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Bhupen Khakhar, Jayashre Chakravarty, Anand Patwardhan
From November 10th 2001 to December 15th 2001
Une pratique profane : art récent en Inde / Des idées en mouvance : un dialogue culturel contemporain avec l'Inde

The work of Jayashree Chakravarty, Bhupen Khakhar and Anand Patwardhan is presented as part of "Secular Practice: Recent Art from India", an exhibition of nine contemporary artists from India that is taking place at three Montreal artist-run-centres in addition to Optica. Responding to the reality of living in a rapidly modernizing society, the work of the artists in the exhibition addresses issues ranging from freedom of expression, social justice, growing religious fundamentalism and widespread communal violence to sexuality, women’s rights, the inequities of entrenched class and caste systems, the processes of history and memory and the nature of art itself in these circumstances.

The other artists in the exhibition are Vivan Sundaram, Rummana Hussain and Atul Dodiya, whose work is being shown at Oboro, Sheela Gowda and Pushpamala N at La Centrale/Galerie Powerhouse, and Nalini Malani at Dazibao, where Anand Patwardhan’s videos will also be shown.

"Secular Practice: Recent Art from India" itself is one a number of components of the project organized by Hoopoe Curatorial and presented in Montreal in cooperation with Cargo Productions. The project also includes the exhibition Dust on the Road: Canadian Artists in Dialogue with SAHMAT at MAI (Montreal, arts interculturels), which was presented in Toronto and London (ON) with strong impact last year, as well as a film series, lectures and other programs.

Supplanting a legacy of modernism and characterized by interdisciplinary cultural projects including performance, installation and video, Moving Ideas examines what many participants and observers of contemporary Indian culture describe as a powerful shift in the form and content of representation over the past dozen years. It is part of a four-year initiative of art and cultural exchange intended to create an awareness of issues shared, in particular, by artists in Canada and India organized by Hoopoe Curatorial. In addition to the presentation of Dust on the Road last year, previous initiatives have included the presentation of a focus on Canadian visual art publications at the 1999 Calcutta Bookfair and facilitating a special number of the Canadian literary journal West Coast Line titled “Here and There: Between South Asias, New Writing from India and Canada”, which was launched in Calcutta at the bookfair. Following their presentation in Montréal both visual art exhibitions travel to Vancouver.

Organized by Hoopoe Curatorial and presented in Montreal in cooperation with Cargo Productions.
Hoopoe Curatorial is working on this initiative with the support of numerous funders and the collaboration of many partners. For the presentation of "Secular Practice" in Montréal, Hoopoe Curatorial is pleased to acknowledge the Ville de Montréal, CALQ, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation, the participating galleries, Centre d’études et ressources sur l’asie du sud (CERAS); South Asian Women’s Community Centre (SAWCC); Teesri Duniya Theatre; the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University and Concordia University Studio Arts and M.F.A. Programs; Concordia University members of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute; Department of Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University; CARGO Productions.

Bhupen Khakhar has been upsetting aesthetic conventions of Indian modernism for close to forty years. One of India’s most important visual artists as well as a noted writer, his work has been influential for a generation of Indian artists, critics, art historians, writers and filmmakers. In his art he has brought to the contemporary Indian art scene a new awareness of the country’s urban environment, its popular and folk arts, and an eloquent and provocative celebration of gay sexuality. A major retropsective of Khakhar's work is being organized by the Reina Sofia in Madrid and was the recently subject of a major monograph. Formerly from Bombay, Khakhar lives in Baroda.

Working primarily as a painter, Jayashree Chakravarty often presents her work in the form of installations that occupy the architectural space in which they are presented. Whether as hanging banners that evoke the gritty beauty of urban Calcutta as well as folk traditions of West Bengal or as self supporting structural works that refer to her travels, her work provides a strong reflection on debates surrounding the viability of painting as an artistic medium. Based in Kolkatta, Chakravarty has exhibted extensively in India, Australia and other international centres. In 1999 she had a one-person exhibition at the Drawing Center in New York.

A filmmaker whose work addresses the conditions of India’s dalits and underclasses, religious fundamentalism and its relationship to patriarchy among other pressing contemporary issues, Anand Patwardhan has been effective at reaching a wide public through both the screening of his work in local communities and its broadcast on television, often obtaining court injunctions to do so. Patwardhan’s shorter video, made in the format of music videos, will be featured in the exhibition.

Hoopoe Curatorial is a collective that includes Phinder Dulai, a poet and journalist in Vancouver, and Peter White, an independent writer and curator living in Montreal. London (ON) artist Jamelie Hassan was a founding member of the group. The group derives its name from the Hoopoe, a migratory bird that travels between India and the West. In India the Hoopoe is commonly found in parks, gardens and wooded areas and is associated with tranquility and peace.

- Delgado, Jérôme, «Au rythme de l’Inde», La Presse, 26 novembre 2001, p.C4.
- Hays, Matthew, «Battling the bomb», Mirror, 22–28 novembre 2001, p.52.
- Lamarche, Bernard, «Mouvances de l’Inde», Le Devoir, 10-11 novembre 2001, p.C11.
- Mavrikakis, Nicolas, «India song», Voir, 22–28 novembre 2001, p.84.
- Redfern, Christine, «Passage to India», Mirror, 15–21 novembre 2001, p.40.
- Van Hoof, Marine, «Inde : Conscience historique», Vie des arts, no 185, hiver 2001, pp.82-83.