Free Asian art exhibition in Coventry

The Final Creatures II by Sujith KS
by Ben Glass
January 14, 2009

A COLOURFUL exhibition showcasing the work of new Asian artists is coming to Coventry.

Through Other Eyes: Contemporary Art from South Asia at The Herbert features 140 exhibits created by dozens of artists in India and Pakistan.

Curator Gérard Mermoz, 61, spent three months travelling around the continent to find the drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, films and prints to bring their work to a British audience.

He said: “I formed an idea for an exhibition while I was doing my artist residency in India but I also wanted to seek artists from Pakistan.

“The day I walked out of the Pakistan embassy in Delhi to collect my visa, the former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was shot so my contact advised me not to come for two weeks.

“The day before I arrived there was a big blast killing 50 people near the art college I was visiting. It was dangerous but they took outstanding care of me and put me in a top secure hotel and drove me everywhere.”
Left: In Bangalore by G Mahesh Right: Maha Maya by Saumyadip Das
Mr Mermoz said he was interested in showcasing raw talent that had not been altered by capitalism.

He said: “I was interested in looking at South Asian art before it gets entangled with the commercial sector.

“I wanted it to be from a different perspective because all private galleries in India are commercially led so we have selected artists before they have left art college.

“These artists work on their own so to see themselves in context of an exhibition they were very appreciative of the fact that they were able to see what other artists are doing elsewhere in their countries. It was a unifying factor and selling their work is a great boost to their confidence.

“I’m encouraging them to work collectively to add another dimension to their education.

“There are no artists involved in the exhibition aged above 30 except for the tribal artists who are older, and a substantial proportion are women, which I didn’t anticipate when I set out to put the collection together.”
Birth Mark by Vidya Kamat
The exhibition runs at The Herbert in Jordan Well in the city centre from January 23 to April 19.

Rosie Addenbrooke, senior exhibitions and events officer at The Herbert, reckons the exhibition would appeal to people interested in contemporary art as well as a general audience.

She said: "I think people will be inspired to see such a big exhibition of work coming from India and Pakistan because the work is very different from art produced by artists from other parts of the world.

“We have a packed events programme to run alongside the exhibition featuring talks, workshops, music and dance and the film The Bhopal Express as well as an artist in residence for six weeks.”

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