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‘Black and White’ Exhibition

Curated by Priyanka Bhattacharjee and Rajib Bhattacharjee

The artists featured in this program capture the ineffable realities of an inevitably varied, multiple, and often contradictory artistic experience. Expanding the sensory stimulus beyond the boundaries of just sight itself we search, through this exhibition, for alternative definitions and forms and a keen sense of the metaphor of time we are passing through; a queering of narratives and appearances, and a visual contestation. Decolonize both your mind and imagination as the participating artists tackle subjects that challenge us to reflect on the changing world in which we live, reclaiming lived realities and public domains. The exhibition opens up uncanny spectral exits to new geopolitical imaginaries exploring the present and future forms of the human condition. Infused with historical, political, and socioeconomic urgency the works invite us to question our own preconceived notions of materiality and the organic process that leads to the creation of art. The artists attempt to write and tell non-linear stories with the materials around us.        

Please check the program flow at the end of this page and check regular updates for the coming five months. Please refer to youtube link for artists bio and concept

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Mohamed Ouedraogo, ( Burkina Africa )

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Partha Pratim Saha ( Kolkata, India )

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Alexandr Sokolov, ( Moscow, Russia )

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Mohamed Harb ( Palestine )

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Julian Walker ( London UK )

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ANASUYA CHAKRABORTY, Kolkata, India

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Nomvula Hoko (South Africa)

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Nihalani Meenakshi (Mumbai, India)

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Irena Paskali Ohrid (Macedonia)

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Jhonny Carvajal Orozco (Colombia)

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Lilia Lujan MEXICO

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Omeshwaree Bauhadoor, Republic of Mauritius

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Erick De Gorostegui Yucatecan Peninsula

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Johannes C. Gerard , Berlin, Germany

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Diana Suarez, Mexico

Concept Note

Colors have their own symbolism in cultures, religions, politics, and history. Black and white are, strictly speaking, not colors. However, light and dark play a major role in art and design and have various symbolic meanings. Colors are wavelengths reflected by objects to the human eye. White is pure light and black is the absence of light.

One of the reasons we are attracted to black is indeed its dichotomies. It is sophisticated and primitive, emotional and intellectual, it is a color that everyone responds strongly to, in one way or another.

To further explore this characteristic of the color black — the fact that no two black colors are alike — Reinhardt said, “There is a black which is old and a black which is fresh. Lustrous black and dull black, black in sunlight and black in shadow.”

In 2016, the Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor provoked the fury of artists by securing the exclusive rights to use the blackest black color, known as Vantablack. Kapoor has been experimenting with the “super black” paint since 2014 and recently announced he will unveil a series of his first Vantablack sculptures during the Venice Biennale.

Liberal and the radical idea of black and white

Among the many techniques and processes employed within German Expressionism – painting in oils, etching, lithography, and drypoint – perhaps their most iconic remain their woodcuts. Preferred especially by Kandinsky and the Brucke group, the woodcut offered a medium that in every element of its production reflected the ethos of the Expressionist movement. Images produced in the wood had to be forcibly excised from the tough surface of the block, echoing the artist’s extraction and expression of his inner emotional response. With a natural grain that lent the printed impression a visible texture and often limited artists to a simpler, dynamic composition, woodcuts forced the printmaker to make the very most of the carved block. The resulting images retain a natural, rough-hewn intensity due in great part to the limitations of the material. Their stark quality would often negate the need for color, relying purely on the strength of compositional elements and highly contrasting black and white forms. In the 1920s, New Objectivity rounded out the interwar movement. The DADA movement used black and white as their main color. Berlin-based artists like Otto Dix, Kathe Kollwitz, and Max Beckmann focused on political themes often related to the horrors of World War I and its psychological toll on German citizens. Gaunt, despondent, lecherous people fill these works, which were often rendered in stark black-and-white prints whose simplified forms and shadowy palettes emphasized their dark, melancholy subject matter. In the Indian context of post-war famine, the man was Chittoprasad Bhattacharya, who exposed the colonial brutality, with nothing but his raw and powerful black and white sketches of the Bengal famine, scribbled in his tiny notebook and numerous woodcut prints.

Indeed, in the 20th century, artists had no fear of this important color in art. Frank Stella, one of the most influential American minimalist and abstractionist artists, created a series of monochromatic canvases called Black Paintings “What you see is what you see,” he explained about the series, implying that neither black nor his abstract concepts needed elaboration. Ad Reinhardt, another iconic American abstract painter, showcased an abstract painting in 1963 that was nothing but a black square at first glance. On closer inspection, this painting held different undertones and was divided into a grid of three-by-three squares. Each set of squares was colored with a different version of black. 

Black was one of the first colors used in art. The Lascaux Cave in France contains drawings of bulls and other animals drawn by Palaeolithic artists between 18,000 and 17,000 years ago. They began by using charcoal, and later achieved darker pigments by burning bones or grinding a powder of manganese oxide. Carbon black was the first black. This dull black is the easiest to manufacture because it is made of charcoal. Another black is vine black, which is traditionally made by charring desiccated grape vines and stems, which produce beautiful bluish blacks. Bone black, made of burnt bones from prehistoric times, is the deepest available black. Rembrandt used bone black for the black clothing worn by his sitters in order to distinguish them from the already dark night surroundings.

There are a number of psychological (cognitive distortion), social, and political issues, that cause us to see things as black and white. The problem with this is that much of our life is lived in the grey area between black and white and the truth is, however, that we limit ourselves with these extremes.

The last few years have seen global recession, widespread terrorism, and war throughout West Asia, Eastern Europe, and South Asia, that the wounds of the Pandemic which is still not over. Black and White is a metaphor for the time we are passing through. We are inviting works, paintings, drawings, digital graphics, and photography, which incorporate Black and White as a metaphor for time.

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S T U D I O N E X T

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