ignorant of the postmodern discourse on authorship, the so-called art world (of dealers and art-collectors that an independent artist has to live with) still demands the collectible item produced in a unique fashion. Only those artists, who have made their way to a suitable institutional circuit, can live without this overpowering myth.

Nitin's inclination toward Theory in art brought him to MSU Baroda for his post-graduate degree. The Baroda years saw Nitin working with temporal, conventionally 'non-saleable' ideas. His recourse to Mumbai can be seen in more critically as an opting-out gesture from the warmth of the academy, but the decision to step out surely was not to bow to the art market confusions that revolve around 'individuality'. Nitin had his own questions, for which answers are now before you…

To read more within Nitin's works, the key is the critique of individuality they propone. In the world infested with shared ideas, communication and mass culture, individuality may have to loose its edges. A blown-up self image would only look mighty and arrogant; it may not quench an ugly duckling's thirst for self-recognition. The non-individualist, self-less situations have to be counted, all for a better answer to the problem of contemporary individuality.

The answers lead to the quest of a solution, a vision that clears the confusion. This is the only work in the show that has no formal links with the rest of Nitin's neatly arranged exhibits. A clock with different dials all living with their own rhythms with time, has one pendulum. If the pendulum is for a common good intention, what's the time now? When will the pendulum strike? Will it strike at the right time? Then, what's the right time?

-- Abhijeet Tamhane, Mumbai, January 2007.

[1] Quoted in Carlotta Domeniconi, "Direct gray Scale Ridge Reconstruction in Fingerprint Images" : A thesis presented to International Institute for Advanced Scientific Studies, Salerno, Italy, November 1997, Pg. 18.

[2] Unlike the New York artist Sandy Garnett, who started painting enlarged fingerprints for his 'fingerprint portraits' since 1990 and moved on to totem-sculptures in the mid-1990s. Garnett's art remains loyal to the notion of fingerprint as a definition of individuality.

[3] Chuck Close's portraits (Georgia, Phil, Leslie) are painted with fingerprint instead of brush. To another end of the spectrum, one can point to Thai painter Narupon, who has made drawings of his own thumbprints as a part of his engagement with rhythm.

[4] Bangalore-based A. Bala's 6-feet work with a black thumb impression, rendered in acrylic and silicone, 2003. The work apparently was the artist's take on the blot of illiteracy even as the silicone valleys of India blossom in the two South-Indian cities.

Also notable is British Painter Marcus Harvey's work : Myra. The wikipedia entry for this work says: large work depicting Moors murderer , Myra Hindley, formed from white, grey and black stenciled handprints of children. This work was the centre of major controversy when it was installed at the 1997 Sensation Exhibition.

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