For years, curators were unkind to Bose Krishnamachari. He was excluded from shows like Century City at the Tate Modern for which he should have been an automatic selection. No artist better interpreted the changes in Bombay in the 1990s, but political blinkers prevented curators from comprehending his achievement. As a sort of response to such rejection, Bose mounted a show called De-Curation in which he drew a personal canon of Indian artists. He then turned curator-impressario himself, employing an excellent eye and open mind to spotlight new and established talent. He's recently received a major international curatorial assignment in the form of the Panorama: India section at Madrid's ARCO art fair which opens next week.
Back in India, he's put together Relative VisA, currently on view across Bodhi's two galleries in Bombay. The idea is to bring art, architecture and design in dialogue with each other, something Bose has done quite a bit in his own work. The Wadibunder space has the more interesting selection, though the quality is patchy. Neither Gulam Sheikh nor Rimzon are in top form, and Gargi Raina offers a cabinet stacked with fabric that makes you feel you've stepped into a branch of Fabindia. Sujit S N's painting appears rather derivative of N S Harsha. Nataraj Sharma and Manish Nai make a satisfactory pairing, the former represented by large-format drawings carried over from his recent show at Bodhi, and Nai providing new elaborations of his characteristic pattern-cut-into-jute style. Nuru Karim's listening pod crafted seamlessly from Corian is the most striking of the architects' contributions.
For me, the high point of Relative VisA is the room given over to Charmi Gada Shah's photographs and sculpture. I hadn't seen her work before and was very impressed by its conceptual and formal rigour. She's shot the front of an old, partially-demolished building, then built a model of this facade and, aside from exhibiting it in the room, has photographed the model placed against other parts of the same or similar buildings, playing with scale and with notions of memory, destruction and conservation.
The best thing about Bose's shows is that they invariably throw up interesting new voices like Gada Shah.
The portion of Relative VisA on view at Bodhi's Kala Ghoda gallery (Bara Bhaskaran, Gayatri Subramainyan, Shankar Natarajan and K M Madhusudhanan) seems pretty dull. Perhaps my mind was clouded by the toxic fumes that filled the space on opening night: painting of specially constructed walls had been completed only at the last minute. I'll take another look in a day or two and, should I find something noteworthy, will add a few extra lines to this post.